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Thread: Chain sewing

  1. #1
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    Question Chain sewing

    I am going to be starting a log cabin quilt tonight. If I cut out all the "logs" that will be 2040 pieces. When I made my log cabin small table runner, I became very frustrated because for some reason, my block ended up being 1/8 inch larger than the log that we being sewn on and I ended up having to stretch the fabric to make it fit. I have no idea why this happened as I was very careful cutting the pieces and sewing them at 1/4 inch. I found these directions where you only cut the center squares to start with, sew them to the next log that is still one big strip, then cut apart the pieces after you chain sew them. I'm liking this idea a lot as it will save gobs of time cutting. The only thing I worry about is if the squares will end up being different shapes based on my previous experience where the square was about 1/8 inch bigger than the next log. What do you all think? Is this a good idea, or should I cut all 2040 logs? I've got a log of money invested in fabric for this quilt and I don't want to mess up - this is my first "big" quilt so I'm still learning. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Are you saying the center square is 1/8" larger? That's such a small amount, I think you'd be fine to just center the square against the first log. If they are all 1/8" off, make sure that when you hold your ruler over the sections of fabric to cut, that the line is directly on or even just butted up against the edge of fabric.

    I would make a test block...just enough to make one. Figure out your hiccups now before you cut out all those blocks. Chain piecing is exactly how I'd make this too...and I've been quilting for ten years.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
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  3. #3
    Super Member tesspug's Avatar
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    From experience I can tell you that you will end up with a quilt that will not lay flat nor will the blocks be the same size. You just can't control how that long strip will pull when you sew it like that. Sometimes you hold it a little different and it stretches without you realizing. Go ahead and cut each piece and be very accurate about your 1/4 inch seam. It is the only way to ensure the best fit.

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    You are doing the same amount of cutting, just not all at the same time if you sew,cut,sew,cut. I think you will be much happier and in the end less frustrated if you go ahead and cut all the strips ahead of time. Line up the top and bottom edge when getting ready to sew and ease in if necessary. Take your time, have fun and show us your quilt when it is finished.
    jackie

  5. #5
    Super Member thimblebug6000's Avatar
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    Or you can use foundation piecing and it will keep it perfectly square, I just googled & there's some free patterns out there. http://quilting.about.com/od/foundat...abin_block.htm

  6. #6
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thimblebug6000 View Post
    Or you can use foundation piecing and it will keep it perfectly square, I just googled & there's some free patterns out there. http://quilting.about.com/od/foundat...abin_block.htm
    I have never been able to make a log cabin block or courthouse steps that didn't come out wonkey unless I foundation piece them. I'm so jealous of quilters who can make one without foundation piecing!
    No one has ever become poor by giving. - Anne Frank
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  7. #7
    Junior Member SewFarBehind's Avatar
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    I have done the strip method and had no problem. Eleanor Burns has a "Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin" that's very helpful.
    Why do I keep trying to find the "like" button?

    Viking Husqvarna 950 S; Bernina 1150 MDA

  8. #8
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    people use different methods for making their log-cabin blocks- i generally cut my strips the width i need- then may cut them into a (manageable) length---not leave them 42" long- but not try to cut them to size either- i sew on a log- cut it even - add the next log, cut it even- go around my cabin- i use a foundation to keep everything stable (generally i draw my blocks on lightweight muslin for a foundation to work on-that way i don't have to remove anything) keeps everything from getting wonky- it works for me- i've not had any luck cutting my logs to size in advance- they always wind up being too short, or too long somewhere along the way-
    check out the Judy Martin Log cabin book- she has a special ruler that i have heard great things about- and things (in theory) come out very accurate. but (in my opinion) if you have already found that your logs wind up being short---leave them a little long & trim them to size as you add them---just me...
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  9. #9
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I have used both methods of making log cabins... the sew to a strip and cut once sewn , or cut in advance all the log sizes. The method I have the best success with is cutting the logs in advance... that way I know if am staying on track as each added log should be the length of the block I am adding to. I also don't make log cabins without starch it really helps to stay precise. Starch prior to cutting.

  10. #10
    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    Ive done the long strip method. Ironing hides a multitude od sins. Mine came out great. Had to fudge a few, but no one knew, and it came out great 120" x 120" with 1-/2" strips

  11. #11
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    I've been making and teaching the log cabin quilt for decades and have developed a system that I use and teach in classes that has students saying, "for the first time I LIKE log cabin!"

    1. I NEVER cut individual logs. I strip piece. My logs are cut as narrow as 1 and 1/8 for personal use, 1&1/4 to 1& 1/2 in classes. I make my hearth block (the center) either the same size and the strips or a slight amount larger. I have also cut the center much larger - 3" - and used that space for particular quilting designs.

