Monday, April 1, 2013

{Tutorial} Quilt-As-You-Go Log Cabins

It's my month to lead the quilt for the Love circle of do. Good Stitches!  You'd think I'd try to be clever, like my outstanding circle mates, and come up with something unique for us to do.  Nope.  This time I just want to indulge in a project I've long wanted to do and probably never would tackle on my own - the quilt-as-you-go log cabin. Nothing fancy, nothing different, just a classic log cabin in a simple color palette, because it feels good.

Woodsy, sunny spectrum

And, I got to thinking that this is such a great quilt project for new quilters.  With the quilt-as-you-go method, the batting is attached and quilted to the quilt block as you make it.  This is the part I'll show you how to do in this tutorial.  Then, after you make the individual quilted blocks, you assemble the blocks with a normal 1/4" seam, pressing seams open, and then add the quilt backing at the end.

for Love circle of do. Good Stitches

Quilting a large quilt on a regular home sewing machine can be challenging.  With quilt-as-you-go, you can create quilt blocks with lots of texture and long-term durability, while avoiding the huge quilting task at the end.  To connect your quilt back to the assembled and already-quilted top, you can machine quilt just along the block seams using a straight stitch or a zigzag stitch (which is a good way to disguise any less-than-straight lines!).  Or, you can connect the quilt back to the quilted top by tying it by hand.  Tying is an old-fashioned method that totally works.  And, I think it's fitting for a log cabin especially!

So, without further ado, here's my recipe for quilt-as-you-go Log Cabins, finished block size is 14".  Each log finishes at 2" wide.

QAYG Log Cabins tutorial

Quilt-as-you-go Log Cabin Tutorial

Begin with a square of low-loft batting, about 15" or larger.  I'm using Warm & Natural batting, my go-to batting choice!

1

Cut (2) 2.5" squares.

Place squares right-sides together approximately at center of the batting.  (If you need help finding center, fold the batting in half, crease with fingers, unfold, fold in half the other way, crease with fingers and unfold.  Center is where the fold lines intersect.)  Pin squares in place.

2

At the sewing machine, sew a 1/4" seam along the raw edges of one side of the matched squares.  You will be sewing through the batting, permanently anchoring your squares in place. Then, open the squares so that right sides are exposed.  Press squares open.  The square on the left is the center of your log cabin block.

3

Using coordinating thread, quilt the first two squares as desired.  I chose straight lines spaced approximately 1/2" apart.  I love the look of straight lines with quilt-as-you-go log cabins because you can make the lines spiral in the direction of the logs.  You'll see what I mean as we continue.

4 

You may want to use pins to hold the fabric in place as you quilt.  Or, steady it with your hands to avoid shifting.

Cut (2) 2.5" x 4.5" pieces for your next 2 logs.  Place one piece on top of the squares, right sides together, matching raw edges.  This log should completely cover the squares.  Attach the log with a 1/4" seam, as usual and press open.

5

Quilt this new log as desired.  I always chose to quilt straight lines along the length of the log.  For this look, start quilting at about a 1/2" from the just-created seamline and continue quilting outwards until you get close to the raw edge.  No need to quilt right to the edge of the log, since a future seamline will cover the edge by a 1/4".   As you quilt, alternate the direction of travel to avoid dragging the log off center with the pull of the quilting.

 6

Add the next log (2.5" x 4.5") in the same way.  Each new log is added on perpendicular to the previous log, in a way that spirals continuously around the center square.  Always fingerpress thoroughly or press with an iron before quilting, so that you are sure the log is all the way open.

To check the accuracy of your work, you can use a clear ruler to measure from the seamline to the raw edge of an outer log.  Because we are working with 2" finished logs, the outer logs (which have one sewn edge and one raw edge) should be 2 1/4" wide.

7

Cut (2) 2.5" x 6.5" logs.  These are the next two you'll add to the log cabin, continuing in a spiral around center.

8

With quilt-as-you-go you cannot square up your work as you are sewing, since you don't want to cut off the batting foundation.  Be careful to cut your logs accurately to help keep things square.  Even with careful sewing, things can get a little off.  Before adding a new log, you can use a clear quilting ruler and a regular pencil to measure and mark a line that is 2 1/4" from the previous seam line. Use this pencil line as a guide for placing the raw edge of the next log.

