Sunday, January 16, 2011

Putting Together A Block

Let's talk about putting blocks together.  When I learned how to put together crazy patch blocks I was a young woman and my grandmother taught me.  To begin with she told me that they were very easy.  Which to find out they really are easy to put together.  She said start with a piece of fabric in the middle and go around and around until the block is filled.  A little vague right? I did figure out how to put them together a little better in my old age!  There are times that I put together a block just like she taught me.  Is it wrong?  I don't think so.  There are so many crazy quilts out there where the maker did not follow today's rules or even yesterdays rules, they just picked a piece of fabric and put it in the center of the block and just sewed around and around until the block is full.  Many antique crazy quilts follow a pattern that is not crazy patched, they are patched in some of the traditional quilt patterns of the day with some of the most wonderful stitching that has ever been seen.
  There are many ways to put crazy patch blocks together.  As many as there are teachers out there.  Even my rules and methods will differ from others.  Many teachers will get down to business with you and teach you right.  Others will tell you there are no rules.  Well there are a few rules that you will need to know in order to make your stitching easier.

So lets take a look at piecing a block.

First I figure out how big I want to make the block.  Lets say I want to make a quilt out of blocks 8x8inches.  I will measure out a square block on "backing fabric" that is 9x9 inches. (Backing fabric by The Lions definition is the base fabric that you will crazy piece on.)  After I cut it out I will take my ruler and measure an inch into the block and then draw my "guideing lines".  To the Lion guide lines are lines that are put on the block so that I can stitch a little further out so that when the blocks are stitched together there are no gaps on the block that are bare of stitches.  (When we get further along in the year you will see what I am talking about when I start putting this quilt together.)  As you can see from the picture below I have already done this with my backing fabric

Now here is where the putting together the block gets more interesting.  You need to find a small piece of fabric to put in the center of the block.  It should be anywhere between 2 to 3 inches in diameter.  Now lets talk about the center piece.  I usually start with one that is the shape and color and texture that "tickels my fancy".  This goes back to my grandmother and her put a piece of fabric in the middle and sew around and around.  Some times this piece has four sides sometimes it has five sides.

Lets now talk about sides and today's standards.  Today and maybe even in my grandmothers day the standards say start out with a middle piece that has five sides.  As you can see from all my pictures I sometimes start out with a four sided piece.  That is my bad habit from my grandmother.  Is it wrong?  I am not going to debate that but for all purposes in today's CQ you will need to start out with a five sided piece.  One day when we do have CQ standards and guidelines for show quality quilts they more than likely say that your middle piece needs to have five sides.  So DO NOT get into my bad habit in picking up a piece of fabric with four sides.  Start out right and choose one with five sides.

After it is in the center of the block that is where you find another piece of fabric and sew it on the edge of your center fabric.  You can see here in the picture what I am talking about.

As you follow the pictures you can get the idea on how you should just keep sewing around the center piece.  Just like my grandmother said just get a piece of fabric and put it in the middle and sew around and around until you fill up the fabric.  She was so very right in that description even with todays standards.
Now let me get you to put out the idea that you have to search through your fabric pile or you have to cut "just the right piece" of fabric.  You can find the fabric in the next color and texture that you want and sew it on the next edge.  You can find a larger piece of fabric to sew on the block.  I actually prefer to find a larger piece of fabric to sew on.  It helps to keep "gaps" out of the fabric.  As you can see from the picture below where I did sew a larger piece of fabric then I found another piece and stitched it onto the block over the top of it.

Now here is the trick every beginner needs to know.........take you scissors and cut off the excess fabric at the seam.  You can see what I did from my picture below.

As you can see from the picture below the excess fabric has been cut off and the pink piece of fabric is ready to be pressed into place.  The orange piece takes on a whole new shape after this process.

The excess fabric needs to be cut off.  If you are asking why, the reason is you have the backing fabric and the top fabric to go through when you start your embroidery.  If you leave excess fabric you will have that layer to go through also.  This makes it rough when pulling your needle and floss through the block.  It also makes it harder to get your stitches the way you want them.  Another reason is some fabrics you can see straight through.  Like that orange piece that I cut off, you could have seen that straight through the pink piece.

You just continue in that manner until you block is full.  Then you have a crazy patched block that looks like the picture below.

