Thursday, March 20, 2008

Log cabin

How's that for an imaginative title to a post! But I believe that is what it is going to be about, unless I slide of on a tangent somewhere as I have been known to do in the past...

I have started a new quilt, and for some reason it turned out to be a log cabin one. I think one of the first things I ever sewed was a big log cabin block for a pillow, and there have been a few projects over the years, but it has never really clicked between me and the log cabins before. All those long strips, pressing and trimming, sigh - I 'm bored just writing about it! Then a friend showed me this new (to me) technique she had been trying out, sewing log cabin blocks from squares, using the "stack and slash" method. Now this was more like it. So I had to give it a go. I started out with six 10 1/2" squares piled on top of each other and cut logs clockwise. The first round with 2 1/2" logs, the next round with 1 1/2" logs, leaving a 2 1/2" square in the middle.

Next I moved the top fabric in the center to the bottom of the stack revealing the red one underneath,
on the next round I moved the top two fabrics (the black and the red) to the bottom of the stacks revealing the third fabric in the stack. I left the outer round the way it was.
So there you are with an idea of what the block is going to look like. I started sewing the first round of logs to the middle on all six blocks in the stack, but right away I realized that I would still have to do a fair amount of trimming, because you lose half an inch with every seam.
Back to the drawing board. Or cutting mat. I quickly worked out how long each log had to be and trimmed the stacks accordingly and heaved a sigh of relief as I settled down to sewing. This time the logs fitted all the way round and I ended up with square blocks with no trimming along the way. I think this method will work quite well for me, unless I want to make traditional log cabin blocks with light and dark halves. But there might be a way of getting around that to...

I just realized that I bought a ruler in Birmingham in 2006 that I have never used (that sort of thing never happens to anyone else, does it?). Marti Michell who demonstrated it convinced us all that this was something we had to have, and using the ruler to cut the strips accurately to the length you needed ensured that they would fit perfectly. My friend and I, both high on quilting show euphoria went with the flow and bought the rulers. But when we came home and sorted through our booty, we looked at each other and said "Duh, what were we thinking - who needs a special ruler for LOG CABIN?"

Well, maybe that wasn't such a bad idea after all. - I certainly find it easier to fit precut lengths to attach to the block than adding the skinny strips, getting them ever so slightky warped wit each pressing and ending up with not so square blocks in the end. I think I need to explore this further. At least I know where that ruler is...

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