PM/GC Quilts Skill Builder Series: Part 17 – Curved Piecing

I’ll be honest – when I first started quilting, curves gave me the willies. It’s silly, because while I wasn’t particularly good at it, I’ve sewn clothing. I’ve managed a sleeve or two that were decent enough to appear in public. I don’t know why the thought of a curve in quilting made me so nervous. After I’d been quilting about a year I decided it was time to put this silly fear to rest and I bought a Drunkard’s Path template set. I didn’t know any better so I bought the wrong one, of course – one was that was intended to be used for applique rather than piecing. I fiddled with it until I was able to cut a passable Drunkard’s Path block, sewed it, figuratively patted myself on the back, then moved on. Later I found an Olfa circle cutting and tried again. Still no love, mostly because cutting the darn things are really unpleasant if you don’t have proper templates or, even better, a die cutter. Eventually Jeanne picked up an AccuQuilt Go Cutter, I picked up a Drunkard’s Path die set, and voila! I have pieces cut to sew approximately 37 million Drunkard’s Path units. I’ve sewn five. Seeing a pattern? Oh, wait – if you follow my blog (and those who still do, thank you for either your loyalty or your laziness in not cleaning out your feed reader), you are well aware that this fairly typical in many aspects, not just quilting.

Still, curved piecing isn’t just about the Drunkard’s Path unit, which, if you aren’t familiar with it, looks something like this:

Drunkard's Path

It has many different names, depending on how you lay out the blocks. There’s the Drunkard’s Path, of course, so named because of the way the block seems to stagger across the quilt. There’s also a Peace Dove, Drunkard’s Pinwheel, Cleopatra’s Puzzle, Indiana Puzzle, I Wish You Well, and even a Turtle, among many others.

Drunkard' Path

Drunkard’ Path

Peace Dove

Peace Dove

Drunkard's Pinwheel

Drunkard’s Pinwheel

Cleopatra's Puzzle

Cleopatra’s Puzzle

Indiana Puzzle

Indiana Puzzle

I Wish You Well

I Wish You Well

Turtle

Turtle

There are other blocks that use curves, some that also use a quarter circle, such as the New York Beauty, from the most basic block to the more complex.

New York Beauty

New York Beauty

New York Sunburst

New York Sunburst

Of course there are blocks that include gentler curves like the Orange Peel, Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, and the Double Wedding Ring and its variations:

Orange Peel

Orange Peel

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Plain Double Wedding Ring

Plain Double Wedding Ring

Double Wedding Ring

Double Wedding Ring

Pickle Dish

Pickle Dish

The Improved Nine Patch, one of my favorite blocks from the 30’s:

Improved Nine Patch

Improved Nine Patch

And the wonderfully complex Mariner’s Compass blocks, including variations like Chips and Whetstones:

Mariner's Compass

Mariner’s Compass

Chips and Whetstones

Chips and Whetstones

Curves are becoming popular again in contemporary quilting, thanks to things like Amy Butler’s Single Girl quilt and the Quick Curve Ruler from Sew Kind of Wonderful. Be sure to check out this blog, if you don’t already follow it. There are tons of incredible patterns, including some free tutorials, that use the Quick Curve Ruler. Here’s a recent quilt, Spring Fling (available as a free tutorial), that uses the ruler:

Spring Fling by Sew Kind of Wonderful – click to see the free tutorial

You can also see freeform curved piecing used in improvisational piecing like the incredible Ripple Effect II from Marianne at The Quilting Edge.

Ripple Effect II by The Quilting Edge

The point is, curves are everywhere in quilting today, and even if you have no intention of making a Double Wedding Ring or a Drunkard’s Path, you may want to apply the technique in your own unique way. So how do you do it? Everyone knows when you are sewing curves you need to put the concave side on top and pin the heck out of it, right? Only I’m not a big fan of absolute rules when it comes to quilting, so I tried several different methods and decided that, for me, the method I use depends on the degree of curve I’m sewing.

Improvisational Curves

If you’d like to try curves, improvisational piecing is a great place to start. The curves can be as easy as you’d like and they don’t have to line up with anything so you can sew and then trim to your heart’s content. The only trick is to cut both pieces of fabric along the same curve. In order to do this you need to layer them both right sides up (NOT together).

Free Curve A

Using a rotary cutter, slowly cut a gentle, flowing curve, making sure that you’re cutting through both layers of fabric.

Free Curve B

Flip the pieces right sides together and place one end under the needle. Hold the top piece of fabric and gently ease the edges together as you slowly sew.

Free Curve C

While you could certainly pin this, I think the long, gentle curves are excellent for the no-pin method. You can clip the curves when you’re done if you’d like, but if the curve is gentle enough it isn’t necessary.

Free Curve D

Shallow Curves

A while back I posted a short video of how I sewed the shallow curve of the melon portion of a Double Wedding Ring. I laugh at myself every time I watch it – to quote my original post:

By the way, I don’t lisp. Not that there’s anything wrong with having a lisp, but something went funky with the sound on this and my S’s sound thtrange. Here’s the video:

So the funny part is, I managed this all by myself. Think about it – how do you hold a camera to record a video, and use both hands for the demonstration? Answer: You find the last remaining wire coat hanger in the house and bend it into an odd shape that both fits over your head so it hangs around your neck AND holds the camera in exactly the right position. Well, I’m nothing if not resourceful.

Tight Curves

Since I have so many Drunkard’s Path units already cut out, I’ll show several methods using that block. You’ll notice in a couple of these photos that the two pieces do not appear to line up properly – I don’t know why that is. They seem to come out okay, and they were cut with the AccuQuilt 3 1/2″ finished die, so I’m not going to worry about it.

Method 1

First I tried the method that most people advocate – concave side on top, pin like crazy. Align the center point on both piece, right sides together, make sure it’s straight, then pin the center point.

DP1A

DP1B

Align both outer edges and pin each side.

DP1C

DP1D

Finally, find the center between the pins and pin, then again, and again and again…

DP1E

Sew the standard 1/4″ seam, removing the pins as you get to them. Go slowly and tuck the top layer out of the way to avoid sewing a crease into the seam. You may need to stop occasionally and lift the pressure foot to adjust the fabric. This is where a needle down option on your machine is helpful.

DP1F

Carefully clip the seam allowance along the curve. Don’t cut the thread! Clipping the seam allowance will help it lie flat when you press it.

