A tutorial on how to work decorative crazy quilt seams

I have an Easter treat for my readers to say thank you and happy stitching over the holiday break. If you celebrate any other religious holiday my best wishes for that day  too!  At the bottom of the article there is a link where you can download this tutorial as PDF and keep it as an ebook on a tablet, or you can print it out to store easily.

Just a quick note about the hussif challenge. I have proposed an open ended challenge to readers. It is not a race to the finnish type challenge but be inventive, creative and do your best type challenge. It is open to new hands and old and you can work it in any type of hand stitchery. In other words it does not have to be crazy quilting. That said mine will be and I will stitch along but I do plan to try and fit some interesting work on my hussif. I have already made a list of over 70 techniques I could try! Obviously they wont all fit on my hussif but I think it might be fun to try give it a a go!

mixed crazy quilt stitchesMany new hands to crazy quilting get stumped when they start to embellish seams. People think you have to be an expert stitcher and I want to say you do not. What you do need to develop is a skill in adapting stitches and shaping them to your needs.  Today I am going to concentrate on how to use some basic stitches to create seam decorations in Crazy quilting. I have put together a few ideas for basic seam embellishments that new hands should find easy to follow.

This is not a tutorial on how to work the stitches. If you need tuition in this I have provided free,  12 Surface Stitches for Beginners. Follow the link for a direct PDF download. You need Acrobat reader to read it.

There are also the free modules in my stitchers worksheets which cover the basic stitches as well. Go get them! They are free and none of my stuff asks you to subscribe to anything or join this or that they are a simple give away. For more stitches can also visit my stitch dictionary.

Most seam embellishments  used in crazy quilting consist of basic stitches combined and built row upon row on top of each other. These are the basic stitches of crazy quilting I recommend all new hands learn. The basic list is: buttonhole stitch, Chain stitch and Detached chain stitch, Cretan, Herringbone, Chevron, Stem stitch, Feather stitch , Fly stitch, French knot and Couching. Other people may add a few stitches but if you have these you will go long way on a crazy quilt before anyone notices you are just using the basics.

Change your stitch direction, size and spacing

As you build your seams think in terms of adding variety by changing your stitches. You can so this by shifting stitch direction,  and changing the size of your stitches such as going from big to small and change the spacing of your stitches from close together to wide apart. You can also work on both side of the seam or flip the stitches working alternately from side to side. All these little tricks add interest to a line of embroidery.

Think about your thread choice

Another tip is don’t forget to change the colour, thickness and type of thread. I see lots of people simply use stranded cotton floss. This thread is fine for cross stitch work but get some cotton perle thread in sizes #8 and #5 as so many of the surface stitches look much better when worked with s thread that has a firm twist to it.  There are no rules in crazy quilting so I am not being dictatorial about it but it is my tip towards creating interesting seam work on crazy quilting. Also many stitches can be threaded and laced so don’t forget that you have option too!

detached chainDetached Chain Stitch (or lazy daisy stitch) is quick, easy stitch that is very versatile. You can work it in all sorts of formations along a seam, along side a piece of lace or a piece of braid.  A simple satisfying embellishment is to add straight stitches and a bead. You can add it to other stitches such as herringbone, or chevron stitch too.

CQ seam pattern 01

Here is an example of working a line of stitching and by adding a few beads in the middle of the motifs it creates a bit of zest.

CQ seam pattern 02You can work either side of the seam, flipping stitches from side to side.

half detached chain daisiesOr you can zigzag the motifs along the seam like these:

CQ seam pattern 03Or zig zag them either side of lace braid or ribbon

detached chainYou can build little motifs up in zig zag bands

CQ seam pattern 04

Once you have tried these techniques ie working a stitch along a line, flipping a stitch from side to side or placing it in a zig zag manner along the line, try building up more complex motifs by increasing the variety of your stitches and adding more rows of stitches.

detached chainThey can be as complex or as simple as you wish.

CQ seam pattern 05These could be worked in stem stitch for the stem, detached chain for the flower and leaf and the middle could be a bead or a French knot.

CQ seam pattern 06This seam pattern consists of a motif made of three detached chain stitches and two straight stitches. If you look at my work regularly you will notice I use this combination all the time. You could finish them off with either a bead or a French knot.

detached chain and beasStitches like buttonhole wheels can be worked as halves or quarters and arranged along a seam.

