Work in Progress Wednesday Assembling a crazy quilt part 1

Work in Progress Wednesday Assembling a crazy quilt part 1

I promised last week to show reader how I assemble a crazy quilt. This is my progress so far. I hope to share with you a construction technique that means the seams will sit flat.

The first thing I do is to lay the quilt blocks out so I can see how they are going to read. I spend quite a bit of time faffing about with blocks, rejigging where they will sit and finding the best place for each block.

The first task is the trim all the blocks to the right shape.

To do this I make a template from cardboard.This template includes seam allowances. Each block has to be exactly this shape.


If you are wondering why I have some stitching on the edge of the card board I tested my normal sewing machine foot and my zipper foot. I decided I would use my zipper foot because there is a lot of bead work on the blocks. Much of this bead work goes right to the seam allowance, so a zipper foot helps to stitch right up next to the beads without busting too many needles!

I had to decide between normal foot or zipper foot before calculating the seam allowances. My seam allowance is the width of the zipper foot.

I mark the edge of each block using a quilters pencil.

When I trim the edges of the block I place the ruler on the outside of the block and make the cut. If you place the ruler over the block because of beads buttons etc the ruler will not sit flat and you will make an uneven cut.

Here is the block trimmed

I then pin the pieces together and stitch together. I use the side of my zipper foot a guide for the seam. Some people put masking tape on the plate area of the machine to act as a guide but I eyeball it.

Once the block is together I press the seams open.

When I press I use extra padding with a towel on the ironing table. I do not press too firmly as that will flatten any silk ribbon embroidery on the block.

To make sure the seams stay flat I use herringbone stitch to keep them open. This stitching does not go through the whole block. The foundation fabric that backs the block is caught by the stitching.

Since there are 21 of these units in this quilt it has taken me all week to get to this stage.

It is a time consuming part of the assembly as it is of course done by hand but since the blocks sit flat at the end of the process it is worth it.

Next I start to assemble the blocks in larger modules. I herringbone the seams flat. Then I assemble into larger modules again and once again make sure the seams sit flat by pressing them open and stitching them down with herringbone stitch. I do this until the quilt top is assembled.


This module is still to be done. So this weeks work in progress report is a case of so far so good but still lots of work to go

Next week I hope to be at that stage I will show you how I attach the border, batting, false back, rod pocket and back of the quilt. So stay tuned…

Meanwhile it is back to the incredibly boring task of making sure those seams sit flat!

Diamond block crazy quilt

Here is the finished quilt click on the image and you will taken to larger photo. I hope you enjoy seeing it.

The back story

If you are interested in the back story of this quilt and seeing photos of each block as it was made browse the posts  in the Diamond block crazy quilt category

Posts on How to assemble a Crazy Quilt which include;

Online Crazy Quilting Classes:

Just a quick reminder for those who are interested in taking a class with me. You will find all my classes listed under the top tab imaginatively titled Classes online you will also find information on how online classes are run.


  1. Just wanted to write/say that I am awed about your talent and generosity of you crazy quilt. Your work is beautiful, and I really like your block one, the least likely favorite. To me less is best, it’s like cooking…some of the best recipes have only two to four ingredients. My country ribs…put in bag, add golden mushroom soup and voila, the best tasting country ribs ever in my home. So I am more of a less person.

    Again, you do beautiful work. Thank you for your time.


  2. Love it Sharon! Those puffy seams are always a sore point with me…so I love that you shared how you tackle them! I can only imagine just how tedious all those herringbone seams must be..but the end result is so wonderful! I agree, it would be worth it. Thanks so much for your continued willingness to share!

  3. I am positively swooning, looking at this quilt come together!
    And I, too, think the herringbone seam flattening technique is a brilliant innovation.
    I still like fusibile interfacing as a way to "meld" the components of a top together….but I think the herringbone stitching should come first.

    When your quilt is all done, will you post a picture (again) of the quilt that inspired it?

    Such terrific, stellar, awesome work, Sharon!!!!

  4. Oh, my… this is rather wonderful, Sharon!!! I can see where the herringbone stitch really makes the blocks hang together well… brilliant idea. I think I’m going to have to borrow it, if you don’t mind!??

    The embroidery brings this quilt to a whole ‘nother level, Sharon. Spectacular!

  5. Sharon, love the fact that you are showing how you do it. I never thought of making an open template to use for squaring up. Always used a ruller and needless to say some blocks are always way off. Thanks for your great blog. Zandra

  6. You must be enjoying yourself more now that you can see all this coming together. It is looking fantastic, and it is a good technique for the back since there is so much going on at the front. I am sure that your effor will mean this art will last for many years.

