Monday, November 21, 2011

Guest Blocker with Deonn and her Stack, Slash, Switch & Stitch~Craziness!

Good Morning!! It's time for another Block Party!!  Thanks to Madame Samm for the invitation to share a favorite block with you!  I've really enjoyed these daily tutorials, learning new techniques and blocks to try, and I've been dreaming about quilting possibilities, as usual!  Here we go...

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 lavish embroidery along the seamlines of each section.   You can read more about Crazy Quilt history by Betty Pillsbury HERE and HERE

And... what does a Crazy Quilt have to do with today's block? 
  • 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'?   I've especially been inspired by Connie and Cheryl 's block parties earlier this month, with their fun pieced backgrounds...
I thought I'd share 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:
(are your eyes glazing over yet?  This will be fun, I promise!)
C4pQB = 4(S)2
Crazy Four-Patch Quilt Block is equal to four
Stacked, Slashed, Switched & Stitched blocks, squared.
(I am making this up as I go... heehee)

*Remember - a crazy quilt has NOTHING to do with one's mental state...*

OK, let's have some
  • WARNING: I tend to give a somewhat rudimentary instructions (I teach a lot of 4-H kids and beginning quilters, and even post a monthly quilting basics column HERE), 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.

To avoid mixing up the pieces,
PIN in place, right side over left, one block at a time.

Note:  try to match center seams at the 1/4" line,
 but don't worry about the outer edges yet,
they'll get trimmed later.

 Make a STACK from the bottom up so you can...

CHAIN PIECE (Saves time, thread, and sanity...
stitch one block, take a few stitches [chain],
slide the next unit under the foot and continue.)
Use a 1/4" seam allowance.

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.  It's also helpful
if you were to add EMBROIDERY to the seamlines :)
(My new "BabyLock" has 189 built-in stitch patterns...) 
TRIM each completed block to 6-1/2" square.

YIELD:  4 units

PIECE together.  This time DO MATCH center seam
(I know, crazy!); PRESS seams open.

All ready to add some wonderful applique:

And... voila!

This method works great for any size squares, layer cakes, even charm squares (mug rug?)!  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 them in a wonky H
(Or maybe it was a crazy 9-patch - cut in a wonky #)   
Add a border or two and look at the smiles!

OK, if you actually made it to the bottom of this tutorial, here's PART II of the story...

Has this ever happened to you?  Someone learns that you are a quilter/seamstress etc. and BRINGS you FABRIC from a relative, or something?  A friend of a friend learned that I had a sewing room, and began bringing me upholstery/tapestry samples that the interior design store where she worked had held on to for 20 years or so, and they were cleaning them out.  Would I like them??  (Oh, sure, I can figure out something to do with these...)  Well, she brought me about 40 giant black garbage bags full of these little bits and pieces of fancy fabrics, most of which are NOT cotton, and NOT much bigger than 10" to 15", and not really usable in quilts because of odd fabric content.  There were even a bunch of leather samples, which I had my local fabric store cut out in flower shapes with their AccuQuilt industrial cutter. 

And now, after hours and hours (and days and weeks and nearly 5 years) sorting, petting, cutting, designing, stitching, making bags, making kits, selling, sharing, teaching, upcycling (I have a personal relationship with each and every one of these pieces of fabric...), I am down to one bin of samples, a handful of ugly kits, all the colorful stuff is gone and I'm left with only 8 bags of BEIGEs.  So I've sorted through those neutrals, and I have thought of a couple more projects I want to make.  1) I'll put together enough crazy 4-patch blocks to create a large piece of fabric for a jacket, and 2) A crazy 4-patch Throw using as many 100% cotton samples as I can find, then I'll add some pretty embroidery stitches along the seams.

Those have gone from a WHIMM (Work Hidden In My Mind) to a PIG (Project In a Garbage bag).  Haven't started them yet, so they're not UFOs (UnFinished Objects, or UnFulfilled Opportunities?).  Today's tutorial has gotten me fired up again.  And maybe after Christmas, I'll get serious about it :).  Then I'll probably "throw" the rest away to make room for the other car in the garage, haha!  Unless, of course, YOU drop by for a visit!

So, for your entertainment, and to see how this block can be used, here's a little "Carpetbag" slideshow, just for you!  (8 @ 10" squares, 8-1/2" finished size, 2 stacks of 4 - use a generous 1/4" seam allowance, press seams open.  Add a couple of 4" to 5" side panels, box the bottom, add handles, line it, add a snap, topstitch, embellish, then throw in a quilt (up to queen size).  Perfect for all your sewing stuff... Just look at those happy quilters!

Slide not working?  See Flikr slideshow → HERE

Hope you found something useful today!   Thanks for reading along, for putting up with my run-on sentences (and afterthought parentheses), and you're always welcome to stop by for a visit, online or otherwise, at Quiltscapes.

