Keen to make your first crazy quilt block?
Why not take a seat beside me and watch the process of foundation piecing and see how I created my "Strawberries and cream" block.
Please bear with me if this page takes a while to load, as there are lots of pictures showing you the process step-by-step!
I was lucky enough to find cheap bags of fabric offcuts in a craft shop. On investigation of the contents I found inside a lovely fabric printed with scattered strawberries, raspberries and cherries which begged to be used in a crazy quilt block. In the bag there was also a bright pink that shouted "Use me too!" and a cream with tiny gold dots that resembled strawberry pips. Perfect.
I searched through my scrap bag to find additional fabrics that would tone or contrast. I found some solid creams, two other pinks, and some cream/pink prints along with some greens to represent the strawberry leaves. I washed and pressed the fabrics and was ready to make my crazy quilt block.
The first step was to cut the foundation square out of muslin (or calico as we call it here in the UK).
Then I found a tiny scrap of yellow taffeta in my scrap bag, saved from my daughter's bridesmaid dress. As it was rather transparent, I used it as my first patch, as any seams underneath it would show through. In the photograph, above, I laid a darker fabric underneath so you could see what I mean.
I cut a five-sided shape from the taffeta and positioned it on the background square, slightly off centre.
I cut a rectangle of the gold-spotted cream and laid it on top of one of the edges of the first patch, right sides down. After pinning in place I stitched a back stitch seam along that side of patch one.
The next step is to press the seam open with a medium hot iron. I like to keep a folded terry towel on my worktop so that I can press as I go along.
I trimmed off the long end of the cream fabric, then I turned the foundation square one quarter turn to the right.
I chose the strawberry fabric as the next to include in my crazy quilt block. The pattern had the benefit of giving me a nice straight line to stitch my seam along.
I positioned this rectangle along the next edge of that yellow patch, and the seam continued right to the edge of the cream spotted fabric as well.
After pressing the seam, I trimmed off the edge of the rectangle that jutted out beyond the end of the yellow patch.
In the next photo you can see that I used tailor's chalk to mark the seam line on the bright pink solid cotton. You could also use a disappearing ink pen to mark the line, but mine is pink, so wouldn't show up!
I laid this patch along the next side of the original yellow patch and the stitching extended along the trimmed strawberry fabric as well.
Don't worry about that little section of strawberry fabric sticking out, I will trim that off afterwards.
After pressing the seam, I trimmed the pink rectangle at an angle in order to add some variety to the shapes in my finished crazy quilt block. I left the trimmed section beside the patch so that you could see what I removed.
I made this next patch from a nightie my daughter used to wear when she was a toddler. I will trim off the hemmed edge in a moment.
I laid this rectangle along the fourth edge of the yellow patch and on top of the pink patch we just trimmed to shape.
With this patch we are now moving on to longer strips. This one fits along the edges of the yellow patch, (the second one that we attached) and also along the one we just added above.
I picked a piece of fabric from an old blouse that I tie-dyed back in the 1970's for this patch and positioned it so that the creamy coloured area met the printed fabric of the last patch, and the yellowy/orange section met the cream spotted fabric.
This patch completes our first "journey" around the crazy quilt block.
We are still turning the block a quarter turn after attaching each strip.
In the photo you can see that the "nightie" fabric actually takes us to the edge of the foundation square on that side of our yellow shape. This won't always happen and you would normally continue adding patches all around in a second journey. For this block, we will only need to add shapes to 4 sides.
In this photo I have numbered the patches in the order that I attached them. As you can see, I stitched the green patch (from my daughter's old skirt) to patches 2, 3 and 6.
After stitching and pressing, I have trimmed this patch to a slightly more angled shape.
The next patch will lie alongside patches 3, 4 and 7 and therefore will be rather long. To avoid our crazy quilt block ending up looking strippy I seamed two fabrics together separately for this strip.
On attaching this pieced strip to the block, I was careful not to position the seam, so it matched up with any other already on the block.
Again, for this strip I pre-seamed two fabrics together, this time on the diagonal.
Rather than trimming the existing patches to shape beforehand, I laid the new strip in place, along patches 4, 5 and 8, stitched it and then trimmed off the excess from previous patches. I wanted to create a triangle from the existing dark pink patch.
As you can see in the photo, I positioned the printed fabric in this strip next to the solids in the existing crazy quilt block and vice versa.
For the last pieced strip I seamed the darkest green and more strawberry fabric together and stitched them to patches 6 and 7.
All that's left now are the corners.
On adding corner pieces I tried to ensure that they were all differently shaped and sized triangles. I balanced the existing dark pink patch with a second piece of that fabric in the bottom right corner. Similarly, I used the light pink, cream spotted and "nightie" fabrics again for the remaining corners.
The last job was to trim the overhanging patch edges even with the foundation square and the crazy quilt block is ready for embroidery and embellishment.
I created this crazy quilt block using the stitch and flip technique of crazy quilting.
I hope the step-by-step photos and instructions have helped you to see that it is simple to piece your blocks and lots of fun. Now it's your turn.
Come back when your block is ready and we will start the embroidery phase.