Linen Stories (Mahjong) Tutorial

Here is a tutorial for making the quilt Linen Stories.   I called my personal quilt Mahjong because that is what I thought it looked like:-))

The idea for this quilt came from the tutorial I was working on for a Log Cabin quilt. I was trying to use a lot of colors, varying the intensity so the light ones were in the middle and they got darker as they moved to the outside.  Kinda like the Swing Your Partner block.

Picture of a snail trail blockHere are the fabrics that I chose.  Notice that there is a dark and light of each color.  This doesn’t exactly match the Connecting Threads kit as I didn’t have those fabrics available at the time I made this tutorial.

Many fabrics on a tableThe blocks in this quilt are surprisingly easy to make.  They are simply strips around a center half-square-triangle-block, with the light strip on the inside and the dark strip on the outside.  You will be cutting and recutting a LOT of strips for this project.  A stripology or other strip cutting ruler will make this chore a little less tedious.

There are many different ways to make Half-Square-Triangle (HST) blocks.  This is the traditional method.

Start with two squares of fabric, a dark and a light, that are 7/8″ larger than the finished size of the HST that you are making.  (I usually specify 1″ larger in the patterns that I write to give people a chance to square it up after it is made.)  Draw a line on the diagonal of the light square, match it to the dark square, and sew 1/4″ on either side of that line. Cut on the drawn line.

If you prefer to draw both the center cutting line and the 1/4″ line, consider a Quick Quarter Ruler. It has an angled edge to help you draw a perfect diagonal line through the center of the ruler.

To square up the block, you can use a specialty ruler like the Quilt in a Day square up ruler or just place the 1/4″ line on a square ruler on the seam line and draw around the edges.

Or, you can press the block open and cut all the way around it. Remember to PRESS and not iron as you might a garment. You just want to make this block flat.  A rotating cutting mat will make your life much easier as you won’t have to pick up the ruler, then the block, then reposition it before making the next cut.

Now that you have the center of the blocks made, it is time to sew strips around it.  You can see why I was influenced by a log cabin quilt:-))

You will first sew the strips in groups, then cut them the size of the HST.  (The pattern goes into more detail.) Dig out that strip cutter again!  Place a horizontal line along the seam line of the strip set before making any cuts.  That will help you keep your cuts straight.

I admit I ran out of steam after this step. So much cutting!  I do have an Accuquilt, but I wanted to write this tutorial without using it. And, yes, it did occur to me later that I simply could have omitted that step but I didn’t think of it at the time:-))

The next day I sewed all the side pieces to the HSTs, then the two-piece units to the bottom, then began adding the final side strip.  This is a closeup of that process:

Accurate pressing is important in a quilt of this size. I love my Oliso – that bounceback feature saved my ironing board from my granddaughter more than once.  I know it’s expensive, but it is *so* worth it to me. Did you know they are coming out with a mini iron this spring?

Here is the block from the back, showing how it is pressed.

Here is where I was by the end of the day:

I don’t have any pictures of the last day of sewing. It was mostly trying to match the colors in the pattern to the colors that I was working on. I always recommend that quilters go through and cross off the pattern colors and write in their own. That saved me a lot of aggravation in this sewing session. Truthfully, by the end, I was just choosing colors randomly. It worked out just as well and I was happy.

Here is what the finished quilt looked like on the king sized bed in our fifth wheel travel trailer.  Pretty nice, eh?

Quilt on a Bed

The elegant one below was made using a Connecting Threads kit.

If you make this quilt, please send me a picture!  I would love to see it on your bed.  My email address is [email protected]   Thanks!

Other Tutorials

How to add a Faux Piped Border to your quilt

How to bind your quilt

Creating a three dimensional row for a row by row quilt

How to make a 3D Bow Tie  

How to make a Faux Cathedral Window (video)

How to make a Faux Braid

How to make a Snail Trail Block

How to make an Hourglass block

How to make a Log Cabin Quilt

Questions or comments? Click on Leave a Reply below or Leave a Comment in the upper left hand corner. If you like this blog, you can subscribe by email in the box on the right.


Color Me Creative Block of the Month Quilt, Block Twelve: Finishing

Questions or comments? Click on Leave a Reply below or Leave a Comment in the upper left hand corner. If you like this blog, you can subscribe by email in the box on the right.


What’s Black and White with a Red Binding? A Log Cabin Quilt!

Thanks for joining our Black and White challenge! Here for your perusal today is a tutorial for a 92″ x 92″ black and white log cabin quilt. One of the most traditional quilt designs there is, the log cabin block has its roots in antiquity. There is a mummy of a cat wrapped in a log cabin design in the British Museum. Not to be left out, the log cabin block can be seen in marquetry and tile designs of early Greek and Roman floors.

The log cabin as a quilt block pattern became popular in America in the 1860’s (although the design can be traced  to the UK in the mid 1700’s, where it was called Roof Eaves.) In fact, it was once referred to as Lincoln’s Log cabin. My guess is that the Log Cabin block probably became a favorite among early quilters because it gave them the chance to use narrow scraps of fabric leftover from making garments.

When I first became interested in quilt history, I was told that a black centered log cabin hung on a line might indicate a safe house for a runaway slave. It wasn’t until much later that I actually started studying American history that I discovered how foolish that notion was. Now we say a red center represents the hearth of the home. That’s probably not historically accurate either:-))

This tutorial is for a traditional log cabin quilt. Well, I should say, the traditional block. There are probably hundreds of different ways to set this block and just as many names for them. I don’t consider the Pineapple block, the Courthouse Steps block, the Quarter Square block or the Curved Log Cabin block to be traditional log cabin blocks. They are wonderful blocks on their own, but they aren’t traditional log cabin blocks.  IMHO.