DP1G

I am usually a press-to-one-side girl, but curves are one time I prefer to press the seam open. If you look closely you can see how clipping the seams helps it stay flat. On the red side, the clips spread open a bit and on the yellow they overlap at the edges.

DP1H

Well, it isn’t the most perfect of Drunkard’s Path blocks, but it isn’t a bad starting point. You may notice the top edge is a little crooked. (Also, you generally aren’t on grain when using a die cutter, resulting in a lot of thread ends that stick out. Of course it doesn’t help that these piece have been lying around for six or eight months.) The crookedness stems from taking too much seam allowance on that side. Maintaining a quarter inch seam is one of the more challenging aspects of curved piecing.

DP1I

 

Method 2

In the second method, I still put the concave side on top but this time I didn’t use any pins. Line up the one edge, right sides together. It will look strange because the curves swing away from each other when they’re right sides together.

DP2A

Sew slowly…

DP2B

…gently easing the two piece into place. Hold the top fabric and lift it so you can see the edge of the bottom fabric. Carefully pull the top fabric to the left so the edges line up as they go under the pressure foot.

DP2C

When you get to the very end use a pair of tweezers (these bent ones are wonderful) to grip both layers and guide them under the foot.

DP2D

This block went faster because there was no pinning, but you can see there’s a little flat spot where I didn’t ease them together quite right. While the start and end line up, it’s still a little crooked like the first one was. With practice, I think this could work well, but if I want a smooth curve the pinning seems to work better.

DP2E

Method 3

This time around I did not pin, but I put the convex piece on top and the concave piece on the bottom. Proceed exactly as in method 2, sewing slowly and easing the two fabrics together. As in the video above, I found this easier because I could see both edges, where in method 2 I had to keep lifting the top fabric to see the edge of the bottom fabric.

DP3A

DP3B

Unfortunately, this one wasn’t quite as neat as the other, and it didn’t line up quite right. The curve was a little smoother, however.

DP3C

Method 4

Finally, I pinned with the convex side on top and the concave on the bottom. As in method 1, line up the fabrics right sides together and pin at the center.

DP4A

Pin both outside edges, then at the halfway point on each side. I didn’t pin any more than this – for this small piece, I felt like all that extra pinning didn’t help me that much.

DP4B

With the convex side on top, the pinned unit curved up. Rather than force it flat, I just let it curl as I fed it through the machine. As always, sew slowly and remove the pins as you go.

Note: Some people are comfortable sewing over the pins. I used to be one of those people, but I’ve bent too many good pins and I’m always nervous that I’ll damage or even break a needle. Since I’m sewing slowly and stopping frequently to adjust the fabric anyway, I might just as well remove the pins before sewing over them. 

DP4C

The finished block, as with all of the others, is not quite perfectly aligned. It was a little awkward to sew and though I didn’t, I was worried I’d sew in a crease because I couldn’t see the excess fabric on the bottom. This was probably my least favorite method.

DP4D

So here are my four blocks.

Drunkard's Path All

Clockwise from the top left, they are lightly pinned and convex on top; no pins and convex on top, no pins and concave on top, and heavily pinned and concave on top. None are perfect, but all are reasonably good. With practice, I’d definitely improve. HOWEVER…

As you well know, I prefer cutting larger and sewing then trimming to size. Could I do that here? The answer is yes, but you have to be very careful and pay close attention. The problem is you need to be able to align the seams and trimming become a bit of a challenge. Pivot it too much either way and the seams don’t align. Also, if you’re using a die cutting machine you can’t adjust the size you cut so you have to adjust the finished size if you want to trim. Make sure the finished size won’t throw off the rest of your project if you’re going to do that. Here’s how to trim:

The block is supposed to finish at 3 1/2″, meaning the sewn unit should be 4″. I’m going to trim them all to 3 3/4″ so the blocks will finish at 3 1/4″. First, determine the measurement you want your “points” to be at – the seam line. This will be the same on both sides. I chose 1 1/4″ from the outside.

Place a ruler on your block, lining up the 1 1/4″ mark with the seam on both sides (blue arrows). Make sure all four sides fit within the lines you’ll use to trim – in this case, the outer edges and the 3 3/4″ marks on the ruler (blue line). Hold the ruler firmly in place and trim the two sides.

DP Trim A

Turn the piece around and put the 3 3/4″ mark on the corner you just trimmed (orange arrow). Check that the seams still line up correctly on both sides (blue arrows) and trim the other two sides.

DP Trim B

Here are the four blocks after trimming. Better, hmm?

DP Trimmed

So if you’d like to give the Drunkard’s Path a try and don’t have a plastic template or special tool, here’s a template you can print: Drunkard’s Path Template

I think this is where I’m going to stop – though there is a lot more to talk about in curved piecing, this post is long enough! Are there any questions you’d like addressed if we do another curved piecing post? Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share about curved piecing?

PM/GC Quilts Skill Builder Series: Part 16 – Y Seams

For some reason, I’ve always been a little afraid of Y seams, but they really aren’t all that awful. A Y seam is exactly what the letter looks like – a place where three seam lines intersect. Believe it or not, Y seams are actually quite easy if you hand piece. They really aren’t much different than a regular seam. To machine piecers it seems more difficult because we are accustomed to just pushing the fabric through the machine, trusting that our quarter inch foot or guide will line up the seams correctly. Everything is flat when it goes through the machine on “regular” seams, but with Y seams you need to fold fabric to get the excess out of the way before sewing.

Some quilter have had success breaking blocks with Y seams into smaller components, piecing half square triangles so the same fabrics are next to one another. This gives the same appearance as a Y seam, but with an easier construction technique. The well-loved Swoon quilt pattern by Camille Roskelly (pattern available from her shop, Thimble Blossoms) is very similar to an old block called Star of Bethlehem, circa 1931 from Prize Winning Designs (Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns, page 289):

There are some slight changes in color placement and she removed the corner triangles, but the biggest difference is that some of the shapes have been changed slightly so they can be cut in half and pieced as half square triangles and flying geese. To illustrate the slight difference in shapes, here are the two blocks side by side. On the left is the Star of Bethlehem block recolored to match the Swoon layout. On the right is the Swoon block. Both blocks are shown without seam lines.

