Thursday, June 2, 2011

Questions 67 and 68

Not really.  But Trace asked a couple really great questions on the other day's post and I wanted to field them today.  In trying to come up with a clever title, I got the old Chicago song stuck in my head ... so there you have it!

Trace asked:  "Why is it called log cabin? And why do you need gloves for machine quilting? Inquiring minds want to know!"  Great questions (I love questions!) - let me answer them in reverse!

Those quilting gloves with the rubber-tipped fingers are for machine quilting - they help you get a more secure grip on your quilt as you maneuver it through the machine.  I don't like a lot of fuss and muss, but really have found these worth wearing.  It boils down to better and more consistent control.

The Log Cabin block!  It's one of the oldest, most traditional patterns out there, but wow, is it versatile and a ton of fun to play with!  If I HAD to pick a favorite block, this would be it.  I have a set of pix on FlickR of some of my Log Cabin quilts, if you'd like a little tour.  Basically, in its purest form, the Log Cabin block starts with a center square, then "logs" (strips of fabric) are sewn around that.  Traditionally, that center square was red or a derivative of red to represent the hearth of the home.  Strips were added to one side, then the next, then the next, then the fourth side, going around that square.  See these instructions as an illustration!  The best example I have of a traditional Log Cabin is here:

Traditional Log Cabin quilt

The center squares are all red or pink.  That layout is referred to as "Barn Raising" - you can see more traditional layouts at this link.  In that FlickR set of mine are a lot of non-traditional settings, as well.

In addition to the traditional Log Cabin, where the "logs" are added sort of in a circular pattern (side 1, 2, 3, then 4, if you will), there are other derivatives.  The modern Log Cabin I'm working on is a Chevron Log Cabin - where the "logs" are added to two adjacent sides of the center square only -- creating a chevron pattern.  I did a mini-Chevron Log Cabin years ago and set the blocks on point (stood them up like diamonds):

Chevron Log Cabin mini

If you look at the first picture in Tuesday's post, you can see some of those modern blocks under construction -- there on the left.  You can maybe see how I'm sewing those "logs" around the two sides of a center square.  I refer to that quilt as "modern" because I'm varying the size of the "center" (or "off-center", in this case) square.

Another variation of the Log Cabin is Courthouse Steps.  I haven't made one (and perhaps need to do something about that...), but you can see an example here.  Basically, you add your "logs" to opposite sides of the center square, then to the top and bottom.  You can get some really cool interlocking patterns with that version!

Yet another traditional Log Cabin block variant is the Pineapple!  I need to either take a better photo of the one I've made or find one that I know I have ... but for now, here's what mine looks like:

DSCN7215 Dave and Zim
Dave and Zim, looking totally innocent

It's over on the chair at the far-left of the photo.  You can see the center square ... then the "blades" of the pineapple!  I'll take a better pic later!

There are a ton more variations, but those are the main ones.  Thanks for a great question!

And thanks for reading!


  1. Very interesting! I didn't even known enough to ask the questions. And yeah, Dave and Zim do look very innocent there!

  2. Thanks for the explanations - I couldn't have guessed them from the names!

    "Huh? What? We weren't doin' nothin'!"

  3. Aha! Now it all makes sense to me. I like the look of the pineapple!

    Also: snooter smooches to Zim from his Auntie Trace. And to Davy. For looking totally innocent.


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