Scrappy Wonky Log Cabin Blocks – Hints & Tricks

Last week I shared with you the Scrappy Wonky Log Cabin blocks that I was starting with the gazillion scraps from my 1″ scrap bucket.  As I was working on these scrappy wonky blocks, I thought of several hints and tricks that might help should you decide to also make some of these blocks.

  • If sewing a strip to the block and there is an acute angle on a corner to which the strip will be sewed (in the block below both corners along that top edge are acute angles), or an angle pointing out, make sure you use a longer strip to account for extra length needed on that new strip when trimming.  If I had used the same length of strip as the widest point on the side of this block before the new strip, it would have been too short if wanting to keep that same angle once trimmed.
  • If scrap is a weird shaped, trim sides of the scrap first and then trim long edge based on where the straight edge of the sides ended.
  • Trim the whole side, not just the end of the last strip sewed on.  Sometimes, due to fabric stretching or not a completely straight piece of fabric, there is a little extra that needs to be cut off to make that side straight for the next strip.
  • If the block is getting too wonky, and you want to square it up a bit, you can do that too. In this first example, my block is a bit too rectangular, instead of square, so I just needed to plan what the next couple of strips would be.  By planning to sew a more narrow strip to the side and then a wider strip to the bottom my block will be more square once those strips are trimmed.

Then in this example, my block is getting too wonky.  The top is much thinner than the bottom, and after another round or two and it will be a triangle.  Not a bad thing, but not what I am wanting here.  So, I sewed a wider strip to one side, and then purposely trimmed that strip at an angle such that the wider portion is at the top of the block where the block was slimmer, and the thinner portion of the strip is at the bottom of the block where the block was wider.  Although the other (left) side of the block is still not squared with the rest of the block, the block as a whole reads more square than triangle now.

After 3 rounds, my smallest block is approximately 6-3/4″ x 7″ and the largest block is approximately 7-1/2″ x 8″

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Next week I’ll share with you how I’m squaring these blocks up to the same size so I can sew them together to make a complete quilt top.

Scrappy Wonky Log Cabin Blocks

A couple of weeks ago I was working on scrappy heart blocks for a charity bee that I am part of.  I was buried deep in my 1″ scrap bucket (Strips and pieces that I can make at least a 1″ square with.  But in no case no larger than 1-7/8″ wide.  Once they reach 2″, they go in the 2″ scrap bucket.)  I used almost 200 pieces in these blocks, and other than the fact that there were scraps everywhere, on every flat surface and strewn all over the floor, when I put them back in the bucket you couldn’t even tell that I used any.  The bucket has been overflowing for a while and I really couldn’t fit another scrap in it.  I love how pretty these hearts turned out to be, but they honestly didn’t make a dent.IMG_6973 (2).JPG

So, I decided right then and there that I needed to make a quilt with those scraps.  Since it was mostly full of strips, I decided to make a scrappy log cabin.  This is only a small portion of the strips that I started with.  My first thought was to use this as a leader-ender project.  But once I started, I couldn’t stop!

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As I started forming the blocks, rather than squaring up the block with each round, I would let the fabric decide how the block would be shaped since I wanted as little waste as possible.  Some strips were cut straight across, whereas others were cut at an angle. And if they were cut at an angle, I just left it there.  I did trim them to create a straight line I could sew another strip to, but I didn’t trim to 90 degree angles.  So not only were my blocks scrappy, but they were turning out to be very wonky as well. This is what they looked like after just 2 rounds.

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The plan is to stop when they reach approximately 11-12″, and then even them up with a solid color to be 13 1/2″ square. I have 23 blocks started above but will need 35 blocks at 13″ sq each to make a twin size quilt.

So what are you working on?

Continue to read below if you want more detailed instructions in how I’m doing this.

For each block, I started with a 2″ square and various lengths of strips.

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Start with 2″ sq center and various length of strips to go around.

Also, since this method required a lot of trimming and ironing, I have a smaller cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter right beside my sewing machine, and the iron is just behind me.  All I have to do is rotate my office chair and roll about 6″ to reach the iron.  This saves me a lot of time because I’m not getting up every 10 seconds to walk to my normal cutting station.

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Cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter right beside my machine

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Start by sewing the shortest strip to the 2″ square and trim off both ends to create straight edges. Press the seam towards the strip just sewn on (always)

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Sew on the next strip. Press the seam towards the strip just sewn on. Here you only need to trim the one edge where the next strip will go.

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Sew on the next strip. Press the seam towards the strip just sewn on. Again, trim just the edge where the next strip will be sewn on

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Sew on 4th strip. You can see we have circled the 2″ square doing first one edge, then the next, then the next, then the next. I went in a counter-clockwise direction here, but you are welcome to go in a clockwise direction (see the 23 blocks above.  I sewed those in a clockwise direction). Whatever works for you. What makes this a log cabin is that you continue to circle the middle square in this manner rather than sewing strips to opposite sides or jumping around to whatever side suits your fancy at that moment

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Before we sew on anther strip to start the 2nd go-around, we need to trim all edges to be straight. You can see that I did not bother to trim the strips all to equal widths. I could do that and create a square log cabin block, but when I trim them this way, leaving any angles that were already part of the strip, this is what creates a wonky block.

