After much ruminating about these Gleaned log cabin blocks, I finally have a finished quilt top to show you!
But first, let me take you through the process. I want to show you that sometimes this quilt-sewing malarky isn’t easy. And sometimes, it can’t be rushed.
In my last post I finished with the photo below, and also mentioned that I wasn’t happy with that layout.
I was trying to get the colours to run diagonally across the quilt, roughly in the order they appear in the jelly roll. I really liked the way each fabric played nicely with its neighbour and wanted to preserve that aesthetic.
When that didn’t work, I looked at more traditional shapes when grouping the colours:
Neither of those filled me with joy, either. Then I thought about making a big spiral, from the outside to the middle, around the rectangle:
I was liking this more, but it still wasn’t right. Perhaps pulling each colour group into its own corner?
I left this design (above) up on the wall for a few days. It was better than the previous versions but something about it was still bugging me.
I started to get my usual mid-project feelings of despair – what are you doing? This is a terrible idea. How did you manage to take such a pretty jelly roll and make it so bleugh? This nasty little internal voice visits from time to time.
Then I had a small realisation. For some reason I had made the decision that I had to use the whole jelly roll and every single block I had sewed. Why I had put this limitation on myself, I don’t know, because I knew that some of the blocks were giving me trouble (see the tan, white and orange blocks boxed below).
I decided to take them out and replace them with other blocks made with Carolyn Friedlander’s fabric (her lines work very well together, thankfully). After making the 10 replacement blocks and a little bit more rearranging, I was much happier with my new layout:
But was it done? Was this the final layout? I decided no. I felt that overall the design was a bit too busy for me. I needed to create some restful space between all that colour so each fabric had a chance to be noticed.
At first I thought I could separate the quarters with white fabric and that would be enough:
Not bad. (I also tried this layout by rotating all of the quarters 180 degrees, seen below:)
More white space was needed, I was sure of this. But how?
This isn’t a quilting book. It’s simply sketches of beautiful old Chinese lattice windows (along with notes on history and location, etc), printed in the 1930s. No dimensions, no colours, just pure geometry:
I spent an hour flicking through the pages and decided to try a lattice-style layout for this quilt. The exact layout I chose isn’t in the book, but you can certainly see that’s where the inspiration came from.
So here’s what I decided on:
I also thought about the rotated version:
I also considered taking out the centre white cross in both versions :
I decided I preferred it with the extra white in the middle.
I used 3/4 yd of white fabric for my sashing, cutting 16 strips 1-1/2″ wide.
I sewed each quarter together separately:
Then I sewed the halves together (with sashing in between) and finally the whole quilt together.
And here it is! I hope you like it. I think I’ll have another rest before deciding on the quilting. This quilt has been quite a process and we’re going to take a break from each other for a while. 🙂
I think this would be a great quilt to make with plain 6-1/2″ squares instead of the log cabins, too. With a single fabric within each lattice compartment.
My 3 lessons learned from this quilt:
You don’t “have” to do anything (such as use the entire jelly roll in the quilt). It’s your quilt, you do what you please! *Mmm-hmm, snaps fingers*
If the design doesn’t make you feel happy inside, let it rest a few days and see what solutions pop up. Your mind is very clever and creative, but sometimes it needs a bit of time to work through all the pieces.
When trying to make a lot of patterned fabric work together, adding a solid (creating space between prints) can be helpful.
I hope some of this has been helpful for you, too – if only to show you that we all have struggles when quilting. Whatever you might be having trouble with on your sewing journey, don’t let it get you down. Don’t let it stop you creating. You’ll find the answer eventually.
Sit down, grab a cuppa, this is a long one! Nothing dramatic, just one of those conversational posts with lots of photos that I feel compelled to write every now and then.
Back in November last year I picked up a jelly roll* (40 strips, 2.5″ wide) and two mini-charm packs (2.5″ square) of Carolyn Friedlander’s new line Gleaned.
The colours are fresh and modern and play so well with all of Carolyn’s other lines (something I love about her fabrics). I also really love the botanical flavour of many of the prints, especially as I’ve just been reading the latest Uppercase book, which is full of beautiful blooms.
And includes a spread on artist and fabric designer Bari J Ackerman!
There’s also some rather pretty botanica right outside my window at the moment…
But I digress. Anyway, these pre-cuts sat on my (messy) sewing table for quite a bit while I considered what to do with them. I circled back to log cabins blocks because they’re just so easy when using the 2.5″ strips from a roll.
I really liked the colour order used to put the jelly roll together and wanted to keep the neighbouring colours together as “centres” and “logs”.
Aren’t these fantastic neutrals/low-volumes?
