I am going to start you off with a couple of hints about this month's block that we will use to make row 3 in our quilt. One of my favorite views in Oregon is this view of the Three Sisters mountains, whose original names were Faith, Hope and Charity. The names were changed to North Sister, Middle Sister and South Sister at some point and that is how I have known them my whole life. You can see this gorgeous view on your way to the town of Sisters, Oregon which is a favorite destination for quilters. One for the quilt shop located there, and but also for the annual outdoor quilt show held in July. You certainly want to wear a pair of good walking shoes if you attend this amazing show as the quilts are displayed all over town. You can enjoy a video tour below and see how the town prepares for this one day event.
My second hint will probably really give it away... A cabin in the woods has been one of my dreams since I was a child. I don't know if it will ever become reality, but the dream is alive and well in me.
Which leads me to this month's block-the Log Cabin. My very first pieced quilt was a Log Cabin quilt. In fact my second and third quilts were also Log Cabin quilts and I have made a few more over the years as well. It is a great block to work on accuracy in piecing and I have a few tips for you before you begin.
Since we are working with some narrow pieces it can be a great benefit to starch your fabric. Starching the fabric can really help in how crisp your seams are and thus the accuracy of your block. It is best to starch before you cut out your pieces in case they shrink from the starching process. I have used both Faultless Spray Starch and Mary Ellen's Best Press with good results. Do keep in mind that you do not want to store fabric that has been starched as it can attract bugs.
This is a great time to make use of strip piecing techniques. The method for putting this block together is quite different from the one I originally learned back in the day and I feel leads to a squarer finished block. It is important that you cut your pieces to the exact length given in the directions to get good results.
When I first learned strip piecing I would just push the next pieces into place and let the machine feed them up to the needle. This can result in some crooked beginning stitches so instead...
take the time to lift your presser foot and place the next pieces right up against the needle. Make sure you have the fabric lined up with your seam guide. Everything should look nice and square, even with the horizontal guidelines on your machine plate.
As you sew, continue to watch both of those things, the vertical and horizontal alignment. When you sew off the end it is easy to swerve slightly to one side or the other and you want to keep sewing in a perfectly straight line. It may help to slow down as you approach the end of your pieces just to make sure you keep that straight line going. I use the marks on my presser foot to keep the horizontal alignment squared up. Since I can no longer see the vertical seam guide, the side of my presser foot helps here as well. (This is why I highly recommend a quarter inch presser foot).
As you can see, the horizontal mark on my machine's throat plate is still square with the pieces of fabric I have just sewn. So many times it is just these little things that can have a big impact on the finished look of our blocks.
My second tip is to check your measurements at each step, at least until you are confident that your seam allowance is resulting in blocks that measure the correct size with each addition. As you add each "log" they should measure 1 1/4" across. If you need to trim, trim the side of the new log to get the measurement required. Knowing that the new pieces will always be 1 1/4" wide will help you see if you need to make adjustments to your seam allowance, either by moving your needle to the left or right or adjusting the seam guide you use to sew 1/4" seams.
Another tip for success with this block is to make sure you keep sewing the new piece in a clockwise direction on your block. So here I start by joining A and B together.
After pressing I check my measurements which are provided in the pattern.
The I add the next piece.
And the next...
and the next.
It is actually pretty easy to add the next piece in the wrong order as it will fit on all four sides of the block. I like to stack my blocks making sure they are all facing the same direction; with the side I need to add the new "log" to laid out and ready to go by my machine. (I neglected to take a photo to show you so I hope this makes sense.)
Sometimes I actually use my finger and work my way around the block, pointing to each log as I go, making sure that I am laying each new log onto the side that continues the clockwise rotation. Here I have added the next round of "logs" to my block.
I started out by telling you about the Three Sisters. One of the cool things about the Log Cabin block is how many ways they can be put together. For my row, I set them in a way that makes me think about those three mountains. You can play with your blocks to see how you would like them to look. For another setting idea be sure and see Susie's version below.
This is the row for my Christmas version of the quilt. I used a traditional red center to represent the hearth of the home, being warmed by the fire in the log cabin.
I do have a tip for joining the blocks together. Most of the time there are absolutely no seams to match-isn't that wonderful! But a couple of times we do have seams to match and because of the way they are pressed-in the same direction, this adds a little tricky bit. Here is how I handle it.