9

Don't forget to quilt each log before adding another!

After adding your pair of 6.5" logs, you'll need (2) 2.5" x 8.5" logs.  The log pairs keep increasing by 2".  So, next is (2) 2.5" x 10.5", then (2) 2.5" x 12.5", and ending with (1) 2.5" x 14.5".

10 

Now that your block is complete, it's time to square it up and cut off the excess batting.  Begin by trimming one edge of the block so that the outer log is exactly 2 1/4" wide when measured from the previous seamline.  I trimmed along that medium brown text log.

Then, align the trimmed edge with a vertical line on your cutting mat.  Trim the next edge of the block, which should be perpendicular to the first trimmed edge.  Use a horizontal line on your cutting mat to make a perpendicular cut, also measuring so that the cut is at 2 1/4" from the last seam line.

11

It's really helpful if your cutting mat is near the corner of your work table, so that you can walk around the table to cut from a different vantage point.  It's always more accurate to avoid moving your block while squaring up! 

With both cuts flush with lines on your cutting mat, measure and cut the remaining 2 sides so that the block is 14.5"square.  Once assembled with other blocks, each block will finish at 14"!

12

With the Love circle, I'll have 20 of these blocks to assemble in a 4 x 5 layout.  That will yield a modest throw quilt measuring 56" x 70".  Just right for a few children or a single adult!

finished blocks!

Let me know if you have any questions!  If you make some, I always love to see the things you make at the Stitched in Color Flickr group.  Enjoy this classic quilt block!

36 comments:

  1. Such a clever idea!!! Need to remind that! Great blocks and colours btw!

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  2. What do you do about the backing since the blocks will all be quilted but the back won't be? How do you join the blocks together? Really intrigued by this method.

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    1. You join the blocks with a normal 1/4" seam. You would think this would make very bulky seams, but I've had a quilt on my bed for quite awhile made in this style. You would never notice or feel the difference in the seams at all unless you were looking.

      If you quilt the back to the front by only quilting along the seams of the blocks that reinforces the blocks and flattens the seams at the same time! So, yes, the back ends up having minimal quilting, but I figure that's just fine. It especially doesn't matter if you're making a bed quilt. This method is popular for making really large quilts like a queen or a king!

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    2. If only I had known this before I finished my queen size un-quilted top!
      Great tute, as always!

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    3. You could make these blocks with the backing also included, therefore quilting the whole block. If you check out the Cotton Theory technique, It will show you how to join your quilted blocks together and there you have a completed quilt!!!

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  3. the colors are simply wonderful. I do so love both the log cabin and the heavy quilting styles. Okay. Do you ever feel that someone has copied your pattern and posted it as their own? Just wondering. I just saw a new blog that made me think immediately of your Loulouthi Tiles, and I was really suprised. I am such a new quilter that I need a lot of advice and inspiration but just copying isn't really satisfying. Even my own Loulouthi Tiles, which made me so happy I could faint, lol, turned into a duvet cover so that it would fit my king bed. And thank you a thousand times for the tutorial!

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    1. I'm so glad you were able to enjoy and find a place for your Loulouthi Tiles! On the copying, I think it often appears to happen when it really isn't just because it's so easy to think of a quilt style that has been done before. Most anything with quilting has been done before. I figure the safest route is to not claim anything I do is truly original!

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    2. That is such a sweet reply! At any rate, you introduced me to some fabulous fabric. I have learned a ton!

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  4. Your color combination makes me almost drool. So very lovely! Thanks for the great tutorial. I was wondering how this method worked.

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  5. Fantastic! I can't wait to have a go. Thanks so much!

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  6. Thank you so much for this! I just started to quilt, a few months ago...I am sooo addicted! :D Love love love your blog and pictures. Feast for the eyes.

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    1. You're very welcome, Natalie and everyone else! Glad to help. P.S. Natalie, you are a "no reply" blogger so I cannot email you in response. Just fyi =)

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  7. Woot! Excited for these. Yours look great. Thanks for the tutorial, Rachel!

