Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine


I never thought I’d write a book on crazy quilting but last spring I was inspired to explore the combination of piecing in the hoop and decorative stitches. It didn’t take much to leap into crazy quilting. After all, what’s not to love? It’s a time-honored technique coupled with today’s technology. Its ‘crazy’ moniker comes from the use of scraps and often includes whimsical embellishments.  Crazy quilting has something for everyone. It appeals to quilters – the piecing part; embroiderers – the use of luscious designs in colorful threads; the thrifty – great way to use up scraps of all fiber types; and the splurger: new charms, buttons, ribbons and other tidbits are just waiting to be included in a crazy quilt block.

Technique-wise, the ‘crazier’ the block, the more tasks involved in completing the block. So in Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine you’ll find three levels of difficulty: Level 1 is piecing in the hoop with colorful fabrics; Level 2 includes the addition of accent designs to the patches and Level 3 is where the crazy kicks in with buttons, yarns, ribbons, charms and more.  It’s hard to know when to stop once you reach Level 3.

Level 1

Level 1


Level 2

Level 2



Level 3

If quilt blocks aren’t your thing, then you’ll enjoy three in-the-hoop projects: a wristlet, eyeglass case and small clutch. All small canvases to display your crazy stitches.  The wristlet was just the right size project for teaching on TV with my dear friend Nancy Zieman.


We taped the Today’s Crazy Quilting series on Sewing with Nancy in September and it’s live now. You can watch online here if you don’t have it on your local channel.

When you watch, look for Nancy’s crazy quilt stitched by her great grandmother, Alice Lea Larson in 1920.  Nancy shares her story of this wonderful family heirloom that has been lovingly restored by Nancy.

Although it’s a fun day with Nancy at Wisconsin Public Television, my favorite part of the week is the prep at her office the day before taping.  That’s when we get all of our ducks in a row.  Nancy is a visionary and literally ‘sees’ the taping once she understands the technique that we’re teaching.  She works out the schedule and timing of the telecast while I work on the samples.  Once we have a firm outline, all hands pitch in to finish the samples.  And when 5:00 rolls around, everything is done and ready for tomorrow’s early wake-up call.  CQBlog1

To document my visit to the studio, I had a staff member take some photographs with my camera. When I reviewed the images on the plane ride home, I realized I didn’t have one ‘serious’ shot. Oh no, I had images of smiling faces both on camera and behind the camera! The true spirit of crazy quilting.

Nancy and I cracking up on set.

Nancy and I cracking up on set.

Cassie Kienert on camera and Leslie Fitzsimmons in her true form.

Cassie Kienert on camera and Leslie Fitzsimmons in her true form.

It was well, crazy! Hope you enjoy the Sewing with Nancy series, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine. You can watch here.

Don’t just take my word for it, read Nancy’s take on the series on her blog:

Here’s your assignment this week:
Tell us your favorite stitch you use when crazy quilting. Once random comment will be chosen to get their very own autographed copy of Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine by Eileen Roche! Thanks for reading and good luck!CrazyQuilting
The winner of last week’s assignment:
If you had a day all to yourself to spend on a project, what would it be?  Leave a comment and one lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest book, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine (to be released January 2, 2015).

And the winner is the Pam C. – “If I had an entire day to myself I would get lost in finding inspiration for my craft. I work full time and even though my kids are grown I still don’t get much alone time. So, to have a day to get lost in thought without any interruption would be a dream. Congratulations Pam!


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84 Comments on Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine

  1. Michelle Hall
    January 7, 2015 at 12:00 pm (5 years ago)

    I have never done any crazy quilting but it is on my bucket list of things to try. My favorite stitches tend to be flowers and vines which are perfect on this type of project.