Happy Sewing!


  1. Thank you for a fun tutorial and the photos were a treat! Look at those happy faces with their completed projects, just wonderful.

  2. Great tutorial Deonn! A fun way to make a background, and the tote bags are an excellent use of all that fabric. So fun! thank you!

  3. Great tutorial Deonn! I am relatively new to machine piecing (hand piecing is MUCH easier), so I'll use this one for sure! The last piece of your entry made me laugh out loud! It works for me, since I have loads of Projects In Grocerybags! Thanks.

  4. Wonderful tutorial on creating a unique background and loved the slide show! I never saw so many happy ladies sporting such beautiful creations! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wonderful tutorial Deonn...thanks so much for making us think outside the box and the precision...I love the totes.

  6. I was just about to head out the door for a game of golf and thought I'd check in here for a quick look/see... Thanks a lot, Deonn... Rather than focusing on the ball, I'm going to be thinking about all the bags I can make!
    Love the tut!
    Hugs from Mary

  7. Beautiful bags Deonn.Thanks for wonderful tutorial. I love that method! Best,Debuko :)

  8. I really want to play with the decorative stitches on my machine and a crazy quilt is the perfect choice. Thanks for posting this!

    I love seeing all the bag possibilities from all the different fabrics!

    Have a great week, y'all!!!!!!

  9. A great idea and very clear tutorial. A good use of a layer cake to make a quick quilt or throw.

  10. ohhh, part 2 is so funny, I've learned that too, though now if people ask me, I say sure but only if it's 100% cotton.... I just don't have the room nor the desire to make something else, I'm still using scraps from a lady who gave me a bag at least 2 maybe 3 yrs ago, great to make KITS with my GO! cutter for guild meetings etc.

  11. Great tut, but you about did my mind in with those formulas.. I am in the middle of teaching my son algebra and my mind tried to solve he equation.. no good. LOL.

  12. If you have that many neutrals you could always make a crazy patch spread for the bed. It would be nice and heavy duty, you could probably leave out the batting if you put a heavy fabric on the backside.

  13. Thanks for your great tutorial and the slideshow ! I had an opportunity to get upholstery samples and then it fell through ................... but if it comes up again , I will know for sure what to do with them now !!! love your blocks !

  14. Good Morning DEONN....first well there isn't really a first comment...I don't know what to say ....good grief...that ornament on your wonky back...wowzee...you ladies are just wowing me every day... love the slideshow too...yes those ladies look happy happy happy...x

  15. Love the tutorial, the block and the slide show also! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Thanks for sharing the block! I can think of a million uses! Love your idea of pinning immediately - and not using a gazzillion paper plates for each layer! Super! I know all about the friend of a friend giving you fabric from the decorator - I had the same thing happen to me YEARS ago and I STILL have some here! lol lol lol

  17. LOL at your free fabric story. I am trying to clean out my mother's sewing room and am faced with some 20-30 boxes of fabric (none, of course, 100% cotton because she sewed apparel, not quilts). I am looking for an eager sewer to dump it all on! It's crazy!

  18. Wonderful tutorial...I'm inspired to try this, for sure. It's always great to find ways to use those scraps!

  19. Wow!!! Your bags are absolutely fantastic. What a great way to use up scraps. I don't think I would have ever come up with this idea on my own. You're so creative. Thanks for sharing with us!!

  20. Thank you Deonn for the great tutorial! Love the crazy patch work background and super simple too! The bags are fantastic!

  21. Thanks for the great tutorial! I really loved the "fashion show" - you've sold me and I think I'm going to have to put off Christmas for a week so I can make a few bags! xo, Nan

  22. Great tutorial! I love how you combined applique and crazy quilting!

    Jennifer :)

  23. Thanks for the tutorial! I once did something almost like this, but wasn´t satisfied at all. Your version is much better.
    Gun, Sweden

  24. You made my day brighter with your tutorial. You are undoubtedly a fun person to be around.

  25. so very wonky! thanks for sharing!

  26. What a great block and tutorial! Pieced neutral backgrounds are so much fun! Neat ornament!

  27. great bags! way to take a 4 patch up a notch. thanks for the link to my post, I was afraid no one would read it- lol

    I think 2012 is going to be the year of the pieced background block. I know I am adding your slash to my TO DO's- be good cheryl

  28. How awesome. Those are so pretty. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial.

  29. Someone gave me some upholstery fabric samples, too. I've looked but couldn't quite figure what to do. This is great! Deonn is GREAT and fun, too! Wasn't the slideshow a special treat?

  30. Thank you for a great tutorial. This makes a great background! ~Jeanne

  31. I LOVED this Background technique! Was TOO much fun to make. I used a flower instead of an ornament. :) quiltmonstercloset.com :)

  32. Thanks for the great tutorial and the all the ideas.

  33. Awwwwww I can't see the pics anymore :o(



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