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What's All This Craziness?

This demo is to help explain my crazy piecing technique, and is for the Knick Knack Paddywack Quilt from the Crazy Dog Days book.

Begin by counting the number of elements in each block: for this dog block, you have one, the dog, and two, the background for a total of two different fabrics in each block so every two fabrics need to contrast. If you look at the dark gray fabric in the center of the stack, it will be paired with the brown fabric above it in one block and with the red fabric below it in another block. The fabric on the top of the stack must contrast with the fabric on the bottom of the stack.

Once you have the fabrics arranged how you'd like them, stack your fabric in a pile, right sides up. As you stack, try to align two sides, the selvage and the left side of each fabric.

Using a pencil and a ruler, trace the pattern onto the unwaxed side of a piece of freezer paper.  Be sure to label each piece.  Iron the freezer paper pattern onto the stack of fabric

Cut around the outside of the pattern, cutting it out the stack, cutting through the freezer paper and the entire stack of fabric.  After following the specifics in each pattern, i.e. cut the top half of the block away from the bottom half of the block, you will generally continue cutting saying your alphabet backwards and counting backwards to determine the cutting order.  As you cut out each piece, stack them on the master to help you stay organized and keep pieces oriented correctly.

Once all the pieces are cut and stack on the master, it's time the shuffle!  Each of the dog pieces will be listed in the instructions, and for each of these piles, you will pick up the entire pile and put the top gold fabric on the bottom so the red fabric is showing for the dog.

Once you are all shuffled, be sure to take a minute and check to make sure it looks like it should, and that you haven't missed shuffling any pieces.  Then, separate the block slightly into it's sections A-H.  Each section will be stitched back together piece 1 to 2 then add 3 etc.

Beginning with this book, Crazy Dog Days, published in 2007, I began adding dots to the master to indicate where  you should try to have an accurate quarter inch.  Just pick up the two pieces to to stitched, look at the seam line between them to see which end the dot is at and that is where you will try to maintain an accurate quarter inch.  Don't worry if the other end isn't even after stitching!  This minimizes the amount of fabric you trim off and you will have better results!  If there aren't any dots, just center one piece on the other and stitch.  So when stitching F1 to F2, you will try to keep the seam line straight along piece 3 where the dot is so that you can add piece 3 without having to trim any excess fabric.

At the dots, you will generally have to have a dog ear sticking up.  It can be difficult to decide how large of of a dog ear to have.  You want your stitches to go exactly through the point where the two fabrics intersect.  This illustration attempts to show you my Goldilocks rule:  instead of being too hot and too cold, you want the dog ear to be just right!  The dog ear at the top is too large, and the middle dog ear is too small, but the bottom dog ear is just right since the stitching goes right through where the two fabrics meet.  You will be following this rule where ever there's a dot!  

After each section A-H is pieced, then the sections are generally stitched together in alphabetical order, but the specifics for each pattern are always in the instructions.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that when stitching one section to another, you straighten the seam before you stitch, taking off the least amount.  Generally the portion you are trimming off will be parallel to your ruler so you know it's just seam allowance.  If for some reason, you have a funny angle sticking out, go back to your master and check to see if you twisted a piece before you stitched: DON'T JUST TRIM IT OFF!!

Notice when you center the ears on the head, the seams don't necessarily match!  No worries!  Also, by following the dots on the master, you will end up with the excess at the neck: all part of the plan!  Remember, trim first before stitching the top half to the bottom half and the head gets centered on the body-again we don't care if the seams match!  (All of these specifics are in the book)

Once the blocks are done, you square them all up to one consistent size, add the mouth and bone details and you have a kennel all of your own! All of the crazy blocks are just this easy and so much fun to make!  Pick your favorite and get started!  Enjoy!