I flip up the top seam and "lock" the seams together then place a pin to hold those seams in position.
When I get down to that seam I flipped up-I did not press it up, but simply used my fingers to lift it up while I matched the seams-I flip it down over the pin.
The I proceed to sew, stopping with my needle down, as close to the pin as I can get. With my needle down, I slip the pin out and finish sewing.
This gave me some very nice matching seams and the pressing on the back did not need to be changed at all.
And this is how my Batik version came out.
And a close-up. For this version I chose yellow for my center to represent the light in the cabin window shining out as a welcome to all.
Here is how my Christmas version looks now too.
As always I have had some pattern testers working on this row with me. I love sharing with you what they have made as they inspire me, and I hope you as well, with other ways to play with fabric and colors for this quilt.
Susie has been sharing her process with me and I hope to share what she is learning about Quilt as You Go later this month.
Everything you need to make this row can be found in this month's pattern which you can download from my shop for free during the remainder of this project. Click on the link below to get the patterns for this Quilt Along.
Before I go I just have to share that Susie's quilt is Nellie approved.
I hope you find joy in your own quilting journey this month.
For this month's row we will be working with Flying Geese. This is another skill that is valuable for the quilt making process. Flying Geese can be used on their own and also work well in many other blocks as well. They key for working with them and getting sharp points is to learn how to trim them accurately. I will share several methods for achieving that in the following tutorial so bear with me while I cover those. The link to download this month's pattern can be found at the end of this post. You will need this to complete the row.
Before we get started I want to share a couple of overall tips.
First, if you have not discovered the wonders of starching your fabric now is a good time to give it a try. I starch before cutting my pieces out. I have used Faultless spray starch as well as Best Press and both give good results.
My second tip, is when it comes to pressing, another thing that has improved my piecing is to use a wool pressing mat. However before investing in that I simply laid a large towel on top of my ironing surface. (One that had some plushness to it.) The difference this made it getting pieces to lay flat you will just have to see for yourself. All of these things work in combination to improve the accuracy of our piecing and the look of our final quilt.
Now let me show you how I like to make Flying Geese.
No-waste Method for Making the Flying Geese units.
The first thing we will do is add two of the small squares to the larger squares. As you sew it works best to face those squares so that they point away from your needle as you sew. With a 1/4 inch presser foot I am able to use both sides of the presser foot as a guide which comes in handy for being able to do this.
Once we cut apart, press and trim, that first step we add the remaining small squares to the units and sew 1/4 inch from our drawn line in the same manner. If this is your first time using this method it looks pretty strange at this point but the results are great and really speed the process of making Flying Geese units.
After the units are cut apart and pressed all that is left is to trim them to size. I mention in my pattern that I have a favorite ruler for this. There are lots of options, but I will start by sharing why I love the Bloc_Loc rulers for trimming Flying Geese. The have a channel that "locks" into place on the seam and this helps to keep the ruler from slipping while you trim. It also means that I know I will have 1/4" of seam allowance above the center point of my Flying Geese as this seam allowance is built into the ruler. This is vital to getting sharp points in our finished projects.
All I do is lay the Bloc_Loc ruler in place and trim the right side and top.
Then rotate it and trim the remaining two sides. This is the most expensive of the rulers for trimming Flying Geese but I have found my investment in them several years ago to be well worth it.
I really want to give you some options here as I do not want to insist that you purchase a specific product to make my quilts. Another ruler I have used was designed by Creative Grids. I love Creative Grids rulers as they have the ability to grip the fabric and so the problems of slipping on the fabric while trimming is almost completely eliminated.
With this ruler you are able to cut several sizes of Flying Geese, making this a much more budget friendly choice. The first step is to position the ruler using the guidelines for the triangle of the trimmed size of your unit...
in this case 1 1/2" x 3". The ruler is clearly marked for "Trim #1".
Next you rotate the Flying Geese unit and the ruler so that you have the markings for "Trim #2" showing and line up the trimmed edges with the size you need. Once again markings for the triangle lay on your seams. I have found this ruler to be good at giving me that 1/4" seam allowance above the point of the triangle to be good as well. It just takes a little more effort to make sure you have things lined up correctly, but it does work quite well. I have found that even though these rulers are designed to "grip" the fabric you do have to apply some force to keep it from slipping while you trim.
