The Art of Darkness

Quilting: Crazy Quilts

February 18th, 2008 by Cobwebs

VestHaving tackled patchwork, we can move on to crazy quilting. This allows you to be a little more adventuresome with your fabric choices, because everything is sewn to a base and you don’t have to worry about their stability. I’d probably recommend against mixing, say, heavy denim and chiffon, but all kinds of luxe fabrics like velvet and brocade are just fine.

Crazy quilts became popular in the late 1800s and were a way for ladies to show off their embroidery skills as well as their sewing abilities; most crazy quilts were embellished with a fair sprinkling of decorative hand-stitching. They’re a lot of fun to make, and I like them because they use up scrap fabric. (I just can’t bear to throw fabric remnants away, and eventually they pile up and threaten to squish me. Then I make a quilt, and the cycle begins anew.) They’re also a nice ego booster because they look much harder than they actually are.

The basic technique couldn’t be simpler: Take a plain fabric base and sew scraps to the top. Embellish (or not) as desired. I’ve put together a tutorial for making a crazy-quilt vest, but the same methods apply to any kind of project.

So gather those pretty fabric bits that you were wondering what to do with, or dig through the remnants bin at your local sewing store. Use lots of different colors of velvet for a luxurious throw, or piece together brocades for a wall hanging. Embroider thorns and spiders liberally. Then be coy when asked how much time and effort it took. Everybody wins!

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