Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Crazy Log Cabin Quilting

When I look at colors like this, I want to sing and dance for joy, joy, joy! If these colors and the whimsical way they are combined make you happy, too, then you should try crazy log cabin quilting.

With crazy log cabin quilting, the emphasis is on using color like an artist, intuitively, and in the moment. It is almost like painting. You set up your palette of fabrics next to your sewing machine, and you pick colors as you go along. You don't have to plan ahead or know where everything is going to go. Stroke by stroke, you build up your quilt.

If you sew, you probably have a collection of remnants of all sizes. Some of the remnants seem too small to do anything with. You wonder if you should throw them away. You don't have to. You can be like one of our thrifty foremothers, and piece a quilt with them.

Stack up the colors you like. This is your palette. Put away the ones you don't like. If you like the color, it will probably work fine with the others. It doesn't have to "match." I advise you not to try to make your quilt match your wallpaper or bedspread. That could limit your color courage. Let your quilt announce its own one-of-a-kindness by combining your quirky fabric supply with your innate color sense.

You're not sure you have an innate color sense? Oh, yes, you do. You dress yourself everyday. You can pick out a postcard of a painting which you like. Look around your house at the things which combine colors in ways that please you....the shower curtain? A skirt or scarf? The spines on a shelf full of books? A pile of children's games?

I hate the part of quilting where you have to cut out hundreds of perfect shapes. But with crazy log cabin quilting, you only have to cut the square center pieces of your cabins. These squares measure about 5 inches across. Cut a big pile of them. I chose a fabric which I loved which had a good selection of colors in it, to inspire the entire quilt.

A rotary cutter, a self-healing cutting mat, and plastic quilting templates make it easy to measure and cut accurately. All the "logs" will be cut freehand.

You can use any combination of threads you want!

You are ready to begin. Choose a piece of fabric you like to go next to the center square.

Working freehand, cut a rectangle which is a little larger in length than the center square. This is your first log.

Sew the pieces right sides together. It is not necessary to back stitch. I don't use pins. I just line the fabrics up along the edge of the sewing foot and go.

Iron the seams away from the center square.

Press on top of the fabrics, too. Keep your iron hot and close to your work space. You can even keep it right next to your sewing table, and lower the ironing board to sitting level, for easy reach.

Trim the extra fabric on the log so that it is even with the center square.

Add another piece of fabric across the end of the square and the first log. This aqua fabric was from a much loved pair of shorts.

This whimsical floral below will look nice next. You will find yourself slowing down as the number of different patterns and colors accrue. Don't lose your nerve. Keep going. It will probably all blend fine in the end.

Keep going around in a spiral, building your log cabin piece by piece.

If you cut some of the logs slanted, the patterns will start to dance. You can also vary the width of the logs. I like patches made of narrow logs best, like the one at the top of this posting, but I don't always have the patience to work that way.

I am using a template to finish my patch. I just center the template on the center patch, trim the edges with my rotary cutter, and I have a nice square patch which will be easy to piece, as crooked and slanting as all the log patches may be inside.

I don't work steadily on my crazy log cabin quilt. Whenever it is gray outside, or I am stuck for ideas, or I need cheering up, I will nibble on my quilt some more.


sunnymama said...

Beautiful and joyful fabrics and colours! :)

Beth said...

Thank you so much, Sunnymama! Beth

gardenmama said...

I always appreciate seeing your love of color Beth! Your quilt is incredibly gorgeous, you truly are an artist!

Linda said...

Hello Beth,
I love Crazy Log Cabin quilting, yours looks so beautiful and all the colours look amazing. I really want to try. Someone gave me three boxes of fabric, all off-cuts, when they left for oversease. I will have a look in there and give it a try:)
Thank you for sharing this.

The Everyday Mum said...

So beautiful! Thanks so much for the inspiration you give me. I truly love your blog!!

Mousy Brown said...

I love this way of quilting - it suits my inability to cut straight lines down to the ground!!! It also appeals as a way of using up all those scraps I can never stand to throw away - I am going to start one today. Thanks for the lovely clear tutorial - its really inspirational :)

Unschoolers Rock the Campground said...

It is gorgeous and I am inspired!!!

suzanne said...

Hello Beth!

Have I wished you a Happy new year yet? If not, I wish for you a happy peaceful one..

This is one unbelievable quilt. I know I have to start one soon. I would really like to have one ready for Winter.

Have a lovely day Beth
Warm regards

Beth said...

Thank you for the great encouragement friends and visitors! If you decide to try crazy log cabin quilting, I would love to see a picture of one of your squares! love, Beth

The Magic Onions said...

Oh, my, Beth... how gorgeous! If my kids ever go to school... this is the first project I'll do! Thanks for sharing.
Blessings and magic.

softearthart said...

Life is full of color, it in in our lives, how happy we are that it is, cheers from New Zealand Marie

Ravenhill said...

How very bright and colorful!!! I adore yor take on the log cabin!

momcnl said...

I love this!!!! Thanks for sharing :)

momcnl said...

I love this!!! Thank you for sharing :)

Beth said...

Thank you so much for the encouragement! Beth

Indigo, madder, marigold said...

Yes, this makes me happy too! I love intuitive art-making! You have a very encouraging tone as well :)

Appleshoe said...

Oh wow! I love your use of color.. 4 years and counting. This is inspiration to finish my quilt.

5orangepotatoes said...

Beth, you are just too awesome. I just got a new sewing machine today and want to try some patchworking. This tute will certainly help! Thank you so much!


Anonymous said...

Beth,my sister told about a pattern for a "crooked log cabin quilt" I searched the internet and could not find it listed. Have you ever heard of it? Your quilt is beautiful, it has inspired me to make one..I do alot of quilting so have many scraps.

Quilter83 said...

Thank you so much for this, I needed some encouragement when it comes to my "colour courage"!!

Alice Watson said...

Inspiring. Will start this tomorrow. Thank you.