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A Crazy Quilt How To -- Go Green With Fabric

Updated on March 13, 2012
Cozy up with a crazy quilt you've made yourself.
Cozy up with a crazy quilt you've made yourself. | Source

Crazy quilts, also known as string quilts, provide a double green bonus for recycled crafts. These vintage-styled coverlets use the tiniest scraps of fabric to create a canvas of color and texture for your personal expression, and you use old newspapers or magazines for quick, easy templates for the block templates. Although it initially seems complicated, this is the perfect beginning quilt top, as there is no need to measure the fabrics or align them precisely, which makes it remarkably simple.

For the project, you need:
· Newspaper or magazine pages
· Fabric scraps of any size
· Dressmaker’s pins
· Sewing machine
· Quilt batting
· Fabric for the back of the quilt
· Embroidery floss or thread
· Needle

Preparing the Materials

To begin the project, decide how large you want to make each block. Any size will work, but pulling pages from a magazine, with just a minor trim to make sure they are all the same size, means that you don’t have to measure and cut the templates. Simply stack the pages, clamp them in binder clips to hold them steady, and trim any parts that aren’t even.

You will need one magazine page (or newspaper sheet) for each block of the quilt; the number of blocks will depend on the desired size of the quilt. Remember that you will need 1/2 inch on each side for the seam allowances.

Next, if you are not using scraps, you’ll need to prepare the fabric. Begin by laundering it to take care of shrinkage and to remove the sizing. If the material wrinkles a lot, iron it lightly.

Now, tear the fabric into strips of varying widths and lengths. Again, if you are using scraps, you may skip this step, as your fabric is already in the smaller pieces you’ll need.

Finally, wash, dry and iron the backing fabric. Cut it about 1 inch larger on all sides than the finished size of the quilt.


Making the Blocks

Make the first block by pinning a piece of fabric diagonally across one corner of the template, with the right side up. Don’t worry about aligning it with the edges of the paper; you’ll trim the blocks up when you are finished.

Pin another strip of fabric on top of the first one, right sides together. Stitch along the matching edges, making a 1/4-inch seam allowance, stitching through both layers of fabric and the paper.

Flip the top piece of fabric so that the right side is facing up. Pin it to the paper to hold it in place. Pin another piece to the top, again with the right side down, and stitch them together. Repeat until the template is covered.

Trim the excess fabric from around the outside edges of the template.

Continue this process until you cover all of the templates.

Assembling the Crazy Quilt Top

Place two blocks together, right sides facing, and pin them together.

Stitch along one long edge, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Repeat to make a strip of blocks the desired width of your quilt. Press the seams open and flat.

Repeat to make enough strips for the length of your crazy quilt.

Now, pin two strips together at one long edge and stitch, again using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Repeat to join all the strips together.

At this point, let your creativity take over to embellish your crazy quilt. Use cross-stitching or blanket stitching between blocks, add beads, buttons or sequins, or “write” embroidered messages.

Putting It All Together

Place your backing fabric (right side down), quilt batting and quilt top (right side up) in your quilting frame. If you are not using a frame, lay your backing flat on the floor with the wrong side facing up. Place a layer of batting and then the joined blocks on the stack, right side up. Pin the centers together, to about 12 inches from the middle, smoothing all the layers.

Because the quilt top is busy, with all the colors, textures and patterns, a simple tie-quilting method is both easiest and most effective. If you are not using a frame, you may want to fold the edges to make it easier to get to the center of the quilt.

Separate the embroidery floss into 3-ply strands and thread the needle with one strand. Starting at the intersecting corners of the center block, push the needle through all the layers from the front of the stack, leaving a tail of about 3 inches on the top. Take a small stitch to return the needle to the top. Tie a knot as close to the fabric as possible and cut the threads to even lengths.

Move to the next corner between two blocks, smoothing the layers as you go, and repeat the step. Continue until you’ve tied the layers together at each block corner.

Fold 1/2 inch of the extra backing edges toward the top of the quilt and finger-press it. (This means to squeeze the fold to crease it.) Fold it over again and pin it to the top. Remove the quilt from the frame and stitch as close to the open edge as possible. Alternatively, you can hand-stitch or blanket stitch the edge to add a decorative border.

Your crazy quilt is ready for snuggling or for adding a personal touch to your bedroom décor.


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    • mkvealsh profile image


      5 years ago

      What a great article! You have a way of making it sound fun and even somewhat easy! I never would have thought of the magazine pages. Thanks for this one.


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