Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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I’m Not a Crazy Quilter!


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Well, the truth is out. I am NOT a crazy quilter! It isn’t that I’m opposed to being one – and I am actually looking forward to the embroidery on this project – but when it comes to piecing the quilt square…. well. What can I say? Having to assemble your ground fabric before you can stitch on it can be a bit trying – especially if you’ve never pieced together a crazy quilt square. Live and learn!

I decided that, for small embroidery projects this year, I would challenge myself to try, once a month or so, to work a technique I’ve never done before… or at least one I need more practice with. So this month, I decided to try a crazy quilt square for the heck of it. I’ve never pieced one before.

First, I assembled some fabrics. I have some blue shantung, some other blue stripey kind of silkish stuff, some dark blue velvet, a blue cotton with a flower pattern on it, and some gold silk damask.

How hard could this be? I realized that you obviously have to start in the middle and build out. So I started with the dark blue velvet. But I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to stitch it to the ground fabric. Instead, I fused it on with misty fuse.

Then, I built around that. But I didn’t really know the concept of building around it. So I just went with strips. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the whole overlapping concept (duh – it really shouldn’t have been that hard). So I made a mistake. And since I was hand stitching while standing at the ironing board, I was not really inclined to take the mistake out. I figured, in the course of piecing further, the mistake would certainly end up getting covered.

But it didn’t.

Crazy Quilt Square before Embroider

Look at that silly-looking blue block! (The dark fabric on the top is the same dark blue velvet in the center…)

Crazy Quilt Square before Embroider

It’s a pretty fabric, but it’s in there all wrong!

On the bright side, I have heard (or read somewhere) that mistakes in piecing can be covered up with embellishment. So my next step is to make that disappear by embroidering over it somehow. Or perhaps it needs a piece of ribbon. Although I think you’re supposed to add ribbon in the piecing process!

Ah well – like I said, live and learn. I think overall this thing is pretty ugly right now. I hope it improves upon acquaintance! It is a completely knew sensation to have to “make” my ground fabric. I’m sure the next step should be to consider the overall design of the embellishment – but I think shall just “go at it” and see what results.

Ok, all you expert crazy quilters out there! Any suggestions for a solution to my mis-pieced square? Any ideas for a cover-up job??!


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(15) Comments

  1. The first thing I would do would be to trim away all the loose threads.

    Then I would go through your bits of lace and trims and attach one and perhaps some a flowery vine ‘wrapped’ around and/or through the trim/lace.

    Perhaps, it is stating the obvious, but why not do an image search for crazy quilts for inspiration and to see what sorts of things are usually done.

  2. well, first of all… “there are no mistakes, only design opportunities!” 🙂 so now you get to embellish that raw edge with lace or ribbon or an embroidered trim or rickrack, or you can embroider over that raw edge.

    I do a lot of crazy quilting, and I do 99% of my piecing by hand. I enjoy it so much more than using the machine, and I can be a lot more creative with my piecing.

    If you go to my blog, you can scroll down and see some links to Take a Stitch Tuesday w/a list of cq-ers that should provide some inspiration.

    also, be sure to check out Sharon B’s blog InAMinuteAgo, http://inaminuteago.com/

    and have fun! don’t worry about errors… really, you can’t make mistakes because there’s no pattern to follow!

  3. The motto of CQers everywhere is “No Rules”…So….you just need to problem solve as you go, have fun in the process, and keep a keen eye on your overall composition all along the way.

    Your block looks just fine. Congrats on venturing out of your comfort zone! I’ll enjoy watching this drama unfold… 😉

  4. Mary, I’m not an expert CQ person, far from it, but I did a lot of research for an 1865 “crazy quilt” I’m conserving, and the neat, start in the middle and work out style is NOT traditional nor the only way to work. Some of the antique examples don’t even have seamed edges. Have a look at this entry on my blog
    Perhaps a piece of lace might be used, with some beading and embroidery if you have to, but in the antique styles only simple embroidery stitches were used. I think people like Judith Montano Baker brought back the style and added their own touches to give us what we see today. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll work something out.