    2. I square up the block after every round. One round = four logs added. I use, and require in my classes, the Bias Square 8 square ruler from That Patchwork Place. It is the ONLY ruler on the market marked with a solid 1/8" lines at right angles in every inch. This allows you to trim the tiniest amount off each side of the block at each round. I make sure the diagonal line on this ruler runs through opposite corners of the center square when I begin to trim. This trick allows you to maintain the straightness, the square setting, of the finished block. **Because the log cabin is traditionally pieced in concentric circles, it is quite easy to cause the block to skew....just like you have when you are working needlepoint - the piece becomes trapezoidal shaped from the constant direction of the stitches.** When you are able to keep two adjoining sides of a square at right angles, then you will keep the block square.

    3. I press every log away from the hearth (center square). This allows me to turn the block over and measure on the back, no matter where I am in its construction, no matter how long ago I stopped working on the blocks, and start right off making more blocks exactly the same size. I don't even have to write down what size I cut the center because I can just measure it easily on the wrong side of the block.

    4. I always work at squaring up from the wrong side of the block. This allows me to keep the center and logs at the same place on the square up ruler, making all the blocks the same size.

    5. When/if the last round creates a block larger than 8" (and it often does), I use one of the models of Olipfa brand 12&1/2" square up rulers that has the same 1/8" markings in two directions that the Bias Square 8 has in the 8" ruler.

    I travel to teach workshops, you know!

    Jan in VA
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  12. #12
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in VA View Post
    I've been making and teaching the log cabin quilt for decades and have developed a system that I use and teach in classes that has students saying, "for the first time I LIKE log cabin!"

    1. I NEVER cut individual logs. I strip piece. My logs are cut as narrow as 1 and 1/8 for personal use, 1&1/4 to 1& 1/2 in classes. I make my hearth block (the center) either the same size and the strips or a slight amount larger. I have also cut the center much larger - 3" - and used that space for particular quilting designs.

    2. I square up the block after every round. One round = four logs added. I use, and require in my classes, the Bias Square 8 square ruler from That Patchwork Place. It is the ONLY ruler on the market marked with a solid 1/8" lines at right angles in every inch. This allows you to trim the tiniest amount off each side of the block at each round. I make sure the diagonal line on this ruler runs through opposite corners of the center square when I begin to trim. This trick allows you to maintain the straightness, the square setting, of the finished block. **Because the log cabin is traditionally pieced in concentric circles, it is quite easy to cause the block to skew....just like you have when you are working needlepoint - the piece becomes trapezoidal shaped from the constant direction of the stitches.** When you are able to keep two adjoining sides of a square at right angles, then you will keep the block square.

    3. I press every log away from the hearth (center square). This allows me to turn the block over and measure on the back, no matter where I am in its construction, no matter how long ago I stopped working on the blocks, and start right off making more blocks exactly the same size. I don't even have to write down what size I cut the center because I can just measure it easily on the wrong side of the block.

    4. I always work at squaring up from the wrong side of the block. This allows me to keep the center and logs at the same place on the square up ruler, making all the blocks the same size.

    5. When/if the last round creates a block larger than 8" (and it often does), I use one of the models of Olipfa brand 12&1/2" square up rulers that has the same 1/8" markings in two directions that the Bias Square 8 has in the 8" ruler.

    I travel to teach workshops, you know!

    Jan in VA
    I would LOVE to take any class from you Jan! I am in awe of your knowledge and ability; I bow to you!!!!
    No one has ever become poor by giving. - Anne Frank
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  13. #13
    Super Member b.zang's Avatar
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    Wow, am I ever glad I checked out this thread! I'm currently designing a quilt and am playing with putting log cabin blocks into it. Log cabin is a block that's been on my "try" list for a long time, but until reading these posts I had no idea of the possible complications. Jan, thank you so much for your clear instructions. It looks like a bias square ruler will now join my collection, too.
    Unexpected learning - how fun!! Thank you.
    Barbara

    Samuel Johnson - Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed, not by strength but by perseverance.

  14. #14
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    Senior Member CRO's Avatar
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    I have made 3 log cabins using Eleanor Burns strip method. I had no problems with any of them. I had a lot of problems with the one I did cutting each piece and then sewing them together.

  15. #15
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    First, what SuperJan said. Second, check your seam allowance to make sure it's a true quarter inch. Third, use the same ruler throughout the cutting process - do not swap rulers in the middle of a project.

  16. #16
    Super Member CorgiNole's Avatar
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    I use the strip method rather than cutting the individual pieces. I do square the blocks after each set of four rows.

    Cheers, K

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in VA View Post
    I've been making and teaching the log cabin quilt for decades and have developed a system that I use and teach in classes that has students saying, "for the first time I LIKE log cabin!"