Half buttonhole wheels You can work them in line or turn them on their side.

CQ seam pattern 07Or flip each half wheel from side to side.

CQ seam pattern 08

Here is another way to arrange them and what they look like stitched up

Half buttonhole wheels or you can quarter the wheels and arrange them in patterns.

CQ seam pattern 09

For instance you can flip them from side to side too!

quarter buttonhole wheels It is simple and effective. You can work two lines face to face.

CQ seam pattern 10

Here is another way to use buttonhole wheels which can be arranged in a different ways. These are interspersed with straight stitch arranged in a ray. French knots, sequins or beads can be placed in the middle.

CQ seam pattern 11

Often, the trick is to take a very basic stitch, work a row, and then add another basic stitch as a second row.

CQ seam pattern 12For instance, you can work two rows of straight stitches in a zig zag formation, with the second row offset to form a line a diamonds. At the peaks you can work a fan of straight stitches, add a bead and you have an attractive seam. All from one type of simple stitch!

Or you could work the foundation row of zig zag stitches using stem stitch or chain stitch. If you did this it would create a more solid line.

This type of seam embellishment where you start with a line to follow (the first zig zag line) is an instance of where Crazy Quilt templates are a very handy addition to your sewing box as you can use them to produce very even lines!

buttonholeHere is another example of how to build a seam layer upon layer

CQ seam pattern 13This foundation row is buttonhole stitch, which is then decorated with straight stitches and a seed bead. It is quite simple, quick to work and made up of basic stitches.

detached chain and buttonholeButtonhole stitch is an extremely versatile foundation row because you can change the height of the arms to form a pattern and Buttonhole stitch will follow a curve well. For instance here we can add a fan of straight stitches to the top of the row and sequins at intervals along the bottom.

CQ seam pattern 14If you flip units of buttonhole stitch from side to side it leads to more interesting ways to combine stitches.

CQ seam pattern 15Here is an arrangement of detached chain stitches and buttonhole stitch.

CQ seam pattern 16This pattern builds on the same idea and notice it is the same basic  stitches which I have used. They are arranged differently to create daisy motifs but they are the same basic stitch.

detached chain and buttonholeHerringbone Stitches have a zigzag like, crossed structure which means you can make all sorts of additions to a line of Herringbone stitches.

CQ seam pattern 17On the top row straight stitches worked in a fan and beads have been added to the spaces between the herringbone stitches. On the second line detached chain, straight stitches and beads have been tucked into the base of the cross.

CQ seam pattern 18Chevron stitch is also a good foundation stitch for crazy quilters as you can add other stitches to the valleys and peaks. Straight stitches, detached chain stitches and beads have been added to the peaks of Chevron Stitch.

CQ seam pattern 19Or you can tuck extra stitches into the valleys. In this case I have added quarter buttonhole wheels.

Chevron stitch Here are some of my chevron stitch seam samples taken from my crazy quilts.

Chevron stitch Feather stitching

CQ seam pattern 20Finally, one of the all time favourites for crazy quilters is Feather Stitch because you can add stitches to the end of each arm or tuck stitches between the arms to create lovely complex patterns.

Since feather stitch follows curves well you can create a lovely organic movement to a block using feather stitch. It is certainly one of my favourite stitches.

As you can see it is possible to build up quite complex patterns using these methods.

I hope this article will give people a few ideas, and that you enjoy working and experimenting with some of them.

cq seams tutorial screenshotYou can right click and  download this article as PDF and keep it as an ebook on a tablet, or print it out easily.

Spread the word and tell your friends, “like” it and  share it on your favourite social network.

Share your favourite embroidered seams

If you have a blog or flickr site and have a favourite seam embellishment you want to share please do!

It is simple, leave a comment that includes  your web address. When you leave a comment include the http:// part of the address then your address becomes a link and readers will be able easily visit and see what you have done.

In the meanwhile I would like to wish all my readers a happy Easter or what ever religion happy holiday . I will take the rest of the holidays off and you will see me again on Tuesday!

