I pieced the 36 blocks for this “I Spy” Log Cabin Quilt while in Maine during September 2017. The scraps are bright, cheerful and fun. The variety of novelty fabrics make it even more interesting – there are all kinds of things to “spy” including: corn on the cob, Snoopy, Minions, cats, rocks, cars, planets, etc. All the fabrics in these blocks came from my scrap bin.
Each center block was a 3″ square sewn into a half square triangle (HST). The fabric strips were 2.5″ wide and as long as I could cut from each scrap. The exception was the outside border which was cut 4″ wide.
The borders also include more strips sewn long-way instead of the usual piano key type border. This was a quick way to finish up the quilt top and allowed me to use up a few more scraps. (Did you notice the mistake? One side has only one strip of scrap border instead of two like on the other sides).
This quilt was a Christmas 2017 gift for my daughter and grand-daughter. It makes a fun way to snuggle and play “I Spy” with the various fabrics. The backing was purchased by my daughter and is a peacock theme.
All cotton fabric and poly batting.
“I Spy” Log Cabin Quilt was machine quilted by RLM in November 2017 in an all over stipple design.
The binding matched the outer border. Machine sewn to the front and hand sewn on the back of the quilt.
Finished size is 96″ square.
I admit it – I was super slow to figure out how much fun Log Cabin quilts could be. The blocks can be set different ways depending on how the quilter wants the finished quilt to look. Log Cabin quilts can be scrappy or planned or even planned scrappy. There is simply no limit to what can be done with this pattern. Try the Log Cabin design out and see what you come up with. Have fun.
Have you discovered how much fun log cabin quilts can be? I was not a fan of them, and it took me a long time to become one. Once I discovered how much fun they could be, I got hooked on making log cabin quilts. There are just so many ways to set them. The color combos are endless. Scrappy or planned, log cabin quilts are awesome.
Sometimes it is hard to see in our heads what we can do with certain blocks or how the final project will look. I thought I would show a few log cabin quilts of mine just to give you some new ideas.
First Log Cabin blocks
My next try at a log cabin quilt
The only quilt magazine I could find while living in Germany was “Quilt”. Many of the articles and patterns had to do with log cabin blocks in various settings. I still was not really confident in exploring various quilt blocks. Looking at that magazine made me feel like I was really missing something in the quilt world.
So I thought I would try another log cabin quilt with larger pieces this time. Same color scheme as the first one since that is what fabric I had to work with.
Third try at a log cabin quilt
Once we returned to the US, fabric was readily available. Somehow, lots a fabric ended up at my home and I really started getting confident in just doing what I liked for quilts.
I learned how to really use the rotary cutter and assembly line piecing. Making more quilts also meant there were more scraps in a bin.
I thought there had to be something really great to log cabin quilts – there were all kinds of photos of them in quilt magazines. Folks in the local quilt guild also seemed to make them routinely. Obviously, something was wrong with me that I didn’t like them.
The ah-HA moment of discovery
So somewhere about this time, a lady at the guild allowed me to borrow one of the first “Quilt in a Day” https://www.quiltinaday.com/ log cabin books from her. At this point, I had that “ah-ha” moment that said, “oh, I can do this now”. I was obviously making this pattern tons harder than it should have been.
Anyone who reads this blog for long realizes that I tend to take the directions or ideas and use them to come up with a system that works for me. The one thing I have stuck with since that first “Quilt in a Day” log cabin book is sticking with 2.5″ wide strips for these blocks.
I find the 2.5″ wide strips are just easy to work with and the amount of strips or “logs” around the center can be adjusted easily for whatever size I want to make.
Color-wise, log cabin blocks really are awesome. Color combos can be anything that appeals based on the project, my mood, or the recipient of the finished quilt.
I keep several bins of already cut 2.5″ wide strips so that now when I want to make a log cabin block or quilt I already have a starting point. I have experimented with the center square though: 2.5″, 3″, 4″, 6″, and 8″.
The last 10 years of making log cabin quilts
So I really started just having fun with log cabin blocks and quilts. They are fun to make and now go together easy. The logs can be adjusted size wise if needed, but I generally have stayed with 2.5″ wide.
Is there a pattern that you want to do, or maybe think as a quilter you should be doing?? My advice is simply to keep trying until you either decide the pattern and design is really not for you. Or keep trying until you figure our a system, style, or size that works for you.
It took me years to figure out how to do log cabins quilts easily and that suited me. Don’t give up the first time around. Look at magazines and books, get on-line and watch tutorials, talk to other quilters. That pattern that is frustrating you might be easier than you think.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE THE PROPERTY OF INDIANAQUILTER40 UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.
Have you ever been fascinated with a quilt kit? You loved the colors, concept, designer, whatever….. Got it home and said “well what was I thinking?” That is pretty much the story of this quilt – Purple Without Apology.
