Monday, November 21, 2011

Stack, Slash, Switch & Stitch~Crazy!

I ♥ Crazy Quilts!   
During the Victorian era, Crazy Quilts were traditionally made with bits and pieces of fancy fabrics; velvet, satin, silk, lace, with lots of intricate embroidery along the seamlines of each section.   You can read more about Crazy Quilt history by Betty Pillsbury HERE and HERE
  • Have you ever tried to make a block but didn't have quite enough fabric in your stash?
  • Do you like the look of a pieced background for applique'?   
Here's my favorite simplified crazy quilt technique to "MAKE" some background fabric in preparation for applique'.
Start with this little math formula: 
FS + 1-1/2" = SIZE 
Size of blocks to cut is equal to the desired finished size (FS),
plus one and a half inches.
I want to make a 12" block, but the pieces in my stash range from 7-1/2" to 9" pieces.  OK, this works.   Using the formula, I'll need four squares with a finished size (FS) of 6", plus 1-1/2 inches for a few cuts and seams, so the minimum size squares to cut is 7-1/2".

And here's our next little formula:
C4pQB = 4(S)2
Crazy Four-Patch Quilt Block is equal to four
Stacked, Sliced, Switched & Stitched blocks, squared.
(I am making this up as I go... heehee)

OK, let's get sewing!  I tend to give a somewhat rudimentary instructions (I teach a lot of 4-H kids and beginning quilters, and post a monthly quilting basics column at Riley Blake Designs ), so if you're an experienced quilter, just scan through the pictures!

1)  STACK  
Layer all four of your blocks together in a stack.
Try for a little contrast in value, tone, texture or pattern.
I'm going for all neutrals for my background.


CUT your stack of squares into fourths
using a rotary cutter and ruler.
Cuts should be a bit off-set.
Modern translation:  "Cut in a wonky X"

Rotate fabrics in each pile/section
so that no two fabrics will be in the same block.

PIN in place, right side over left, one block at a time.

Note:  try to match center seams, but don't worry
about the outer edges yet--they'll get trimmed later.

 STACK pinned pairs from the bottom up so you can...
...CHAIN PIECE (Saves time, thread, and sanity:
STITCH one pair, take a few stitches [chain],
SLIDE the next unit under the foot and continue.)
Use a 1/4" seam allowances.

PRESS seams open; remember, we're piecing a background block.
CLIP between pairs to keep blocks together.

STITCH last seam together.
This time, DO NOT match center seam!!
The more off-set, the better it looks!  CRAZY, huh?


p.s. Isn't that ↑ a pretty new "Baby"?!? I ♥ her!

PRESS seams open to reduce bulk.  That's helpful
if you wanted to add EMBROIDERY to the seamlines :)
(My new "Baby" has 189 built-in stitch patterns...) 
TRIM each completed block to 6-1/2" square.

YIELD:  4 units

PIECE together, MATCH the center intersection this time. 
PRESS seams open.

All ready to add some wonderful applique; get your free pattern HERE.

This method works great for any size squares, layer cakes, even charm squares!  OR you could make a bunch of these blocks for a small quilt: (though, I think I made crazy 6-patches instead) 12 @ 12" blocks, 10" finished size, using 2 stacks of 6 each  ~ just cut it in a wonky H.  Lay out, alternating the blocks from each stack.  (Or maybe it was a crazy 9-patch - cut in a wonky #)  Add a border or two and look at the smiles!

Have fun with this tutorial! 

 If you'd like to see what I've done with this crazy-patch method, please visit Part II for the rest of the story!  Or take a peek at this SLIDESHOW.   Until then, thanks for visiting, and you're always welcome to stop by, online or otherwise, here at Quiltscapes! 

Happy Quilting!


  1. Wow! That's a lot of fabric. Don't you make carpet bags out of stuff like that? I used to get everyone's left over yarn because they knew I liked to knit. It was always fun to look at all of it, use some of it, and donate most of it.

  2. Love the low volume background. I've featured your tutorial on my blog today along with other Stack and Whack tutorials.


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