Before I show you how to trim these using a regular ruler I want to share the ruler one of my pattern testers prefers to use. I have not tried this one, but Susie was kind enough to provide photos of her process using Deb Tucker's Wing Clipper ruler. This is another one that will allow you to trim several sizes of Flying Geese with one ruler. Bear in mind with this ruler that you will use the guidelines for the trimmed size of your Flying Geese rather than the finished size as the previous rulers have used.
Susie starts by lining up the X at the top of the ruler with the size she needs, in this case 1 1/2" and then makes her first cuts.
She then rotates everything and lines up the ruler with the trimmed edges of her unit for the size needed. Note too that there are diagonal lines that match up with the seams as well. I watched Deb Tucker's video and she actually starts with this part of the ruler for her first trim and then used the side with the X for her second trim. Either way will work as you can see.
Again, the wonderful thing about these rulers is how you end up with the perfect seam allowance needed to achieve those sharp points. And look at Susie's points!
Now, if you need to trim these with a regular ruler I want to give you that guidance as well. You don't need to spend money on a new ruler, but you do need to take care when you trim your Flying Geese to size. In order to trim these so that you have the proper seam allowance you will need a trimmed size of 2" x 3 1/2". To begin lay the diagonal line of your ruler on the seam of the Flying Geese. (I got so excited about trimming my Flying Geese that I forgot to save one out to show you how to trim them, lol. So just imagine that the gray is the untrimmed fabric and that there really is 1/4 inch of ruler above the dashed line on the top and side.) We also need to know the center measurement, which in this case is 1 3/4". That mark goes right at the tip of the triangle. I have circled it for you. This is vital for getting those sharp points.
Rotate the unit and this time simply line up the trimmed edges with the ruler lines for the size you need to trim to. In this case the 3 1/2" inch and 2" lines as indicated by the arrows. Trim away the extra.
As you can see, this method is a little more fiddly, but with care you can still get great results. (At the end of this post you will find links for each ruler used in this tutorial.)
Now on to finishing our row for this month...
To make the block we need to join four Flying Geese units together. I found it worked best to sew with the bulky seam of the point on the bottom. We often try to rush this process, but whenever bulky seams are involved I have found that by slowing way down as I sew over them that I get a much straighter seam over the bulky section. I have more control and the piece is less likely to shift out of position than if I sew with a faster speed.
You can see my results here. I have kept my points on the Flying Geese nice and sharp by both being careful with my trimming and my piecing.
Follow the pattern instructions for completing the blocks used in this row.
When it comes time to join those blocks together I have a few tips to share with you. Joining seams that are pressed in the same direction can be tricky. But with the bulk of the Flying Geese seams I really did like the look if I pressed them away from the border strips. So here is how I solved the problem of matching those seams. I flipped the seam on the back piece down so that the two seams would lock together and placed a pin to hold them.
I did not place a pin on the next seam as I found simply pinning the bottom edges of the two blocks was all I needed. Though you could use the same pinning process on that second seam as well.
That left me with a seam that looked like this.
I then employed a little technique from my seamstress training and clipped that seam, being careful not to clip the stitches.
Everything then laid beautifully when I pressed them. You can also see how well those border seams lined up.
Once all the blocks have been joined to make the row it is time to join this row with last month's row. Since I have pressed the seams open on Row 1 I was able to lock those seams into place with Row 2. I used pins to hold the seams together.
Sometimes those seams that are facing up towards your needle can give you a wee bit of trouble. I stiletto can help encourage those seams to lay down in place as you sew. Again, slowing down over bulky seams is key here.
My first two rows are done!
For more inspiration look at what some of my pattern testers did this month.
Click the button below to get the pdf pattern for this month's row.
The following are affiliate links for the rulers I mentioned in my tutorial. I do get a small commission if you purchase through the links I provide which helps me out.
Bloc_Loc ruler. This is for a set of the two rulers I use most often which includes the 1.5" x 3" inch used in this tutorial. It is a much better deal than buying them individually.