Details 654 on my Freeform Embroidery Sampler

Freeform needlework Sampler detailThe photo below is a detail on section 49 on my Love of Stitching Band Sampler.

section 49 of needlework samplerI have turned the photo on its side as these bands run vertically down the sampler. These details can be seen below the tiger

Stitches Used:

All of these stitches are beginner stitches. I love returning again and again to the simple stitches.  From the top of the photo downwards, first  I worked a line of  chevron stitch using a cotton floss thread .

Next is line of buttonhole worked in a cotton perle # 5 thread.

I then added a line of beads before working a line of couching,  securing stranded cotton floss with a yellow thread that was also stranded cotton floss..

The last line of stitches is also couching using straight stitches in  yellow cotton perle # 5 to secure the foundation thread of orange cotton perle.

Fabric:

The foundation fabric is a hand dyed 18cnt Aida

Date:

This section of the sampler was worked February 2010.

Size:

This area on my  Love of Stitching Band Sampler which is 15 cm (6 inches) wide and currently measures 96 feet 5 inches (2,938.78 centimetres), or  32.138 yards which is 29.3878 meters. It is still growing…

Sampler FAQ
If you want to know more about this piece visit the Sampler FAQ page or you can work back through the series of articles by reading them in the the Love of Stitching Band Sampler category.

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Who is up for a mini challenge?

As I said last after some products from Colourstreams arrived in the post and I was inspired by the colour scheme, I knew I was going to make something from them rather than just work a few test samples in order to write a review.

I decided to make a hussif and if I am still in the mood I will probably make a work bag to go with it. I am wondering how many of my readers want to make a hussif? One of the challenges this year  on  CrazyQuilting International is a hussif you may want to combine the two challenges.

A reader asked me “What is a hussif?” and on Monday I gave readers a few links to see photos of them but basically they are traditional sewing roll or sewing kit.

I have decided to make a full hussif/sewing caddy/kit for myself. I am not sure if it should have theme. At first I thought I would work a sewing theme, then I thought maybe gardening with lots of spring flowers and creepy crawlies as spiders are supposed to be good luck in a crazy quilt. Then my mind thought about stitching traditions and so my thoughts went, rambling through ideas. I have not made up my mind as to even having a theme but I knew if I dithered about too long the project would not get started at all!

So I went ahead and have pieced it anyway! In all probability I will have a theme around the symbols and motifs to be found in traditional crazy quilting. For instance a spider is good luck and to the Victorians many of the flowers held a message but I am still not totally committed tot that yet.

Hussif pieces 1

Anyway I have pieced a hussif, which will have pockets either side, a pocket for my stencils and another for my embroidery scissors. I will also make a needlebook and an extra pouch that will hold other small items.

Hussif pieces 2
This is my studio journal with a rough sketch and notes about the hussif. I also kept a few samples of fabric that were in the scrap pile. This is more as record of some of the fabrics I used. also you can see that the drawing is a simple almost back of the envelope affair of notes on the layout of the pieces.

Studio journal hussif plansI also want to share the next page which is swatches of the Colourstreams products sent to me. Once I start stitching and actually using them I will let readers know how the threads went. In the meanwhile, I have included the fabrics in the hussif. The silk velvet is particularly nice and I plan to use the sheers in suffolk puff flowers on my hussif.

Studio journal colourstreams

Who want to design their own hussif and share what they make?

A few people in the comments have said they want to make a hussif. Who wants to share the project? Perhaps design your own hussif in any style (it does not have to be crazy quilting) and share what you make. I know it is Easter but after Easter we could have a few weeks devoted to an informal stitch along. I don’t want to set a deadline as I want to try a few ideas and specialty stitches on this project so I dont want to race it. It’s a case of quality and sharing a creative exploration rather than speed. If you want to join in, or have an idea to add please leave a comment and let me know as it could be fun. If people want an official starting date we could make it after Easter when things settle a bit. I have house visitors and I am sure lots of people are busy with family this time of year. For those interested we could report in on Wednesdays as part of the Work in Progress days (For folks that want to work on other stuff for Wednesdays that is fine I am just grouping them together as it is easy for folks to remember) Let me know what you think.

What has happened to the work on my quilt? Is it dangerous getting sidetracked like this? I am one single block off completing it, so I know this project will not become a UFO. If I was 6-10 blocks off completing it would be different because that is the danger zone. It is the time when I am tired of the project but with one more block to go I know I will do it. I cant assemble the quilt until a good few weeks after easter anyway as I need to take over the dining room to do it and I have visitors! So this is a good hand work solution.