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  8. Thank you Rachel - this is a great tutorial. So far I have only done hand quilting so I think this is a good way to learn machine quilting - using smaller blocks.

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  9. This looks a less daunting way of trying out quilting.

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  10. I'm pretty new to quilting also and have loved the log cabin block since I first started. And I've also been loving the QAYG method. For the two of these to come together is a match made in heaven. Kind of like peanut butter and jelly. Your tutorial is wonderful, I'll be bookmarking this for sure. And I, like many other, love the color pallette as well.

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  11. This looks like a great way to get around wrestling large amounts of fabric on a home machine... but I wonder... doesn't the batting get chewed up a little by the feed dogs while you are working on a block?

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  12. I love your blocks and color combos - I was also wondering about the batting and the feed dogs.
    I am definitely going to give this a try

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    1. The Warm & Natural batting shows no sign of wear/tear from this process. I have seen cheaper battings from the local big box store that I'm sure would totally fail to hold together in the process, so good point! Warm & Natural is a nice, sturdy batting.

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  13. Heya Rachel, I've been following your blog a long while now and always enjoys reading them. Anyway, have you tried putting a backing then the batting then choosing the fabric on top? I often wondered... Maybe I should just go ahead and try but I wanna know if you have had tried that??

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  14. Any cons to just making the block and quilting it to the batting instead of doing piece-by-piece quilting?

    Thanks for the tutorial!

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    1. The only con is that you would probably do straight across quilting that does NOT spiral from the center/changing directions. If you do spiral straight line quilting on a finished log cabin, you'd have to start and stop and bury threads all the time, so it would be more work.

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    2. Your color/pattern choices are breathtakingly beautiful, Rachel! I've always been partial to yellow, so this is right up my alley! I've been contemplating attempting your method, but adding the backing to the batting, prior to the "logs." Am anticipating narrow sashing between blocks and topstitching. It would follow that sashing and topstitching would also be necessary on the back of the quilt. The strongest motive for this attempt is the fact that I no longer have a large enough surface to work with large pieces of batting or backing. Unless I've not thought this out thoroughly enough, this ought to work. Any thoughts out there?

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    3. Sounds like it would work to me! The sashing always sounds like more work to me for QAYG, but it's definitely more small-space-friendly =)

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    4. Instead of the spiral quilting, I was going to just run my top stitch in one direction. Won't have the same eye appeal of yours, however, I won't have all the starts and stops on the backside either. If this doesn't work out, which will find me in a puddle of tears, I'll have to give up my king quilts!! I know of no place to use for this part of the endeavor. So, if your method will work (I could work on quarters at a time, till it needs the final sashings), I may be able to continue this size, until I'm weary of shoving it under my home machine! Thanx for your input! Have a wonderful day!

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  15. Thank you -- just found your blog which was posted to FB by a friend. I love this block and thank you so much for giving us such an excellent tutorial!

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  16. Rachel, I just found your blog and look forward to reading some of your older posts. Thank you for sharing your QAYG method. I can't wait to try this! I hope it's okay to share on Pinterest.

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    1. Yes, it is fine to share. Thanks and welcome to this space!

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  17. Do you pre-wash your fabrics?

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    1. Not any more. I used to, but I no longer think it's worthwhile.

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  18. What a fantastic technique! I have been combing the internet to find a way to quilt as you go for the Log Cabin pattern without using sashing in between, and this has surpassed my expections! Thank you so much;can't wait to try it!

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  19. I have just found your site. I was so excited to see the QAYG. When you did this, did you have any problem with the fuss from the batting clogging your machine. I have just gotten a Berina 710 and am so afraid of getting it clogged. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. I did qayg many years ago on my first quilt. It was an applique done through the 3layers and an art project for college. I learned there are no quilting police to jail those of us willing to try new things. I like breaking barriers not meant to be concrete and finding speedier or easier ways to do things but am willing to admit it if my idea is not worth a second attempt. Thanks for guiding others toward what could help them or even be their only way to accomplish a quilted promect

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