    January 7, 2015 at 12:02 pm (5 years ago)

    I Think my favorite stitch is the feather stitch, since it dates back farther than I can remember. I do so love the crazy patterns and all the stiches, I have always loved crazy patch. I do so love the hand stitches and a lover of machine embroidery also. Its a toss up, shall I do hand work or machine work?. I opt mostly for machine work, its faster. Earlia

  3. Pauline
    January 7, 2015 at 12:11 pm (5 years ago)

    My favourite stitch is one of the lovely flower patterns on my wonderful Brother machine – I have done a bit of crazy quilting and enjoyed the effect I got with these

  4. Karen
    January 7, 2015 at 12:20 pm (5 years ago)

    Not sure that I have a favorite stitch, but I use the crazy quilting approach as a opportunity to use those seldom used stitches on my machine. So many options!

  5. Judith Marsh
    January 7, 2015 at 12:21 pm (5 years ago)

    The feather stitch. I think it’s the most versatile.

  6. Valerie Gwara
    January 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm (5 years ago)

    I like the stitches that look like spools of thread or scissors.
    AND the ones that look like cats/ dogs/ animals.

  7. Daniela M.
    January 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm (5 years ago)

    My favorite stitch is feather stitch combined with French knots.

  8. Janet
    January 7, 2015 at 12:34 pm (5 years ago)

    I like the stitches that look handmade…but are not, because not many of us have time to hand-stitch an entire crazy quilt!

  9. marianne myrick
    January 7, 2015 at 12:49 pm (5 years ago)

    I like the feather stitch because it is subtle and allows the beauty of the fabric to stand out.

  10. Lynn P.
    January 7, 2015 at 12:58 pm (5 years ago)

    My favourite crazy quilting stitch is a double feather stitch. It’s not that hard to do by hand and looks nice with many fabrics.

  11. Jeanne Raffaele
    January 7, 2015 at 12:59 pm (5 years ago)

    My favorite stitch is the serpentine with opposing leaves. Very cute. Thanks for your pillow inspiration! I knew I was saving those dupioni remnants for something!

  12. Gretta Wilhite
    January 7, 2015 at 1:29 pm (5 years ago)

    i love all decorative stitches and have found very few that do not work for crazy quilting though I tend to use feather stitches the most.

  13. Sue Anderson
    January 7, 2015 at 1:37 pm (5 years ago)

    My favorite crazy quilt stitches usually are zig zag stitches with a flower design on the points.

  14. anna heh
    January 7, 2015 at 1:39 pm (5 years ago)

    I have not tried a crazy quilting. I am new to quilting and have a new embroidery machine that i hope to use more at the end of this month when i retire from my full time job. Looking forward to trying different stitches on the machine and this sounds like a great way to use straps of fabric and ways to use decorative stitches. I think if i had to pick a stitch it would be the one i am using at the time since there are so many beautiful stitches.

  15. Cathy
    January 7, 2015 at 2:56 pm (5 years ago)

    I like them all, but think the feather stitch can be used for a lot of accents. Simple, yet delicate, and beautiful.

  16. Anne Marie Reilly
    January 7, 2015 at 3:27 pm (5 years ago)

    I have not tried crazy quilting, although I have made several quilts. I’ve looked at many of them though and I like the serpentine stitch and the feather stitch. There are a number of built in stitches in my machine that would work well too.

  17. Cynthia Craven
    January 7, 2015 at 4:30 pm (5 years ago)

    I haven’t tried crazy quilting on my machine. I think the feather stitch would be my favorite stitch to try when doing this.I hope to try this one day.

  18. Cynthia Wentworth
    January 7, 2015 at 6:23 pm (5 years ago)

    i haven’t tried crazy quilting but it is on my “to do” list for 2015. I like the feather stitch.

  19. Sandy Waters
    January 7, 2015 at 8:23 pm (5 years ago)

    I don’t have a favorite stitch since I haven’t done any machine crazy quilting. I have made a crazy block in the hoop but haven’t yet stitched on it. This book looks really interesting.

    January 7, 2015 at 8:35 pm (5 years ago)

    I like to try any of the designs – some look better than others but they all are fun to add to q crazy quilt.

