Machine Stitching in CQ

Stephanie Novatski © 2004

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Many CQer's use sewing machines for piecing blocks using the sew and flip method. Many also feel the embellishing on a CQ block should be done by hand only. With the improvements in sewing machines such as computerization, numerous decorative stitches, feet designed to attached all types of trims including beads, and embroidery, more machine stitching is finding it's way into Crazy Quilting.

I began Crazy Quilting when I purchased a sewing machine with a variety of decorative stitches as well as embroidery capabilities. I found I love to do handwork on the seams and the patches, but I also like to embellish machine work to achieve a desired effect. The first block I did had a machine-stitched butterfly in the center. I then enhanced this butterfly with silk ribbon.

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Some computerized embroidery designs can also be stitched out on dissolving stabilizer which then gives you a piece of free standing "lace" which can be used in your block.

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Ever admired the "Kensington" Floral Ciggie Silks? I created something similar using my embroidery machine and a free design from the Internet. These were then appliquéd to a block and embellished by hand.

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Barbara Randle's Crazy Quilting with Attitude, which was reviewed last month, uses machine embroidery extensively with handwork to make interesting and varied blocks. One if the methods she uses with her decorative stitches is to place a thread that is too thick to go through the needle in the bobbin and stitch a seam from the "wrong" side. Threads such as Pearl Cotton, Spun Silk, and Caron Wildflowers work wonderful this way. I used this method on the Block of the issue done in the "Barbara Randle" style. I also combined a considerable amount of handwork on the patches of this block including beading. I must admit it did take some experimentation to determine which stitches worked best.

Decorative stitching can also be used to "create" your own fabric. Have you ever spent time looking for just the right combination of colors fabric? Make it with your sewing machine! See Picture 2 above. The patch in the lower right has a machine-stitched design. There are many beautiful threads on the market today available for machine use. These include metallic, variegated, rayon, holographic, shimmer, and color changing, to name a few. Below is shown by permission of the creator, a quilt done entirely by machine. Karen Zoback made this quilt in 1998. Gold metallic thread was used on the sewing machine for the fancy stitches that cover all the seams.

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Crazy Quilts created totally by machine will probably hold up better over time when used than those with hand embellishments. This process would work well for a baby quilt, which would require much washing.

Incorporating Machine Work into a crazy quilt can open a new creative source. The possibilities are as varied as your imagination and the limitations of your machine. I have presented a few examples. We would love to see yours!


Crazy Quilts by Machine by J. Marsha Michler
Crazy Quilting with Attitude by Barbara Randle
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