Star of Bethlehem block recolored Swoon block

If you look closely, the blue house shapes in the four corners of the Swoon block are narrower than the ones at the top/bottom/left/right. Also, the pink diamonds aren’t exactly diamonds, and the center star is a slightly different shape, with the points coming in farther and the white triangles between the points being slightly different sizes. The difference is very subtle, and both blocks are beautiful. This is a great way to make a complex block more accessible. But, you know, this post is about Y seams…

Y seams are used in a lot of 8-pointed star blocks like the Star of Bethlehem, LeMoyne Star, Carpenter’s Wheel, Lone Star and Feathered Stars.

LeMoyne Star

Carpenter’s Wheel

Lone Star

Feathered Star

They’re also used in the optical illusion called Tumbling Blocks:

Tumbling Blocks

And of course, the hexagon and it’s many variations, including those created with diamonds and triangles:

Hexagon

Pieced Diamonds Hexagon

Quilts that have an overall pattern that can’t be broken down into squares or rectangles all use Y seams. One of my favorites is a design called Jack’s Chain or Rosalia Flower Garden, made of nine patches, triangles and hexagons. This is a challenge to draw in EQ7, and I wasn’t having much luck. Fortunately, Marjorie at Quilt Design NW is smarter than I am, and shared an EQ7 file for the pattern. Here is my colored variation:

Jack’s Chain

I even found this design requiring Y seams on a tissue box! Wouldn’t it make a great quilt?

Tissue Box quilt

Construction

The example I’m using is my LeMoyne Star block from the Test Your Skills Sampler. The TYSS post will follow this one within a few hours, and will contain the complete cutting and piecing instructions for a 12″ finished LeMoyne Star. This post will focus only on the Y seam.

There are two tricks to Y seams. The first trick is knowing exactly where the seam line is. Oh, obviously it’s 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric, but with the long points of a diamond, there’s a little extra fabric. Most instructions for Y seams have you put a dot at each corner indicating where you should start and stop sewing.

LeMoyne 23

You may find it even easier if you draw the complete sewing line on the back of the fabric. This way you can see exactly where the lines intersect. This is especially true when working with non-90 degree angles (anything other than squares or rectangles).

LeMoyne 10

Second, you don’t sew from edge to edge – instead, you sew from seam to seam. In other words, you start sewing where your seam line intersects with the adjacent seam line, and stop when you meet the next seam. If you marked your starting and ending points with a dot, place your fabric under the presser foot and drop the needle through that dot, then sew to the ending dot.

LeMoyne 27

If you marked complete seam lines, drop you needle where they intersect and sew to the next intersection.

LeMoyne 18

One part of sewing Y seams that confounds people is how to get the fabric you’ve already sewn out of the way. Be patient. Slow down and just ease the fabric to where it needs to be. Try not to sew over any seam allowances, since that will make it easier to press the seams later.

The first two thirds of the Y seam are easy. It’s that last one that requires fabric to be folded out of the way. In the example below, I’ve already sewn the yellow and green fabrics together, and the blue to the green at the left. Now I need to get that second blue edge right sides together with the yellow edge.

LeMoyne 16

First, I flipped the blue fabric up and folded the green and yellow fabrics so they were right sides together.

LeMoyne 17a

Next I pulled the blue point down and to the right so it lined up with the yellow point. I pinched the blue/green seam and pulled it to the left as the blue point came down.

LeMoyne 17b

You can see in this last photo that the green fabric is folded between the layers.
LeMoyne 17c

All that’s left is to sew the last seam from point (seam intersection) to point (seam intersection). Drop the needle through the dot or seam intersection, then put the presser foot down. It is important here that you are only going through two layers of fabric, NOT the fabric that is folded out of the way. If you can manually roll the needle down, you can feel more resistance if there is extra fabric. This is one time when an automatic needle up/down button works against you. Sew to the next intersection.

LeMoyne 18

Y seams can be bulky, so one way to reduce that bulk is to spiral press, “splitting” the seams where they intersect. As long as you did not sew to the edge of the fabric, this is easy. Just press each seam from the intersecting point to the edge. Each one should go in the same direction, as if you pressed in a circle. Once the main seams are pressed, you can press the center, which has a tiny bit of the right sides of each fabric exposed.

LeMoyne 19

Well, that’s how you do a Y seam! Any questions? Any tips that you’d like to share if you’ve had some experience with Y seams?

TYSS: Crossed Canoes

This block is also called Crossed Kayaks. If you’re following the white & bright layout, it is pink and white. It is another foundation pieced block, this time one that requires four separate pieces that are joined together. Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts used this block in her Skill Builder Foundation Piecing post, so you could follow along on this post if you’d like. Her post demonstrates the more common method of foundation piecing that sews through the paper. She also shows how to join multiple paper pieced sections. If you prefer to use the freezer paper method, check out my Skill Builder post.

In order to keep all of the Test Your Skills Sampler blocks in one place, I’m also providing the foundation PDF here. Just click here to download the PDF. The block finishes at 9″ but each quadrant is done separately, which means it can be printed on regular Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″).

Woohoo! There are just four more block posts and all of the blocks will be finished so we can move on to assembling them into the crazy layout we came up with!

TYSS: Spiral

The Spiral block is essentially a log cabin variation, but because of the points, it’s best to foundation piece this. This block is pieced on a single foundation. Even though there are 20 pieces in it, they all build around a center point, so you don’t have to join separate foundation pieced sections. All of the foundation PDFs below have the piecing order numbered for you.

There are as many ways to foundation piece as there are quilters, I think! I prefer to use freezer paper, fold on the lines, and sew along the edge rather than sew through the paper. You can see my method in my Skill Builder Foundation Piecing post, here. Jeanne at Grey Cat Quilts prefers to sew through the foundation, and she’s working on a post that will be up by Sunday. I’ll post the link on the Skill Builder page as soon as it’s ready. By the way, she moved to WordPress since my last TYSS post in *gasp* February, but all of the links on the Skill Builder page are updated.

There’s just one little thing about this Spiral block… it finishes at 9″ in the illustration, which means the foundation cannot be printed on a standard sheet of paper that measures 8 1/2″ x 11″. You have a couple of options:

  • Print the full size PDF on ledger paper that measure 11″ x 17″
  • Print the full size PDF on two sheets of letter paper that measure 8 1/2″ x 11″ and tape them together to make the full size block
  • Print the full size PDF on letter paper that measures 8 1/2″ x 11″, then trace it onto larger paper (or freezer paper) to make the full size block
  • Print a smaller, 8″ finished block on letter paper that measure 8 1/2″ x 11″
  • Draft your own version of the block

All of those options are available – just download the appropriate PDF file below.

