Lesson 1 - Choosing fabrics.
For me, this is the most important stage of the crazy quilting process; choosing the fabrics for the blocks.
It goes without saying that colour is the most important aspect of all art forms. Take time to select a palette that is pleasing to the eye.
The pieced block is simply the background to the embroidery; crazy quilting is all about the embroidery.
A few guidelines that I use in my workshops:
1. Fabrics that are are highly patterned do NOT work for me. Once again, this is my personal opinion!
2. I choose texture over patterned fabrics.
3. Try not to have one colour that ''jumps" out at you! A uniform palette is soothing to the eye and allows the embroidery to take center stage.
4. I do not like to mix different genres of fabric; for example having a Bali print with a velvet in one block.
The project on the cover of my second book is an example of how I have used different shades of men's suiting - however, the embroidery is still able to "stand alone".
For these tutorials I will be working on 9 different 6" squares - its the same process as my workshops. This allows you to experiment and create interesting seam treatments - almost like a journal.
These beautiful yarn dyed Japanese fabrics are the palette that I have chosen for my project.
However, choose whatever you wish to work on.
Men's suiting - embroidery will show up like a treat on these!
Lets talk threads and silk ribbons - oh my hat, there are a plethora to choose from. As a general rule, a twisted thread is "my go to": Perle #8 or #12, crochet cotton, twisted silk, crewel wool etc . Stranded cotton is my least favorite thread to use - it was made to separate and that's exactly what it does. I do use stranded cotton but sparingly. As we go along I will give you examples of where I think it's OK to use stranded cotton.
Needles, I have to come clean here. I am a needle snob! I absolutely LOVE working with Bohin (my favorite) and John James brand.
Many of my students (you know who you are!!!!!) arrive at my classes with pincushions and needle cases filled to the brim with all sorts of different needles.
Let's keep this simple- we only need TWO types of needles; Chenille #22 and a pack of Milliner's needles sizes 3-9.
The Chenille needle is a short fat needle with a gloriously big eye. You can use this for the majority of your embroidery -except, of course, when you are knotting (colonial or french knot) or a wrapping stitch (bullion or cast on stitch). I will remind you, as and when, you need to use a specific needle.
The Milliner's needle is a long, elegant needle; the eye being the same size as the shaft - perfect for beading (the #9 is small enough for most of the beads in my stash).
While we are on the subject of beading - I ALWAYS use a Nymo beading thread. Always.
My technique in beading is to go through each bead twice and I form a knot on the back of the work BEFORE and AFTER each bead. I know, I know, this technique is time consuming, but I have an aversion to a wobbly bead.
Foundation fabric - we can use basically anything, however, a fabric with a low thread count is best. A more loosely woven fabric eliminates a lot of damage to the threads as they pass through the layers of fabrics. You will notice in the last photo on this post that the piece of foundation fabric is at least 3" larger than the block pattern. I work in a hoop so the foundation fabric has to fit in the hoop, but when joining the squares at the end of the project the larger seam allowance makes for smooth, flat seams.
Seam allowance - lets keep it generous; nearly a half an inch. There are so many benefits to a larger seam allowance in crazy quilting which I won't get into here. Just trust me on this.
Piecing technique - flip and stitch.This technique can be found in both my books. However, there are many different methods of piecing crazy quilting out there.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need the patterns for these little squares.
As previously stated, I work in a hoop and this standing one is perfect. It has a universal joint (yes, it does sound impressive!) which allows me to turn it in all directions and, most importantly, I can flip the hoop over to tie off all my threads. It's brilliant!
I have decided that every Monday is the best day to post the new seam treatments. However, the first tutorial will be posted tomorrow.
A big thank you to all those who have contacted me regarding my tutorials, I am really hoping that you will all enjoy the process.