  5. LOL at your typo where you said you made a mistake. I’m sure you meant you created a very special design element. You did mean that, didn’t you??
    Of course there is no such thing as a mistake in crazy quilting – that’s why some of us like to do it. LOL.
    OK, that jutting out bit – you could plonk a lace motif on it, add some beads to the motif and bingo – gorgeousnes guaranteed. And no, you don’t have to add ribbons, braids or lace while pieceing the block – you can if you want to, or leave it till later if you want to.
    Ok, once again after me… I created a design element, and there will be no more talk of mistakes.

  6. I went through the same ordeal berating myself for not “getting” the concept —then I hit on an idea, that after the first two were sewed on one edge (flip and sew, none of it is sewed to the backing)—-I must always create two side by side peices with a middle seam, for the next piece to go against. It works most of the time and sometimes I have to fudge by cutting an area to make the edge right. I imagine this is clear as mud—but it irritated me to no end that this should be difficult—the more I looked at samples, the more I saw there were different ideas of how it should be done—I liked the flip and sew one best.

  7. I tried a crazy quilt years ago and I think my attempt is still in a box somewhere 😉
    I thought it would be the easiest of quilt tops to put together…how wrong I was. I’d rather cut and piece a zillion blocks of any other pattern..hehe
    I do agree that with plenty of floss, lace ric-rac or whatever else, any ‘mistake’ can be covered with this type quilt top.
    Sorry I don’t have any suggestions other than to embellish the devil outta it 🙂 I enjoy reading what everyone else has to say about it….
    Jackie C

  8. There are no mistakes, only design opportunities. There are no mistakes, only design opportunities… ! I have repeated it over and over again, and now, I think I might (maybe) believe it!

    Thanks for all your input and encouragement and good ideas. In fact, I just finished publishing these and I glanced down at a piece of fabric… the motif on the fabric caught my eye… and I said “Hey – embroider that, it would be the perfect cover up…” So I’ve got a plan.

    I will let you know how the “drama” develops!


  9. Buttons and beads, lots of buttons and beads!
    Although I have to say i just pieced a block and it took lots of time turning and pinning to get a floating square just like that on purpose!
    You just saved your self some time in getting to the fun part, that’s all!

  10. Mary – firstly I don’t think there can be any mistakes in crazy quilting as there are no ‘rules’ as such
    One of the reasons I like the style is becuae it can present such interesting design challenges

    As for cover ups – fudging it etc I think Lace can hide a multitude of sins LOL

  11. hi Mary….glad to see you’re trying CQ, it’s almost more fun than chocolate. There are lots of ways to do the piecing, hand or machine, etc. But here’s one good way….see CQMagOnLine.com Vol 6, Issue 3, for how Allie Aller does it.
    I love CQ because it can be used as a showcase for all the other embroidery that I know how to do as well as a “sampler” for new stuff I want to try.

    Keep with it, you just might love it,


  12. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! I HOPE (I hope I hope I hope) I can do a wee bit of stitching on it this weekend. I’m kind of excited. I think it’s just because I want to cover that blue square up. But still… I’m excited!

    Thanks for the CQ Magazine tip! I visit the site often, so I will be sure to look more carefully at that article!!

  13. Oh yay Mary!! I am so pleased you are giving this a go. Can’t wait to see how you continue this piece. Good on you!
    ps I sent the postcard with your flower design on it to a friend, and that was the very thing she commented on “love the flower”…

  14. Hi, Jo –

    Funny timing! I started to put some embellishment on the square last night – got frustrated – determined that I would not do it after all, since I certainly wasn’t enjoying it and it looked downright awful. I awoke this morning and realized it doesn’t look as bad as I thought.

    So, I’ll go back to it and see what happens with it today…


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