Post #3114: Going for the log cabin after all


I’ve taken the plunge and started cutting a new quilt.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had my interest in 19th century quilts piqued recently – and I think that I finally (maybe) have the skills and patience to pull off a heavily pieced quilt – so I’m going for it. Log cabin blocks here I come!

At the moment I am deep in the throes of cutting “logs” for the log cabin block:

The paper bags are there to divide the sizes and the dark/light fabrics from each other. As I’m not exactly sure how many finished log cabin blocks I’ll end up with, and would like the fabric to come along randomly, not in groups – I’m cutting all my fabric at the outset. This approach also allows me to chain piece one side at a time – which is a big time saver.

At first I was going to do a “modern” version of this – using Kona solids in jewel-toned colours, against a palette of neutrals. This would necessitate ordering more fabric which I am trying not to do, and result in a very stark set of blocks. But then I remembered that I had some Moda fabrics in my stash perfect for a 19th century quilt – print collections that I’ve been saving for a long time because I love them so much.  These would be the French General Josephine and Atelier lines:

These are not exactly the prints, but some of them are in here.

These fabrics are some of my all-time favourites, and thus have remained untouched for a long time (I have been fearful of ruining them with the wrong project). Something about the colourways and antique-inspired prints move me deeply every time I contemplate them. Taking them out this time was no different and I really had to talk myself into washing and preparing the fabric for use – but once I had it out of the dryer I started cutting the 1.5 inch strips in earnest.

I have about a third of the strips cut into logs now and I plan to power through this week and get it all done so I can reclaim my work table for other things. Once I start the chain piecing, I can start and stop by size – so once I get one side done and pressed, I can take it off the sewing machine for another project – and so on. This organization allows me to continue sewing summer garments (and have a friend in for some sewing coaching) in between bouts of chain piecing. With thirteen pieces per block, I don’t expect these to go together quickly – but I have reoriented my ironing station for maximum efficiency in this process.

I first learned to piece and quilt thirteen years ago, by taking a class at Carola’s Quilt Shop in Gibsons in which we made a potholder (which is a miniature quilt after all). Back then I didn’t believe I could ever get precise with my cutting and sewing; I had just bought a machine and preferred my projects to incorporate large squares and a fair degree of randomness.

The key thing I took away from that class (and for which I am forever grateful) was how to use a quilting ruler and a rotary cutter properly. As I take blade to fabric this time around, I notice that in fact I have gotten a lot more precise over the years – and am now at a stage where I can (probably) pull off a thirteen piece block 64 times with some precision. Part of that is the development of my skills, but also because I have discarded the notion of getting projects done quickly – something that used to be important to me.

I’m quite excited about this project – which will answer my desire for a 19th-century-inspired quilt in my life. Not exactly sure where in the house it will get used yet – but I know from experience that once a quilt is made, it always finds its place somewhere.

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