When I unwrapped all the mini charms I just took the top colour off and popped it underneath the pile (see below). Then all the centres were one colour further along the colour order than the logs. I just sewed my log cabins from the two colours that were at the top of both piles.
I found I could make two log cabin blocks from each fabric strip (using 2 x mini-charm squares). If you can’t find mini-charm packs, it’s easy enough to take a layer cake* (10″) and chop it into quarters (2.5″).
Now, the strip roll and mini-charm packs didn’t have the exact same number of all the fabrics. In some cases I had more squares than strips for a colour combination, and occasionally more strips than squares. Not a problem, I just matched up the leftovers in pleasing colour combinations.
From a 40 strip roll and 2 x mini-charm packs I made 80 log cabin blocks. I chain pieced them all with a scant quarter inch seam.
My sewing machine ran hot that weekend. Sometimes it’s great to churn out a whole bunch of blocks really quickly.
Then I trimmed all the blocks to 6.5″ square.
Given I had 80 blocks, I decided on an 8 x 10 block layout to give a lap sized quilt (48″ x 60″).
This was the first layout I tried.
I was trying to keep the neighbouring colours from the strip roll together but I just wasn’t feeling the love.
I continued on in this vein, trying move the colours across the quilt in the order I wanted, but none of my arrangements were what I had pictured.
It wasn’t helping that I’d had a bad day at work that day (I tend to feel uncreative on such days, not sure why).
Or that a play fort had appeared in the path between my machine and my design wall:
We’ve had a lot of rain the past week, so the kids had fun building an indoor fort with a couple of cool indoor fort kits* and some of our queen bed sheets. (It’s too hot for quilt forts here in Australia right now.)
I wasn’t having a win with the design so I decided to step away from it for a day or so and see what a bit of thinking could come up with. Plus I had to help the 6 yr old build a farm in the fort. Very important business, you see 🙂
I have a bunch more photos of other layouts, but I’ll save them for the next post given how long this one’s become.
Hope you’re all having better luck with your creativity! I’ll be back again soon.
How about a patchwork tutorial for a scrappy quilt block? Here’s one I’ve been playing with over the past few days called Feeling Cross.
I’m not actually feeling cross….far from it. Without a doubt the hardest part of quilt-making is thinking up names for the blasted things. I regularly show my husband and children quilt layouts and drill them for naming inspiration:
“What does this look like to you?” (painful tickles if they answer “a quilt”)
“What does this remind you of?”
“How does this design make you feel?”
Or when those all fail, “Gah! What am I gonna call this???”
After my 13 yr old and I couldn’t come up with a name I figured Feeling Cross was apt and left it at that!
If you’d like a PDF copy of this scrappy quilt block pattern, just fill in the fields below and it will be automatically emailed to you.
Here’s what you’ll need to make one 9.5″ (unfinished) block. Once sewn into a quilt, the block will measure 9″.
First up, let’s sew some HSTs:
Take the 4 dark blue squares and match them with 4 green squares to make 8 HSTs. Press toward the darker fabric and trim to 2.5″.
Then take the two light blue squares and match with the remaining 2 green squares to make 4 HSTs. Press toward the darker fabric and trim to 2.5″.
You can now sew 2 dark blue/green HSTs, 1 light blue/green HST and 1 white 2.5″ square together in a four-patch:
The arrows on the blocks above show the seam pressing directions, so that the seams will nest within the four-patch.
Once you have 4 four-patches, sew them together either side of the shorter sashing pieces. Then sew the two halves together either side of the longer sashing piece:
And there you have it!
I think these blocks make a great scrappy quilt when joined with sashing (and the bonus when using sashing is you don’t have to press your seams a particular way to ensure the blocks nest).
The sashing in the version above is cut at 1.5″ wide to finish at 1″.
I’ve used the same three colours in my blocks, just rotating them through each position in the block to give a point of difference.
A 4 x 5 block layout like the one above would give a 41.5″ x 51.5″ crib quilt.
If you make one of these blocks (or your own scrappy quilt), make sure you let me know!
And again, if you’d like the PDF, you can receive a download below:
It’s a ripper, as we like to say in Australia (meaning it’s great) so you should get yourself a copy – either via Amazon* (US) or the Book Depository (the rest of the world). You can also find all sorts of good info on the book (including details on the International Swap) at the Fussy Cutters Club website.
Reading the book, I was definitely inspired to try several projects (Angie’s advice makes fussy cutting achievable for anyone). I loved the idea of a rainbow of flying geese as seen in the Flock of Seagulls table runner project, but there was one problem – I don’t use table runners!
