Log Cabin Blocks All Done!

All the log cabin blocks are finally complete!

Stacked in sets by color, I can already tell it will be a wild quilt, but I’m loving all the great color and the pattern play.

I’m going to set up a design wall to lay this one out. It will be much easier that way to get the full effect of the interplay of patterns so I can place the blocks in the best arrangement.

Can’t wait to see it!


Colorful Cabins – first few colorful blocks

The log cabin blocks are coming together very nicely!

I’m starching each FQ before I cut to give the fabric a little body for a better cut. Luckily, the cutting plan makes my cuts on the straight of grain so there’s very little stretch in the strips. As long as my quarter inch seam is good, the blocks should turn out the right size, or at least close to it.

I’m also starching each block when I complete all the piecing. I’ve noticed in prior quilts that this makes assembling the rows easier. It also prevents stretching if I have to trim the blocks slightly before assembling the top.

I’m really pleased how the six blocks from each set of three fabrics looks completely different except for the color palette. The placement of color is key and I’m paying special attention to slight nuances in the fabric.

I try to link each row with its neighbor using a color that the two rows share. At the same time I’m attempting to maintain contrast between the rows so there’s clear definition rather than blending. It’s more easily achieved in some blocks than in others.

As you can see, it’s going to be a busy quilt but I think the variety in colors will prevent it from looking ‘muddy.’

Twelve blocks done, 38 to go! Check back next week to see more.


My first log cabin quilt

One of the students my spouse taught in high school has kept up with us since graduating. We received an invitation last week – he’s finally getting married. And what should we give as a wedding gift? A quilt, of course!

quilt sampler mag

After paging through nearly all my pattern books and bunches of downloaded patterns I found a simple log cabin quilt in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of BHG’s Quilt Sampler magazine. It’s called Colorful Cabins.

I’ve never made a log cabin quilt before. While I’m certainly aware of their popularity, a log cabin quilt never appealed to me before. Even after quilting for nearly 7 years, I tend to choose patterns that have more of a central medallion. But this one is different: its got nothing but patterned fabrics and THAT appeals to me.

The scrappy modified log cabin blocks are mostly medium to dark prints, with the blocks set on point, so it’s a lively, energetic pattern. The setting triangles are a black multi print as well, so it’s a visual feast of pattern on pattern with no solid fabric in sight. We both thought this was perfect for the gift. With a little over 7 weeks to the wedding, I had to start right away.

I have a large collection of Kaffe Fassett fat quarters (FQs), so I pulled them from my stash and began grouping them for a “planned scrappy” look. To make sure I got a balance of darks and lights, I photographed the fat quarters with my iPhone then used the edit function in the camera to change the photo to black and white. See image on the left? That’s over 65 different fabrics. I never knew I had so many Kaffe FQs – and there are even more that didn’t make the cut.

Using the black and white version it’s easier to see the value of each fabric. For the quilt to be exciting and visually pleasing it needs to contain high, medium, and low value prints. It also needs a variety of types of print to create contrast between the log cabin rows. Some need to be organic patterns (like florals), some geometrics (like stripes), and some need to act more like blenders.

I grouped fabrics with similar hues into sets of three, paying attention to value, pattern scale, and pattern type. Then my spouse and I took turns voting on the fabric sets that would go in the quilt. Here’s the final selection; it will be a spectacularly colorful quilt.

Tomorrow I begin pressing and cutting the FQs. I drew a cutting plan last night so I can maximize the use of each fat quarter. The pattern explains how to achieve planned scrappy look by grouping the fabric in sets of three to make six different blocks.

I can cut the FQ in strips parallel to the selvage on each piece, which means it’s on the straight of grain. Perfect! Less chance of stretching as I stitch. The cutting plan also helped determine how many FQs I need and how to make the most of each FQ. Using the plan, I’ve determined that I can create at least 6 different blocks from a set of three coordinated fat quarters.

