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Lazy Log Cabin Quilt Pattern

Introduction

This pattern describes only how to make the pieced top. Each finished block is 8½” square, and finish in the quilt top at 8″ square.

Here it is—the photo was taken outside, so the colors are very true-to-life; it’s called “Seaside” because the fabrics are all colors of the ocean, sea, ponds, and beach. It was ultimately completed and shipped to a dear friend in Turkey. More quilts made using this pattern can be found at the end of this post.


Read all instructions before you begin.

Traditional log cabins are really beautiful. Here’s a small view of one square:


The center is called the chimney. The strips are called logs. There are many ways to lay out the individual squares to come up with various overall designs.

Layouts

Here’s just a few layouts you can create with your squares. You can decide your layout when all of your squares have been completed; just lay them out on the floor to see which look you like most. Make sure you have an even number of squares for the third layout design, both vertically and horizontally.


Fabrics

Buy only fat and skinny quarter yards of fabric. It doesn’t matter which.

However many different fat quarters you choose is half the number of blocks you’ll make. A very generous queen-size top that hangs over about 10 inches on the left, right and bottom requires about 120 8-inch blocks (10 blocks wide by 12 blocks long). You’d need 60 quarter yards for that. Sixty quarters is the perfect number for a very scrappy look. Make half of them dark and half of them light for a good contrast.

You’ll need a chimney fabric. You can count on 16 chimneys per 2½” length of fabric, so a half-yard will yield you just over 100 chimneys. Better get ¾ of a yard for a queen-size. If you want a border made of the chimney fabric, which is a really nice finish, buy more. My instructions do NOT cover border fabrics. Any decent quilt shop can help you calculate how much you need.

It doesn’t hurt to have more yardage of several of the fabrics to make matching pillows, pillowcases, dresser scarves, and for borders. I found that pillowcases are extremely easy to make with some white-on-white fabric. Just measure some of your existing pillowcases for fabric size, make cases, then add a colored fabric border to them. A little ribbon and lace really helps too.

The colors in the photo below are not nearly as pretty as in real life:


Tips on choosing fabrics

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb with a few really wild ones; they make your quilt really “live”.

Try to avoid “medium” fabrics—choosing lights and darks that are really lighter/darker than each other. It’s difficult to place “mediums” into either category, but it’s okay to have a few.

Solids don’t make your quilt “live”. If you like solids, use all solids; otherwise, just one or two at the most. I never use any, except for perhaps the chimney.

Use the brightest fabric, or the fabric that has the most contrast, as the chimney. Often, reds or yellows are used as the chimney. Consider using the same fabric for a border around the completed top.

Preparing and Cutting

Take 13 plastic food storage bags (the cheap ones!) and number them 1 through 13.

Iron and fold each fat quarter in half, and then in half again, the opposite way, and iron flat. If you have skinny quarters, fold in half the long way, and then in half again the same way. All your quarters should measure ABOUT the same size when folded: 8″ by 10″ or so. I do not pre-wash my fabrics, but I do wash my quilts in hot water before I give them away. That way, I make sure the colors won’t run on the quilt’s owner. I have never had a problem and I regularly use hand-dyed and batiks.

Tips on cutting

  • If I don’t have a cutting mat and rotary cutter, stop right now and go buy one, borrow one, or steal one. I would not even think about trying this without them.
  • If more than one person is cutting, it is imperative that you both use the same method of lining up the ruler. If half the quilt is cut one way, and half the other way, you can run into trouble during sewing.

Cutting Lights

Take the first light-colored fabric and place on your cutting mat. Trim 3 rough edges off so that you now have 4 layers measuring 10″ by whatever the width is that remains.

Cut three 1½” strips—10″ long—through the 4 layers. Set the remaining fabric aside for your next project. Offset the 3 strips (all 4 layers) by one inch on your cutting mat. Then cut so that the smallest piece you create is 1½” by 2½”. Begin making piles of each size you’ve cut. You’ll have six piles when you begin. Each pile corresponds to a bag number from the 13 bags you prepared.


Cut all the other lights in the same manner.

Cutting Darks

Cut 4 strips 1½” wide, set any remaining fabric aside. Offset the strips by one inch, and cut as shown in the graphic above. Set aside the 1½” and 2½” pieces for another project. Begin new piles for dark strips. You’ll have 6 for darks as well, with a total of 12 piles altogether, and a 13th for your chimneys.


Place all your strips and chimneys into the 13 bags as follows:

Bag Number

Size in inches

Color

1 (Chimney)

2½ x 2½

Brightest

2

1½ x 2½

Light

3

1½ x 3½

Light

4

1½ x 3½

Dark

5

1½ x 4½

Dark

6

1½ x 4½

Light

7

1½ x 5½

Light

8

1½ x 5½

Dark

9

1½ x 6½

Dark

10

1½ x 6½

Light

11

1½ x 7½

Light

12

1½ x 7½

Dark

13

1½ x 8½

Dark

 

Here, again, is a graphic of the log cabin block, so you can see the way they are sewn together from the bags of fabric.


Sewing

Because you’ve done all this preparation, the sewing is truly a breeze.

Starting with the chimney and piece #2 as a set, sew one set together. Don’t remove it from your machine. Stop sewing just before or at the end of the fabric on the first set. Grab another set and sew them together. Sew all sets together without cutting them apart until you’re done sewing all of them. When all your chimneys are sewn to all your #2 logs, take them out of the machine, and snip them apart. Press the seams away from the chimney on this and every log you sew on….always iron away from the chimney.

Now take your 2-piece set and begin sewing log #3 onto them. Watch the numbered order of sewing in the diagram above and sew each log on until you have all blocks completed. Remember that you’ll have twice as many blocks as you had quarter yards of fabric.

Tips on sewing

  • While sewing, do not align the first end of the log with the piece onto which you are sewing like it might seem natural to do. Instead, center lengthwise the two pieces that you’re sewing together. In this way, if you have a log or a side that is slightly longer or shorter, the *mistake* part is buried into BOTH sides of the length, lessening the error by half, which usually ends up burying the error altogether.
  • If your two pieces are more than about 1/16th inch off, then something is wrong. Find out which one measures incorrectly, and correct it, even if it means ripping seams out. You’ll be much happier with your finished product if you take caution.
  • Use a perfect ¼” seam allowance. How? Tape masking tape to your sewing machine at exactly the ¼” seam mark. Tape it again and again at exactly the same place to make a slight ridge with the tape. This really helps to align your fabric for a perfect seam allowance every time. Instead of masking tape, you can use mounting tape.

More quilts made using this pattern…



 


 



2 Comments

  • allyson stoddart mendez says:

    They are beautiful I am going to try this might be a little to complicated for me.

    • annetroy says:

      This is NOT too complicated for you. These were seriously like my 2nd, 3rd and 4th quilts. I made these in the very beginning. The only thing is the time it takes to sew. Not because it’s complicated, but because there’s 13 pieces to every block. Just remember the equation. If you want a 64″ x 64″ (nice lap size), you would need 32 fat quarters. It would also be 64 blocks. So, 64 blocks x 13 pieces per block = 832 times you have to sew a strip to another piece. Then you have to sew those blocks together. Since you sew them in a “string”, it’s like sewing one long, long piece of fabric together a couple inches at a time. What I love most about log cabin is that they look beautiful after you have 5 pieces in the block, and every single piece thereafter. I just love to watch while I’m building them. Awesome.

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