There is no hard and fast rule that a kit has to be used as is – if there is something about the kit that you want to change then do it. Your project should make you happy.
I don’t know when I purchased the actual quilt kit. Probably between 1998-2001. You know, it had the fabric, pattern, and probably some colored photos all together and looked really nice. I loved the idea of a purple and off white quilt.
I know that when I got ready to piece the quilt together in 2002, I felt that the purple fabrics just weren’t purple enough. So….I traded fabric from my stash (and probably purchased more purples too) so that the purples were, well purple enough.
Then I had to spread all the purple fabrics out again and make sure they really were purple enough for what I wanted. Another problem being that I would not be sewing it at home and didn’t want to pack all kinds of extra fabric “just in case”. Finally I had the purples that I wanted for this project.
I loved the light fabric selection and kept it the way it was. The red center fabric was also from the kit.
Putting it all together:
I did the cutting before heading up to Maine during May 2002. The blocks were pieced while spending quilting time with my great quilting buddy SB. Instead of the traditional log cabin setting, I opted for the streak of lightening (or Zig Zag) setting.
This book is my “go to” book for setting together log cabin blocks:
I did 3 narrow borders on this quilt. The inside and outside ones being a deep eggplant purple. The inside border is a hideous fruit print that both SB and I had purchased years before as a challenge to see what we could do with it. She had already used hers. However, mine was still in my sewing room washed but otherwise untouched – it was just too ugly. Anyway with all the purple fruits in it, it did work well as part of the border for this quilt.
I chopped the rest of the fruit fabric up and used in small portions in several scrap quilts. I still think it is one of the ugliest fabrics I have ever bought. But it worked well as part of the border. Now I think that it would have looked good as the center square too, but there is no going back at this point.
It was machine quilted by RLM in late May 2002 in an all over stipple design.
Finished size: 71″ x 90″.
I used to think that backings should be one fabric. One day I realized that was boring. It was also a waste of money when I had beautiful yardages of fabric that would make pretty backs. So the backing for this purple quilt is two different fabrics – one a deep purple with a gold design running through it. The other fabric is a yellow with large purple flowers.
I originally planned on giving the Purple Without Apology quilt to the daughter for Christmas, but made a different quilt and kept this one. It still looks good. In fact, the other day I was thinking about doing another purple quilt.
Kits are to make life easier since all the pieces and parts are in one place. Just remember that it is just fine to change the kit up. Make the quilt you want. The kit probably has a great idea, but be creative and have fun.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE THE PROPERTY OF INDIANAQUILTER40 UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.
Lettuce Be Berry Christmas Quilt – it is not the average Christmas quilt. This top was sewn together in a day and a half while on my annual trip to Maine in Sept. 2014. It is named for the lettuce and berry fabrics in it. When I decided to make this quilt, I was looking for fabrics that read “red” or “green”, not the theme of the fabric.
The center blocks and inside border are a solid black with gold flecks – perfect for the beauty of Christmas.
I cut the fabric before the trip and took it along to be sewn together. The center squares are 4″ squares and the strips are 2.5″. I did two “logs” around each block. The inside border is 4″ wide and the outside border is 6″ wide. There are 36 blocks.
I got the entire top done in the day and a half except for sewing on the final border on two sides of the top. Here it is at Colonial Pemaquid in Maine:
I finished the top 100″ square in Oct. 2014 and it was machine quilted in Nov. by RLM. I finished the binding on Christmas Eve 2014.
Here is a photo of Lettuce Be Berry this year ready to be shown off for the Christmas season.
Christmas quilts are a wonderful addition to the season:
GRANDMA CAME FOR CHRISTMAS – The last time grandma and I went fabric shopping together, she told me that I didn’t have to buy scraps (I was buying 1/4 yd. pieces of Christmas fabric) because she had plenty and would be glad to share.
I pieced the center 16 Log Cabin blocks in 1988 while living in West Germany. The red center block is 2.5″ and the logs are 1.5″ in width when cut. I used green and red scraps with muslin. I put them away because I wasn’t sure what to actually make with them.
At some point, I added two borders around the center blocks, with the red border being 3″ cut and the cream muslin border being 4.5″ cut.
On one of my trips back home, Grandma and I went fabric shopping – many of those 1/4 yard pieces got put into the piano key border which is 10″ wide (cut). The final outside border was from Grandma’s fabric collection and is 6.5″ cut.
I would piece on it, then put it away for several years (1988 – 1997). Grandma never saw the completed top or quilt since she died in 1996. I hand quilted this in 1997. The binding is also hand finished.
Finished size is 80″ x 80″.
In 1998 this quilt got a blue ribbon at the county fair. Here are the comments from the judges:
Grandma was a huge part of my life growing up. She encouraged me to quilt and be anything I wanted. She insisted on good grades in school and finishing high school because she only was able to complete up through 10th grade. I miss her still. Her wisdom and compassion are something that are missing in our current world.
