21 November 2013

Quartered Log Cabins (with tutorial)

I got married!  And received a couple beautiful quilts as gifts!  Both of these things will be blogged eventually when I have some photos and a moment to think, but I wanted to post today about what's been on my design wall this week.

Quartered Log Cabin-half-way to twin size

Last weekend I taught a new class for the first time: intermediate improv. In this class, I go over my favorite improv blocks as well as some general approaches to color and value, and methods for combining odd-sized improv blocks into a quilt top. While I taught four blocks, I had sample quilts for only two of those blocks, relying on pictures for the other two.

I decided that next time I teach this class, I want an additional sample, so I've been making a twin-size quilt out of quartered log cabin blocks.

Quartered Log Cabin-strips

These blocks are very simple to construct (it's a cut up log cabin) and you can find numerous  tutorials for this block out there (like here and here). I'm making them with 8" white centers and 3"scrappy strips on the edges, then cutting them into 6" quarter-blocks, as in the pictures below (if the pictures don't make the process clear, read one of the tutorials linked above.)

Quartered Log Cabin- first step

Quartered Log Cabin-second step

Quartered Log Cabin-third step

Quartered Log Cabin-fourth step

The real reason I wanted to post today was to record what I have been doing with the colors in my quilt.  The bulk of the prints being used in this quilt are scraps or fat eigths (there is actual yardage of a few prints in there, which does help with the continuity in the quilt, I think).  I have a decent-sized pile of scraps and fat eigths to pull from, so I am able to make color stories from them.  In this case a citrene/magenta/blue thing is going on, with touches of teal and gray and orange, but basically, this quilt is kind of a jumble and some of these fabrics need to be seperated in order to keep the peace.

My dilemma was this: on the one hand, I want to keep certain colors away from each other.  On the other hand, I don't want to proceed as slowly as would need to be the case if I was auditioning each fabric's placement (I know quilter's who audition each scrap's placement and I don't know where they find the patience!)

Here's what I've been doing: I have arranged the prints into groups that play well together.  And I making five or six log cabins using each pile (which get cut down into 20-24 blocks).  The blocks are being placed on the design wall as I finish them, with them going up in "blobs" of color.

Quartered Log Cabin-planning color placement

In the picture above, you can see the diagonal swath of magenta/cerise.  Above it is one type of blue (with coordinating prints) and below it a second type of blue (with coordinating prints).   I've slapped some strips from a jelly roll up to note where future color blobs should be placed.

These blocks go together really quickly!  And if you make a variety of blocks in each blob, there are fairly easy to place on the design wall without having too many occurrences of the same fabric touching the same fabric.
Quartered Log Cabin- all laid out

Perfection in non-fabric-touching isn't a goal of mine.  And while many blocks are placed so that they suggest a "plus" sign, there are a lot of blocks that are turned other ways.
Quartered Log Cabin- on the design wall

There are also some blocks that came out small and had to be added to...I love those little additions and sillinesses--to me, that's what makes a quilt sing.

I finished making my blocks yesterday and this morning came in and labelled each block with it's placement (a1, a2, a3, a4...) so that I could pack them up and take them with me on my Thanksgiving travels.
Quartered Log Cabin - labelling my blocks on the design wall

The light was low, so I had to get out my tripod for the pictures, so I decided to set a timer and catch myself at work for you...kinda funny, but I think it gives a sense of the scale of the quilt.

Quartered Log Cabin Blocks packed up

And away we go! 


  1. Congratulations! Good idea to label the pieces. I'll keep that in mind for future use.

  2. Congratulations on your marriage
    I love your quartered LG quilt, it's amazing how such a simple block can be re-rendered to create something with a modern twist. Can't wait to see it finished.

  3. congratulations!!! And thanks for sharing the quilty process

  4. Congratulations! Its interesting how others work with scraps. I make mostly scrappy quilts and initially i struggled with placement of colors... honestly the quilts where I dont think about it and make them wild scrappy are my favorites. I have learned a few rules for that.... I dont like dark and white big prints... I dont like two like fabrics together... things like that but most of my quilts now I just sew without worrying about placement.

  5. congrats on your marriage! and i love the arrangement of your quarter log cabin blocks.

  6. Hey, you are an old married lady now! All the best, love this latest quilt, have fun and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  8. Thanks so much Rossie for this lovely Quarter Log Cabin, just what I need for a quick Christmas Quilt.

  9. love it! thanks so much for the tutorial!

  10. Wow, I love how you layed out the blobs of color, and that they aren't always an + plus sign or cross. Very cool, I'm going to try this. Thanks for the inspiration!


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