Here’s the cutting plan. The selvage is on the short side of each FQ.

So check back later to see the progress after I make my first few blocks.



2018 CVQG Quilt Show: Raffle Quilt

2018 CVQG Raffle Quilt and show layout.

It has been a busy year preparing for the Catawba Valley Quilter’s Guild 2018 quilt show. The show, offered every 3 years is a big deal for our guild. We expect to have over 300 quilts created by the guild members (only) on display at the Hickory Convention Center.

I’ve been proud to be part of the huge team working on this show. So many of our guild members have contributed time and energy to create this incredible show. For my part, I designed the raffle quilt that is a big fundraiser for the show. It was created by the team guild members on the raffle quilt committee and quilted in great detail by the very talented Rebecca Mullins. It is pictured here hanging in the entrance to the show to entice visitors to buy a raffle ticket – or 20. Isn’t the quilting phenomenal?!


In addition to designing the raffle quilt, I volunteered to do the show’s floorplan and the ‘hang’ layout for all the quilts. It’s an interesting challenge to design a show when you don’t really know how many quilts or what sizes to expect. But using the information about the entries from the 2015 show, as well as a empty floorplan from the convention center, I was able to maximize the space for a little over 300 quilts, 20 vendors, the Lily Boutique (items made by guild members for sale), a QOV space, and a demo space.

2018 Quilt Show floorplan

It was a nice easy layout with lots of roomy aisles all the way around. And based on the data from the last show, we should have room for 325-350 quilts to display.


Large Applique

In the previous post, I showed how I built the large graduated background for the sun quilt. In this post, I’ll share how I created the sun and attached it to the background.

I attached the finished rays to the round body of the sun to create the full sun. With the sun fully together and the background fully pieced, I was ready to attach the sun to the quilt. I laid out the background and pinned the sun in place on it. Then I used a blind hemstitch with monofilament thread and attached the sun and rays to the background.

Now for the scary part: cutting away the background from behind the sun.

Turning the quilt top over, I was able to see the blind hemstitch line around the sun and its rays. I drew a 1/4″ line inside the stitching line on each ray. Using scissors and lifting the backing away from the sun rays I had just appliquéd onto the backing, I cut away the excess backing, being careful not to snip any portion the sun.


Finally, quilt top was complete!

The next post describes how I planned and executed the quilting design, binding, and backing.

Mosaic Effect With Fabric


In the previous post, I shared how the engineering and construction of a large sun for the Hickory Sun Day quilt. In this post, I’ll share my technique and some tools for creating the graduated blue background for the quilt.

The background began with about 12 different blue batik and cotton print fabrics for the quilts background. The range began with a deep navy (almost black) then progressed to blues that were pale in comparison. The idea was to create a varied background that would provide contrast to needed to really highlight the sun.

Laying-out-blue-squaresIt seemed like 2 1/2″ squares would do the trick. Even though I knew it would be a lot of sewing, I felt like 2 1/2″ was just small enough to create the effect without getting pieces so small that I would be sewing into the next millennium.

I began laying out squares on my floor, going from dark to light as the blues approached the sun. Sometimes, it wasn’t just the placement but also the right rotation of the square as it related to its neighbors that created better blending.

The entire field of blues was laid out before doing any sewing. As it turns out, this was a good idea, because even after laying out what I thought was needed, I discovered, the background wasn’t big enough for the outer rays of the sun! So I added I more tiny blue squares after another trip to the fabric store a stash raid for more blues. After days of placing and then moving the squares around, I finally had what looked like the right mix.



But wait: that’s over 1100 small squares I have to sew together! And they need to stay in this order. Ugh! There’s got to be a better way.

So I asked Maureen, the owner of a local quilt shop (The Quiltery), if there was any technique or tool to speed up or simplify the construction of this number of blocks. She showed me 2 1/2″ grid fusible interfacing that could be used for this type of construction.

