America the Crazy Quilt – Part 1

You might remember when I made Missouri the crazy quilt which was a little Missouri map crazy quilt.  Ever since then I’ve wanted to make America into a crazy quilt.  I had seen several fabric US maps online that were made by appliqueing each state in place.  I got a big US map and cut out all the states and then started cutting out all the states from fabric.  Then I started tracing and cutting the state shapes from double-sided fusible interfacing.  There were lots of steps and several months later, my interest started waning.  Then the other day I got to thinking maybe I could just make this project completely by paper piecing – a real crazy quilt.

I started out by looking for some LARGE printable maps online.  I can’t tell you exactly where because I was deep in the creating mode and paper was flying.  I found one that covered 4 pages and one that covered 9 (or rather 8) pages.

print a map

larger print map

There wasn’t a whole lot of difference so I decided to go with the largest one, although I think you can get even larger online.

The next step was to tape the pages all together really well.  I cut everything up again later so the more tape, the better.

taping the pages

My kitty loves to help.  She holds the papers down while I tape.

I didn’t take pictures of the next step but I flipped the map over and used a black marker to trace the whole map.  You can cut the map out if you want to, maybe just a rough cut 1/2 inch around the outside.  With paper piecing, your pattern is usually a mirror image of how you want your finished block to be so by tracing the backside of the map we’re creating lines to sew on.  We’ll lay the fabric on the front and then sew on the back.  You’ll see.

states cut out

I already had several states cut out.  Guess what?  I couldn’t use them for this project.  For paper piecing, you need larger pieces for seam allowances and angles and things like that.  Don’t you hate when that happens.

cutting the map up

Now that the map is all taped together, it has to be cut into manageable chunks.  Now let me just say that with this crazy quilt map – you could make it just a complete crazy quilt.  You could just cut the map into smaller pieces and sew fabric willy-nilly all over it, put it back together and it would be a true crazy quilt and look pretty cool I think OR you can try to make it look a little like the actual states.  I am trying for a funky actual map look.  We’ll see what happens.  As you can see, I started with the western states which are nicely squared.  Some states will need to be cut up a little and put back together again later.

laying fabric together

There’s a lot of creative sewing going on to make these states look halfway like states.  For a lot of the blocks, I sewed a couple of fabrics together first and then paper pieced with other fabrics.  For instance, Washington & Oregon are nice square states; I sewed 2 square pieces together and then added Idaho on the paper.  Here I’m laying a piece down for a section of Montana.

sewing the pieces

Here’s the back side of the previous photo.  You can see that the lines for the states are sometimes curvy and I’ve folded the paper and trimmed my fabric so that I’m sewing a straight line.

If you’re heavily into perfection – this may not be the project for you.  It’s sort of the Impressionist version of an US map.  And believe me, it gets very Impressionist once you get east of the Mississippi River.

seam allowances

Don’t forget to add seam allowances when you cut things apart.  Leave plenty outside the paper and then trim it to 1/4″ and things should line up fine.

piecing the states

Pardon me while I rip some of my hair out and some of my fabrics too.  Somehow I got my Michigan UP confused with Lake Superior and had to give up for the day.  If you have to rip out, you can tape the paper back up and sew right over it.  I’ve done it many times.  I’m talking about ripping the fabric/paper of course, not my hair -that cannot be taped back on.

I’ll finish everything up in Part 2.

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