I mentioned this in the Skill Builder post, but it’s so important that I need to mention it here, too. When printing a PDF for foundation piecing, you MUST make sure it prints the full size. Make sure the print dialog box doesn’t have “Shrink to Size”, “Shrink to Fit”, “Fit to Page”, “Shrink Oversize Pages” or anything else checked. It should say “None” or “Actual” if anything. As a precaution, once the foundation pattern is printed, measure it to be sure it is exactly 9″ (9 1/2″ if you measure the outside dotted lines that indicate the seam allowance), or 8″ for the smaller block. Even after all of those precautions it still might not print right. For some reason when I print this on my Mom’s printer, it just doesn’t print out the right size. The 8″ block does NOT have the dotted lines to indicate seam allowance (they wouldn’t fit on a letter size page), so be sure to leave that extra 1/4″ all the way around when you’re piecing, and trim 1/4″ past the edge of the paper when you square up your block.

So, here are your download options. Click to download whichever PDF you want to use. If you choose the smaller, 8″ block, I’ll include special instructions when we assemble the quilt top to accommodate the smaller size.

Download the 9″ finished block for Ledger size paper (11″ x 17″)
Download the 9″ finished block for two pieces of Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″)
Download the 8″ finished block for Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″)

Draft on Paper

If you choose to draft your own block, it’s a bit more challenging. You’ll need a sheet of paper that is at least 9″ square. If you’re using the freezer paper method, just tear a large piece off of the roll and lightly iron it to another piece of paper to keep it flat – it doesn’t have to cover the entire sheet. If you’re sewing through the paper, try a piece of newspaper, but expect to get a little messy as the newsprint will rub off. You’ll also need a piece of paper at least 7 1/2″ square, and it’s best if this paper is a little heavier as you’ll be tracing around it.

Start by drawing a 9″ square. Draw a 1/4″ seam allowance on all four sides, and mark the center point (4 1/2″ from both sides of the inner square). (Ignore the smaller square drawn inside – I got ahead of myself before taking the picture. Also ignore the shadowy lines showing through the paper. I used the back of my test print outs.)

On the heavier paper, draw a 7 1/2″ square and mark the center point (3 3/4″). Inside that square, draw a 6 1/4″ square and mark the center point (3 1/8″).
Inside that square, draw a 5 1/4″ square and mark the center point (2 5/8″).
Inside that square, draw a 4 1/2″ square and mark the center point (2 1/4″).
Inside that square, draw a 4″ square and mark the center point (2″).

Cut out the 7 1/2″ square, put a pin through the center point, and stick the pin at the center point of the 9″ square. Rotate the 7 1/2″ square until the corners just barely touch the edges of the 9″ square. Trace around the edges. You may want to lightly tape it in place first.

Now cut the square down to the 6 1/4″ mark, put the pin through the new center point and stick it in the center of the 9″ square, rotate until the corners just touch the edges of the 7 1/2″ square you just drew, and trace.

Repeat for the 5 1/4″, 4 1/2″ and 4″ squares.

And there’s your foundation! When you piece it, start in the center and add to all four sides, then the next color all four sides, and so on in a spiral.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Skill Builder Series: Part 14A – Foundation Piecing

Woohoo! It’s finally here! There are so many blocks that become easier with (or are just plain impossible without) foundation piecing. I call it foundation piecing, although it’s also called paper piecing because the most common foundation used is paper. I took a class with Jane Hall (one of the masters of foundation piecing) and she was very adamant about the word “foundation,” so it kind of stuck.

There are several different ways to foundation piece. Check out Jeanne’s post on foundation piecing with regular paper. If you decide that foundation piecing is your new favorite method, also check out a fantastic book called The Expert’s Guide to Foundation Piecing. It contains variations on foundation piecing from fourteen different quilters, all putting their own spin on the process.

Mini Kayaks String blocks

Foundation piecing comes in many forms. Any block where you sew fabric to a piece of paper or other fabric used as a stabilizer is foundation piecing. String quilts, crazy quilts and even some log cabins are foundation pieced. If you see an antique log cabin quilt with teeny tiny quarter-inch logs, it was foundation pieced. Many quilts were pieced to use up every scrap of fabric, and those scraps were often cut on the bias, or were so small that it was difficult to piece with them. By sewing the scraps to a foundation, you created stability and allowed smaller pieces to be used. Foundations can be used to create geometric designs, as in the Crossed Kayaks mini quilt above, or to create “pictures” as in the flower mini quilt below.

Spring Flowers

Paper is the most common foundation today, whether it’s regular copy paper, special foundation paper made to go through a printer, or leftover newsprint. If you can get your hands on unprinted newspaper paper (?!) I hear that’s fantastic for foundation piecing.

Another option, and my preference, is freezer paper. With regular paper you sew through the paper, which is more stabilizing but also means that you have to print, copy or draw a separate foundation for every block or component you make. With the freezer paper method, you fold the paper back and sew along the fold. Because you never sew the fabric directly onto the paper, you can peel off the foundation and use it again and again.

I first saw this method on an episode of Simply Quilts (a show that unfortunately is no longer airing on television). Judy Mathieson demonstrated a Mariner’s Compass block using this technique, and I immediately had to go try it. This was my first experience with foundation piecing, and it’s still my favorite.

Create Your Foundation

First you need to get your design onto your foundation. I use freezer paper sheets that are made to go through your inkjet (NOT laser because of the heat) printer, such as Quilter’s Freezer Paper Sheets from C&T Publishing or C. Jenkins Freezer Paper Sheets. You can find it at some quilt shops or JoAnn Fabrics, or you can buy it online. Sometimes the design is too big to fit onto 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, so I’ll draw it on regular freezer paper. For now, print it on regular paper and trace it onto regular freezer paper. If you like the method you can look into other options later.

Scale

Regardless of the foundation you use, most foundation piecing (except string or crazy quilts) requires you to first print, draw or copy the design onto the foundation. It is absolutely essential that you do this at the correct scale! If you print it from a PDF, make sure that the Page Scaling is set to None (it might default to Fit to Printer Margins – this is wrong). You’ll see this option in the Print window.


Some patterns have a 1″ test box right on the pattern. After printing or copying, measure this to be sure it’s still exactly one inch. Don’t skip measuring it. Trust me, you’ll regret it eventually.