  21. Diana S.
    January 7, 2015 at 9:11 pm (5 years ago)

    If I had a day I would make a crazy quilt for my granddaughter who had my first great grandchild 7 months ago (and I’m not that old – only 58).

  22. Cathie Scanlon
    January 7, 2015 at 9:17 pm (5 years ago)

    My favorite is one with multiple small star flowers or asterisks. I’ve done several purses using this stitch, but I love many more.

  23. Judith Stalcup
    January 7, 2015 at 9:28 pm (5 years ago)

    I really love crazy quilts, but haven’t made one, yet. I saw the first episode of your presentation on Nancy’s show, last Saturday and am looking forward to this coming Saturday’s show. When I do make a crazy quilt, I know I will use the Feather Stitch. It’s one of my favorites!

  24. Sherrie Lilly
    January 7, 2015 at 9:38 pm (5 years ago)

    How can you pick just one when there are so many beautiful stitches on both my Babylock and Janome. The only crazy quilting I have done has been in the hoop. Absolutely love the look.

  25. Mary S
    January 7, 2015 at 9:38 pm (5 years ago)

    I usually go to the feather stitch, but from your book, there are so many other neat ones to choose from.

  26. Linda a.
    January 7, 2015 at 9:57 pm (5 years ago)

    I haven’t done any crazy quilting but I am planning to add a lot of extra embroidered flowers and laces and the beautiful tree!

  27. Lynda J. Case
    January 7, 2015 at 9:58 pm (5 years ago)

    I have never done crazy quilting but hope to try it in the hoop because I love machine embroidery and can accomplish that.

  28. Laurie
    January 7, 2015 at 10:09 pm (5 years ago)

    FeatherI stitch. I just love the way it looks. So traditional!

  29. joyce
    January 7, 2015 at 10:23 pm (5 years ago)

    I like the feather stitch using a twin needle to get a different effect.

  30. ShirlR
    January 7, 2015 at 10:28 pm (5 years ago)

    I haven’t made any crazy quilts nor projects using the technique, however the colorful fabrics and beautiful stitches shown in your pictures here really inspire me. I especially like the diamond-shaped one in the first picture; I will look for that one on the myriad of stitches on my machines, for sure!

  31. Pam
    January 7, 2015 at 10:29 pm (5 years ago)

    I am getting the confidence to try!

  32. Kay
    January 7, 2015 at 11:09 pm (5 years ago)

    I do not have one favorite crazy quilt stitch–I have a whole screen of favorite stitches!! I try to use as many as I can each time I do a crazy patch in the hopes that one just might pop out as a favorite. So far, I love them all!!

  33. Kathe pollard
    January 8, 2015 at 12:19 am (5 years ago)

    My machine has thousands of stitches and it’s hard to pick one. I guess I love the building stitches and their sequence myself. Feels great to create my own stitch.

  34. Carol K.
    January 8, 2015 at 12:29 am (5 years ago)

    I have done a few crazy quilt patches. Mine were made using my own imagination for placenent starting in the center than adding 5 or 6 other patches around the center. They turned out very nice although I have not as yet added the nice stitching over them. I really like many of the stitches my Bernina sews. With this said I think the feather stitch is really nice for many things including the crazy quilt patch sewn in many eye catching colors!!!

  35. Katy Jacobson
    January 8, 2015 at 4:00 am (5 years ago)

    My aunt taught me crazy quilt when I was 12 and I still love it. I did the fancy stitches by hand then, now I use my Janome for all the decorative stitches it has. No favorite one, love them all. Have not tried the in-the-hoop crazy quilting, but plan to give it a try.

  36. Sharyn
    January 8, 2015 at 5:02 am (5 years ago)

    It depends on what the project is. There are so many stitches on the Viking that it is definitely fun to try different ones.

  37. Linda Epting
    January 8, 2015 at 5:33 am (5 years ago)

    I have never tried Crazy Quilting.

