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!

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?

Subscribe to Pin Tangle by Email and have it delivered to your In Box. Follow the link to sign up. You do NOT have to be stitching along to take advantage of this service.


Break week for TAST stitches

Last week I posted instructions for 2 stitches.  People drop away when there is too many stitches and they feel they can’t keep up so as promised this week is time to catch up. I don’t want TAST to become a  to do list but rather I hope my readers can use it as than a space for experimentation and creative skill development.

I am opening up this page so that if you have worked a sample from  ANY of the stitches listed on the TAST FAQ page  post a comment below and tell us about it.

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.

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

Subscribe to Pin Tangle by Email and have it delivered to your In Box. Follow the link to sign up. You do NOT have to be stitching along to take advantage of this service.
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Stitches 106 and 107 Looped Cretan and Beaded Looped Cretan

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch sampleThis week I have 2 stitches to share. The first is an interesting version of Cretan stitch that I discovered in an old embroidery book by Edith John titled Creative Stitches.

It is called Looped Cretan and the second stitch this week is my adaption which includes adding a bead. It is really useful to know the foundation stitch which is of course Cretan stitch. Both samples are worked using a cotton perle #5 thread. Once again in the beaded version the beading is not done afterwards but during the stitching process.

Tip! Use a size 26 tapestry needle. Since the eye of a tapestry needle is long you can thread perle #8 and perle #5 through the long eye. However the needle itself is thin which means you can add a bead to your working thread as you stitch.  This choice of needle is key to success with this type of beaded embroidery.

How to work Looped Cretan Stitch 

Work from top to bottom between 2 imaginary lines.

Looped Cretan stitch 1Bring the needle through the fabric at the start of the line on the top left side. Move across the line and insert your needle on the right edge. With your needle angled and pointing towards the center of the line make a small stitch.

Looped Cretan stitch 2Keeping the thread under the needle as illustrated pull it through your fabric. It should look like a shallow unsecured fly stitch.

Looped Cretan stitch 3Insert your needle on the right edge in the same place, as illustrated. Angle your needle downward as illustrated and make a small stitch.

Looped Cretan stitch 4Keeping the thread under the needle as illustrated pull it through your fabric to create a loop. This loop is like adding one buttonhole stitch. It is also this extra loop on the Cretan stitch that gives this stitch its name.

Looped Cretan stitch 5Move across the line and insert your needle on the left edge. With your needle angled as illustrated and pointing towards the center of the line, make a small stitch. (As you would for regular Cretan stitch)

Looped Cretan stitch 6Keeping the thread under the needle as illustrated pull it through your fabric.

Looped Cretan stitch 7Insert your needle on the left edge in the same place, as illustrated. Angle your needle downward and pointing towards the center of the line make a small stitch.   Keeping the thread under the needle as illustrated pull it through your fabric to create a loop.

Looped Cretan stitch 8

Looped Cretan stitch 9Move across to the right and repeat this process. Continue working downward, back and forth until the line is worked.

As you can see this is a decorative and interesting stitch  and would be useful working in trailing lines as part of a floral motif.

Like Cretan you can work Looped Cretan stitch close together to form a very different patten in the movement of the stitch. You can vary the length of the wings or the angle of the wings to creat interesting effects. You can increase the width of the wing , then return to the established line  to created an alternating pattern of wider wings.

You can work this Looped Cretan stitch in a circle to create other organic like forms.

It is very verstaile and I hope readers enjoy experimenting with it.

How to work Beaded Looped Cretan Stitch 

You work this stitch using the same method as Looped Cretan stitch but add a bead to your working thread. I have added a bead after each loop is created but you can add beads at any of the steps and each creates a different pattern.

Use a size 26 tapestry needle as this type of needle is thin enough to take the bead yet the ye is large enough to take perle #8 or perle #5 thread.

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch  1Work from top to bottom between 2 imaginary lines.

Bring the needle through the fabric at the start of the line on the top left side. Move across the line and insert your needle on the right edge. With your needle angled and pointing towards the center of the line make a small stitch.  Keeping the thread under the needle as illustrated pull it through your fabric.

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch  2

Insert your needle on the right edge in the same place, as you did at the first step, as illustrated. Angle your needle downward as illustrated and make a small stitch.   Keeping the thread under the needle as illustrated pull it through your fabric to create a loop.

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch 3Add a bead to your work thread and tuck it up against the last stitch.

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch 4Move across the line and insert your needle on the left edge. With your needle angled as illustrated and pointing towards the center of the line make a small stitch.  Keeping the thread under the needle pull it through your fabric.

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch 5Insert your needle on the left edge in the same place, as illustrated. Angle your needle downward and pointing towards the center of the line make a small stitch.

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch 6Keeping the thread under the needle as illustrated pull it through your fabric to create a loop.

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch 7Add a bead to your work thread and tuck it up against the last stitch.

Beaded Looped Cretan stitch 8Move across to the right and repeat this process. Continue working downward, back and forth until the line is worked.

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 to Pintangle.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?

Subscribe to Pin Tangle by Email and have it delivered to your In Box. Follow the link to sign up. You do NOT have to be stitching along to take advantage of this service.