Monday, February 25, 2013

Log Cabin Tutorial

Our quilt guild will be making log cabin blocks for our Opportunity quilt.  Here's a few photos of how to build a block.

This one finishes at 9.5 inches. 

Light / Dark Log Cabin Block

Use scant quarter inch seams.  As we build, I'm always going to press toward the last piece added on.   I'll press after each seam so everything stays nice and flat.  I brought a small pressing surface near my machine so it's very easy to sew, press, sew, press ....

Although I'm not showing it in these photos, I made 2 blocks at once.  That way, I could leave something under my sewing machine needle.  I don't like to have those loose threads which can tangle or allow the needle to become unthreaded.  If you like Bonnie Hunter style leaders/enders projects, you could do that instead.

First, arrange your fabrics by size with the light and dark stacks. There will be 6 lights and 7 dark pieces.  Cutting dimensions are at the end of this post.

The center will be a dark 2 inch square.  All the other strips are 1 3/4 inches wide.

Sew the smallest light log (2 by 1 3/4) to the center.  Then, press toward the light log.  I press seams away from me, so the seams will be toward the top pieces in these photos.
Open the stitched unit and press the seam toward the last (light) log

Next, add the next light log.  This is the 2nd light log.  (We're going to add logs in pairs.)

New log is under the unit.  Last log of the unit is toward me.

Notice that there will be no seams on the bottom side of the unit.  Also, the last seam is pressed towards me.  That means it will be easier to keep those seams behaving while I sew.  Nothing will get flipped back the wrong way by the feed dogs.

Of course, line up those edges before sewing.  I took the photo with the bottom log sticking out a little so you could see it.

Now, press the seam toward the last log added. 
Open the stitched unit and press the seam toward the last (light) log

Now it's time for 2 dark logs.  First, stitch the smallest dark log to the unit.  Those right edges should align - they're offset for the photo.

New (purple) log is under the unit.  Last (light) log of the unit is toward me.

Open the stitched unit and press the seam toward the last (dark) log

Next, add one more dark log.

New (dark with swirls) log is under the unit.  Last (purple) log of the unit is toward me.

When you press this one, you'll notice after 2 light and 2 dark logs, the center is completely surrounded by logs. 

After pressing toward the last log which is shown on the top of this photo, I lie the next log to the right.  Flip the next log on the unit and set it up at the sewing machine just as I've done with all the others.

New (light) log is under the unit.  Last (dark with swirls) log of the unit is toward me.
You are going to continue in this manner with 2 light then 2 dark logs for each row until you've built your block.
Pressing toward the last log, ready for the next light log

Cutting :
Center is 2 inches square.
Light and Dark strips are 1 3/4 inches wide.

First row : 2 and 3 1/4
Second row : 4 1/2 and 5 3/4
Third row : 7 and 8 1/4  (For our guild, we made these strips 2" wide so we could trim)

First row : 3 1/4 and 4 1/2
Second row : 5 3/4 and 7
Third row : 8 1/4 and 9 1/2 (For our guild, we made these strips 2" wide and a little longer, so we could trim)

Here's another block with medium and dark logs.  The photo picks up those bright dots on the dark purple log.  It looks better without the flash.

Please let me know if I need to clarify anything.  Hope you'll have fun making these.

Here's our cabin (actually tool shed) that we worked on today.  We covered the roof in tar paper before it was too dark to continue working.  A family of four can entertain ourselves and make some long lasting memories building things together.  Our quirky sense of humor comes out when we're climbing on rafters and attempting to drive nails with two hands while holding on with the same.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A New Project ... Block Swap

Isn't it fun to start a new project?  I think sew.  One of the benefits is that it's a good excuse to tidy up a bit after allowing too much chaos to take over my studio.  The new chaos always seems more welcome.

Here's my work area with gorgeous batiks waiting to become flying geese.  In the corner, you can see the final blocks.

Our guild introduced a block swap last month.  It's been fun to talk with the two coordinators of the swap and here how the interest has caught on like wild fire.  Only a few more openings and we haven't had our Feb. meeting yet.

Indian Star block
I made 2 sample blocks to make sure I understood how the pattern would go together.  Also, I bought a Flying Geese tool and wanted to how to use it before I used my swap fabric.  My first attempt to use the tool resulted in a cutting error.  That's why the block on the left is a bit (two inches) smaller than the right.  I think both of these will make nice mug rugs, which is why I added an extra strip on one side.

If anyone is interested, I could demo the Flying Geese tool here with a tutorial.  There are many more geese units to make, so there will be photo opportunities.  For this swap, we'll each make 25 batik blocks and turn them in to the coordinator.  She'll sort and return a set of 25 different blocks to each participant.  Then we'll all reveal our quilts later in the year.  There's also a group of swappers with a gorgeous red fabric, not batik.  We might start a 3rd mini group tonight at the meeting if we need to accommodate more participants.