    1. I NEVER cut individual logs. I strip piece. My logs are cut as narrow as 1 and 1/8 for personal use, 1&1/4 to 1& 1/2 in classes. I make my hearth block (the center) either the same size and the strips or a slight amount larger. I have also cut the center much larger - 3" - and used that space for particular quilting designs.

    2. I square up the block after every round. One round = four logs added. I use, and require in my classes, the Bias Square 8 square ruler from That Patchwork Place. It is the ONLY ruler on the market marked with a solid 1/8" lines at right angles in every inch. This allows you to trim the tiniest amount off each side of the block at each round. I make sure the diagonal line on this ruler runs through opposite corners of the center square when I begin to trim. This trick allows you to maintain the straightness, the square setting, of the finished block. **Because the log cabin is traditionally pieced in concentric circles, it is quite easy to cause the block to skew....just like you have when you are working needlepoint - the piece becomes trapezoidal shaped from the constant direction of the stitches.** When you are able to keep two adjoining sides of a square at right angles, then you will keep the block square.

    3. I press every log away from the hearth (center square). This allows me to turn the block over and measure on the back, no matter where I am in its construction, no matter how long ago I stopped working on the blocks, and start right off making more blocks exactly the same size. I don't even have to write down what size I cut the center because I can just measure it easily on the wrong side of the block.

    4. I always work at squaring up from the wrong side of the block. This allows me to keep the center and logs at the same place on the square up ruler, making all the blocks the same size.

    5. When/if the last round creates a block larger than 8" (and it often does), I use one of the models of Olipfa brand 12&1/2" square up rulers that has the same 1/8" markings in two directions that the Bias Square 8 has in the 8" ruler.

    I travel to teach workshops, you know!

    Jan in VA
    Thank you so much for this information! I think I will stop cutting individual logs and go with strips and square up the squares after each round. Thank you for clear directions!

  18. #18
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    I tend to use the chain sewing method. I find that it works okay for me and it's definitely quicker.

  19. #19
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    I did a log cabin using the strip method, once, and didn't like it. Then tried a PP and was real happy with the way it came out. Every thing nice and square, so that's how I do all my log cabin quilts now, and I do a lot of them.

  20. #20
    Super Member ube quilting's Avatar
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    That is why I never cut a whole quilt at one time. A few blocks at a time works best for me. Build the top block by block, row by row. peace
    no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

  21. #21
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Two more notes:
    An accurate 1/4 seam allowance is not de riguer in the method I teach. We use the PPM (personal, private measurement aka Mary Ellen Hopkins tip of the day) and trim as stated to the best common size for all blacks. The quilt will end up the size it ends up; or you can add wider borders to create a specific/got-to-have-for-my-(size)-bed/"but-the-book-said...." dimensions. My quilts sort of quit when they get to the size they want to be (see previous topic on this subject from yesterday or day before!).

    There is a lot of minute trimming up in this method. It will help to have your cutting table and pressing surface immediately at hand. Sew as many blocks as you possibly can, then cut the sections apart, then press, then trim.

    Paper piecing is a great way to make log cabins for many people; the end justifies the means, in my opinion. No matter how you do it, just go for it!

    Jan in VA

    For those so kind to toot the horn, thank you for your acknowledgement. If your guild would like to discuss a workshop, I'd be happy to oblige. (Especially if it's someplace warm!)

    Jan in VA
    Jan in VA
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  22. #22
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    When I did the log cabin, I had to sew each block individually. Tried chain piecing but I kept messing up the order.
    Martina
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric!

  23. #23
    Junior Member IraJane's Avatar
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    I haven't read all the responses so this may have been mentioned. I don't cut the length of the strips, but square up as often as I add rows. That sounds like it takes a lot of time, but it doesn't. Sometimes its just cutting a corner that isn't quite square. The other thing I do is cut the strips for the last time around a 1/4 to 1/2" wider. Then when I square up the final block there is a little to work with to make them the same size.

  24. #24
    Junior Member IraJane's Avatar
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    My first quilt was a quilt in the day log cabin when Eleanor Burns published her first book in the late 70's. That was before rotary cutters with the tearing of the strips leaving stretched edges and threads hanging-just makes me so appreciate the tools we have today. I love the method and have done probably lots and lots of variations in width of strips, layouts, etc.... I've done them with very planned colors and very scrappy. As a high school home economics teacher, I had students who wanted to make a baby quilt to keep for their future and had a few students who made large quilts, use the log cabin. When I work with ladies in my extension club to make a quilt we raffle for charities we donate to, we have used the log cabin quilt. Differences in each person's sewing doesn't show up as much, and by adding the last strips wider and squaring up the blocks, the overall look is great.

  25. #25
    Super Member orangeroom's Avatar
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    Something that I've learned, no matter which way you sew the pieces together...if you're making a quilt with a lot of block in it, you need to square the blocks anyways before you sew them all together. Good luck!
    Go forth and sew!

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