Make a Crazy Quilt Block
Crazy quilts are wonderful! Whether your style is meticulous or haphazard, simple or ornate, utilitarian or decorative, a crazy quilt is just waiting to be made. Based on quilts made early in the nineteenth century, this method involves slip-stitching fabric pieces to a unit of batting and backing fabric.
Devised on a cherry theme (my daughter’s name is Cerise, which is the French word for “cherry”), this quilt contains fabrics that have special meaning for my daughter and me. There is even a small circle from one of her elementary school dresses (to include a sentimental fabric piece, appliqué it to a larger piece of fabric, which will then be incorporated in the quilt).
A crazy quilt is a wonderfully useful way to preserve and display family history. As the quilt itself warms each generation’s hands and feet, each scrap has a story that warms the heart.
The materials and instructions here are for making one block of a crazy quilt. To make an entire quilt, continue making blocks until the desired size is obtained. Use your favorite methods to join the blocks and back and bind the quilt.
If you would like more information on crazy quilts, the following articles are in PieceWork:
- “Inspiration from a Missouri Deutschheim Crazy Quilt” by Joyce Starr Johnson, September/October 2005
- “Crazy Crazy-Quilt Motifs” by Betty Pillsbury, September/October 2001
- “Recollections of Mary Catherine Severance Winchester” by Celia Y. Oliver, March/April 1998
- “Lydia’s Throw: Teeming with Flora and Fauna” by Sheryl De Jong, September/October 2017
- Fabric (for quilt top), 100% cotton, 16 different prints cut into various shapes, including squares, triangles, and rectangles, each about 6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 cm)
- Muslin fabric (for backing), 100% cotton, white, 18 x 18 inches (45.7 x 45.7 cm), 1 piece
- Quilt batting, 100% cotton, white, 18 x 18 inches (45.7 x 45.7 cm), 1 piece
- Quilting thread, coordinating color
- John James Needle, quilting, size 10
Materials are available at quilting, needlework, and fabric stores or from mail-order or online sources.
Finished size: 18 x 18 inches (45.7 x 45.7 cm)
Place the batting over the backing fabric. Spread the printed fabrics over the batting, overlapping the edges of the fabrics at least 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) to allow for the seam allowances; when the fabrics are suitably arranged, pin them in place (see Figure 1).
Turn under the exposed raw edges of the fabrics. Traditional patchwork seams were turned as each piece was sewn. For greater ease in stitching, you may press the seams so that the fabrics lay flat and completely cover the batting. Use the needle to aid in folding the edges under. Slip-stitch along the folded edges, stitching through all layers.
Work from the outside edges toward the center. If necessary, adjust the seam allowances as you work to make the fabric pieces lay flat. Once the block is complete, trim the layers to the size of the backing.
Kathleen Bennett is an embroiderer, quilter, and freelance writer, and is fascinated by historic techniques and designs. She is currently researching handwork and sewing during the Civil War. Captions
Posted February 20, 2014. Updated October 19, 2017. Featured Image: Crazy-quilt block by Joyce Starr Johnson, author of “Inspiration from a Missouri Deutschheim Crazy Quilt,” PieceWork September/October 2005. Quilted and embroidered. Silk neckties, cotton embroidery thread, polyester fiberfill base. 1997. 16¼ x 16¼ inches (41.3 x 41.3 cm). Photos by Joe Coca.