I have been itching to do some “just for fun” sewing. Ever since making the Manx Quilt Block a few weeks ago, I’ve had traditional log cabin quilt blocks on my mind. Here’s where those thoughts are taking me this week…
After finishing up writing and publishing a new quilt pattern last week, I realized I had a deadline-free window right now (which is a rare feat for me, but one I’m actively striving to make more time for).
10 or so years ago I saw a 20th-century vintage log cabin quilt while I was on vacation. To this day I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t ask the carriers if I could take a picture. (Mind you, this was pre smart-phone days, but I was carrying an actual camera with me at the time. It would have been so easy. *shakes fist at herself*)
Anywho, I’ve been wanting to replicate that quilt (or at least make one inspired by it) ever since. Last Friday we had a crazy all-day snowstorm and I figured that was the permission I needed to cancel most of my plans, stay in my sweats and dig into and start cutting up 10-years-worth of stashed away vintage-inspired prints and scraps.
Here is a sanitized version of the mess that has ensued. I’m trying to cut and refold as I go, to maintain some semblance of controlled chaos. And so that the fabric mountain doesn’t get too out of control (or look too embarrassing for public consumption).
Here’s a shot at some of my blocks thus far. It’s very safe to say that I like where this is going. I wasn’t sure at first if it was going to look like a chaotic mess, but now that I’ve got a few blocks done and can stand back and look at them, I am super pleased.
I’m going very traditional with my piecing. Since sharing on Instagram I’ve had a few people ask about a tutorial to make these blocks. At some point I will write one, but if you’re anxious to start in the meantime, there’s lots of Log Cabin Tutorials online if you just search for them. I like this log cabin tutorial as it’s very similar to the way I piece mine.
If you like the accuracy of foundation paper-piecing, Amber from Gigi’s Thimble has a free printable log cabin template here.
There are lots of different methods and I give you permission to find the one that works best for you! I have lots more Log Cabin inspiration on this pinboard here.
I really like to chain piece my blocks. I pre-cut all of my strips ahead of time and put them in piles. (I cut my center squares 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ and the widths on all of my strips/logs are 1 1/2″ wide, starting at 2 1/2″ long going up in 1″ increments to 10 1/2″ for the longest log.)
Then I can take a stack of blocks and a stack of the next size strips and just chain them through my machine. I’ve also found this as the easiest method for making my blocks super scrappy – no two blocks are the same.
I also recommend sewing with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance as that will help your blocks stay accurate in size as they grow.
For my fabric choices I’m calling this ‘controlled scrappy’. I want it to look like it’s a very scrappy quilt, but I’m sticking with a limited color palette and choosing fabrics with a vintage-reproduction feel. I’m happy that my Gretel fabrics are playing so nicely with this bunch. The fact that I’m using pieces I’ve accumulated over the past 10 years means I have plenty to choose from. It’s a little bit ridiculous, but I’m feeling no-holds barred on using all the favorites.
So, here’s where you’ll find me for the coming while. I’m slightly obsessed. I’m almost disappointed that it’s a nice day outside and I don’t have the excuse to just sit and cut fabric and sew…
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