The Creative Grids Flying Geese Ruler
Deb Tucker's Wing Clipper
Creative Grids Basic Ruler (the one I use most for all of my blocks)
I hope you enjoy this month's block. I do my best to not have any issues either on my blog or in my patterns, but as always if you have any problems please feel free to contact me. I am always happy to help! Contact Me
Welcome to the first month of this year's BOM. Our first block is one that may be familiar to you. Ohio Star. I made two versions of the first row in our quilt. One that just is full of the colors of the rainbow with my batik scraps. And the other with a Christmas theme using some fabric from my stash. This quilt is mainly going to be red and white with hints of green and grey thrown in.
For my rainbow version I used eight different fabrics plus the background fabric and cut out the pieces to make one star from each, then mixed everything up after putting the hourglass units together.
And my Christmas themed version.
Whenever I begin a new quilt series I like to review some of the basics that will help us all be successful with our piecing. With a number of identical pieces to sew this is a good time to make use of Chain Piecing. This is my process for sewing the Half-square Triangles:
When I add subsequent pieces to be sewn I lift my presser foot and place them so that they butt right up to the needle. (I always so with my needle in the down position so that when I stop sewing my needle is down as shown in the photo.) I have lined up the edge of my 1/4 inch presser foot with the drawn line as well.
With these Half-square Triangles I place them so that the seam is facing up-towards the needle-which gives just a little help in pushing those two seams together.
When I have finished sewing all of the pieces I use an "ender", in this case just a scrap of fabric.
That "ender" then becomes my "leader" when I begin sewing the next step.
For this month's row of Ohio Stars we will be making Hourglass units to create the stars. I ordered a new ruler to try for these that was recommended by another quilting friend. All I can say is, where has this ruler been all my life. Aside from being simply the best ruler for this purpose it also is reasonably priced. So let me introduce you to the Quilt in a Day Triangle Square Up Ruler. I have zoomed in on the ruler here so you can see the lines and markings. One side has the markings for working with unfinished 1/2 inch sizes and the other side is for working with whole inch sizes.
In this case, for my hourglass units, I want the trimmed size to be 2 1/2" so I place the 2 1/2" red line on one seam and the green line along the other seam. Now I trim just like I normally would.
Next, I simply rotate my hourglass unit, realign the lines on my ruler and finish trimming.
And look at that perfect Hourglass unit with the nice sharp points in the corners.
This is so much easier than trying to get things lined up with a regular ruler. But for those who need that information you need to lay the diagonal line of your ruler on the seamline, placing the 1 1/4" mark at the center.
Now, for the other nifty thing this little ruler can do: It makes trimming Half-square Triangles a snap. Before you press them open, simply lay the ruler on top so that the trimmed measurement line is on the stitching. In this case I want to trim my units to 3 1/2" so that line is right on top of the stitching. Then I just trim both sides.
I will have these little triangles to trim away, but as you can see I have a perfectly trimmed HST ready for sewing.
If you decide to purchase the Triangle Square Up Ruler I would like to encourage you to use the affiliate link I provide below. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, which helps support my efforts on your behalf. I believe this is a win-win for each of us. You get a fabulous ruler and I get a little support. As you know, I only share products that I truly think are wonderful and at a price of around $15.00 I think this ruler is one of those rare bargains.
Now back to tips for making this block. I found it best to press open the seams, as indicated in the pattern, when joining the rows that make up the block. Then when I go to join the blocks into the row I can actually nest the seams a bit by turning the blocks as shown below. Even though the one seam is pressed open, there is enough of a ridge to lock the two seams into place just as if they were pressed in opposing directions.
Here you can see how the seams nest together.
I checked the alignment before pinning in place.
Then just pinned right at the seam, with my pin going through the point on both sides (front and back) All is ready to be sewn together now.
My pattern testers had fun making their blocks as well. Susie chose to make eight different stars for her row.
Jeanet wrote that she will be using several different backgrounds for each of her blocks to accent a variety of dark prints. I am looking forward to seeing how they all come together.
To get a copy of the pdf pattern just click on the photo below to download it from my shop.
I will close with up-close looks at my Ohio Star blocks.
Thanks for joining me on this joyful journey. Be sure and join me and many other quilters on my Sew Along group page on Facebook to share your finished row. I LOVE to see what you all make with my patterns.
Welcome to the site of Debra Davis-a woman who loves the Lord and loves to quilt.
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My other blog where I share about my walk of faith:
Sitting at His Feet
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