Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Crazy Crumb Piecing...A Tutorial

After piecing up the Bars and Stripes quilt, I had lots of snips of fabric left over on my sewing table (and floor). I always save these and stuff them in a bag, but this time I decided to use them right away to piece a pillow top to go with my quilt.

My bag of crumbs from many projects... ;-) It is packed, too.

Martha Green teaches a fast and effective way to put these small irregular pieces to use in crazy quilting. I learned this from her.

You start by chain piecing two crumbs together. Just randomly, and the edges don't have to line up perfectly as you sew them. Just make 1 + 1= 2, a long line of that. Then cut them apart and iron open each pair. In the photo above, on the left are the ironed open crumb units, (odd term, isn't it?) and on the right is part of my chain of pairs.

After all your units are cut apart and ironed open, you chain piece all your units together, two at a time, and then cut them apart and iron them open again.

At this point my units have four crumbs in them. This is still quite random.

But once in awhile a little shaping with the scissors is called for...

...as here. But mostly I personally like to just sew units together without thinking about things.
Too much.
The units get larger and larger until it is time to fit them together like a puzzle on a foundation fabric.

The edges of the large units are ironed under, then pinned into place (you can see some pinning at the bottom of the picture above), and finally top-stitch appliqued with a clear thread. Sometimes an extra snip or two of fabric needs to be added to a unit or between two units as this final positioning and sewing is done.
It really is like fitting a puzzle together....

...til you have something like this! It measures about 20" X 24".
The look to me is very old fashioned, constructed as this was like so many of the original crazy quilts were, with every scrap being used.

It is also very busy. I'm thinking I will use very simple hand embroidery--all in one colorway, all in just one kind of stitch--on the seams to try and unify things, calm them down. I've never tried that so I want to see if it will work and how it will look.

Good handwork for the road too! I'm gone until next week...Happy stitching, everyone!



17 comments :

Elizabeth said...

Now how in the world did you KNOW that I NEEDED this technique??? I ahve been rearranging my studio trying to find the ellusive "perfect placement" and I ahve come upon bags of Crumbs taht I cannot bear to part with. I am going to do this, soon!!!! I thinkt aht it would be the perfect kind of automatic process at least the first steps, to clear the head before working on something new or major!!! Brilliant!!! Now if it could only help my spelling and typing skills!!! :)

Thanks so very much for sharing!!!

Debra said...

I've been working on some crumb units that past few months. My stack of finished units is a few feet high! It may be time to get a few tops done. It's a very liberating way to stitch.

Marty52 said...

Hmmm... this sounds like fun... I may have to give a pillow top a try. Thanks, Ms. Allie!

colorbox said...

The bedroom transformation is beginning!! :) It's going to be so gorgeous in there!!! :)

Connie Eyberg Originals said...

That looks like a fun and very practical idea. Thanks so much for sharing it. I am just beginning the life of a crazy quilter and can already see the crumbs gathering. Take care, Connie

Gerry Krueger said...

Thank you again... I hate to admit it but I have been throwing my crumbs away... I'll try this the next time I piece... Gerry K/

Have a great get away..

Judy S. said...

Interesting, and good to use the crumbs that "match" your other piece before they disappear. Have a good trip!

Plays with Needles said...

I'll eat crumbs from your table any day!! Happy Trails!!

Possibilities, Etc. said...

Fascinating! This seems a good plan - just using one stitch will calm it down and unify it, I think. A therapeutic exercise, as well. I hope you plan to show it to us when you return!

Maureen said...

Great idea!! I like the finished pillow top too.

Lisa said...

LOVE this idea! There is a good sized bag of crumbs next to me that would benefit from this technique! I might divide it up a little by fabric type first, but can't wait to try it out!

Deb said...

I can barely wait to see the next photo of your piece

Melissa said...

LOL I love this, thank you so much for sharing how to do it! I've never heard of it before and I just so happen to have started saving crumbs for shabby flowers and now I'll have yet another reason to save them! LOL I only wish I had saved them for longer!

Barbara C said...

This technique yields great results. The finished fabric is very complex and I like that it has movement is all directions. Very nice!

Violette Severin said...

I love this method of piecing and will file this idea somewhere in my brain.

Jean C. said...

O.K. I must be a real dunce... I understand the 1+1+2 part, and the making of a long chain of them... but why make a chain of them if you are going to cut them apart? What am I missing? If you don't mind my asking? The rest of it makes sense to me... just not the cutting apart parts! LoL.. thanks

Allison Ann Aller said...

Hi Jean--
No, you are not a dunce at all!
http://quilting.about.com/od/quickpiecingtechniques/qt/chain_piecing.htm
There's a link to a better explanation of chain piecing than I gave. It shows that what you are cutting apart is not an actual pair you have sewn, but the sewing machine threads between each set of pairs after you've sewn them into a chain.
The rationale is that you can sew many pairs without bothering to cut the bobbin and sewing threads between each pair.
Hope this helps!
~Allie