Quarter Square.  Blocks that are cut in quarters and recombined. Yes, I have seen this in antique quilts, although they are usually set on point.

I have an antique red and black version of this, but it was pieced to a foundation and the black has deteriorated along the seams. (sigh)

I used the Curved Log Cabin block in the Circle of Life pattern. Four of these could make a snowball.

For me, a traditional log cabin block starts with a square in the center. These are surrounded by logs of the same width but different lengths spiraling around the center. By altering the way individual logs are colored, an astonishing variety of blocks can be created.

Now, of course, there are different ways of piecing the center, including foundation piecing and folding.  Quilt historian Pepper Cory owns a log cabin quilt where the logs have actually been folded in half wrong sides together before being sewn to a foundation.

Here are the three center types that I have found in my antique quilts.  Any block with a large center square can feature a fussy cut motif, or another block like a half-square triangle.  Lots of design opportunities there!

Center Spiral. This block lends itself to the Greek Key. This center lends itself to the Courthouse Steps block, but I have seen it in mid 19th century log cabin quilts. Two-Part Center.
This is the center I am using because of the solid log edges.
Greek Key Courthouse Steps.  I have also seen antique courthouse step quilts with three equal strips in the center. Those continuous logs help give the illusion of a border.

There are as many different ways to lay out a Log Cabin quilt as there are ways to lay out a Half Square Triangle Quilt.  Here are just a few, and there are more on my Pinterest Log Cabin Quilt Board.  I also have a Black and White Quilts Pinterest board as well.

Exploding Star Star Sunshine and Shadows
Checkmark or Spiral Fields and Furrows Streak of Lightning

How to Make a Barn Raising Log Cabin Quilt

Here are the secrets for creating perfect log cabin quilt blocks:

  • You need a perfect 1/4″ seam.  (Amazon link.) This is not negotiable. When you have a block that has that many seams in it, you need to be as close to perfect as you can.  However, it’s always better for your block to be too big than too small.  That way you can square it up when you are done sewing the block. You MUST square up the individual blocks (another Amazon link) before sewing the rows, though.
  • Cut *with* the grain. Crosswise grain (selvedge to selvedge) gives just a little – it’s enough to distort the block unless you are using a walking foot and carefully pinning.  (Amazon again.) Use the lengthwise grain parallel to the selvedge.
  • Use Accuquilt.  (Not an Amazon link!) Yes, I know the machine is expensive and so are the dies.  However, it is a one-time investment in the accuracy of your future quilts.Take a look at their log cabin die.   In one swipe, you can cut ALL the pieces for 6 log cabin blocks in 6 different sizes, all along the lengthwise grain.  Can you share this die with a friend, maybe?  Could you suggest to your guild that they buy it as part of a lending library?  Accuquilt is very generous with their free patterns, like the one below.

Fabric Requirements and
Cutting Instructions for this Log Cabin Quilt

Here is the block you will be making:

Just a note: if you are cutting these strips by hand, please consider using a strip ruler, like the Stripology or June Tailor ruler.  It will make your cutting much easier.  If you have an Accuquilt, you need Die # 55017

1/4  yd Light 1
Cut (3) strips 2-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Cut these strips into (36) 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ “A” squares

1/2 yd Light 2
Cut (7) strips 2-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Cut these strips into (36) 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ “A” squares and (36) 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ “B” rectangles

1 yd Light 3
Cut (14) strips 2-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Cut these strips into (36) 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ “C” rectangles and (36) 2-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ “D” rectangles

1-3/4 yd Light 4
Cut (23) strips 2-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Cut these strips into (36) 2-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ “E” rectangles and (36) 2-1/2″ x 14-1/2″ “F” rectangles

3/4 yd Dark 1
Cut (10) strips 2-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Cut these strips into (36) 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ “B” rectangles and (36) 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ “C” rectangles

1-1/4 yd Dark 2
Cut (18) strips 2-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Cut these strips into (36) 2-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ “D” rectangles and (36) 2-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ “E” rectangles

1-3/4 Dark 3
Cut (23) strips 2-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Cut these strips into (36) 2-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ “E” rectangles and (36) 2-1/2″ x 14-1/2″ “F” rectangles

3/4 yd Red Binding
Cut (11) strips 2-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Sew these strips end to end, mitering the join if you prefer.

1-1/4 Black Border
Cut (11) strips 4-1/2″ wide by the width of fabric.  Sew these strips end to end, mitering the join if you prefer.

I’ve made the rest of the instructions into a PDF that you can keep and use whenever you want to make a log cabin quilt. Don’t worry, it’s free!

If you would like to continue the blog hop, here are the other bloggers who are posting today. The master list is at Creating in the Sticks. 

Just Let Me Quilt
Needled Mom
Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Life in Scrapatch
QuiltFabrication
Scrapdash
Bumbleberry Stitches
keepsake moments
Vroomans Quilts

More of my log cabin quilts. This picture was taken at a trunk show in October 2013.  The one on the left is Log Cabin Bargello.  The one on the right is Circle of Life and on the table is Bobbins and Spools.

Picture of three quilts

Other Tutorials

How to add a Faux Piped Border to your quilt

How to bind your quilt

Creating a three dimensional row for a row by row quilt

How to make a 3D Bow Tie  

How to make a Faux Cathedral Window (video)

How to make a Faux Braid

How to make a Snail Trail Block

How to make an Hourglass block

Questions or comments? Click on Leave a Reply below or Leave a Comment in the upper left hand corner. If you like this blog, you can subscribe by email in the box on the right.