Crazy Patchwork Class

crazy stitch sampler

Yesterday I  taught a Crazy Patchwork class at Heart Space Studios. It was such an enjoyable experience I had forgotten how wonderful it is to just play with colours, textures and threads to produce a whole new seemingly haphazard fabric…and such a pleasurable way to re-cycle old fabrics.

Sue Bradley’s Crazy patched coat

As it is not much made at the present time, I was really surprised and delighted when I saw Sue Bradley’s exhibit “My Father’s Coat “. At the weekend I had visited the TFSW touring exhibition, Material Actions in Bristol,   Sue’s coat had several areas of Crazy patches applied to the ground fabric but unusually she had used tweeds and  dark woolen cloths. The effect of the exhibit was very dramatic, it tells the story of her father and this is the response to her inheriting his  clothes and recently discovering them

This reworking for sentimental purposes is within the Crazy tradition of recycling precious cloths, but usually the preciousness comes from the quality of the fabrics, not the associations.

beaded and embroidered sampler

Crazy Patchwork (it is actually an applique process) was usually made from the most glamorous fabrics – ones that would not be able to withstand the wear and tear of domestic patch-worked  quilts and bed-covers. To add to it’s unsuitability for domestic use the overlapped seams are embroidered over  – which is its major attraction for me   – a case of more is more – not a popular concept for today’s makers!  However one of my first published books was about Crazy,  Collins&Brown ISBN 1 85585 641 7

Paperback book on Crazy Patchwork

 I used several of the samples from the book as illustrations for the class..

samples from  my Crazy book

Getting started is a real treat as you just have to surround yourself with as much fabric as possible to choose a colour scheme  – even if only making up a small square to learn all the steps invloved.

some of the fabrics available for use at Heart Space

Some of the students brought their own stashes of fabrics and the swapping began,

Sophie’s stash of Indian silks

One fabric was exceptionally popular, an Indian ikat dyed and woven silk – you can tell autumn is in the air.

The popular Indian Ikat silk

 I used a method of choosing one patterned fabric then finding other toning or matching fabrics to complement it, this ensures that the small sample will be colour co-ordinated.

to begin with even cutting the fabrics takes a bit of nerve

Ribbons, braids  and all sorts of scraps can be used up. Some choices are made and remade several times before committing to the next stage.

Jane’s selection based around the sprinted silk handkerchief.

There are really no seams to worry about as everything then gets bonded onto a backing fabrics using an iron.

pressing the patches into position

And then the embroidery begins – but before this can happen the coloured threads are chosen. Embroidery is not just a decorative device as it can be used to balance colours within the patch-work and also decorate large areas of plain fabric.

choosing colours for embroidery

Sometimes the colours for the embroidery can come from a totally different source, here Liz decides to choose to stitch the neutral patchwork with the colour of the heads of her pins.

using the pin heads to decide colour scheme for embroidery

I was really interested in seeing this choice made as this maker often uses a range of brilliant pinks, turquoises and purples for her work, here she was wanting to try a new colour gamut and so used the class to this sample something different.

Now down to stitching  – a water-erasable blue pen is used to make a guide for neat but always very short rows of stitching

herring bone stitches to cover the seams

I had to teach some of the students the new stitches and some were having to remember them from childhood, but all were delighted to be learning something new.

using the yellow herringbone stitch to balance the design
embroidering braids to silk and lace.
corners are always a problem – maybe a shisha mirror will cover the collision.

Eventually the students went home with enough information and threads to finish the panels for themselves  – and this morning I had this message from Jane Blair –

“Thanks so much for the crazy patchwork class, just what I wanted and lots of scrummy fabrics and threads….I will bring it in when finished and drop off any threads left.”

So hopefully I can post the finished results later………..

4 thoughts on “Crazy Patchwork Class

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