As guild president this year, I'll share more about our activities.  Some of my online friends have wonderful guilds which are enthusiastic and they find lots of ways to bless their communities.  Other online friends have used the word "boring" to describe their visits to nearby guilds.  I'm looking for ways for ours to stay enjoyable and busy.  Our guild's purpose is education, so I'm also mindful of keeping us on that track as we go.

The 880 pounds of concrete doesn't show here, but it's keeping those posts in place.  WHew!
In other news, construction of our tool shed has begun.  This is to replace the one destroyed in the tornadoes almost 2 years ago.  This one will be a bit more substantial than its predecessor.  It's also larger by a factor of two.  We're now racing the calendar to finish this (our labor) and then have the fence replaced (hired) before the 2 year insurance deadline of 27 Apr.

My engineer husband loves the process of building stuff and the joy of re-measuring and double checking the levels to see that everything is square and level and matches the design perfectly.  I'm happy that he's happy.  To help me stay patient, I usually bring an ipod and docking station with speakers outside when we work.  It's fun to sing movie tunes with Pandora's stations while we work.  Sometimes I dance too.  Just to embarrass my teens.  I consider that aspect of parenting to be one of my strengths.

For the past several weekends, this project has been one of those Family Fun group projects.  However, this weekend, the teens will be gone on a retreat so we have a few friends (also engineers) who will pitch in to help. They plan to take a basketball break Sat afternoon, so I can sneak back to my studio and quilt my plaid shirt top which is resting on the frame now.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sometimes the Hat Doesn't Fit

You know the phrase about wearing many hats.  I've used it to describe what I do in my workplace. I'm sure I'm not the only one who assumes many roles.

High Tea in the Afternoon - finished

I've found a few that just do not fit.  For instance, when our children were playing soccer and my husband was coaching, I took the referee training.  That was a horrible flop!  'Nuf said.

At home, since it's winter, all the potted plants have made their way inside.  They're stuffed in nooks and corners as they wait for the Springtime to bring those warmer days and gentle rains.  Until then, I'm systematically killing them all.  My gardening hat just doesn't fit.  I keep trying to smash it back on my head anyway.  A famous saying around here is my statement that, "Well, this one must have had a drainage problem."  I usually follows a plant death by drowning.  My teens remind me of this prevalent drainage problem often, and have been known to put hand drawn cartoons of Spongebob Squarepants begging for mercy in the leaves of my plants.

So last night, some friends came over and one spied three Christmas cactus near the front door.  She asked what colors the flowers bloom.  Well,  I don't remember, but my best guess is pink.  They had blooms when I bought them, but haven't bloomed since.  The jointed segments keep falling off and I just threw away the evidence earlier today before my company arrived.  Since the soil felt like a clay tennis court, I also watered them a little.

Then, I ran the Roomba vacuum cleaner in my studio.  A small cutting (my husband brought it home ... he's been babysitting an office plant for 4 years) was hidden amongst other large plants under the quilting frame.  Somehow, the bigger plants pushed the small one out into traffic allowing the vacuum knocked over the plastic cup.  Roomba promptly sucked that poor plant in and wound it around the rotating bars.  It loudly announced, "Error!  Please clean Roomba's wheel cage."  When I confessed this account, my husband reconfirmed another family member's strong suggestion of silk plants since I cannot be trusted with live ones.  (Thank you, Donna, for all the silk plants in my bathroom.  They still look great!)  He also pointed out that he's cared for this thriving plant for 4 years and contrasted it to my few weeks before imminent death.  For some crazy reason, he's planning to bring home another cutting today.  I think he's looking for the comic relief it will provide when it meets it's doom at my hands.  Our marriage has benefited from his sense of humor.

So, along with child of God, wife, mother, step-n-fetch-it, chauffeur, chaperone, cook, maid, engineer and a few others, I'll wear a quilter hat.  I showed this one (at the top of today's post) in progress last Fall, but forgot to share it's finish.  It was so fun to put together swapped blocks and enjoy my online friends' creativity with this theme. 

 The following is to prove that I've not overstated my case.  Plus, it will make you feel much better about your own gardening skills, which have greatly surpassed mine.  There was no rearranging for the photo.  It was taken just as I found everything this morning.

Under the Quilting Frame

I'm still holding out a little (false) hope for these.  They're a hardier bunch and might just make it until Springtime, when I can spray them with the hose and they become much more independent.

Is the new growth on the night blooming cereus supposed to look like a bright green smooth stick?  Maybe I'll add it's photo soon.  By the way, I have seen it bloom .... it was before Mom gave it to me.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars