It's a Small World

Lynn Schoeffler © 2011

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As many crazy quilters seem to be, I am an inveterate junk shop junkie; and much of my time in the antique and consignment shops seems to focus on what I can use to frame a CQ piece. I've been collecting tiny 'frames' for years and I thought I'd share a few ideas with you.


  • Metal findings, pin backs
  • Vintage belt buckles, old pin forms and found objects
  • Fray check product
  • Sequin pins
  • Strong, heavy needles
  • Strong heavy polyester thread
  • Nylon thread
  • Fabric and suede scraps, muslin foundation fabric
  • Beads, tiny buttons, fancy threads
  • Acid free glue and finish spray
  • Heavy, thin cardboard
  • Jewelry tools

The pin in the first photo makes me think of a vintage ladies' watch fob, long and narrow, and it's also reminiscent of the tiny glass lab slide pins we were all doing a few years ago. This version is nice because you don't have to worry about how large your decorative elements get, and the size is not limited to the size of the slide.

Here you can see that I have used the decorative metal findings to determine the size of the pin. Cut the finished dimension out of a piece of heavy paper; save the inside cut-out as the template for your cardboard backing later on, and use the outside of the cutting as a frame for positioning of your crazy quilted piece.

For all my small pieces, I have turned and ironed the edges of the fancy fabric scraps, and then appliquéd them to the foundation fabric. This keeps the fabric patches securely in place, and holds the seam in the event that I decide not to add an embroidered stitch on the seam line.

Try to use medium weight fabrics because they need to tolerate a lot of tugging when you stretch the CQ onto the cardboard backing; thin fabrics will fray at the corners and in the finish stitching.

Note the positioning of the little silky in the first photo. For added interest, I extended the fancy fabrics a little to the outside of the creamy background on the left, framing the photo with six sides instead of four. The slight difference of color was disguised by the tiny Drizzle stitched flower.

Cut a piece of strong, thin cardboard to the desired size. Spray both sides with several coats of acid free spray finish; let dry.

Pin the CQ to the edges of the cardboard with sequin pins; they are short and strong. Start the first pin at top center of the CQ; stretch gently and pin at bottom center. On one long side, place pin in the center, stretch and pin the opposite side. Keep adding pins opposite each other until the CQ is centered correctly and there are no puckers. In this piece, I could not get the wrinkles out of the thin silky, so I un-pinned one side and inserted two layers of tie stuffing. (You know, the coarse weave cotton fabric that is left after you've de-constructed a necktie-- another thing I never throw away!)

Turn the edges of the crazy quilt to the back of the cardboard. Trim all layers of fabric to about l/2" -- 3/4". This seems a little wide, but you want plenty of gripping room, and some of the fabric edges will fray more than others.

I'll admit that the next part is the tricky bit. Carefully cut a wedge out of your piece at each corner. Dot front and back at the inside point with a fray check product. Fold this cut under diagonally and finger crease. Tuck the side edge underneath the folded top edge as you bring it to the back of the cardboard. I used the point of my embroidery scissors to catch and gently pull the side fabric under the top edge. Pin edge. Repeat at all the corners.

As you can see, the side edges don't lay flat to the cardboard. This is corrected in the next step.

Using a long piece of strong polyester thread and a heavy needle, stitch back and forth across cardboard, catching the edges of the crazy quilted fabric. Make small pleats as necessary to ensure that the fabric lays as flat as possible to the cardboard; you can even cut small wedges of fabric out. Trim the layers of fabric as necessary as you lay the stitching in; use these long stitches to tighten the CQ completely around the cardboard backing. Make sure to stretch the fabric smoothly as you stitch, checking to see that there are no puckers across the front of the piece. Keep these stitches away from the outside edge of the pin so they don't show from the front.

Attach the top and bottom decorative findings to the front of the pin with nylon thread.

Using your paper template again, cut a small piece of matching suede for the back of the pin. Make two small cuts in the suede and bring the working parts of the pin through to the front of the suede piece; as shown. My pin back was too long for horizontal placement, so I set it in vertically. Use acid free craft glue to adhere the suede backing to the back of the pin.

Other jewelry details:

This pin began life as one of a pair of vintage shoe buckles; I simply cut the inside metal strip away with a pair of jewelry cutters. The cabinet photo of my maternal grandmother, Nora Belle McCabe, age four, is computer printed on silk. The silk rose bud is stitched to the fabric of the CQ through the buckle filigree. The backing is cardboard covered with matching fabric, and then the sides are bordered with a tiny matching trim.

Oval Pin:

Here is Maria's rose again; you can find instructions for it here:

The flower pot is made of rectangle beads done in Brick Stitch.

I used a large old oval pin for this one--it was easy to pry the china piece out with a flat screw driver. Using a Running Stitch in strong polyester thread, I gathered the finished CQ to fit around a cardboard back.

Trim the excess fabric away, leaving a l/2" border; again, I like to leave a fairly wide edge of pieced fabric until I make sure it sits where I want it to on the cardboard backing; it can be trimmed a little more after that. As for the first pin, crisscross long stitches across the back of the cardboard, catching the CQ border. Use a layer or two of tie stuffing for a little more depth, and to help smooth out any wrinkles.

The Luna Necklace

This large silver moon came in a box of my daughter's bits and bobs of discarded costume jewelry; probably an earring in its former life.

Of course, this great dimensional butterfly comes by way of Janet Popish--she's written instructions and has new photos on her blog at:

As the butterfly was so small, I did it in two pieces as suggested by Kerry Leslie, which definitely made the turning process easier. Trying to duplicate the ethereal colors of the Lunar Moth, I used lime green sparkly tulle. It was surprising how well the tulle stood up to the tugging I gave it when turning the wing inside out. I found matching beads in my stash and added them to the silver chain.

Jackie's Name Tag

This is a fun, quick way to make a name tag for your next CQ class. Find a new or old skirt pin (can you believe the caper-size rhinestones on this old one?). Try to find a piece of ribbon approximately as wide as the pin, and cut a length that is double the length you want. Fold the ribbon in half, and baste a piece of tie innards underneath the top ribbon half. Embellish as desired through the ribbon and tie insides. At the lower end of the top ribbon, cut the ribbon diagonally. Make an opposite diagonal cut on the bottom piece of the ribbon, forming a swallow's tail. Machine stitch the ribbon along both sides to close, leaving enough room at the top to thread onto your pin. Because of the rhinestone trim, I needed to sew the ribbon to the top bar of the pin with invisible nylon thread.

Thanks to Carol at Daisy's Garden for the instructions for the beautiful Lavender sprigs.

Although I haven't started yet, I think the large rhinestone belt buckle would make a sweet frame for a special friend's desk, don't you?

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