Log Cabin: Complete

It’s been a very long and hot summer here in Tucson. The last 4 weeks have seen me hurrying to finish up a queen-sized  log cabin quilt for my brother’s wedding a week from today in Madison, Wisconsin; and, I’m pleased to report, the goal is now complete!

When I last left off, I had the 48 10 inch blocks sewn together. That task complete, I then had to come up with enough fabric for the border; and it had to be the right fabric. Earlier in the project I dreamed of a pieced border…..but as the deadline approached I quickly put the kibosh on that lofty goal. I settled on a fabric that had circles, like some of fabric in the quilt, and that was turquoise and green (this was my mother’s suggestion). Here’s the pieced top with enough border fabric to make an 86″x76″ top:

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Then I had to come up with an appropriate fabric for the binding. I knew I wanted something pink-ish, not to offend my brother’s masculinity but to tie in the center squares, which are purple/pink dragonflies. And I was thinking of something with circles in it. My friend Phyllis had some very cool black fabric with white circles; and she had more than a yard. For a queen sized quilt you need nearly a yard of fabric for a 1/2″ binding strip.

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So I took her yardage and put most of it in a fuschia dye-bath; then, once dyed, I cut stripes 2 1/2″ wide, sewed them together into a 340″ long strip (a queen quilt is roughly 72″x84″, so that’s a bit more than 300 inches around). And then I pressed that strip in half; above you see all 340″ on a pile as I’m pressing and starching the last bit of strip.

I had no time to machine quilt this piece myself; plus, with lingering shoulder tendinitis, it just wasn’t going to happen even if I had the time. So I paid a local machine quilter to do it; she could get it done in less than 2 weeks, which was important to me to meet my deadline. When I got it back, it had been beautifully quilted. My friends in my art quilt group helped me straighten it up (thanks to Linda and her extra-long granite kitchen counter-top) and helped hold and rotate the quilt as I stitched on all 320+ inches of the binding.

I couldn’t fit the entire quilt onto my design wall, the quilt is too big; but here it is, anyway:

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This is a close-up of some of the feather-quilting on the light fabrics:

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It’s hard to see, but there’s a nice floral medallion motif in the light center of the quilt, and some angular quilting in the dark fabrics:

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The border fabric is quilted with circles; and, here you can see the circle-fabric that is the binding!

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I’m off to Madison, WI tomorrow; I’ll carry the quilt on board the airplane with me: no way am I checking this! It actually rolls up relatively compact. The wedding is a week from today. I’ll post photos shortly after Labor Day, when I get back to Tucson.


Log-Cabin Madness: Gorgeous but Tedious

July was log-cabin madness at my house. It’s been one of the hottest, most unpleasant summers on record here in Tucson. That’s bad enough, but additionally my job has been more difficult and my left shoulder STILL has tendonitis from quilting my ginormous art quilt about the January 8 shooting. Things have not been entirely pleasant in many areas of my non-art life….so for therapy there’s nothing like taking a rotary cutter to hundreds of scraps of fabrics to come up with 1 3/4″ strips for a queen sized log-cabin quilt.

Because of my shoulder injury, my massage table is open in my art room so I can stretch or just crash out in comfy style at a moment’s notice: but when not in a strip-cutting-coma on my massage table, I used the area for flat-space to organize my log-cabin blocks. As any chaotic artist-type knows, flat-space is the most valuable space in any work area….because it’s space to clutter up!

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Early in July, before my trip to D.C., my little blocks were just one layer big; here you see the pink dragonfly centers with 2 strips of light fabric and strips of dark fabric surrounding each pink square:



And after about 3 weeks of sewing, piecing, ironing…..I had 48 10-inch blocks; each block has a pinkish center surrounded by 12 strips of fabric, 6 strips of different light blue/green fabrics and 6 strips of different dark blue/green fabrics; here they are all, arranged on the design wall in my art room. My mom is reading off to the right; she came up from Sonoita for the night, and she helped me start sewing the blocks together.

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It’s really a challenge to keep the blocks organized in their pattern–this is a barn-raising pattern, though log-cabin blocks can be arranged in an infinite variety of patterns to create many different designs, which is why the simple (but tedious) block is popular with artists. I took 2 down off the wall at a time and handed them to my mom, who sewed them together, and then I pressed them and put them back up again and took down the next 2: and even with that system, things got mixed up a few times. It was SO helpful to have my mom at my sewing machine keeping an eye on the design to make sure no blocks got turned about or upside down.

Here’s a closer shot of the design; instead of 48 square blocks I now have 24 rectangular ones, and in another day or two I’ll have all the strips sewn together:

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While I am excited about the way it looks, I’ll admit that traditional quilt-making is definitely not my strong-suit. The final outcome is stunning……but piecing it all is just so much work.

And I’m not done yet!

Log Cabin At Last

My brother Frank is getting married in September, and I’m making him a traditional log cabin quilt; I’m making 56 10 inch blocks and want to create a “barn-raising” style log cabin. For more info on what I’m talking about, click here; Log Cabin is a quilt block with infinite possibilities. I’ve seen some amazing artistic twists with this traditional design.

I’m using as many different fabrics as possible. My good friend Phyllis suggested I get a folding clothes-drying rack to organize my strips; this was a good idea, and this is how my strips looked a week ago:

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Phyllis said this would be a good way to get organized. It worked…..except I ran out of room and had to improvise and hang up strips on some twine strung across the ceiling:

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As with a lot of my my projects, so much seems to be about the planning and setting the stage; the actual execution  generally goes quicker. It’s important to actually see your strips as you assemble the blocks, as one half of the block is made up of dark fabrics and one half is made up of light fabrics.

Here’s how the blocks look now: this is just the first dark layer; there will be 3 dark strips and 3 light per block.

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And there will be 56 of them!!