Monday, October 7, 2013

Log Cabin Grid

Here is another example of a large marked on-point grid, quilted, and then one by one each square filled in with a log cabin spiral. 
It is done with the same idea as Celtic Bubbles - one unit at a time, carefully concentrating to keep things fairly even as you quilt straight lines and resolve them to the very center, lock in stitches, and cut thread.  It's a wonderful texture to use because it is simple to mark the large grid, and the rest is freehand. 
My lines aren't all straight, spacing isn't all perfect, but I like the effect and this was fun to do, but definitely a bit challenging if you are a beginner.
Because the overall grid is quilted first, and then the interior portions done one by one, it does take some time, but with designs like this one I believe the extra care and time is worth it if you use this judiciously. 
By that I mean no huge expanses of this (unless you LOVE doing it and can do it well and quickly), but here and there in a quilt as a perfect space filler that gives structure, a linear look to offset many curvy designs, or in a special place, such as in a basket, a vase or urn, the big center of a pieced block, parts of a landscape, etc. 
For quilting on a home sewing machine, keep the squares no larger than 3" and fill them in with the design.  This grid was 1 3/4" marked, but 2" works well too.  That way you are moving the quilt under the needle for short lines, easy to do, easy to keep those lines straight.  The spacing was a scant 1/4", easy to visualize as we use it all the time in piecing quilts.
When quilting the logs, look a bit ahead of the needle, keeping that space between the line you have already quilted and the one you are now quilting in your vision and keep that "puff" smooth and even.  Look at the space between the lines, not the lines, to get an even well-spaced design
Don't turn your quilt while quilting this.  Learn to quilt away from yourself, to the east and west as well as towards yourself.  If you try to do this design in a large quilt, even a wall quilt, you cannot turn it in the machine every time the line you are doing changes direction.   
Avoid running the machine too fast when doing this kind of work or stitches will get too small, as mine tended to do.  Your hands are going slower to do this, so stitches will pile up quickly as you concentrate on the lines, and quilt more slowly.
When you "run into" a design, ditch, another line of quilting (above in photo the echo lines around the leaves), stitch on the line to where you need to be to resume the line design.  This can get confusing sometimes, so if you don't know where to go, stop, look at the design, see where you need to go, maybe even place a dot or mark to help you judge where the next line will be.  This "layering" takes practice and a good eye to do smoothly, so it looks as if the grid design is continuing under the main design. 
Sometimes when you get to the final part in the center you will get more of a rectangle there instead of a little square.  Fine!  It's a rectangle and will add interest to the squares in the other places.  But think "why" did it happen.  Usually it is because the spacing of the logs of this design were not similar, so work on your consistency. 
Yes, I had rectangles too.  It happens.  :-)
Be sure and warm up first.  Practice some straight lines, square tops and bottoms as you stitch over to begin the next parallel line.  One stitch in place at a corner keeps it nice and sharp rather than curved corners.  You do not want curves in this design.
If you need to stop and breathe, or adjust hands, try doing it at a corner in the design, needle down.  When you begin quilting again, go slowly or raise the needle to the "up" position so you do not create a wobble when you resume quilting.  Do the lines in one smooth motion, looking to the end point and going to it. 
It's always ok to stop at a corner and take a moment, even a second or two, then proceed.
Tip!  The main grid is quilted "on point" or at a 45-degree angle to prevent distortion.  If you mark it on the grain you will run into distorted squares, fabric pleats, difficult times for sure.  Trust me on this.
Give this design a try.  It can be the focal point (done in contrast thread or shiny thread), or a background.  It would look wonderful as the final border on a quilt, a 5" border or the outside portion of a border.  It definitely would stabilize the border and keep it smooth and flat, and give a great linear frame to the entire quilt.
Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day!


Rose said...

Diane: What a wonderful design! I recently went back to quilting with 100wt silk thread after the last couple years mostly using some of those fancy polyesters. It was a bit of a shock! Am wondering how you manage to go back and forth. Now that I've been on the project for a couple weeks I'm loving it but it took awhile to figure out the smaller scale needed.
thanks for posting!

Leeanne said...

This will be one to try! Looks fabulous! I have used your Celtic Bubbles several times on my customers quilts.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the detailed instructions. Methinks I will need a lot of time on sample squares to get used to this idea. I'm guessing that you tried it with straight of grain squares first to know about the pleating and puckering? Can't wait to give it a go...

Diane Gaudynski said...

Rose, it is difficult to go back and forth between varying threads because they require different stitch lengths, and even speed as you quilt. I seem to automatically adjust to different threads when I see them in the machine and then the stitches, so with heavier threads I slow down the machine and the stitches are larger, perfect for the thread. It takes awhile, and mostly I use #100 silk so I don't worry about it!

Leeanne, glad you are using the Celtic Bubbles! It's always nice to have a new design and keep things interesting.

Bonnie, I found out eons ago that straight lines are much more difficult done "on grain" and try to avoid them if possible. I do it at times for effect, but it's so nice having them on the diagonal and no excess fabric build-up or pleats and distortion.

Try two to compare, a grid on point, and one on grain, and between two already quilted motifs. Also, it depends on the fabric; some is much stretchier than others. Batiks don't distort or stretch much at all, but fabrics like Radiance or sateens do.

Beth D said...

Can you post a full picture of the example? I'd like to see how the scale looks.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Beth, I am going to try and get a step-by-step soon, or another photo. You can do this in whatever scale works for the area; smaller area, smaller grid, and if you like larger scale quilting you need more space and a larger grid. HTH!

Ann said...

Thank you for the detailed instructions, including the scale. I recently made a small quilt with 1/2 inch log cabins and quilted it in a similar manner but hadn't thought of using this as a design. What a lovely idea.

Sue said...

Wow, great information about this gorgeous design! I love your attention to detail (both in your quilting and in your explanation!). I do have a question though - I used to do the tiny stitches at the beginning and end of of a quilting motif, but recently have begun using the "bury the thread method". I pull up the bobbin thread, make a small knot with the top and bottom thread, and use a cheater needle to bury the beginning and ending threads (no tiny stitches, just burying). What are your thoughts on this? In your opinion, is this also a good way to begin and end our quilting? Thanks!!

Diane Gaudynski said...

Sue, I think your burying technique is probably the best way to deal with thread ends. I am not patient enough, and find that with the fine threads I use the tiny stitches at the beginning and end of a line of quilting works fine for me. I cut the threads as closely as possible to the fabric. With any heavier threads it really is best to bury the ends, and also a good thing with fine threads too.

Anonymous said...

Diane - I love this squared spiral in this small scale! Great idea! Thanks you so much for these pictures and explanation. Claudia Wade