One of the quilt projects I am currently working on is a Crazy Quilt Christmas Tree Skirt. This type of quilting is unique in that there are few patterns. Furthermore a crazy quilt uses embroidery, decorative stitches to stitch the odd-shaped pieces together. One can embellish the quilt even more with lace, ribbon, buttons and beads if desired.
Since this is a Christmas tree skirt, I am adding quite a bit of sparkle along with the embroidery. However, if I were making a quilt for a bed or lap I would stick to stitches. Also, I do not have any little ones around so I do not need to worry about any choking hazards.
The only crazy quilt I own I bought in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in the late 1980’s. The quilt dates from 1909 with the initials LHS and is not in the best of conditions. However, the crazy quilt has always called to me. So, I decided a smaller project would be good to start with.
Crazy Quilting by Christine Dabbs is the book I bought to serve as my guide in this experience. I highly recommend the book. (I know I should review Crazy Quilting, it is on a list.) The book is divided into three sections. The first section depicts noted quilts, many dating to the late 1800’s. The second part I found very helpful. Here, complete instructions are given for the construction of a crazy quilt. In addition to information on selecting fabrics and foundations, the book gives detailed directions for embroidery stitching. Thus this is great for anyone who is not experienced in handiwork. Finally, the third section has a crazy quilt design to copy if one desires.
Diana Marcum Fabric Design
This Crazy Quilt Christmas Tree Skirt is two-sided or reversible. One side is a pre-printed machine quilted design of the Holy Family. Unfortunately, I do not remember where I bought the fabric or if my Mom found it. I have a companion fabric which indicates the designer is Diana Marcum and the manufacturer is Marcus Brothers Textiles, Inc. This is the fabric that made me decide to make my first crazy quilt. In some of the close up photos you can see the “stitching” printed around the blocks.
The reverse side is the crazy quilt. Creativity is key in the design. I blended colors to reflect both the Christmas tree decorations and my living room decor. Also, scraps from the first side are used on the crazy quilt side to tie things together.
The different types of fabrics is the biggest challenge. I am conditioned to use all cotton. A traditional crazy quilt tends to have fabric’s of wool, velvet, silk and satin. The textures are quite different. The result is a lot of slipping and sliding. My greatest advice is to pin, pin, and pin some more. At times when the two fabrics did not cooperate, I used ribbon to seam them together instead of stitching.
I had not embroidered much in recent years. However, as a teenager I enjoyed learning handiwork from my maternal grandmother. The forgotten stitches came back quickly with the great illustrations employed by Christine Dobbs. Look closely at the photos and you will see French knots, Chain stitch, Chevron stitch, Herringbone stitch and Feather stitch alone and combined to create the many designs. All of these stitches serve a duo purpose. They are both functional and decorative.
Christmas is just around the corner. So I hope to have the Crazy Quilt Christmas Tree Skirt finished. If I don’t finish in time, there is always next year.