Join in Work in Progress Wednesdays and leave a comment

If you have made progress on a stitching project leave a comment with a link to your site. If you include the http bit of your web address in the comment it will become a link and folks can visit and see what you have done.

If you want to know more about Work in Progress Wednesdays visit the FAQ. All my Work in Progress Wednesday reports are under that category.

 

Take a Stitch Tuesday 108 Rice stitch and varieties 109 Square Boss

Rice stitch detailWhen I shared this little detail from my sampler I was asked to include this stitch in TAST. I said I would. It has taken me a month to get to it but here it is, another thing crossed off my stitching to do list! I also have a question for my readers towards the end of the article. I would love to hear your comments  about it.

Sampler detail 158This week the stitch is Rice Stitch and two varieties and a variation called Boss Stitch. This stitch is also known as crossed corners and William and Mary stitch. This is thought of as a canvas stitch, but as you can see it can be worked on aida or linen too. If you want to use it on another type of fabric you can use waste canvas.

Sampler detail 164
At first glance it looks a little boring but it is tremendously versatile. It is known as a canvas stitch background because it can be easily worked and builds up quickly.
Don’t let the fact that it is and canvas stitch put you off however because many of the canvas stitches can be worked on Aida (like the samples illustrated) or any even weave fabric with great effect. If you want to work it on other fabric or over an area of crazy patchwork use Waste Canvas.

How to work Rice Stitch

This is an illustrated step by step on how you work Rice stitch. As you can see it is very simple consisting of a cross stitch foundation with a second layer of diagonal stitches added to each arm of the cross.

Rice stitch illustrated stepsHow to work Variety 1 and 2 of Rice Stitch

I want to share 2 varieties (there are a lot more) As you can see they all have the same structure

Rice stitch V1 illustrated stepsThe first variety is a cross worked over more threads so that the diagonal stitches sit apart slightly.

Rice stitch V2 illustrated stepsThe next variety has 3 diagonal stitches worked across each bar.

Rice stitch sample 2You can really have fun with this stitch particularly if you change threads. You can use one thread or colour for the large cross and another thread of colour for the corner tie downs. Swap between thick and thin, metallic and dull or explore colour combinations. Change the size of your stitches and you can always add beads or French knots to really give the stitch a contrast of texture. It is one of those simple stitches that can produce interesting results.

Rice stitch sample 1??Square Boss Stitch
Square Boss stitch is also known as raised knot stitch. Don’t ask me why as I don’t know. However it is so similar to Rice stitch I have decided to group these two stitches together as many of the experiments you can do with Rice stitch you can also do with Square Boss.

Square Boss Rice stitch illustrated stepsSquare boss starts with a larger cross stitch and the tie stitches are tucked further to the crossed threads in the middle. This means that the pattern established varies from Rice stitch but it is really a variety.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with both these stitches.

I have a question.
Would readers like to see more of the canvas stitches included in TAST? I would still have the surface stitches as I still have lots to share. I also have the silk ribbon stitches, Beaded stitches and pulled and drawn thread stitches I could add. What would people enjoy? A mix of stitches or an emphasis on some styles? This year playing with the beaded stitches has made it more interesting for me, but what about you? If you like the canvas stitches is it better to see them worked in steps in thread, the way I have done or is the traditional diagramming better understood. Another thing I have been wondering about is, when we have varieties like this do readers want more time between the publication of stitches so they can “Keep up”?

I would really like to hear from readers. It does not matter if you stitch every week, pick a stitch occasionally or simply read every week. I would love to hear peoples ideas. Leave a comment as to what you like.

Like it? Join in!

Once you have worked a sample,  photograph it and put it online at your blog, flickr etc then swing back to the Last TAST post (you will find it under the category each week)  and leave a comment. If you are pushed for time and don’t get a chance to do it this week, don’t fret as next week I will also open a post so people can leave their details.

If you want to share the technique with friends do so but please link toPintangle.com

You can also share your explorations on the  Facebook TAST group, and the flickr TAST site. All these sub groups are set up at request of members

Don’t want to miss our on any of the TAST stitches this year?

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