Okay, here goes, because I have had a LOT of people ask me about sharing this particular method :). It is a fun one, and I love it, but if you are a stickler for straight and precise blocks, this method is probably NOT for you.
So what does it mean to “build your block” as you go?? Well basically, you are going to sew the pieces of your block together on the batting. Strip by strip. The easiest way to show you is by using the Log Cabin quilt that I recently made:
You will notice that the blocks might be a little more wonky than you are used to ( but really not too bad!), but that is just the nature of this method. It is SO much fun and very freeing to construct a quilt this way, so I do hope you will give it a try!
A Log Cabin block traditionally looks like this: There is a center square and then a “light” side and a “dark” side. You work in a clockwise or counterclockwise manner to make the block. In this photo the numbers show you in what order the strips get sewn on:
These instructions are for how I made MY blocks:
- Install your walking foot.
- Cut a piece of batting about 17 inches square ( you do NOT want polyester batting because it can melt with the heat of your iron. Use cotton or a cotton/bamboo blend)
- Take a 2 1/2 inch square (Traditionally these are red or yellow, but I chose blue) and try to center it as much as possible on your batting ONLY.
- Now add a second 2 1/2 inch square to the right hand side and sew them together right on the batting with a 1/4 inch seam:Press away from the center square.
- Quilt these squares in whatever way you wish. ( I like to knot my stitches at the start and finish of every line I stitch. I do NOT want my stitching to come undone!) I use my walking foot and will do straight lines, or zig-zags, or waves….if you would like to use your free-motion foot, just simply stitch about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the edge nearest the batting with your walking foot first, just to hold your pieces down. Then free-motion stitch. I think it works better to do this after your block is completed, so that you don’t have to keep switching feet, but it’s up to you!
You will notice that I keep adding in a clockwise direction, ( always attaching the next strip with a 1/4 inch seam first, then pressing away from the last strip.) So I started with the blue square, added the red “on top”, then added the green strip to the right (those are my two “darks”) , then the white strip to the bottom. It is starting to have that half light, half dark look.
- In order to know what size strip you need next, you measure the side that needs the strip. So this will be a light strip in a 6 1/2 inch length. This is my next strip:With a Log Cabin block you are always adding two light strips or two dark strips in order. So in my block I started with the center blue, added a dark ( red), then another dark ( green), then the light ( the white with the bunnies) and then another light ( the floral). Next come two dark strips again, and so on and so forth.
- Keep working your way around until you have an even amount of “logs” on all sides of the center block ( the light blue in my quilt), and until you are happy with the size of your block ( or until you run out of batting~hahaha).
- One thing that I find helpful as the strips get longer is to pin them down at the edge to keep them in place while I quilt them down.
- When your entire block is done, it will look something like this:
(It is a little hard to see in my block, but if you squint your eyes, you will see a “dark” and a “light” side.)
- This is the view from the back:
- Trim your block so that the batting is even with the block. I like to save this step until all my blocks are done, so I can trim ALL my blocks even to each other ( Mine ended up being 14 1/4 inches square).
- Now it is time to sew your blocks together….yep, still no backing on there.
I use a LOT of pins and my walking foot to keep everything lined up perfectly. Sew slowly and carefully. Then press your seams OPEN.
- Repeat for all your blocks and then line up your rows and sew those together, again, using lots of pins and your walking foot.
When you are done, your completed quilt top will look like this from the back :
- NOW it is finally time to add the backing! This is going to be the same as usual. Cut your backing piece slightly bigger than your completed quilt top and batting. Pin your layers together and bring it to your machine.
Because you have already quilted your batting to your blocks, you just need to a do very minimal stitching now. Just enough to hold the three layers together. So I will be quilting in the ditch between the blocks ( yes, I said “will” because I am ashamed to say I have not finished this one up yet!) But if you are looking, that means 2 rows of sewing in one direction, and then 2 rows perpendicular to those first two. I will also stitch 1/8 inch away from the edge, all the way around the outside of the quilt too.
- Make your binding and attach per usual method and you will be all done!
For those of you who would like to make this quilt, here are the materials you will need:
- 9 squares of 17 inch batting
- 9 “center” squares that measure 2 1/2 inches
- From you dark fabric you will need the following strips ( all 2 1/2 inches wide): 2.5, 4.5,6.5, 8.5, 10.5, 12.5.
- From the light fabric you will need the following strips ( all 2 1/2 inches wide):4.5, 6.5, 8.5, 10.5, 12.5, 14.5.
- Enough material for backing ( about 46 inches square)
- Binding ( haven’t gotten to this point yet, so no measurement given)
Just to give even more clarification, here is an outline of the dark and light logs:
Have fun, enjoy, and don’t hesitate to ask me a question if something is not clear!