Sections

Simple foundation pieced designs can be created with a single foundation, but sometimes you need to join multiple sections together to create the finished block. For example, this block can be made from one foundation:

Foundation T block

While this block requires two separate sections that are joined together later:

Foundation 2 Piece block

When I print the foundations from EQ7, it automatically numbers the segments so I know what order to add fabrics. There’s room for a little change on some blocks, but some must be done in the exact order shown. Here’s the first, single foundation block with numbering:

Foundation T block screenshot

Here’s the second, two-piece foundation with numbering:

Foundation 2 Piece block screenshot

Notice how this one has two separate sections, one numbered A1, A2, etc. and the other B1, B2, etc. (You may need to click it to view it larger.) Also, it shows the quarter inch seam allowance for the outer edges. You can see where you would cut the foundations apart for individual piecing.

By the way, these are screenshots, NOT accurate foundation patterns. You do not want to print the photos and try piecing them because scale and sizing may be off. If you want to try either of these, here are downloadable PDFs for 6″ blocks:

Foundation T Block PDF

Foundation 2 Piece Block PDF

They’re not “real” blocks, just things I sketched up quickly to illustrate the points. Although the second one does make kind of an interesting pattern when blocks are rotated:

Foundation 2 Piece layout

Freezer Paper Method

Once you’ve printed or traced your foundation onto freezer paper, trim the excess paper away. It’s okay to leave a little extra around the edges, but you don’t want a lot of paper getting in your way.

Next, crease the fold lines – the “sewing” lines. The best way is with a paper or rotary cutter with a scoring blade, which looks like a regular rotary blade but has a dull edge. An old pizza cutter would probably work. You can also use the edge of your acrylic ruler – place it flat with the edge along the line, pull the paper up along the edge, and use your fingernail to crease along the underside of the paper. Remove the ruler and fold it the rest of the way over, creasing to make it sharp. Having a sharp edge makes the fold crisper and more accurate.

1 Crease Foundation

Repeat with all of the fold lines (not the outside edge).

3 Foundation with Creases

Some people like to cut their fabrics into the approximate shapes they need, only slightly larger. Sometimes I do that, as in my Icicles quilt, but mostly I just grab a scrap and go. Choose your first piece of fabric and iron the freezer paper to the WRONG side of the fabric so it covers the entire section plus about 1/4″ all the way around. In the photo below, I’m placing fabric for the tumbler shaped piece in the center. (This method works best if you have an iron right next to your sewing machine so you don’t have to get up every time you sew a new piece on.)

3 First Piece

A strong light, a light box or a window are all helpful because you need to see both the lines on the paper and the fabric placement through the paper.

Some people prefer to trim after sewing the seam, but I like to do it before. Fold the paper back along the crease to reveal the excess fabric. Use a rotary cutter and ruler to trim 1/4″ beyond the edge of the paper.

4 Fold Back Trim Edge

You can also use scissors if you like – the seam line is determined by the foundation, so it doesn’t have to be a perfect 1/4″.

Place the second piece of fabric right sides together with the piece ironed to the foundation. If possible, line up the straight edge of the new fabric with the edge that you just trimmed. With the foundation still folded back, make sure the new fabric completely covers the area on the foundation. Here you can see green lines that show the edges of the new piece of fabric. There is a lot of extra space on the left, but the right side is very close to the line. There was just barely enough room – I should have moved the fabric to the right before sewing.

5 Check for Coverage

Sew along the edge of the foundation, as close as you can without perforating the paper.

6 Sew Along Edge of Paper

Flip the fabric and the paper back into place and check that the fabric covers the area. Do this BEFORE you iron it in place and trim it! The green arrows show the corners of the section – remember, you need 1/4″ extra fabric all the way around the section. I cut it very close.

7 Verify Coverage

Press to adhere the fabric to the freezer paper, fold back the next section, and repeat. Continue until the block is complete. It doesn’t look all that nice at first – there’s a lot of excess fabric.

8 Sewn

9 Cutting Lines

You can see the darker square around the outside of the block that indicates the sewing line, with a lighter cutting line 1/4″ outside of that. Use your rotary cutter and ruler to trim on the outer cutting lines. Be careful – it’s easy to accidentally cut on the wrong line! Also, since you’re cutting through paper, don’t use a cutter with a brand new blade if you can avoid it.

After you’ve trimmed it you can peel the freezer paper off and use it again!

11 Done and Reuse

If you’re doing a block with multiple pieces, leave the freezer paper on and fold back the 1/4″ seams, then use the paper as a guide when sewing the two pieces together.

So that’s freezer paper foundation piecing! Any questions? Do you have another way of doing it that you’d like to share?

If you’d like to practice a few different, but fairly basic, foundation pieced blocks, check out the series of heart blocks on my Patterns page. When you’re feeling really adventurous, try the cow! There’s also a short PDF of an earlier version a Freezer Paper Piecing tutorial.

TYSS: Capital T block

The Capital T block also uses flying geese units (as well as half square triangles) and finishes at 12″ (12 1/2″ unfinished). As with the Dutchman’s Puzzle, color placement can create all sorts of different looks, but for this block we’ll use two block fabrics and the background. If you’re following the white and bright layout, it’s red and aqua.

You will use the Skill Builder posts to create four HSTs and eight flying geese. The HSTs will finish at 4″ square (4 1/2″ unfinished, and the flying geese will finish at 4″ wide and 2″ high (4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ unfinished). Be aware of color placement – each flying geese unit will have two different “sky” fabrics. In this layout your background fabric will be the geese and your block fabrics will be the sky.

Half Square Triangles

Create two HSTs of each color. Although the strip and papers methods are both great for HSTS, the limited number of HSTs in this block means that the two squares with diagonal lines method is best in this instance. It creates exactly the number of HSTs you need without waste. For this method, you need:
(2) 5″ (or 5 1/4″ if you’d like a little more room to trim) squares of background fabric
(1) 5″ (or 5 1/4″) square of one block fabric
(1) 5″ (or 5 1/4″) square of another block fabric

Flying Geese

Skill Builder Series: Part 8A – Flying Geese

Skill Builder Series: Part 8B – Flying Geese

Method 1: Large and Small Squares

Skill Builder Series: Part 8B – Flying Geese
Skill Builder Series: Part 8B – Flying Geese
This is my favorite method for creating flying geese since it doesn’t waste fabric and you sew before cutting.