  38. Susie
    January 8, 2015 at 5:40 am (5 years ago)

    It is so very hard to choose just one! My favoite stitch with a crazy quilt is the feather stitch, shhh, don’t tell the others:)

  39. Susan Distel
    January 8, 2015 at 5:48 am (5 years ago)

    I love the old scalloped applique stitch! It can make a “wave” when used upside down. Two rows of scallop stitch – mirror imaged – against each other leave a tiny “cat’s eye” that can be filled with dots or flowers. It has been on sewing machines since the first zig-zag machines had designs. An oldie but goodie! Aloha – Susan

  40. Lee
    January 8, 2015 at 6:07 am (5 years ago)

    I love the “mock” free motion stitch, that swiggley stitch. My absolute favorite stitch. I just bought myself an embroidery machine and started taking a hand embroidery class. So this post was perfect timing for me. I can’t wait to get home from work today. Congrats on all that you have going on,

  41. Pam
    January 8, 2015 at 6:21 am (5 years ago)

    My favorite stitch is whatever I design on my machine for the current project.

  42. Nancy Weber
    January 8, 2015 at 6:30 am (5 years ago)

    I have a bit of crazy quilting, just not up to tackling a whole quilt so your book with projects and ideas sounds like just what I need to get going. I have used the decorative quilting stitches on my machine for other projects and find it hard to decide which is my favorite. I do tend to go to the feather stitch most often.

  43. Joan Davidson
    January 8, 2015 at 6:42 am (5 years ago)

    My favorite stitch is the feather stitch. It has been around for eons. My favorite quilt is the crazy patch quilt and being able to do it on the embroidery machine just sends me over the moon!

  44. Terri
    January 8, 2015 at 6:43 am (5 years ago)

    I haven’t tried crazy quilting on my Babylock, I enjoy so many of the hand crazy quilting embroidery stitches, particularly ones that can be further enhanced with beads such as the flower and stem stitches.

  45. Marcia Stewart
    January 8, 2015 at 6:55 am (5 years ago)

    I taught a group of ladies how to make a crazy quilt scissor holder in the hoop with their bernina sewing machines. It was so simple and came out beautiful. It makes it easy to carry your small scissors in your purse without losing them and grab them when your ready to sew at another class. Even if I don’t win the book, I still plan on ordering it for the next time we get together. I hope to share with them the crazy pillow you showed on your blog. Have a great day.

  46. Donna G.
    January 8, 2015 at 7:12 am (5 years ago)

    The feather stitch! It can be used just about anywhere and on any fabric with a variety of threads.

  47. Susan
    January 8, 2015 at 7:51 am (5 years ago)

    Crazy quilts were a popular trend in the 1880’s and 90’s. While working on the Connecticut quilt search project, I saw hundreds of them, some very simple and others so beautifully embellished and embroidered that it took your breath away. The linear embroideries that covered the seams were extremely varied and it would be hard to to pick just one but the floral ones were my favorite. Some of the most prevalent embroideries in the pieces of the block were butterflies, owls, spiderwebs and spider, stars, moon, Kate Greenaway designs, and fans. The projects in your book are a great way to get started in machine crazy quilt designing.

  48. Mary S
    January 8, 2015 at 8:53 am (5 years ago)

    My favorite stitch is the feather stitch. It classic and covers nicely.

  49. Betsy
    January 8, 2015 at 8:56 am (5 years ago)

    Just last week I made my first crazy patch block with no pattern or directions. It came out OK but took forever to make and I thought this could be my first and last crazy patch. In the hoop would be great! Deciding which of my machine’s decorative stitches to use was great fun.

  50. Meghan M.
    January 8, 2015 at 11:27 am (5 years ago)

    I’ve never done any quilting before. However, I could easily see this as a “gateway” quilting technique for me =)

  51. Judy G
    January 8, 2015 at 11:35 am (5 years ago)

    I once quilted a quilt (not a crazy quilt) using mostly floral embroidery stitches that were pre-loaded on my sewing machine. Since then, I have upgraded to a Brother Quattro 2 sewing/embroidery/quilting machine and look forward to being able to combine pre-loaded stitch designs and pulling some designs off the internet to make a crazy quilt in velvets and satins.

