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!

What is a hussif?

If you look up the word Hussif you will find that it is described as an alternative form of hussy which originally meant a sewing-case and that is our clue. Traditional hussifs were a long strip of fabric pockets that can rolled or folded to be stored. They contained sewing items such needles pins, small sewing tools such scissors etc. In other words a hussif is a basic sewing kit. The word itself is old and simple sewing kits used to be given to soldiers as their “housewife”.

hussif sewing kit closedToday we would call them sewing kits or craft organiser. When I said that I wanted a cross between a traditional hussif and modern organiser I meant that I wanted the design to be big enough to hold the hand sewing needs of a contemporary embroiderer. I wanted pockets enough to fit my needs yet not so large that I did not use it.

I have made one hussif before above is what it looks like closed and below is the interior.

hussif sewing kit open

I like some aspects to it, but to be honest it not big enough to be of practical use. So my next hussif will be larger. I will do some things the same however such as using the press stud popper tape to secure the plastic zip lock bags only this time around the stud will be more heavy duty! I will also include more elastic straps to hole marking pencils and of course a pocket for my CQ templates.

I have done a scout around the net to find a few links for folks to explore. Do follow them as there is lots of eyecandy

Carol Lindberg made a wonderful hussif and bag. I have always wanted to set aside some time to design and make another hussif but I am sure seeing Carols Lindberg’s hussif inside a bag was the germ of the idea to make a matching workbag.
Lynn Majidimehr steps us through her process of making a hussif in the article My creative journey

Here are a number of hussifs made by CQ Mag online readers and a there is a second batch here.

They are great to make as you can keep it small and simple or make them very complex with all sorts of pockets to store sewing tools. They make great gifts and yet are not a huge project like a quilt.

This post is in response to readers question about my post written with much excitement last Wednesday. I have since started piecing my hussif so stay tuned as I will try and write  a work in progress report each Wednesday.

Have you made a hussif?

If so let us know in the comments. If you have a photo online, leave a link (add the http bit to your address and it becomes a live link people can click and see what you have done)

I just know I am going to get side tracked with this …

Yes this is a definite derailing moment. Look what arrived in the post the other day.

colour streams packageHere is the back story. I was asked to review some of the Colourstreams products and agreed, thinking I work a little a sample, review their threads and move on. It is not going to work out like that.

As soon as I saw what tumbled out of the packet my mind started to race as the colours of the fabrics are inspirational. I like to stay on track and I have a a large project (the lace quilt) nearly finished so I was trying to be disciplined and not start a new project. Then when I dug deep into the pack these little cupped sequins were hiding and I was done for. They are cupped flower shaped sequins – ideal for any crazy quilt project. Take a look at their store and you will see what I mean.

colour streams sequinsI have been itching to take a break from my quilt blocks and I am in the mood to work in brighter colours and the colour streams silk threads look wonderful. So I have decided to work a project using these products and I will share what I am doing in a series of posts. It means it will be a longer review rather than quick little sample stitched and written up, but it will be more fun to make something.

I received in my packet some silk rayon velvet which is to die for (no pun intended) , Hand dyed crinkle silk chiffon, hand dyed habotai silk and some silk organza. I will add to these fabrics to make a crazy quilt project I have been thinking about a long time.

So far, I am impressed as obviously the colours are inspiring. The quality both fabric and threads looks top notch and I have no hesitation in investing time in this.

For this project I am currently designing a cross between a modern sewing organiser and a traditional hussif. I have been wanting to make this for a while and hoarding little sewing related charms for a while and have decided to combine them with what has been sent.

Apart from the free samples I do not gain financially from this review or the ones I will write over the next few weeks. In other words I am not paid to write them. I am not affiliated in any way with Colourstreams.

Well I am off to have fun and to piece myself a sewing organiser and start stitching with these lovely threads.

Mmmm… now lets see I need a scissor keep, a needlecase, a pocket for my stencils, and something to hold treads… thinks to self  …do a I need a bag to keep this hussif in? This project is going to be fun! Watch it grow… Oh I could have a little extra pouch for goodies to go in …. NO! please people dont let it grow…  well maybe a little bit

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Crazy quilt supplies

screenshotHeads up for all those folks enrolled in my Crazy quilting class. I am receiving emails about where to buy supplies and particularly lace etc. I noticed that Cathy’s Crazy by Design Etsy shop has been restocked with some really nice stuff so I thought I would share it here.

I am NOT affiliated in any way and get no kick back – not even a discount in her shop and feel I can recommend her honestly. I know Cathy as I met her when I taught in the States and as a customer have found her service is good.

So if you are in the shopping mood do check out Cathy’s Crazy by Design Etsy shop. Her hand dyed laces caught my eye but browse the other areas too. I loved the swan and Carousel horse on this page.

If you have forgotten where the list of supplies needed, you can find it  here below the description of the class.