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Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to make crazy pieced blocks

Crazy pieced blocks are generally foundation pieced. The technique I will explain step by step below is done starting from the center adding pieces circling around the center piece.

Start by cutting the foundation to the size you want your block to be. My block measures 12 x 12 inches. Choose the fabrics to use for your crazy block. This project is a good way to use your leftovers and scraps.

 I am using a sturdy cotton as foundation and a range of bluish scraps I have left over from other projects. My foundation is cut from a printed fabric which is not a problem as my other fabrics are darker and the print can not be seen through. If you should use light fabrics make sure you have a light background.

You start by putting down the center piece onto the foundation with the right side of the piece facing up. I chose this light blue fabric with the fly print and I want the green fly to be the center of the block.

 The following pieces will be added in a circular fashion around the center piece. You can start your circle anywhere, I will start on top of the center piece.

Add the second piece putting it right side down onto the center piece. Arrange it over the center piece in the desired fashion, but keep in mind that the seam will run at the distance of the seam allowance form the border of the piece which will then be ironed open.

Put the foundation with the two pieces of fabric on your sewing machine to sew the pieces in place. You will need to sew through 3 layers: the foundation, the first piece (right side facing upwards) and the second piece (right side facing downwards). I use a quilting 1/4 inch foot and thus all I have to do is align the outside of my foot with the edge of the fabric in order to achieve a perfect 1/4 inch seam allowance.

After sewing flip the fabric over to see whether you achieved the desired effect, if not open the seam and reposition the fabrics. If you are satisfied flip the block turning the foundation back onto itself along the seam you have just sewn exposing the seam allowance of the two fabrics and trim away excess fabric.

Turn the block over, flip the second piece of fabric open and iron in place.

Add the third piece of fabric following the same steps you used to add the second one. Choose your fabric and add it in a circle around the center piece. Remember to put it right side down with it's outer edge marking the edge of the seam.

Sew through the 3 layers of foundation, fabrics already sewn down and the newly added piece.

 Check the position, trim away excess fabric of the seam allowance and iron the piece into place.
Then add the next piece keeping on creating a circle of pieces around the center: position the piece, sew in place, trim away excess fabric, flip open and iron in place.

After you close the first circle around the center, keep on moving in the same direction, increasing the diameter and covering more and more of the foundation. Keep in mind that you always need to cover the already sewn down pieces in order not to have any open edges showing.

 Depending on the pieces' size you will cover one part of the block faster than others. When you reach the edge of the block like I did on top of the block below, just skip that side and keep on circling covering the remaining areas of the foundation.

 In this case I found the dark blue piece on top too big and imposing and therefore decided to cover part of it with another piece of lighter blue colouring.

 Continue until the whole foundation is covered and your block looks somewhat like this:

 The pieces protrude from the foundation as you can see when you turn the block over:

Now you need to cut the block to size. It is best to use a square ruler of the desired size as you can position it on the block and try different angles in order to see what looks best.

When you find the perfect position cut the block to the desired measurements.
This is what my finished block looks like:

As you see options are infinite, you can play with colours, angles and shapes. Blocks can look more controlled like the blue one above when you don't change too many angles, keep lines parallel and use similar colours, or they can look more crazy when you start playing with colours, angles and shapes like I did in the red, blue and white block at the beginning of the article.
It's up to you.

In order to achieve the stained glass effect you see below just create the block in the same way that is explained above, adding stained glass piping to every seam. For the piping choose the fabric of your liking and cut 1 inch strips. Fold the strips in half lengthwise right side out and iron the fold. All you  have to do is to insert the folded strip between the fabric already sewn in place and the new piece of fabric to be added, aligning the outer edge of the strip with the outer edge of the newly added piece. That way half of the strip goes into seam allowance while the other half featuring the fold will protrude underneath the newly added piece (the seam allowance is 1/4 inch, given that the 1 inch string has been folded over, it now measures 1/2 inch; 1/4 will go into the seam allowance while the other 1/4 will create this beautiful effect).

You can simply leave the stained glass piping as it is or embellish it with all the fancy stitches your sewing machine has to offer.

 And now play and have fun, or better GO CRAZY!!!

Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?
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