  52. Patty Hockman
    January 8, 2015 at 11:39 am (5 years ago)

    I think the feather stitch would be my favorite, but it is hard to choose. I love them all.

  53. Valerie Jennings
    January 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm (5 years ago)

    I love the feather stitches.

  54. Debbie Southern
    January 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm (5 years ago)

    The feather stitch is my favorite.

  55. Debbie Southern
    January 8, 2015 at 2:59 pm (5 years ago)

    Feather stitch

  56. kbo
    January 8, 2015 at 4:41 pm (5 years ago)

    I have never created a crazy quilt OR block by hand or machine but when I do….I’ll try one of the many machine stitches on my machine. I did create a table runner with strips of solids and tried out my machine’s decorative stitches. I liked the end result and it became a gift.

  57. Sue L
    January 8, 2015 at 5:18 pm (5 years ago)

    My favorite is the one I call “the asterisk stitch” because it looks like an asterisk. 🙂

  58. Karen
    January 8, 2015 at 6:48 pm (5 years ago)

    I have not done any crazy quilting, but I am sure I would love all the stitches.

  59. mary c
    January 8, 2015 at 9:32 pm (5 years ago)

    I love all types of embroidery stitches, but I am especially feather, buttonhole, and drizzle stitches. This embroidery machine technique would make the whole process so much faster leaving more time for hand embellishing!

  60. Lola Gerhard
    January 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm (5 years ago)

    My favorite stitch is the fagoting stitch. I use a heavier wt. thread and I especially like to use it on velvet and brocaded fabrics. I also like the feather stitch. Both of these stitches give a little umph to whatever I am making.

  61. Robin Mundell
    January 8, 2015 at 11:40 pm (5 years ago)

    I just got a new Babylock Ellissimo Gold II and I so want to make a crazy quilt using the decorative and embroidery stitching as a part of the quilt. I remember my grandmother had a crazy quilt probably made by her mother. We kids used it for a clothesline fort. I wished I would have treated it better and still had it. It was beautiful handwork.

  62. Karen Poole
    January 10, 2015 at 12:08 am (5 years ago)

    I haven’t done crazy quilt stitching on my embroidery machine yet. But I really want to try and I think it would be really hard to pick one favorite stitch! I think they are all really great!

  63. Shirley Hemphill
    January 10, 2015 at 9:05 am (5 years ago)

    I love this and will get one for sure, it takes me back about 60 some years when my Nana taught me to embroider, I would go and stay with her in the summer for a week, we would walk downtown to the 5 & 10 cent store and she bought me an embroidery kit and taught me how to do the different stitches. Now my hands can no longer do hand sewing but I love my embroidery machine. I think my favorite is the feather stitch I made a lot of table runners and place mats for Christmas. The machines today make so many decorative stitches. I use a lot of them.

  64. Connie Walsh
    January 10, 2015 at 5:25 pm (5 years ago)

    I try to use a variety of stitches but agree that the feather stitch is a favorite. What I really like is to use the different variegated-colored threads when doing the stitches!

  65. Linda E
    January 10, 2015 at 6:55 pm (5 years ago)

    The feather stitch is my favorite for seams. I also like the embroidered monograms on the patches.

  66. Sandy S
    January 11, 2015 at 1:35 am (5 years ago)

    I’m so new to quilting and really didn’t know that many years ago as a child, we would make these “crazy quilts” placemats in girl scouts. My favorite stitch then was a French knot, but now with all these wonderful machine stitches, I would say, my most favorite is any stitch that is wavy or curly. After all, I’m just having fun.

  67. Beth R
    January 11, 2015 at 2:13 pm (5 years ago)

    My favorite stitch is decorative hearts – either solid-filled or outline – to show how much love is put into the quilt!

  68. Paula R
    January 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm (5 years ago)

    I have been saving small pieces of fabric from when my daughter was a baby. Pieces of her dresses and ‘bubble suits’, also her prom dresses and wedding dress, to make a crazy patch quilt. I have an embroidery machine, so I think it is time to make this a reality. I can’t pick one favorite stitch, I love them all!