Cut (4) 3″ squares of one block fabric
Cut (4) 3″ squares of another block fabric
Cut (2) 5 1/2″ squares of background fabric

Follow Jeanne’s instructions for assembling the flying geese. In the first step (sewing two small squares to a large square), both small square should be the same block fabric. Then sew the other block fabric squares to the “heart.” You’ll have four geese with the “red” on the left and four with the “red” on the right.

Trim your flying geese units to 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″.

Method 2: Traditional

Skill Builder Series: Part 8A – Flying Geese
Although this is the traditional method for assembling flying geese, it can be tricky, especially since you’ll be working with bias edges. I don’t recommend it, but if you’d like to try it you need:

Four 3″ squares of one block fabric, cut diagonally once
Four 3″ squares of another block fabric, cut diagonally once
Two 5 1/2″ square of background fabric, cut diagonally both ways

Trim your flying geese units to 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″.

Method 3: Rectangle and Squares

Skill Builder Series: Part 8A – Flying Geese
If color placement has you worried, this method may be your best choice. You will waste a little fabric. If you haven’t made your pinwheels yet, you could use the extra HSTs from this block to create some of them.

Cut (4) 2 1/2″ squares of one block fabric
Cut (4) 2 1/2″ squares of another block fabric
Cut (8) 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles of background fabric

When you piece these, you’ll need four geese with “red” sky on the left and four geese with “red” sky on the right.

Method 4: Dimensional (One Seam)

Skill Builder Series: Part 8A – Flying Geese
This is a fun method for creating flying geese, but it adds a lot of bulk at the center and you will have flaps of fabric that you need to either sew down or be careful not to catch in the presser foot when you quilt it.

Cut (4) 2 1/2″ squares of one block fabric
Cut (4) 2 1/2″ squares of another block fabric
Cut (8) 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles of background fabric

When you piece these, you’ll need four geese with “red” sky on the left and four geese with “red” sky on the right.

Assembling the Block

Create four sets of flying geese, sewing two identical geese together for each unit. Lay out the flying geese units and HSTs so it looks like the Capital T block illustration above, then sew as you would a nine patch block. See this post for instructions on sewing a nine patch.

Skill Builder Series: Part 13 – Log Cabin

Note: The many photos in this post are fairly large on the screen. If you’d like to see these quilt illustrations smaller so more than one fits on the screen, try pressing CTRL and – (minus) on your keyboard. Repeat several times to go smaller and smaller. CTRL and + will increase the size so you can read the font. This is also comes in handy if you’re viewing a website with tiny print – just make it bigger. The trick works in both Internet Explorer and Firefox (and possibly other web browsers).

You’re probably surprised that I waited this long to write about the Log Cabin block – it seems to be a pretty easy block. I had a few good reasons, though!

  • In its most traditional form it can require more precision than a first-time quilter may want to deal with.
  • Several of the other skills can be put to use with this block.
  • The variations make more sense when you are comfortable with triangles and have a better understanding of color, value, and block design.

I believe the Log Cabin is the most versatile of all pieced blocks. Changing strip numbers and sizes, adding triangles, changing the base shape, and changing value or color placement all result in new and exciting designs. I don’t like to make the same quilt twice. In looking through my projects, though, I find I’ve worked on at least 9 projects with the Log Cabin as a base.

There are many variations of the log cabin, which is why this is going to be a very long post! It is extremely photo and illustration heavy, but even so you might want to go get a snack or possibly even take a nap before starting.

At its heart, a log cabin block is simply a square with strips sewn around it. Does this very popular quilt look familiar?

Good & Plenty finished

Yep, that’s a log cabin variation often referred to as a square in a square. This one has three layers – center square, first round, second round – but a single round of strips is also very popular.

Construction

Log cabin construction is pretty straightforward. Start with a square, add strips around it until it’s the size you want, and you’re finished. The basic construction techniques can be applied to many different kinds of log cabin blocks, so let’s go through the construction first, and then I’ll show you the variations.

Option 1 – Cut to Size

This option takes more time during fabric preparation, but potentially makes that up by cutting multiple pieces at once. It does require a bit of math and organization.

Cut a square 1/2″ larger than you want the center to finish. I cut the square at 1 1/2″. Traditionally the center square is a different color from the logs (often red, thought to symbolize the heart or hearth).

Cut strips for the logs in whatever width you choose. Remember to add 1/2″ to your finished width for the seam allowance. For this example, all strips will be the same width, 1 1/2″. Choose fabrics with both light and dark values. The value contrast is the most important thing!

Subcut the strips into precise segments.

  • Start with one LIGHT segment in whatever width you choose and as long as your center square. In this example, it’s 1 1/2″ square.
  • Cut one light and one dark segment that is the length of the center square plus the FINISHED width of the strips (the width of the cut strip minus 1/2″ seam allowance). In this case, 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″.
  • Cut one light and one dark segment that is the length of the last segment plus the finished width of the strips. In this case, 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.
  • Repeat with one light and one dark cut the length of the last segment plus the finished width of the strips. Continue until you have as many rounds as you want. In this case, 1 1/2″ x 4 1/2″, 1 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ AND 1 1/2″ x 6 1/2″.
  • Finally, cut one DARK (no light) segment the length of the last segment plus the finished width of the strips. In this case, 1 1/2″ x 7 1/2″. (If you prefer your block to be primarily light, you can start with one dark square and end with one light segment.)

When you’re doing this with logs that are all the same width, the measurements are fairly easy. They’re REALLY easy if your logs finish at 1″ because each strip is exactly 1″ longer than the last set.

Sew the light square and center square together, then press to the light. With log cabin blocks I prefer to press to the most recently added log. This way you don’t create any bulky seams.

The sewn unit should be the same length as the next light rectangle.

Always place the new strip on the bottom and the pieced segment on top when you sew them together. That way any seams are on top where you can see them and make sure they don’t fold back as they go under the presser foot. You should always add logs in the same direction, either clockwise or counter-clockwise. The easiest way to remember which way you’re adding them is to always place the sewn unit on the next log with the most recently added log either at the top or at the bottom (choose one!).  For this block, I chose to put it at the bottom.

Sew the unit to the next log and press to the new log.

Repeat, each time making sure the new log is the same width as the unit you’re sewing it to, and placing the newest log at the bottom.

When you use this method, you may start to notice that your next log is not exactly the same length as the unit.  You can see in the photo below that the log is a little shorter than the unit. Assuming you cut the log accurately, that means your seams are either too large or too small. In this case, my seams were too small. Log cabin blocks, because of so many seams, often get out of square or too large or small. Using this method, the precut logs will tell you when your block is not correct. You can trim the unit if it is too big, but if it is too small you will need to take it apart and correct the seams. (Alternatively, you can try to make adjustments with a smaller seam in the next round to get the block back on track.)