Turn over your block and with a rotary cutter cut off the excess fabric from around your base block.  As you can see from the picture below my guide lines.  After you cut the excess fabric off you want to stitch those guide lines.  You can do it by hand or by machine.  I stitch them by machine.

After it is all done you have a perfect block for stitching.  As you can see there really are just a few rules in piecing a block.  They are there to make things easier on you and your stitching.

For my next post you are going to find out what you are going to do with the composition book and colored pencils!

Please if you have any questions on the post just ask.  I will be happy to answer them.  You can either post them here on the blog or email me privately.

The Lion

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!!  2011.......WOW!  Just thinking about 2011 and how fast 2010 went.  In the year 2010 I had many, many changes in my life.  When things started happening they happened really fast.  At the beginning of November I started thinking of the coming year and all the things I would like to do and where I would like to end up at the end of 2011.  Not only in professional life but in my stitching life as well.

I decided in both places that it is time to go back to basics.  To go back and work from the beginning.  My motto for the year is:  "To go forward sometimes we have to take two steps back."  In that with every thing that I am working on for the year as of  January one I am in the "two steps back" mode.

Now in moving forward with stitching I am concentrating on the just basic stitches and how to build on them.  There are two blogs that I find inspiration on.  One of them is Kathy's blog Shawkl.  She has the TDiTM.  That is short for Twelve Dozen Stitches in Twelve Months.  It is the most AWESOME inspiration that you can get for your stitching.  Here is the address to her blog: .

Now the next blog Kerry Kati Cakes has not only great eye candy but the BAS, that is short for Build A Seam.  Kerry not only puts up a seam to build on but she has tutorials on how to make the stitch.  She will also show pictures on how she builds on it.  You can take her great inspiration and then go from there!  Here is the link to her blog: .

Now I don't want to leave out the books that I look at for inspiration.  There are three of them that I will be working from this year.  The first one is Dorthy Bonds little brown book entitled "Crazy Quilt Stitches".  I have had this book for years.  This book is the best for a quick reference for a basic stitch.

The next book one that I absolutely treasure.  I carry this book everywhere!  Is the Carol Samples book "Treasury Of Crazy Quilt Stitches".  I have said this once before and I am writing it down for posterity right now.  You will have to pry this book out of my cold dead hands!  For those of you who do not have this book let me just say you HAVE to get one!

The third book that I am taking my inspiration on this year is a book from Judith Baker Montano.  It is entitled "Floral Stitches".  For those of you who have never owned a book from JBM I have to let you know that everyone of her books are full of inspiration and she goes into great detail on techniques and methods for any crazy quilt project you would like to tackle.  All of her books have a stitch dictionary in the back of them.  I own five of her books and they are main staples of my CQ library.  I do have to let you know that "Floral Stitches" is my favorite inspiration book for many of my floral stitches.  In this book she shows you how to take inspiration from the flowers around you.

I can't count how many times I have heard from beginning CQ'ers "I just don't know what stitch to use" or "how do I do this stitch", or "what stitch do I put here?"  Here are my plans for the year for The Lost Pines Crazy Quilt Group:  We are going back to basics.  We will take one stitch a month and explore it.  I am going to show everyone how to "build your own" stitch dictionary. With drawing the stitches you want to use to taking a picture of your work and posting it in your on stitch book.  This is some of the basics in which I speak.  If you have this type of basic book with which to reference you will have the best inspiration of all!  It is one that will never end.  You can have a book of inspiration that interests you.

I have also thought on what about my blog and the followers.  I know that some of you have expressed that you wish you could be here to attend the meeting of The LPCQG.  This year I am going to bring The LPCQG to my blog.  I think that the topic of going back to the basics is of interest of all.  So for my blog followers I am going to help you go back to basics also.  Now is when you will need to go and grab a paper and pen I am going to give you a list of items you will need to go back to basics and be the master of your own inspiration!

Here is your Back to Basics list:

spiral or composition notebook
crayons or colored pencils
10 8inch blocks crazy patched
needles and floss
glue sticks

The colors of the blocks and floss I will leave up to you.  When the year comes to an end we will all have a beautiful basic crazy quilt to show off to all our friends!

See you in the next post.

The Lion