Now you know what Crazy Patchwork is, here is everything you will need over the coming weeks to create your own:

The great thing about crazy patchwork is you don’t need much if you want to give it a try -

  • Some plain fabric for a backing fabric (something like an old pillowcase is ideal)
  • Various different scraps of fabric (any size and any shape)
  • Thread
  • Embroidery thread (don't worry if you don't have any - you can still crazy patchwork!)
  • Tools - needles, pins, scissors

What will we be doing?

We have numerous fabric scraps from making costumes at the Octagon Theatre over the years.  I have been working in the Wardrobe Department for eight years, so many of those scraps of fabric hold stories and memories for me. 

So, I’m going to create a piece of crazy patchwork using these fabric scraps, and along the way you can learn the techniques with me, plus I’ll share the stories of the productions the costumes were created for, both on stage and behind the scenes.

Starting the first patch!

The most difficult thing is choosing the fabric for the first patch – it feels very significant.  Once the project is on its way you won’t be able to tell where it started but, like putting pen to paper when you are writing or drawing, the first step of crazy patchwork will inform what follows.

 

I have chosen the humble calico as my first fabric. 

Calico is 100% unbleached cotton and comes in many weights and widths.  It is used extensively in costume making but is rarely seen by an audience. 

Sometimes, to work out a pattern or practice a difficult fit before cutting expensive fabric, we make a toile, a calico version of a costume; often in a fitting we will make notes on the toile, drawing arrows and new pattern lines.  The toile will then be used to adjust the pattern.  We also use calico for backing fabrics, if a Victorian bodice is made from silk, a calico backing will give it stability, and for making petticoats or aprons as it is an economical fabric.

How to begin:

Cut out your chosen fabric and pin it to the centre of your backing fabric, smoothing the two layers together (See Pic 1)

(Pic 1)

Attach the fabric to the backing using a running stitch* and try to keep everything as flat as possible. (See pic 2)

*Not sure how to do a running stitch? Find out in the guide below.

(Pic 2)

For a finishing touch I decided to add a quote to my first patch. I used lots of tiny stitches to form the words “All the world’s a stage…”  from William Shakespeare's As You Like It (See Pic 3).

(Pic 3)

*What is a running stitch?

A running stitch is used for tacking and top stitching and is the simplest stitch to do.  Watch this short the YouTube video for a demonstration:

 

On the next blog:  adding your second patch and learn how to back stitch

See all of the blogs in the series so far