  69. Kathy Schmidt
    January 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm (5 years ago)

    Feather stitch would be my favorite…..would so love to have an autographed copy of your book…..tho I don’t know if I would be greedy and keep it for myself or give it to my dear motherinlaw Ruth who is a very avid quilter and I am just beginning to quilt altho I do embroider.

  70. Vicki Becker
    January 12, 2015 at 9:04 pm (5 years ago)

    I like to use the feather stitch combined with some of the other decorative stitches like hearts and flowers.

  71. Ellie Stratton
    January 13, 2015 at 1:05 am (5 years ago)

    Hey! Amazing work. I once thought of crazy quilting but I didn’t have the guts to devote my time to it. Your work is what have really inspired me and I’m definitely going to give it a shot. I am sure I am not the only one and others who watched your work must have been amazed too.
    Thanks! Keep surprising us with such innovative and creative ideas.

  72. Lester Ann Jensen
    January 13, 2015 at 9:46 am (5 years ago)

    I am relatively new to crazy quilting by machine although I have admired crazy quilting for years. As a beginner, I would have to master the featherstitch although as I have an embroidery machine and with your Crazy Quilting by Machine product I would be in seventh heaven learning all about it.

  73. Kim M. Harrington
    January 13, 2015 at 12:12 pm (5 years ago)

    I like to experiment with all of the decorative stitches on my BabyLock Ellisimo! It is like going on a shopping trip for stitches!

  74. Mary simmons
    January 13, 2015 at 12:43 pm (5 years ago)

    My Brother has a stitch that looks a lot like a row of loops….big fat cursive L’s. I like it for decorative stitching purpses.

  75. Margery
    January 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm (5 years ago)

    I like to use a herringbone type of stitch in my crazy quilt projects, but I do use many others as well. I like how it covers a wider width of stitching. Thanks for the opportunity, love Nancy and Eileen.


    • carrie
      January 30, 2015 at 4:48 pm (5 years ago)

      I love both the feather stitch and herringbone stitch. You can add so many great silk flower creations to the feather stitch as it meaders down your project. Love crazy patch!!

  76. Kit
    January 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm (5 years ago)

    Not tried it yet but from the looks of the crazy quilt pattern it gives me the opportunity to use a lot of different stitches on them. I have been saving scraps of velvet, silk, and many other fabrics for this very project. An old favorite in a new and exciting way! Can’t wait to get at it.

  77. Celeste Buckley
    March 29, 2015 at 12:33 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi Eileen: I just purchased “Today’s Crazy Quilting” and was wondering if there is anyway I can download the contents of the CD from your site rather than load it from the CD. I have an Apple laptop but it does not have a disk drive.

    I can’t wait to do some crazy quilting! Thank you!

  78. Debbie Thornton
    April 2, 2015 at 6:24 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m really struggling with knowing where to place the fabric pieces. I’ve tried cutting them bigger & found that I misjudge on where to place & the stitching misses the piece. I ended up cutting the pieces each 7×7 inches. The only problem with that is I’m wasting a lot of fabric & my quilt blocks are thicker than normal. Is there another tutorial other than the cd I got? I ordered the video,the book and cd. Thanks in advance for any help you may offer me.

  79. Barb Bain
    May 8, 2015 at 12:47 pm (5 years ago)

    I recently purchased the book and CD ‘Today’s Crazy Quilting with your Embroidery Machine. I have stitched out, for practice, all three 8″ blocks in the VIP format. Block 3 seems to have a problem as it is much smaller than blocks 1 or 2. I have overlapped block 3 and block 1 in my embroidery software, in the same hoop and saw that block 3 is much smaller. Do you have a fix for this? Thank you.

    • Marjorie B.
      October 29, 2016 at 5:28 pm (3 years ago)

      We’re having the same problem. Did you ever find a solution?

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