Fall Showcase

String, Improv and Crazy Piecing

The showcase this semester is all about freedom.    In this type of piecing the usual rules of straight even lines and precise points don’t matter.    The emphasis is all on the color pattern and texture.   If you like those two pieces together, sew them in.    Good construction still applies and there is still a method of organizing,   but the variation created by using the fabric as is rather than cutting to a precise geometry gives a vibrancy that is hard to ignore.     Crazy Quilts,  with this type of piecing and embroidered embellishments on every seam,  are often considered the first quilts created as art objects rather than functional bed covers.


Improvisational Bowtie from the 1970’s   

I have displayed eight vintage examples in the Shoppe,  including a crazy quilt showing quite a bit of typical deterioration,  a fragment in excellent condition, a Crazy rail in fancy fabrics,  all from 1890’s,  and  a 1930’s string hexagon,  and three examples from the 1970’s.   One of which is double-sided,  one contains double-knit,  and my favorite one is big stitch quilted ( from before it was called that ).


Crazy rails,  1890-1900?  

This style of work is currently enjoying a new popularity.    Victoria Findlay Wolf uses “made fabric” in nearly all of her work,     Allie Aller has revitalized the Crazy Quilt as an art form,  and Rayna Gillman uses improv piecing with her own hand printed fabrics in her art quilts.   We have books by them all, in stock and can set you up with all the materials and skills you need for any of the projects.


String pieced Hexagon from the 1930’s.  

We have 2 workshops that accompany this showcase,    a Crazy rails,  and one that is a string pieced hexagon.         Scroll down for details.


Crazy rails workshop

Schedule for one 3 hour session,   $30.00

Bring your sewing machine in good working order, with neutral thread and an extra bobbin or two wound.      Bring your rotary cutting setup with a long ruler, and a 6 inch square ruler.    You may want pins,  fabric scissors and a seam ripper as well.

For fabric you will need foundation fabric cut into 7 inch squares.   This can be just about any non-stretchy fabric,  from upholstery samples,  to that ugly fabric you know you will never use that you don’t know how it got into your collection.     30 will make a lap or wall size.    The other fabric you need is lots of scraps,  strips as skinny as an inch and chunks of leftovers.   Bring all of it.   You can use quilt cottons, fancy fabrics,  or even men’s ties.      The more variety you have the more options you have and the more exciting it gets.     Some have opted to add a border, but this choice should be made after the blocks are underway.

You will eventually also want some backing fabric,  a yard and a half is usually good for the lap size,  but I suggest you don’t make this choice until your blocks are together.    You will also want some thin yarn or floss to tie it with,  but again you may want to wait to make this choice.


String Hexagons inspired by a quilt from the 30’s


Our inspiration.

Two sessions, 3 hours each,   $60.00

Using a special ruler to make the triangular units with plain triangles, improvisational triangles and string triangles you can create the look you love, from clean and modern with lots of gray and white, to antique,  to an art piece like my contemporary version.

You will need your typical  cutting setup, with a long ruler for cutting strips.  You will also need either a 60 degree triangle ruler,  or the S curve triangle tool.    If you choose the curvy S tool, a smaller rotary cutter can be helpful. You will also need your machine in good working order, with thread that blends with your fabrics and a few bobbins, nice fine pins,  seam ripper,   and please bring a nice large chunk of batting to use as a pin-able design space.

For fabric, please use quality quilt cottons,  Quarter yard cuts and scraps ( including strips as thin as an inch )     at least 10-12 different fabrics,  the more the better.   If you want to have the “framework” be a uniform fabric get a yard.    We are aiming at a large lap size, 3 yards of backing is suggested, but you may want to wait on this choice.  Our inspiration piece has no batting.    You could choose to tie this one.

We have all the supplies, including specialty rulers,  that you will need here at the Shoppe.    Call or stop in to schedule your class.     (845) 758-8541