“Grandma Came for Christmas” is brought out every year at Christmas to be displayed, cuddled in, and talked about. It is a great way to remember a super important person in my life.
Quilters, your quilts can have a story or be in memory of some important person in your life. Quilts can have funny or sad stories. Don’t forget to pass the stories on with the quilts.
Fall is my favorite season and the only one I really decorate for. I believe that is one reason I go to Maine every September – the colors are so brilliant – the blue sky, the leaves, the ocean water. I thought it would be fun to make a log cabin quilt in fall colors. Here is the start of my “Log Cabin in the Fall Woods” quilt.
I started to make a fall themed log cabin quilt from my fabric stash. The goal being to not buy any fabric to make this quilt top. It was not hard to find the right red, orange and purple scraps and cut them into the correct sizes and shapes:
4″ center squares (dark red)
2.5″ strips (purple and orange)
When constructing the blocks, I only did two rounds instead of my normal three. When sewing two of the sides of the block are in one color (orange) and the other two in another color (purple). There is a total of 36 blocks to make this square quilt, or six rows by six rows. I like keeping the math simple.
I cut many strips to start and ended up cutting more to complete the blocks. That really is fine, I am trying to use up scraps.
36 blocks are done:
When the 36 blocks were complete, I set them together in what is called the Sunshine & Shadow setting or the Dark & Light setting. Whatever the name, it gave a different look to the purple and orange blocks. I only recently realized how many ways the log cabin blocks can be put together to make designs.
At this point, the top for “Log Cabin in the Fall Woods” is 68” square and needs a border or borders to complete. I lost interest and moved to another project. This project got hung on a hanger in the closet to be finished another time.
Update Dec. 22, 2019
I added more of the leftover strips to make the border to finish this quilt top. There are 5 borders to make the quilt the size I want.
Starting closest to the blocks, first border is 4″ in red print. The second border is leftover 2.5″ leftover purple strips. The third border is leftover 2.5″ orange strips. The fourth border is leftover 2.5″ purple strips. The final border is 4″ wide and a leaf print with metallic highlights.
Update Oct. 8, 2020
The quilt was machine quilted in a large stipple design. The machine quilting was completed in May 2020 by RLM.
Finished size is 88″ square.
The backing is a solid purple sheet.
I did not buy any fabric for the quilt top. It is made of scraps or from fabric pieces already in my stash. Goal reached !!
Today was a fairly nice day for early December in central Indiana. No snow, no rain, in the 40’s temp range, partly cloudy that eventually turned blue. I wanted to be outside but couldn’t think of a real reason to be there – I needed to be getting some fabric cut. Um….how about a road trip and beautiful quilts thrown in.
So six Christmas quilts got chosen to go along and get their photos taken outside and/or in an interesting location. Ended up in Sullivan County, Indiana with my trusty side kicks (AKA hubby and grand-daughter).
Taking photos of quilts is fun and honestly, who doesn’t want to show off the quilts they make? Look around for interesting places to use when taking photos of your quilts – it can be your own personal quilt show and a fun road show at the same time.
On this winter day, Hot Chocolate and Peppermint just sound so good. I can almost smell them both. There are two really great things about this quilt – it used a lot of scraps, and there are no calories involved.
I have to admit that it took a long time for me to warm up to log cabin quilts. I didn’t like how they looked, and I really didn’t like all the seams. The first one I can remember making was a just plain scrap one and it just did not appeal to me. I immediately gave it to another family member. See: https://indianaquilter40.blogspot.com/2011/09/log-cabin.html
However, the years have flown by and I have come to really like them for the ease of going together, the flexibility of size and colors, and the way they look – everything from classic antique to modern.
Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Quilt was the result of having so many brown and pink scraps. I decided on a whim on Nov. 15, 2019 to pull the browns and pinks out of the scrap bin and box of already cut 2.5″ strips, and just go for it making log cabin blocks. I completed the piecing on Dec. 2, 2019.
The hardest part was finding something in my stash for the center blocks. I finally settled on a white with black print words that had short positive sayings. it also became the narrow inside border.
I set the blocks in the “straight furrows” arrangement because it seemed to work best with the colors. Let me confess here that I have never made a brown and pink quilt before – they are just two colors I do not really like separately and My thought was that they would look good together – wrong! I am super pleased with how this quilt top turned out. My daughter asked if I was sick when she saw it because she knows how much I dislike these two colors.
The top finished at 100″ square. I used these sizes to make Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Quilt:
Center blocks 4” square
Inside border 2” (between the blocks and the pink dotted border)
Second border 2.5” (pink with brown dots)
Outside border 4” (brown with white dots)
I have made more Log Cabin quilts since then – it amazes me how different they look, even though the blocks are all made the same: