Tutorial – Crazy Square Block

One of the ladies up at Sew Crazy asked if I could show her how to make a basic crazy square. She has seen several of mine and wants to make some. Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts, we were unable to get together in person before this weekend. So tonight I started a new square and took a lot of photos to provide a tutorial that hopefully they can access this weekend at the quilt retreat. Plus anyone else that wants to know how to make them can use this!

A quick note first: there are many ways to make a crazy square. My way is just one of the ways. I do not claim that it is the best way or that other ways are wrong, this is just what I have found works best for me.

Materials needed:
Sewing machine
Thread
Iron and ironing board
Ruler (straight one and a square one the size of your finished square if you have it)
Fabric (usually cut into 2 1/2″ strips but don’t feel restricted to this size)
A piece of muslin cut to the size of finished square that you want.

My process:
The first thing I usually do is go for a dive in the fabric stash and start picking out at least six different fabrics. Then I toss them in a loose pile on the cutting board to get a good look at my choices.

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After looking at this pile, I decided one of my choices stood out too much and removed it.

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Once I have decided on my fabrics, I cut out 2 1/2″ strips of each and again put them in a loose pile.

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Since this particular square will end up being used for my CQJP challenge, I wanted a more plain center piece so I could make it go with my theme. I cut a piece of the plain blue strip into an odd shape. Four or five sided works best for me as long as it’s oddly shaped.

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This square will end up being 6 1/2″ square so I cut out a piece of muslin to that size.

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Next, I lay the odd cut piece roughly in the center, trying to keep it from being “perfectly” center. This is a crazy square after all! I use an 1/8 inch seam around the center piece.

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Next, we start getting into the fun part. Picking the second piece to be added AND picking which edge to use.

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Once that is decided, place the piece with the right side down and the edge of the new piece of fabric lines up with the edge of the odd shaped piece. Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the new piece on. Do not worry about locking the stitches. If you go a little past on each side, when you add more pieces they will help lock the pieces in.

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Important step: after each piece is added, you must flip the piece over right side up and iron at the seam.

Then you add your next piece in the same way:

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Then the next:

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Keep adding until you’ve attached fabric to each seam of your odd shape piece. Your pieces will overlap. You will have some sections become smaller as you add more fabric. This is okay!

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At this point, you can see the four corners of the muslin are still showing. Now we add another round of fabric.

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Once the muslin is covered, I turn the square over so I am looking at the backside.

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At this point, you can use a straight ruler to trim the edges, or if you have a square ruler in the same size as your square, use that.

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All edges trimmed? Save the larger pieces of scrap, you can always use them for something else. Even another crazy square! You do not have to limit yourself to only 2 1/2″ strips.

Flip the square over so you are looking at the right side.

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Check for any “oops”. In the first picture below, I have a pin pointing at an oops, where the raw edge of one of the fabric sections is showing. You can fix this in a couple ways. One way is to add another piece of fabric that will cover the mistake as shown below in the second photo of this section:

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Another way to fix the mistake is to use your border/sashing to cover the mistake, if you are going to be using sashing or a border:

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Yet another option to fix a raw edge mistake, if you plan to embroider the block, is add some embroidery that will cover it, as I did on this block from last year (shown below). The big jellie and the orange seaweed are both covering some raw edge mistakes (this was one of my very first crazy squares):

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Normally in a 6 1/2″ square, I end up with around 9-12 sections of fabric to play with for embroidery. Occasionally when I try for it, I can get around 31 sections as in the block below.

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I hope this tutorial was helpful to you if you are getting ready to dive into the world of making crazy squares. I love making these as they require little planning, you can throw together various fabrics, and you can have fun! And no two are alike unless you follow a pattern. Which…I dont! And once you have your square done, you can keep making more, and/or embellish the square(s) with embroidery.

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2 thoughts on “Tutorial – Crazy Square Block

  1. Thank You Michele! This blog was great! You made it so easy for me to try. While at the retreat I didn’t have to bug your Mom!! Will let you know how it comes out! You do beautiful work! Lynn

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