Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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To Make Crazy Patchwork by Judy Rowse

I became fascinated by patchwork while still at primary school, and I can remember using hexagonal templates to make egg cosies and pot holders for everyone who said they liked them.  But it was always crazy patchwork that I wanted to try.  Clearly I read too much Milly Molly Mandy!!


From 'Milly-Molly-Mandy Makes a Cosy', in Milly-Molly-Mandy's Winter  © Joyce Lankester Brisley, accessed on Google Books.


The main advantage of crazy patchwork is that you can use the tiniest scraps, no matter what shape they are, which is perfect for making miniatures.



Firstly, a few tips that you may find helpful:

  • Because the quilt will be small you don’t want it to be bulky so it is vital to use fine fabrics. 
  • Try to avoid fabrics that fray easily, or treat the cut edges with fray check.
  • Each block is sewn onto a thin backing (foundation) such as a much washed handkerchief. This will not show at all, so it doesn’t matter what it looks like.
  • Nine or twelve blocks is manageable, and the size can be calculated to fit your required bed size. 
  • The blocks do not necessarily need to be square, but traditional patchwork usually uses square blocks. If you want your quilt to be rectangular you could use 3 x 4 (12) blocks rather than making rectangular blocks. (But I won’t tell if you don’t. J)
  • Decide how large you want each block to be then add enough all round to create seam allowance for joining blocks together.  So if you want your blocks to be 1 ½“ square, cut your base pieces 2” square.  (That will make your finished patchwork of 9 blocks 4 ½”square + binding.)
  • Using a colour matched thread will help stitching to be invisible. 
  • Seams need to be as narrow as possible, but you can trim them after stitching.
  • If you can iron your seams open you will get a much nicer finish.


1.  Cut some backing / foundation squares.

2.  Cut a pentangle shape to be the centre piece of your block.  This does not need to be geometrically regular, but 5 sides seems to be an easy shape to achieve the look we want.



3.  First contrast piece stitched over a raw edge of the pentangle.  Place your first contrast scrap (right sides together,) over the central pentangle lining up along one side.  



4. Stitch through all THREE layers of fabric. Open out, the first raw edge of the pentangle is now neatly covered.


5.  Place your next contrast piece against the neighbouring edge of the pentangle, also covering a raw edge of the first piece sewn to the pentangle. Sew through all layers.



6.  Continue in this way until all the edges of the central pentangle have been covered.  I prefer to use several smaller pieces to cover the backing square but have made this block with only 6 pieces for clarity. 




7.  Make several more blocks in the same way.  They could be identical for a repeating design or all different to give a really “crazy” effect.

8. Join blocks together to form strips, and then join strips together.  Press open seams. Trim if necessary.






EITHER:  Layer patchwork over thin wadding and backing, right sides outward.  Neaten edges with bias binding or turning seam allowance of backing onto the top side in the manner of a frame, fold in the raw edges, (mitre corners,) and sew in place. Press lightly on underside.



OR: Place right side of patchwork to right side of backing. Stitch together on 3 sides. Trim edges and corners as necessary. Turn right side out. Press on reverse side. Slip a thin layer of wadding inside to fill and sew up open edge neatly.





It is possible to buy tiny weights from a haberdashery that can be inserted around the edges  during finishing which will help the quilt to drape more naturally for display.

TO FINISH: Technically it is the tiny running stitch through all three layers, called “quilting” which turns a patchwork cover into a “quilt”.

You can make up any pattern that pleases you, or just do enough to fix all three layers together to avoid slipping.  You might quilt along the seams where the blocks are joined together, or around the central pentagon in each block.  Alternatively you could make a cross at the corners where the blocks join together, or in the centre of each pentangle, or any combination.

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