Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BOW #52: Log Cabin

Bear's Paw is the first block I made and my favorite, but the block featured in this last of our series is a close second.  Log Cabin is one of the best-loved and most versatile blocks in quilting.

The Log Cabin is sometimes taught using a sew and whack method but I find that it's harder to be accurate that way, and can be frustrating for both new and experienced quilters.  It seems to work better for me if I cut the pieces ahead of time and, as I'm sewing them together, they keep me in line--and the block square.

For a 12" finished block, you will need:
(1) 3-/12" square  (Traditionally this is red, to symbolize the hearth in the log cabin, but--whatever!)
(1) 2" x 3-1/2" rectangle dark
(2) 2" x 5" rectangles light
(2) 2" x 6-1/2" rectangles dark
(2) 2" x 8" rectangles light
(2) 2" x 9-12" rectangles dark
(2) 2" x 11" light rectangles
(1) 2" x 12-1/2" rectangle dark

You are going to sew each of the 2" strips, in a counter-clockwise direction, around the center square, with two adjacent sides dark, and the the other two adjacent sides light.

Start by sewing the 2" x 3-1/2" strip to the top of the center square.  then, sew a 2" x 5" light rectangle on the left side the square,  and a 2" x 5" rectangle at the bottom.  For the end of the first round, sew a dark 2" x 6-1/2" rectangle on the right side.

Continue around, clockwise, adding increasingly rectangles and making sure that you keep lights on one side, and darks on the other.
You can change the size of the block by changing the size of the center (and adjusting the lengths of the rectangles accordingly), or by adding more rounds, or making the rectangles more narrow.

Now the fun begins because there are a great many ways you can set log cabin blocks, creating very different looks by simply rotating blocks.  Here are a few possibilities:

And here are a couple of my quilts--none of them finished yet.  Sigh.

This one has upper and lower borders of log cabin blocks.  (Sorry about the pins--I'm still quilting it.)

This one combines Friendship Star and Log Cabin--a design of mine called "Stars Over the Cabin."  (Yes, still quilting this one, too.)


There is another variation of the Log Cabin called Courthouse Steps.  In this variation, you still do dark and light, but darks are on opposite, rather than adjacent, sides.  (And the same for lights, then, too.)

So, play with Log Cabin, have fun with it--and share the results with us!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BOW #51 Flying Geese

This week we're revisiting a block--sort of.  We haven't talked specifically about just Flying Geese, but we have used a Flying Geese unit in quite a few blocks, starting with BOW #6,  Dutchman's Puzzle.  (Visit that post to review a couple of choices for constructing a Flying Geese unit.)

Flying Geese blocks come in various orientations and sizes and combinations.  A block might contain one or two or three or more units and they may be placed straight on, opposite, or diagonally.

A Flying Geese unit is one of the very basic units in quilting, because you can use it as building block in many other blocks:  the Variable Star, Weathervane, and more.   When you see a quilt block try breaking it down into smaller units:  squares, triangles (our old friends, the HST Half Square Triangle and QST Quarter Square Triangle), and the Flying Geese unit.  You can fill years of your life making quilts from blocks that contain just those basic shapes.

The FG unit may or may not be obvious in the block, but if you start breaking down blocks into units when you look at a block, you'll soon start to see them everywhere in blocks.   Can you find where, in these blocks, you could use FG units?

Here are a couple of quilts at my house that contain Flying Geese units:   the first is made with just the FG units, in the blocks (with pairs set in a sort of pinwheel fashion) and in the border that has the geese flying around and around the quilt.   The second quilt is one of my first quilts (hence the faded fabric--the dye in the early calicoes wasn't that fast, and it has spent some time in sunlight), and the FG units are turned into pine tree tops.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BOW #50 Spool

This week we have a chance to re-visit a pattern we've (sort of) visited before:  Spool. When we looked at it in BOW #25   we put four 6" spools together, with a bit of a spin.   This time it's one spool, in a 12" finished size. 

You will need:
(4) 3-/2" light/dark HSTs (Half Square Triangles)
(2) 3-1/2" x 6-1/2" light rectangles
(2) 3-1/2" x 6-1/2" dark rectangles
(1) 6-1/2" dark square

So, the only difference from BOW #25 is the size of the pieces and the finished block, but it makes a fine block all on its own--and could any block be more perfect for a quilter?

Early on in the series you saw how you can nest smaller blocks in larger blocks, swapping out plain squares for the pieced small blocks; this is a perfect block for that.  You could make an entire "sampler" quilt with the same spool block, but with a different 6" block in the center of each.

And wouldn't it be fun to do a spool-in-a-spool, with a 6" spool in the center of a 12" spool?

I pulled out a small quilt top to take a photo of the spool block (spinning spool, to be precise) and decided it might be fun to share the entire top:  there will be a couple of blocks that should look familiar to you, some that won't be familiar, and one that will be the featured block in the last of the BOW series.   With all the units and blocks you've pieced in this series you can probably figure out how to put together one or two of these blocks that we haven't talked about!