Beginner's Guide: Embellishing Crazy Patchwork
Adding the Fun Stuff
The ribbons, embroidery stitches, beads...
When you make a crazy patchwork block, you start with a foundation shape and cover it — either by machine or by hand — with many patches of fabric until the backing is no longer showing.
The fun part comes when you start adding seam embellishments
Each seam is embroidered with some stitchery such as fly stitch, herringbone stitch, feather stitch, creton stitch, or some of many other fancy stitches.
You can add twisted ribbons, lace pieces, buttons, beads, sequins, until you have a finished crazy patchwork block.
In the picture you see a vest panel with the stitchery completed.
Made Your Foundation Yet?
- Beginner's guide: your first crazy-patch block
The fabrics can be of any weight, slippery, shiny, woven, coarse, dull, bright, patterned... The fun aspect of crazy patch is the different textures and fabrics put together for contrast.
Time to 'Beautify'
In the previous Beginner's Guide (link above), I showed you how to make the crazy patched foundation.
Now you can learn how to embellish the block.
What You Will Need
- Your foundation block covered in lovely scrap fabrics
- Embroidery threads
- Silk ribbons
- Beads, buttons, sequins
- Satin ribbons, picot edged ribbons, nylon ribbons
- Lace scraps
- Lace motifs
- Crewel needles about size 8
- Anything else you think you'd like to add to the block
- Scissors, snips, thimble, finger guard, and pincushion
Audition Your 'Blingy Bits'
Test them against the finished foundation.
Gather Your Beads, Ribbons and Threads
Place the threads, beads and so on onto the block to see which ones you like with the sewn on scraps.
Use the colours in the patches as a guide for your selections, but a little zing happens when you use some unusual combinations of colours in the embellishments.
I chose a very bright fuchsia satin to go with the patches on the collar at right, and the result was a wonderful surprise.You can bring in unexpected colours in your beads and ribbons.
Tip: Keep Your Final Selections Together
Find a divided tray or a plastic container with several divisions, use that to keep your selections in, so that they are within easy reach while you work.
My favourite is a cut glass divided sweet dish that was my grandmother's.
Cover the Seams With Stitches
Embellish Each Seam With Fancy Stitches
1. By Hand
Traditionally, this was done with hand embroidery.
Feather stitch, and its many variations, was used extensively. Herringbone and fly stitch were also very popular.
Choose a thread which picks up the colour from one of the patches in the foundation block, but not the colour of the patches you are sewing along.
This distributes the colour across the block. (Good use of design principles.)
Decide on the stitch you are going to use.
2. By Machine
Now that's fast!
With the advent of wonderful embroidery stitches built into many sewing machines, even the inexpensive models, you can stitch over the seams with a multitude of new stitch designs.
If you use machine embroidery threads, the stitches shine on the block. Very pretty! Choose from the many fabulous new machine embroidery threads that are currently available.
Put This on Your Wish List!
You can embroider, or use the fancy stitches to embellish your crazy patchwork.
It is a complete sewing machine with all the expected features. As well, it comes equipped with lots of fancy stitches, and a simple to attach and use embroidery unit for extra pizazz.
I helped to launch this machine in Australia and was seen demonstrating it at shows all around the country at the time.
I made bags with crazy patched and embellished panels, blocks with embroidered crazy seams, and many other items.
It is such a fast way to embellish your blocks while the stitches are still as beautiful as any hand stitching.
I loved it.
You traditionally use, and how to stitch them
1. Fly Stitch
A staple crazy patch stitch, easy to learn, easy to build on.
How to Stitch Fly Stitch
If you learn Fly stitch first, then Feather stitch is an easy next step.
You can use embroidery floss, silk ribbon, or DMC Pearl cotton.
- Hold the skein or ball of thread in your lap and draw up to your forehead. Cut at this length. Longer threads cause knotting and tangling.
- Thread a crewel needle, about a size 8.
These needles have an eye that will take thicker threads. For thick threads you may need to use a darning needle or a tapestry needle.
- Tie a small rolled knot in the end.
- Bring the needle up from under the block and pull the thread through.
- Put the needle back into the block about ¼ inch away from where it came up.
- Slant the needle so that it will come back up at about half way across the space between where the needle came up and where it is going back into the block.
- Make sure that the thread lies underneath the needle's point in order to form a loop, and pull the needle through.
- Take a vertical stitch about ¼ inch away from the loop you just formed.
You can take a shorter stitch to get the first style in the picture.
- One beautifully stitched fly.
Fly Stitch ExamplesClick thumbnail to view full-size
2: Feather Stitch
How to Stitch Feather Stitch
Once you have mastered fly stitch, you can quickly graduate to feather stitch.
- Follow the steps for fly stitch until step 7
- Instead of taking a vertical stitch, take a slanted stitch like the top of the fly, moving the needle tip away from the first loop about ¼ inch.
- Form the next stitch at the same angle.
- Slant the needle in the opposite direction to make the next couple of loops.
- Continue in this way for the legth of the seam.
Feather Stitch ExamplesClick thumbnail to view full-size
3: French Knots
They are so useful.
How Do I Use French Knots in Crazy Patchwork?
They are wonderful for sewing on twisted ribbons.
If you use silk ribbon and make 'sloppy' knots, they are good for wisteria blossoms, wattle, any flower trails ...
French Knots ExamplesClick thumbnail to view full-size
French Knots Made Easy - You Can Do It!
These Are So Easy and So Beautiful
4: Herringbone Stitch
Follow the diagram for this easy stitch.
5: Lazy Daisy Stitch
Single or Detached Chain Stitch.
See the video below for chain stitch.
Chain Stitch How To
Lazy Daisy Stitch ExamplesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Sew a lovely silk ribbon rosebud - Using fly stitch and laisy daisy
Butterfly Chain Stitch How To Video
I call this stitch Wheat Sheaf, and use it a lot on my crazy patchwork.
6: Cretan stitch
Also a favourite stitch.
How To: Cretan Stitch
Cretan Stitch ExamplesClick thumbnail to view full-size
7. Blanket Stitch
Also called Buttonhole stitch
Blanket Stitch Variation
Add Some Bling
Beads, ribbons, lacy bits...
Add Some Beads To Block Seams
Beads add dimension and texture to your crazy quilting.
Use them to make bead trails, to attach twisted ribbons, to embellish herringbone stitch or cretan stitch...
They are simple to apply and look great!
How To: Add Beads
Beads and Other Fancy Stuff ExamplesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Folded Ribbon Roses Add Dimension
Enjoy These 'Crazy' Links
- Annies Crazy World
Free mini crazy quilt lessons from Annie Whitsed (my mate)
- I dropped the button box quilt - crazy quilt block
I dropped the button box crazy quilt Scroll to see completed crazy quilt This crazy quilt is actually a Y2K quilt as it has 2001 different bits in it. At the time my definition of 'bits' was either a different fabric, lace, braid, charm, buttons or r
- Crazy Quilting
A short history
Questions & Answers
Where do I buy embellishments for patchwork?
Embellishments are found in charity shops, haberdashery departments in big stores, sewing centers. Buttons, embroidery threads and ribbons are good to start.
© 2009 Jan T Urquhart Baillie