Monday, July 29, 2013

The Untempered Schism (A Doctor Who Crazy Quilt)

I'm pretty sure this turned out square and not wonky... my photo, however, is not straight on...

The Story: This was meant to be a housewarming present for my friends... and was only about...oh... 8 months late. It ended up being an engagement present. I sort of ran out of steam for several months in the middle there, since I sewed it entirely by hand on my daily commute by bus (and my embroidery job will wear one's hands out, too).

The Design: I meant for the Doctor Who theme to be subtle. But that apparently was a fail, for people on the bus (who failed to realize my wallet was blatantly a TARDIS) somehow recognized that the bundle of fabric in my lap was a Doctor Who Quilt. Go figure. Fabrics from my scrap pile, varying from quilters' cottons to flannel to taffeta, as well as special fabrics I ordered through spoonflower (additional note: when I searched to upload a project photo for some of these fabrics, I was informed many of them are no longer available). Anyway, my friends' house is a Victorian townhouse, so I decided to make them a crazy quilt, the epitome of quilting during that time period. I will NEVER make a crazy quilt again. It took me two days just to lay it out, and I still think the aesthetic could've been better.

The Technique: Most of you are probably familiar with the 'crazy quilt' concept, but if you're not, here's a quick explanation. Crazy quilts are made of erratically shaped pieces, usually/traditionally of scraps of clothing and the like. One sews these pieces down to a backing (in my case, I just used muslin cut to the finished quilt size... 'lap size' 42 in x 60 in), almost like with applique, turning edges under where necessary for a smooth finish. But first, you need to arrange these pieces in an aesthetically appealing manner. Shifting them about, turning under edges, and ultimately pinning or basting them down (I used safety pins... as my mother always did to sandwich her quilts, and it made sense, so I do it, too). I then proceeded to hand-sew all of these pieces down, for many, many, many hours on my bus commute.

I added texture to a few of the pieces, 'BAD WOLF' for example
But wait, you're not done yet. Crazy Quilts get embellishments, including but not limited to embroidery.  I decided since I kept to a heavy blue theme for the quilt fabrics, to accent the quilt (in my not subtle manner) with bright colored floss in the red-orange-yellow range, as well as using some blues. Hey, if I'm taking the time to do all that fancy stitching, it might as well be SEEN! I also enjoy using a variety of stitches (perhaps making it more 'sampler' style, but how boring would it be to do all that embroidery in just blanket stitch or the like. Plus it's fun to keep up my embroidery skills from when I had the time to just play for hours and hours (see some results here).

Finally, traditionally, crazy quilts would either be used as is (with the pieces sewn to a flannel backing or the like) or have a backing put on. For me, someone exposed to modern, pieced quilting, it doesn't seem right not use batting. It's not a quilt if it doesn't have layers, so I put batting and a backing on this piece. To fasten the layers together in a crazy quilt, traditionally, embellishments such as buttons were used. Since this quilt was already quite busy enough, I opted to 'tack' the layers together along all of the seams of the pieces. I couldn't straight out quilt it because the embroidery was in the way.

Okay, now the last part (for reals this time), is to put the binding on. And okay, I lied, because I did sew the binding along the edge with the machine, before folding it over and hand sewing it down to the backside.



  1. My gawd that is amazing. The things you create always just stun me.

  2. Awesome! There are so many fun elements to this, I can't imagine how you managed it on the bus. I think you really captured the 'crazy quilt' style, and all of the different hand embroidery stitches complete it so well! It looks so very comfy for snuggling.