The two tables in my house that can accommodate a runner (dining table and coffee table) are always being used for painting, Lego, matchbox cars, board games and colouring-in. A table runner would just be pushed aside for the majority of the day. So what to do?
My solution to this problem was to convert the table runner into a baby quilt. That way I would have a bright and beautiful quilt to give as a gift.
I made the table runner from scraps and had a lot of fun deciding on my colour order.
Once the table runner patchwork was made I used it as a central panel and extended it into a 39″ x 49-1/2″ baby quilt with disappearing nine patch blocks.
If you’d like to do the same, I’ve got a PDF download that explains how I made mine (you’ll still need Angie’s book to make the table runner panel – my instructions just cover making it large enough to be a quilt). Pop your details in below to receive the PDF.
I used a Denyse Schmidt fabric for the backing and quilted with wavy lines, guided by the patchwork.
I used a mix of teal offcuts to make the binding.
I think it makes for a fun, scrappy and colourful quilt!
There are lots of people joining in to welcome Angie’s book into the world. Check out all these other stops on the book tour:
Earlier this year I had a quilt pattern published in Issue 44 of Love Patchwork & Quilting.
I’m excited that this pattern has come home again to Bonjour Quilts.
The design is called Triangle Twist and it uses HSTs and log cabins to make a fun triangle-filled pattern.
This version was made with navy, peach, coral, grey and taupe/tan. The pale fabric reads as a white(ish) solid, but it actually has a tiny dotted scallop pattern all over. All of the fabrics are from Dear Stella.
The backing fabric is from Dear Stella’s Foxtail Forest line by Rae Ritchie. It’s just adorable.
Little forest critters having a party in a tree house. Does it get any better?
This is a lap sized quilt that measures 57″ x 68″. The fabric requirements are attached to the shop listing.
I had this quilt long-arm quilted by Kelly Elliott at the Quilt Machine. It’s a bit of an abstract Art Deco-style design that blends in with all the angles of the quilt design.
I’ve got a free skull patchwork block pattern/tutorial for you!
It’s October – so it’s time to sew up all the spooooky projects you’ll no doubt find popping up all over Pinterest.
This pattern is for a 9″ x 11″ (finished) patchwork skull block that would look great in a quartet for a cushion, or en masse in a lap quilt.
I’ve made mine with an Anna Maria Horner floral background (no one does florals quite like her) to give it a bit of a Day of Dead vibe.
This block is a good little scrap buster too – you can use up a fat-eighth in the background and a 10″ square for the bones.
If you’d like to make your own, just pop your email address in below and I’ll send it to you. You’ll also be signed up for my newsletter which will let you know when all my free tutorials are published.
This Scrap Fabric Embroidery Tutorial was first published on the Liberty of London Craft Blog in 2014. As it’s no longer available there, I’m republishing here at Bonjour Quilts. Enjoy!
This appliqué-and-embroidery project offers a way showcase your favourite fabric scraps so that you can see and enjoy them every day.
8″ embroidery hoop
Fabric Scraps, pressed
Double-sided fusible adhesive
Water soluble pen
Paper and Pencil
Take your pencil and trace the inner circumference of your embroidery hoop onto paper. Using this template and your recurring shape of choice (in this case, one inspired by Moroccan tiles), sketch how you intend to fill your hoop space.
Once you’ve settled on a design, use your pencil to trace the required number of shapes onto the paper backing of your fusible adhesive. Be sure to use pencil as pen will melt and run under the iron. Once complete, cut the shapes apart into rough squares and then iron them onto the reverse side of your wrinkle-free fabric scraps, according to the adhesive’s instructions. Once cool, you can cut the shapes out as per your pencil marks.
Use the water soluble pen to trace the inner circumference of your hoop onto your ironed linen. Remove the paper from your fabric shapes and arrange them on the linen as per your paper design.
Once you’re happy with the layout iron them in place.
Embellish your fabric shapes with the embroidery stitches of your choice. This is not only decorative but helps to further secure your shapes to the linen. In this case I sewed along several of the edges of my shapes, and for my single red tile I carried the stitches out further onto the linen.
Once your stitching is complete, clean away the soluble pen circumference (I used a damp kitchen sponge). Give your piece an iron face-down on top of a towel (to prevent flattening your embroidery stitches). Then mount your linen in your hoop.
Your piece is ready for display as is, but if you’d like to wrap your frame as I have, you can find instructions for that over in this post (as well as how I like to finish the back of my hoops).
And there you have it – a beautiful piece of handwork to show off your favourite pieces of scrap fabric.
Here are some supplies links, if don’t have what you need at hand (amazon aff):