Water2.5PCQuiltsmart offers pre-printed panels of fusible interfacing that allows you to first iron fabric swatches onto it, then stitch the pieces together in long rows rather than sewing 2 pieces together at a time. I purchased enough panels to handle the amount of fabric pieces I needed for the mosaic background.

Using a palm-sized iron and a pressing board (not an ironing board), I transferred the pieces to the fusible, being careful to keep the same layout and orientation. I laid in one row at a time, and ironed the entire row on carefully before starting the next row. It’s tricky not to iron onto the exposed interfacing!

I completed one panel at a time. Each panel was numbered and marked on the back for orientation and relation to it’s neighbor panel for easy assembly into the whole. When all the panels were completed, I sewed them together for the full blue mosaic background.

Now comes the fun part: combining the sun with the background. Find out how in the next post.

Figure It Out As You Go!

cropped-img_2239.jpgSometimes you just don’t know how to construct a quilt design that is easily drawn. A sketch is simple enough but when it comes to actually putting it together, a little engineering is sometimes required. The Hickory Sun Day quilt I made for Hickory Day School, was a ‘figure it out as you go’ quilt.

IMG_2939The quilt’s design is based on school’s sun logo. I envisioned a cross-fade of small bits of blue fabric for the background, getting lighter the closer it gets to the sun image. Almost like a blue fabric mosaic. For the sun, I imagined that it would also cross-fade from dark gold to pale yellow from the sun’s body to the tips of the sun rays.

I made a quick sketch and began collecting fabrics in wide range of blues and yellows. At first my selections were strictly batiks because of their color intensity,  the range of values, and the variation in a color range within a single fabric. But I found that sticking just to batiks was too limiting; I couldn’t get the colors I wanted,  so printed cottons eventually found their way into the quilt.

But how could I construct this quilt?!

With only 3 finished quilts under my belt, I didn’t have a clue how to put it together. My previous quilts used only squares and rectangles. But this quilt had circles and triangles laid out over a large graduated blue field. How could I get that effect with just squares and rectangles?

That’s when I discovered foundation piecing.

Foundation piecing is a simple way of using paper patterns to help quilters piece designs that are too complex for success with traditional piecing. Fabric strips are sewn to paper in overlapping straight lines and the paper is peeled off when the block or shape is complete. These complex pieced blocks then can be assembled into quilts using traditional piecing.

61I3I0u3GeL._AC_US218_Luckily, I had received a free quilting book with a recent AQS fabric order.  Quilts with Attitude by Deb Karasik contained instructions for foundation piecing, and that seemed like a good solution for the sun rays. Deb’s book explained in detail (with photos) how to foundation piece strips of fabric. It was exactly the solution to create the effected I wanted.

Using butcher block paper craft paper, I made a life-size template of the sun and one of its rays. Using a string with a pencil at one end and an brick at the other, I formed a simple compass. I traced the sun’s arc and then used a yardstick to draw the sun’s rays.

Cutting out the the sun’s body and one sun ray gave me exact size paper templates on which I could create the radiating color effect. I wanted the use a chevron effect within each ray to give it movement and direction. This served as the pattern for how I wanted the finished sun to look, but to achieve it, I needed paper foundations.

Foundation piecing is best achieved by using a thin paper that is easy to tear off the finished block. So I traced the sun ray’s chevron pattern I had designed onto a artist tracing paper (a thin, translucent paper) to created the foundations papers. It worked like a dream!

For the sun’s body, I drew concentric circles on the Kraft paper, then created patterns by tracing the circles once again onto tracing paper, adding 1/4″ to on both sides of each concentric circle for seam allowances. From these pattern templates I was able to cut out and sew together the concentric circles for the sun’s body. The outcome was exactly as I’d hoped for: the sun’s body was luminous and had even had dimension because of the graduated colors I used.

Want to know more? Find out how the background blue mosaic came together in the next post.