  7. Marci
    The short answer is yes and I am becoming a more of a fan of the idea the longer I do it. This herringbone treatment makes everything sit right and to be honest it is proving so successful for me I think I will graduate to use it on even small things. It really makes a difference.
    I don’t actually trust fusibles – its more instinct that rational evidence so I would not say for one moment that it is wrong and the adhesive technology is getting better all the time.
    Yes lots of people rush a finish – myself included it took me years to learn that finishing can make or break something.
    I am pleased you found the explanation useful and it had a few tips there for you. Its a case of thinking ‘outside the square’ sorry I could not resist it
    Thanks for seeing the time involved. I have never actually calculated how long it takes to make a crazy quilt. Perhaps next one I will do so!

    Sharon B
  8. This quilt is breathtaking! I have looked forward to seeing each block along the way.

    Do you use the herringbone method when assembling all CQs? Even ones with square blocks that have sashing?

  9. Incredible work! Kudos for having the patience to finish everything so perfectly – I’m not quite there yet!
    A friend of mine has been having a small discussion on facebook about her "$100 hat." She is making an authentic viking cap for her husband to wear under his armor at Pensic and other SCA events. She has calculated the cost of her labor and has determined that she really can’t plan to make a living creating historic clothing pieces because of the time that goes into each one. As I looked at your quilt this morning I was thinking of Suzy’s $100 hat and feeling very grateful that she has the passion and skill to make such interesting things AND feeling very grateful that you have the passion and skill to spend your time making a million dollar quilt. Thank you, thank you! You help keep my creative fires burning. 🙂

  10. There are so many "a-ha!" moments in this post. I’ve never before seen such a detailed explanation of how to put crazy patches together. It must take hours to prepare a tutorial like this. On behalf of all the quilters who will benefit from your instructions, thank you!

  11. Wow Sharon, what a great quilt and a great post. I feel like a neophyte in the quilting arena so having the step by step instructions for how you trim each piece and sew them together is invaluable to me. Thank you. I never thought of using my zipper foot OR trimming the block with the ruler on the OUTSIDE because of the beads — DUH! Now, that you say it, I feel like an idiot that I never figured that out!

    I agree with Jo that one of the things I love about this quilt is combining crazy with sane methods — and it was done BEAUTIFULLY! I, for one, plan to give it BEST IN SHOW when you submit to a competition. Hope you will. It’s a winner all around!

    Thank you so much for all that you share and good luck with the next step. Susan

  12. Sharon,
    Each and every piece of your tumbling blocks are just beautiful! I really like the combo of the crazy and sane – is this a reflection of your personality? (just kidding, a little bit crazy, a little bit sane?)
    Lin Moon

  13. I’m please dto see you taking so much time to get the assembly just so, Sharon. But then I knew you would, VBG. I bet you too have seen many beautiful projects spoiled by the haphazard making up over the years . We have workshops sometimes at our Guild in "finishing the project" to encourage people to take the time to assemble their projects well. I guess I’m a dressmaker first and a stitcher second, LOL. Looking forward to seeing the progress of this one, bet you can’t wait to finish it now.

  14. I have been following your progress on this quilt and have each diamond save as picture on my pc as they came up on your site. My pictures contains all the eye candy I get online. Even got in trouble once when I used one in facebook. Of course I changed it. Thank you so much for all you share of yourself with us.

  15. I am so in love with this quilt Sharon (have I told you that already! ) The mix of crazy and sane is fantastic, and really showcase what us crazy gals can do.
    I am interested in the herringbone aspect too. That is commitment.
    I used fusible interfacing over the back of my entire pieced quilt (blackCQ) to hold the seams flat. That, and my mothers exemplary assembling skills gave my quilt a flatter finish than I ever could of hoped for.

    I think I am going to think about doing one of these…

  16. Yes Aida I herringbone each seam.

    Karen I agree with you its been driving me batty because each diamond could not have too great a tonal shift. Each diamond had to stay in either the light, mid or dark range. I am so looking forward to working with a block that has at least three tones!

    Sharon B
  17. This is fabulous Sharon! Wow, you herringbone each seam??? Looks amazingly flat, though. Worth giving that a try.

    I really love this cq!! I’ve been ‘sane’ quilting for years so I do like the structure that a traditional block format provides.

    This would be a fantastic piece for the CQ by 2012 challenge.

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