Crazy Strips

Crazy Strips

The idea behind this technique certainly is not new. For centuries, quilters have sewn fabrics to foundations of all kinds. And they have done so in a 'crazy' way for well over a hundred years. Whether we are the first quilters who started to sew scraps and leftovers to the paper strips coming off tally rolls, we don't know. We just love to use up all sizes of scraps in these strips. Almost every day, we come up with new ideas for projects - it really is addictive!

And not only fabric leftovers can be used up with this technique. You can also put almost empty thread spools into action. You know, those spools that still have too much thread to throw them away, but not enough thread to start a larger project with any confidence.

Note: 

Please read all instructions carefully before beginning. This includes the list of materials needed and the rather lengthy note on alternatives for foundations. This will prevent unnecessary loss of time and waste of material.

Materials needed:

  • fabric (cotton, silk etc) scraps of all shapes and sizes
  • tally rolls in different widths
  • sewing thread
  • embroidery thread (optional)
  • sewing machine
  • pins (optional)
  • rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat
  • iron and ironing board
  • one cork (optional)

Crazy Strips Material

Technique:

  • Place the first scrap right side up on the paper strip. If necessary, hold in place with a pin.

Start Strip

  • Place the next scrap wrong side up on the first scrap as shown in the second picture. Sew with a seam allowance of ca. 1/4 inch (0.75 cm) from the edge of the second scrap.

Pin

  • Fold back the second scrap and iron flat, if necessary or desired. Continue to place scraps randomly and vary the angle.

Covered foundation

  • If you use scraps which don't cover the entire width of the paper foundation, sew them to other smaller scraps. Sew this pieced scrap to your foundation strip as before.

Pieced Scrap

  • At regular intervals, lay your Crazy Strip with the right side down on your cutting mat and cut away all excess fabric.

Cleaning up 1   Cleaning up 2

  • Tear away the paper foundations.

Rip out paper

  • If your sewing machine does fancy embroidery stitches, embellish some of the seams as you would in Victorian Crazy Quilting. You can use either ordinary sewing thread or special embroidery threads. Just make sure that your thread offers a good contrast to the fabric scraps used.
  • We store our finished Crazy Strips rolled onto a cork and the end secured with a pin.

Note on the length of the strips:

At first, we used very long paper strips. We thought this would give us more options later when using the strips in our Crazy Projects. This is, of course, nonsense. It is admittedly an advantage to create a 'never-ending' strip from which you can cut any length of Crazy Strip. But for this project, it is not necessary to work with a long strip that gets in the way whenever you need to turn it, clip threads, place fabric scraps etc.

Note on alternatives for the foundations:

You can of course also use other materials as foundations. We have tested with removable and non-removable, fusible and non-fusible alternatives. All of them have their particular advantages and disadvantages - which depend very much on the project you wish to use the finished Crazy Strips for.

Removable foundations:

Removable foundations are all foundations that will be torn away after sewing and before embroidery. Removable foundations should be of a material that can be easily torn away (e. g. 'weak' paper) and shouldn't have to be cut into the desired shape (to save time). For Crazy Strips, we find tally rolls to be the perfect answer. They are inexpensive, come in different strip widths and the paper is usually of a quality that can be removed easily after sewing. Most projects based on Crazy Strips don't require a specific width, so the width of the paper is not a problem.

The downsides are the extra time needed for tearing out and the messy little paper bits flying around. Moreover, the resulting strips can be distorted and stretched easily without the paper support and therefore have to be handled with extra care.

We recommend removable foundations for all projects that require a supple Crazy Strip that can be manipulated easily.

Non-removable foundations:

You can also sew your fabric scraps to a foundation that will not be torn out after sewing. Depending on the weight of your foundation, this can result in a very stiff and sturdy Crazy Strip. The foundation gives more support to the strip and the embroidery and you don't have to spend time tearing out the foundation.

The downsides are the extra time needed for cutting the foundations into the desired shape and the higher cost.

If you want to fuse your Crazy Strip to another piece of fabric, you can either use a fusible interfacing or fusible muslin. In both cases, you need to attach the fabric scraps to the non-fusible side and YOU CANNOT USE YOUR IRON after sewing the scraps to the foundation strip. You will have to use your fingers instead. You will end up with a Crazy Strip that has its fusible side intact on the back.