I dread to think how many times I pieced and unpicked that border, and every time it was wonky.

scraps for crazy patchwork
30 years of scraps

This year’s challenge from my Quilt group, was Crazy, put simply anything made from crazy patchwork, fill your boots. My plan was to collect silk ties to cut up, and I did buy a few from my favourite charity shop, but I soon realised that I would need a lot of ties, to have enough variety of colours and patterns, so back to the stash.

not scraps for crazy patchwork
rejected scraps

I found a bag of scraps, (well three actually), sorted it into three piles, blue and white Laura Ashley scraps dating back to 1977, (of which more later), a pile of pastels some Laura Ashley of the same vintage and some from the 80’s, and a reject pile the colours of which would not meet the criteria for my piece, brown orange, cream etc.

geometry for crazy patchwork
always knew Geometry would come in one day

I wanted to work on small pieces which could be joined together in a larger piece, and had seen a number of crazy patchwork studies created as large hexagons, all I needed was a large hexie pattern. So out came the cereal packet, compass and ruler, not difficult, simply draw a circle, divide into 6 equal parts (60 degrees), and draw a line from radius to radius, where the circle intersects, to create a hexagon. The size of the hexagon was determined by the size of the cereal packet.

making crazy mistakes
big mistake

Initially I followed the advice in my only Crazy patchwork book, (big mistake, but excellent lessons) I cut and laid the pieces on a backing fabric cut from cotton calico (lesson one backing layer too thick). I overlaid the pieces by a eighth of an inch and then stitched them down with a fine zig-zag stitch using transparent filament, (mistake two, this is nasty scratchy stuff and leaves a ridge of stitching which then causes drag when using machine embroidery stitching on top).

crazy machine embroidery
seen from the back

Running out of time (72 hours and counting) I realised using differing coloured threads to embroider the patches would take time I didn’t have and possibly require threads I didn’t have, so I decided I could pull the whole thing together and achieve balance by using one colour for the embroidery throughout, white.

7 crazy hexagons
I need seven!

As I picked the embroidery stitches to decorate my scraps I made my next mistake (number three), I didn’t try out every stitch on scrap before I began, and there’s no unpicking it afterwards! Had I tried them out first I could have adjusted the length and width of stitch to get the optimum look of the embroidery stitch. I would have also realised that the thread I was using would not work well with some of the more open, spidery stitches leaving a barely visible embroidery, a bold thread would have worked better (mistake number four).

 crazy hexagons
always a fiddly task.

Now comes the fiddly bit, piecing the hexagons by machine, stitching into acute corners requires some skill, the trick is not to stitch right to the edge , leave yourself a quarter inch of wiggle room, it doesn’t matter if you leave a little hole at the corner, you will be embroidering over it anyway.

7 crazy hexies
and now for my next trick

It’s at this time I discovered mistake number five, for some reason I can’t fathom I had only made 6 hexagons, and of course I needed 7, with only 48 hrs to go I didn’t have time to fiddle about with my previous method so I cut another hexagon in calico, grabbed some spray tack, sprayed liberally, cut up some scraps and dabbed them on in a haphazard way, forgot the filament zig-zag and completed with white embroidery. No mistakes and it turned out the best of the 7 hexies. Finally mistake number six , I then decided to piece the edge to create a square, all the blue sashing is made of part hexagons cut to fit around the edge, and pieced in. It would have been so much easier and quicker to applique to a straight piece of sashing. I dread to think how many times I pieced and unpicked that border, and every time it was wonky.

making a crazy cushion
envelope back

Consequently I ran out of time to finish it properly, I should have put a zip into the back but I didn’t have one, nor time to buy one so I made an envelope back, which I don’t like and will replace, I stitched the final edge seam with a big stitch so I can unpick it easily, and the pieced sash edge has not been embroidered where it joins the crazy patches, so when I unpick it I’ll add more embroidery.

crazy cushion finished...ish

At least I managed to produce a “finished” piece of work to submit for the challenge, it didn’t win a prize. That’s ok ,I wouldn’t have quibbled with the judges decision and loved the crazy bag made by Anne Thistlethwaite which won. Well done Anne.

Poppies for a bra challenge

To make these poppies I bought polyester satin and polyester crystal organza in Coquelicot (poppy red), black buttons, glass beads, and brooch fasteners

My quilting group have issued a challenge for November, decorate a bra, the theme must be a word in which the letters bra appear; candelabra, brassica, or in my case remembrance.

a bra decorated for the November goup challenge

I had seen a number of fabric flower tutorials on Pinterest which I wanted to try, particularly the poppies. Last year I bought a fabric poppy to wear on Remembrance Day in place of the paper ones sold by the British Legion, which I find so difficult to keep looking fresh. Mine always seem to curl up or just disintegrate.

all you need is satin and organza
all you need is satin and organza

The poppies were so easy to make that I made several, three to decorate my bra for the challenge and another 3 which I gave to my mother, sister and niece. I asked that they make a contribution to the British Legion as usual, as I will too. I will probably make another for myself, but I have run out of suitable buttons.

Poppies made from satin and Organza
really easy to make

To make these poppies I bought polyester satin and polyester crystal Organza in Coquelicot (poppy red), some black buttons which were designed to look like a flower centre, black glass beads, and brooch fasteners.

The satin and organza was cut into squares 3” and then slightly smaller 2.5” perhaps. These squares were roughly cut into circles; I didn’t need to be desperately precious about this because I then applied the raw edges to a candle flame. I found if I held the edge close to but not in the flame, perhaps a eighth or two from the visible flame, and turned the fabric quickly to prevent it catching fire, what happened was that the edge melted and curled up gently producing a shallow cup with a sealed edge.

poppies for a bra challenge
a collection of poppy parts

The fabric cups were then nested one inside the other slightly unevenly so that each fabric was visible at some point. A circle of organza, not heat treated, was placed in the centre and the button applied to tie all the layers together. I ran a few stitches round the centre so that they would hold the layers together while I fixed the button in place, and with the shank back buttons I cut through the layers to set the button in rather than have it flop about on its shank. The three on my bra are sewn on like buttons, the others have a brooch fastener attached to the back.

poppies for a bra challenge
brooches from finished poppies

The last one I made, having run out of the buttons specifically bought to represent flower centres I used a plain flat 4 hole button and I embellished with extra beads to add stamens ( and to draw attention away from the plain button). Mum got that one. My sister and niece got the simple ones without beads. The ones on the bra have a larger button and fewer beads, those are the ones I made first….. I’m not sure which I like best.
I also have an idea to make poppies from felt and buttons… watch this space.