Saturday, 17 August 2013

Designing Christmas Crazy

A few people have asked me about how I designed my Christmas Crazy quilt. It was quite a saga in the end and quite a number of times I thought that I would never get this quilt finished. I never design a quilt fully from the beginning, I always have a bit of an idea in my head of what it will look like and then I start and the quilts develop as I go along. This process suits me and the design always changes as I go along but this design process also has its drawbacks as I often go through a lot of angst trying to decide on how it will all go together.
I took a number of photos as I went along, not for blogging purposes but to try and help me decide the correct path to proceed.

Here is a photo of the finished quilt. I suppose it looks a simple enough quilt but the journey to it being finished was anything but simple.

Christmas Crazy©2013 Linda Steele

 All last year I pieced 12 crazy quilt  blocks with a Christmas theme and then I had to decide how to put them into a quilt. I had made the blocks into circles because I had an idea to make them into hanging Christmas decorations. I also knew that I wanted a Christmas scene or something like that at the top but before I could design the top I had to know how wide the bottom part would be.

 Before I could decide on the block placement and therefore find out how wide it would be, I had to choose a background fabric and this turned out to be much harder than I expected.  Here are a few examples of what I tried.
Pale yellow

Dark green


Light green

I didn't like any of the backgrounds and if you look at the side you can see that I was planning a red border. As you can see from the photo above I had so many blocks and I was finding it very hard to find a pleasing composition.
Finally I tried a mid/ dark green background fabric that I liked but I was still having trouble finding a pleasing arrangement for the blocks and I realised that if I used all of them the quilt would have been too wide.

I removed three of the blocks including two of the large ones because I found they were just too big.

At last I had something I was happy with but you can see from the photo above that I was still thinking of having a red border . But at least I knew how wide the quilt would be and I could design the top section. You can probably also notice that I changed the shapes of some of the blocks to make them easier to place. I found it too hard to design when I had them all as circles.

 I got a large piece of paper out the same width as I wanted the top section to be and drew up a Christmas scene. I wanted to keep the centre as flat as possible and sometimes  the embroidery will pull in a bit so I prepared the centre part first.

 Here is the reindeer that I had fused onto the background fabric, he looks very flat without any shading or embroidery doesn't he?

 When I had finished embroidering the scene, I auditioned the fabrics for the crazy piecing around it.

Auditioning fabrics

At last I was thinking that this quilt could really work and this is what it looked like before I added the crazy quilting embroidery.

Top pieced

It suddenly occurred to me that the red border would be too strong for the quilt and I decided on a green border, the same as I was using for the background. I was also going to make  the hanging ribbons in the same colour as the blocks for interest but in the end I decided it would be better to have them all the same and I used a gold coloured thread and a chain stitch for hanging the blocks .

 It was getting close for the deadline to enter the quilt into the Victorian Quilters Showcase and Houston and I really wanted to push myself to get it finished because I was sick of it and didn't want to spend another year on it. I had designed an applique border but I knew that it would take too long to make and in the end I just left the border plain. The applique would have looked good but I just wanted to get the quilt over and done with.

 Now I had to baste and quilt it.
Quilt basted and ready for quilting.
 I could hardly believe that I had finished the quilt after so many months of work and so many hours of trying to work out how to put it together. My simple little Christmas quilt had taken 18 months to make.

 There are a lot of photos in this post and so I will wait for another post to show you some close-up photos of the finished quilt.

Bye for now,


Gina E. said...

A fascinating journey for those of us who may be contemplating a Crazy Patchwork quilt at some time in the future.
"My simple little Christmas quilt had taken 18 months to make". Simple? Hardly!!

Linda Steele said...

You are so right Gina, What I thought would be simple turned out to be one of the more difficult quilts to design.

jenj said...

I am just in love with this quilt, can't wait to see the close ups!

Linda Steele said...

Thanks Jen,

I hope to get time in the next couple of days.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this Linda as I couldn't see the quilt in real life. It was a brilliant piece, both the quilt and your story of its making.

crazyQstitcher said...

Linda your quilt story is wonderful and the hours spent have been so worth while.
Though you planned an appliqued border I love it the way it is, as the CQ stands out perfectly.
I love every block but admit to loving best, the reindeer one.

I wish you well in the exhibitions.

Linda Steele said...

Thank you Maureen, I really enjoyed making the blocks and love the quilt as well. It's only when I am trying to work out the design of the quilt that I start tearing my hair out!

Pat Winter said...

What a beautiful and unique CQ. I love seeing new ways to incorporate crazy quilting.

Linda Steele said...

Thank you Pat, I like the quilt now and it will be good to bring it out at Christmas time.

ozjane said...

Lovely Linda.
The ornaments are a perfect frame for crazy.

Linda Steele said...

Thanks Ozjane, I should have the quilt hanging up but I've been so busy with my daughters wedding plans, I haven't got around to it.

Linda Steele said...

Thanks Ozjane, I should have the quilt hanging up but I've been so busy with my daughters wedding plans, I haven't got around to it.

Nann said...

Your lovely quilt is featured on Quilt Inspiration, which provided a link to this post. I appreciate the details of your design decisions, with photos. Your ornament blocks are wonderful as they are, but the upper panel (reindeer/sleigh) really sets them off. Merry Christmas!

Linda Steele said...

Thanks Nann, The top bit with the reindeer is my favourite part as well.

Debbierose said...

This was my favourite quilt at the Waverly show - well done and thank you for sharing your journey and knowledge on quilt making - perhaps one day I will attempt a crazy patchwork - it is really lovely

Linda Steele said...

Thanks Debbierose, I am glad you enjoyed the show. If you do make a crazy quilt, beware, they are very addictive.