I chose to sew this log on and then trim the block to size.

This is relatively easy to do if you are using 1″ logs – after a full round is sewn to the center, it should be 1/2″ larger than the number of logs across (in this picture above, 3 logs).

Keep sewing rounds, always placing the newest log at the bottom when adding the next log. End with your single dark log.

Quarter Inch Seams

If you are challenged by consistent quarter inch seams, log cabins can be overwhelming. The more rounds you add, the greater the likelihood your blocks will be off. However, like most of the other components we’ve demonstrated in Skill Builder Series, you can work around that problem by cutting the strips wider and trimming to size.

For option 1, square up your block after each round of logs, whether a “round” is four sides or two sides, as in the Chevron variation.

Option 2 – Chaining the Strip

Okay, I made that name up. This method is great if you don’t want to deal with the math or aren’t good at keeping piles of cut fabric neatly organized.

With this method, you will cut your center squares to size, then cut strips of everything else. You do NOT have to pre-cut the logs to size. I find this to be faster than precutting the logs and I don’t have as many small pieces of fabric floating around. Because you don’t have a pre-cut log to compare to the size of the unit as you build it, you need to be more aware of your seam allowances. You can avoid this problem by cutting your strips slightly wider than necessary. Since you have to trim the pieces apart anyway, cutting the strips 1/4″ wider keeps your blocks consistent and doesn’t really add much time.

Also, you’ll be chain piecing the blocks, so it may seem like you aren’t making much progress, then all of a sudden you’ll have several blocks finished at once. I’ve chained as many as ten blocks at a time, but for this tutorial I’ll do three.

Again, I’m using 1 1/2″ center squares and 1 1/2″ wide strips. (If you’re cutting your strips wider, try 1 3/4″ strips.)

Place the strip under your presser foot and put each center square on it, lining up the right edge and leaving about 1/4″ space between the squares. A little extra space is a good thing – too close together can result in cutting errors. Sew the squares to the strip.

Trim each unit to size.  The units below are trimmed to 1 1/2″ wide.

As with option 1, always place your segments on the next strip with the newest log consistently at either the top or bottom. Again, I’m placing them at the bottom.

Sew the units to the strip, leaving a small space between them.

Press to the newly added fabric…

…then cut the segments apart and trim to size. Even if you cut the strips at the exact width you need, you should trim the excess fabric from the edge of the new segment. I prefer to leave enough space between the segments so I can get a scissors in there and snip them apart, then press individually and trim with a rotary cutter.

Continue placing the units on the next strip, newest unit down, then sewing.

In the photo below you can see why I like to be able to get my scissors between the blocks. The first two units just added the first dark strip, while third unit has the first dark strip sewn to it and is getting ready to add the second dark strip. That third unit WAS at the front of the line, but when I sewed the third unit I reached up and snipped off the first one, pressed it, trimmed it, and placed it on the dark strip without removing the strip. Once that one is sewn, I can  cut off the other two, trim and press, then add them to the same strip.

Keep sewing, pressing and trimming until you have as many rounds as you want.

Log Cabin Block Variations

Okay, now it’s time to talk about the different types of log cabin blocks.

Traditional

The traditional log cabin block starts with a center square, then add logs of equal size to each consecutive side, rotating the block either clockwise or counterclockwise 1/4 turn for each addition. Two consecutive sides are light and two consecutive sides are dark. You can add as many or as few rounds as you like. Wider logs are easier, but you get a greater effect with the settings when you use narrower logs and more blocks.

This is a basic four block log cabin, with large strips or logs. It follows the most traditional block design, with light strips on two consecutive sides and dark strips on the other two sizes.

Log Cabin Wallhanging

Also a traditional log cabin block, the skinnier strips and larger finished quilt below allow a more complex layout.

IMG_1078

Mukwonago Quilt Show 2008

The traditional log cabin block is divided diagonally into dark and light, and there are many settings that take advantage of this.

Here is the block:

Traditional Log Cabin Block

Because the traditional log cabin block is divided diagonally into light and dark sides, you can create literally hundreds of different settings just by twisting the blocks. Some settings are very well known:

Straight Setting

Straight Furrows

Barn Raising

Streak of Lightning

Sunshine and Shadow (Variation 1 - Dark on the Inside)

Sunshine and Shadow (Variation 2 - Light on the Inside)

Pinwheel

When you start experimenting with the block layout, however, you realize that the possibilities are almost endless. Here are some examples:

Log Cabin Star

Log Cabin Setting Variation 1

Log Cabin Setting Variation 2

Even changing something as small as a single fabric can completely alter the appearance of the top. Here’s the same quilt as the one above, but with one fabric changed to a very light value.

Log Cabin Setting Variation 2A

Hard to believe there’s just one change, isn’t it?

Here’s a gorgeous “first” log cabin from Kim Burley (quiltinkimmie on Flickr):

My first log cabin

First Log Cabin by Kim Burley (quiltinkimmie)

As you can see, the traditional log cabin block can be interpreted so many ways that you could literally make log cabin quilts for the rest of your life and never duplicate one.

Other Shapes

You can use the log cabin technique with any central shape. Here the logs are built around a triangle, and six triangles are joined to form a hexagon. I received this gorgeous mini quilt in a Flickr swap from sewwunderful.

Twisted Traditional STUD May 09 received

Flickr Swap Mini Quilt from sewwunderful

This variation uses a different central shape, a diamond, and was made with a Honey Bun – precut 1 1/2″ strips.

Hunky Dory Honey Bun Diamonds

Any shape with straight sides can be the base of a log cabin block. Consider a rectangle, pentagon, hexagon or even octagon log cabin.

Chevron Blocks

Log cabin blocks that are built on two sides of the center rather than all four sides are also called Chevron blocks.

Chevron Block

Are you familiar with the immensely popular Bento Box quilt? That’s just a Chevron log cabin block turned so four blocks form a square. If you make both rectangles in each round (a “round” consisting of just two sides) the same fabric, you can create interesting patterns when you rotate the blocks.

Chevron Setting

You can also create effects with graduated values – start with a dark center and move to a light outer round, or do the reverse.

