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Coloured Cabins - Non-Scrappy 8" blocks

This blog post is part of a summer 2021 series on colour theory and log cabin blocks.

In previous posts I've shown you how to cut and sew a basic 12" finished scrappy Log Cabin Block. Now we can start planning a quilt using specific fabrics. My first image is of a Blue/Red and Yellow quilt. These are the primary colours of the colour wheel. My step by step images are of a light and darker value of the same colours.

I've pulled some fabrics from my stash and I want to make a lap size quilt. I know that these Log Cabin blocks measure 8" finished. So a quilt that measures 39" x 54" requires 5 x 7 = 35 blocks. I'll probably add a border to make the quilt larger.

Note: I didn't take pictures of the steps for the above quilt, so I've had to start a new project with step by step pictures. I'll definitely add a larger border as I am sure I have more fabric for this new project than I did for the Red/Blue/Yellow quilt above.

I read an article a while ago about the best way to make log cabin blocks and why many think that the blocks stretch and need to be trimmed when done or after each round. Cutting the fabric strips on the lengthwise grain instead of the crosswise grain solves this problem. As I've mentioned previously, I don't press with an iron between rounds and thus elminate another opportunity for stretching and best of all, I don't need to trim EVER!

Drafting the 8" block

For this block I've decided that I am going to use 2" cut strips instead of 2 1/2" cut strips. I start by drawing it out on graph paper.

For each inch of my unit I'm going to use 2 squares. So this block measures 16 squares by 16 squares = 8".

I always start drawing on the right hand side. It's the side I'll be sewing my last unit onto the block. I've changed my pen ink colour for ease of visibility. I draw a line 3 spaces inside the outside lines. This gives me a 1 1/2" spacing.

I add more lines along the bottom, left side and top edge, 3 spaces in. Note that some of the lines do not come to the outside edge of the block.

Next Round I start over again (I've used a different colour ink) and draw a line 3 grid spaces inside starting on the right edge.

Have a close look at the block drawing above. Notice that the very inside square is actually 4 grids. I can now make some design choices. This is why I start drafting my blocks from the outside in. I start with the desired finished measurement of the block (8"), I decide on the size of the strips I want to use (1 1/2" finished) and then draft. What's left in the middle is the centre of the block. Let's clean it up a bit.

I start by colouring in one side only, the bottom and right (pink) and then I work on the top and left sections of the block (black).

I haven't coloured in the centre unit yet. I can make it pink or something else. Colouring this centre section with pink keeps the diagonal line going.

Now I want to work out my cutting order. I always cut the largest pieces first. I can always get smaller pieces from the left overs.

Let's look at the actual measurments

  1. 16 grids long by 3 grids wide = 8" x 1 1/2" (finished mesurement). Add 1/2" to these measurments for the cut measurements. > 8 1/2" x 2" C

  2. 13 x 3 grid > 6 1/2" x 1 1/2" > 7" x 2" C

  3. 13 x 3 grid > 6 1/2" x 1 1/2" > 7" x 2" C

  4. 10 x 3 grid > 5" x 1 1/2" > 5 1/2" x 2" C

  5. 10 x 3 grid > 5" x 1 1/2" > 5 1/2" x 2" C

  6. 7 x 3 grid > 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" > 4" x 2" C

  7. 7 x 3 grid > 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" > 4" x 2" C

  8. 4 x 3 grid > 2" x 1 1/2" > 2 1/2" x 2" C

  9. 4 x 4 grid > 2" x 2" > 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" C

Did you notice a few things?

  • I have ended each measurment with a "C". That is the indicator that I need to "CUT" this measurment. In my mind if there is no "C" then it is a finished mesurement.....this can cause some confusion!

  • For ease I've underlined the actual cut measurement of these units

  • I haven't listed them in colour separation yet.

Let's start cutting

I look at the above image and see that units # 1, 2, 5, 6 and 9 are "pink" and units # 3, 4, 7, 8 are "black". I"m thinking of making the very centre unit (#9) a different fabric. Check my finished quilt that used red, navy and yellow (the primary colours) for the block. If you count carefully, you'll see that there are 4 units light and 4 units dark if we plan on a contrast centre unit.

I do a bit of figuring. For my light fabrics I need the following lengths. I am lazy and impatient so rather than cutting strips of individual lengths, I'm going to cut 1 strip of fabric 9 1/2" wide and then sub-cut it into 2" widths. From each pair of strips I am going to cut a 2 1/2" length and a 7" length and a 4" and a 5 1/2" length. I should be able to get enough strip sets for 10 blocks from this one cut strip of 9 1/2" wide.

For the dark fabric I am going to cut 12 1/2" strips and sub-cut them into 2" widths. These pairs of strips are cut into 4" and 8 1/2" lengths and 5 1/2" x 7" lengths. I should be able to get enough strip sets for 10 blocks from this one cut of 12 1/2" wide.

And then I've just got to cut the 2 1/2" units for the centre square. I will probably only get 16 units from this strip set.

Here are the block pieces laid out for viewing.

Let's review: I'm making a quilt that contains 35 blocks. According to my math above with each strip set, I can get 10 blocks from each width of fabric strip. If I cut 4 widths of each fabric (9 1/2" and 12 1/2") I will really end up with 40 blocks instead of 35. I can make my quilt larger or make a pillow or add the extra blocks into some back art!

Refer to the previous blog post for construction steps.

See what blocks you can create with a different sized block and different strip widths.

I"m going to save the lay out steps for next week, so we all have time to make our blocks and then we'll get back to designing by looking at combining strips of different widths in a single block!


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