Chevron Block

Chevron Variation 1

Chevron Variation 2

Chevron Variation 3

You can color the Chevron so it is split diagonally into light and dark halves like the traditional log cabin, and use the same setting variations, such as this Sunshine and Shadows.

Chevron Block Variation

Chevron Sunshine and Shadows

This quilt, a variation of a pattern called Mosaic Magic from the December 2006 issue of McCall’s Quilting, is a Chevron with half square triangles at the ends of the logs. The pattern emerges when blocks are rotated.

Meandering Paths

Courthouse Steps

The Courthouse Steps block is created just like a traditional log cabin except you add the logs to opposite sides of the block instead around the block.

Courthouse Steps block

You can approach this block several ways. The block above uses the same value on opposite sides of the block. When you set the blocks together in a quilt you can either set them in the same direction…

…or rotate alternate blocks one quarter turn.

Along the same lines, you can use one color as a “background” on two sides, then use two different colors on the other sides.

Another option is to use one color on each side of the block.

Rotate the blocks so the colors line up with the block next to it and you’ll create a secondary pattern.

If you enjoy planning and organizing, you can also place colors in each block so they match the block next to it. You have to be careful with this layout because each block is different. It’s a gorgeous effect, though.

Pineapple

A pineapple log cabin is created just like a regular log cabin, except after sewing logs on all four sides, you go back and sew them on the corners, too!

Some of the most striking pineapple quilts are made with a strong value different between the logs that go on all four sides and the logs that go on the corners, as in the block above and quilt illustration below.

Another option is to use a single fabric or value for the side logs and two contrasting colors for the corner logs, so the same color is on opposite corners. In this block, I added more corner strips to continue the effect (rather than ending in large triangles).

This adorable pineapple was created by Kim Burley (aka quiltinkimmie on Flickr). She chose to make the side logs from two different colors, then added the corners in a third color.

Doll Quilt for Krommama

Pineapple Log Cabin by Kim Burley (quiltinkimmie)

I was fortunate to take a class in foundation piecing from the queen of pineapples, Jane Hall. Check out her gallery of quilts to see what you can do with a pineapple and a lot of imagination. I especially like her Chroma series.

Foundation Piecing

Log cabin blocks are well suited to foundation piecing. In fact, when we get to the foundation piecing skill builder, my block will be a log cabin variation. Traditionally, log cabins of the 19th and early 20th century were foundation pieced on fabric because they used narrow scraps of fabric, much like string quilts. In fact, a string quilt is essentially a log cabin that has a straight line for a center – you build outward on two opposite sides.

Another swap mini quilt, this is one I made for a foundation piecing swap. Although it is foundation pieced (sometimes called paper pieced), the flowers are essentially log cabins that use irregular shapes for the center and logs.

Spring Flowers

This quilt was also foundation pieced, but if you look closely you can see that it is a log cabin that uses flying geese (stretched) to form the logs.

IMG_1028

Mukwonago Quilt Show 2008

Adapting the Technique

You can take the basic concept of a log cabin – a center with rectangles sewn around it in rows – and adapt it by changing the rectangles.

A common technique involves adding squares two or four corners. These squares are called cornerstones. With a noticeable value difference between the cornerstones and the other fabrics, interesting patterns appear as the blocks are put together or rotated.

Single Cornerstone Block

The light/dark value still creates patterns, but the cornerstones emphasize and even add to the designs.

A double cornerstone can be colored like a traditional log cabin or like a courthouse steps variation.

Courthouse Steps with Cornerstones

Traditional Double Cornerstones Setting

Instead of squares, try using rectangles to create the cornerstones. The Mosaic Magic quilt above is a result of half square triangles used as cornerstones.

Another way to change the appearance of a log cabin is to change the width of the logs. For example, the light logs might be wider than the dark logs, or vice versa.

Uneven Log Cabin Block

Uneven Log Cabin Setting 1

Uneven Log Cabin Setting 2

The quilt below was my first original quilt design. It starts with a traditional log cabin block, but the light strips are slightly wider than the dark strips, resulting in a curved effect. The triangles at the ends of the strips is another variation. This shows yet another way the setting, or the way the blocks are laid out, can take advantage of the light and dark values in the blocks.

Neapolitan quilt crop

Try playing with value and color. This gorgeous green and white spiral quilt from Cheryl’s Teahouse on Flickr shows how using the same fabric in consecutive rows to create texture without color change. It also takes advantage of the circular piecing method to create a spiral.

Finished Log Cabin Quilt

Improvisational Log Cabin

Another example of the versatility of the log cabin block is it’s prevalence in improvisational (also called free-pieced or wonky) quilts. In improvisational quilts you assemble blocks and quilts in a looser, more relaxed way. The center of the log cabin may be a non-symmetrical shape, the logs may be of different widths, angled pieces, or even pieced within a single log, and the blocks may be deliberately crooked. Here’s a fantastic example from Kim Burley:

Wonky Log Cabin for Audrey

There are some gorgeous free pieced log cabin variations out there. As with any block or quilt, the use of value, color, and fabrics can elevate a free pieced log cabin quilt from “meh” to “wow!” In Kim’s block above, she sticks with the traditional value placement but uses logs that are different shapes and widths. At the very end, however, she squared up the block to a predetermined size. You can get as crazy as you like with the blocks as long as they end up the same size so they can go together into a top.

Wonky-Scrapy WIP

Wonky Log Cabin by Manuela (Yara's work on Flickr)

This blocks above by Manuela (at Yara’s work on Flickr) uses the square in a square design with varying log widths. Look closely and you’ll see that some of the logs are different sizes or fabrics on each side of the block, and some are even pieced within the strip. The white brings it all together, but the darker fabrics scattered throughout keep your eye moving across the quilt. Here’s the finished quilt:

finished - right in time.

Wonky Log Cabin by Manuela (Yara's work on Flickr)

Here’s another version that uses bright, saturated colors, by Anna at Lasso The Moon. You can see photos of the finished quilt in her Flickr photostream, but I really like how this photo of the blocks shows the variety of colors. What I find interesting with these blocks is that she used two colors in each block, but built one color around a center of the other color.

Bunk bed log cabin quilt

Wonky Log Cabin blocks by Anna at Lasso the Moon

Congratulations, you made it through this monster post! By the way, if you were to print it, pictures and all, it would take 37 pages. Definitely my new record. Did you manage to read it all in one sitting, or did you have to come back to it?! Do you have any questions about log cabins, or would you like to share a story about your log cabin quilt(s)?