In the example below, it’s time to sew on another strip and start another trip around the block again.  I have another piece of fabric that is cut at an angle.  Depending on which way I decide to sew this on, I can create wonkiness on another corner.  In this instance, I think I like the one on the left best but that really is a personal preference.  Sewing it on the other way would not be wrong, just different.

Tune in next week for an update on how this is coming along.

 

Little Man Suspenders

sThe two older monkeys were in their aunt’s wedding a few weeks ago.  Aren’t they adorable?

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I made the bow tie and suspenders for little man, and wanted to share with you a very easy tutorial for the suspenders.  If you aren’t not interested in the tutorial, you can stop reading now.

To make the suspenders you will need the following:

Fabric – 2 pieces 2-5/8″ x 21/23″

Interfacing – 2 pieces 2-5/8″ x 21/23″ 

Elastic – 2 pieces 1″ x 5″ (I used non-rolling elastic)

4 suspender clips 

Matching thread

2013-04-03Insert one end of an elastic piece through loop in clip, fold under 1/2″ and stitch in place using a zig zag stitch across the raw edge.  Be sure to secure your stitches.

DSC_0028-001Repeat with other piece of elastic and a second clip.

DSC_0029-001Set these two pieces aside.

Attach interfacing to wrong side of fabric (I used iron on).  Fold fabric lengthwise with right sides together and then sew down the long side using a scant 1/4″ seam to create a tube with both ends left unsewn.  Repeat with other piece of fabric.

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Turn right side out.  Roll seams between your fingers to move seam to edge.

DSC_0032-001Reposition seam to the middle of the back side of strap and press.

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On one end of the fabric strap, fold the raw edge about 1/2″ into the tube to create a finished edge.  Insert elastic approximately 1/2″ into the tube.

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Top stitch close to edge to finish off.  Repeat with other strap.

DSC_0035-001At this point you have two straps.  You just need to figure out how long they should be. Now would be the best time to grab your little man and try them on.  Attach the clips to the back of the pants, drape over the opposite shoulder, pull down to the top edge of the front part of the pants, and mark with a pin.

Slide on a clip.  My clip has an approximate 1/2″ area from where the top edge of the pants will be in the clip to where the strap will be attached to the clip, so I actually want my suspenders 1/2″ shorter than what I just measured.

DSC_0039-001Cut length of strap approximately 1″ from where the strap will be folded when attached to the clip.

DSC_0040-001As with the other end of the strap,  fold the raw edge about 1/2″ into the tube to create a finished edge

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Slide the strap onto the clip, folding under to the back side at the position marked by the pin.  Be sure the strap is lying flat on the table and that the top side of both clips (one on each end) are facing the same way (both facing up).

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Top stitch close to edge to secure strap to clip.

DSC_0043-001Time to grab your little man and try the suspenders on again.  Clip the elastic end to the back side of the pants, drape over the opposite shoulder, pull down to the top edge of the front of the pants and attach with the clips.  Pin in place where the straps cross in the back.  Remove the suspenders and mark a chalk triangle where they need to be sewn together.

DSC_0044-001Topstitch on top of the chalk triangle.  Your suspenders are finished.  Well done.

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(Note: these suspenders actually slid off his shoulders a little bit.  I would probably sew the triangle a little higher up the straps next time so it will be closer to the middle upper part of his back and that should fix the problem.)

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Lego, Car, Truck Sack Tutorial

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My grandson turned 2 today.  He loves playing with cars and trucks.  To him, anything with wheels is a truck — a vacuum cleaner, a bus, a cart.  There is no difference.  Wheels = truck.  Period.

I made my nephew a Lego sack in December for Christmas and I thought it would be a great idea for a truck sack as well.  All you need is somewhat different fabric, and you have a cool sack for things with wheels.

Following is a tutorial for making your own sack whether it be for Legos, things with wheels, or little ponies.  I included a bunch of pictures, so this post is quite long.  But it’s easy peasy so you should be able to get through it quickly.  Feel free to let me know if you have questions, or if you run across problems with the tutuorial

Lego Sack or Car Sack Tutorial

Materials Needed:

1-1/4 yards interior fabric

1-1/4 yards exterior fabric

4-1/8 yards cording or rope, 3/8” – 1/2” wide

Scrap pieces of heavy duty interfacing or craft fuse

General Sewing Supplies – thread, scissors, pins, marking pen or chalk, measuring tape

Most fabric is 42”-44” wide.  You will want to start by cutting the length of your fabric to be the same as the width of the fabric.  So, if your fabric is 44” wide, the length should also be 44” so that you have a square.  There are a couple of ways you could do this as pictured below.  This is a small sample of fabric I am using just for demonstration.  This does not need to be perfect, close will work.

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Once you have your fabric length and width the same size, fold the interior fabric in half, and then in half again, such that a square is formed.   Then do the same for the exterior fabric.  Place one on top of the other, matching the corner fold and lining up the edges.

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Using your measuring tape, measure from the folded corner out to the raw edge, a distance of ½ of the width of your fabric.  My fabric was 44” wide and 44” long before I folded it into a square; therefore I am going to measure 22” from the folded corner and make a mark at that point.  If your fabric was 43” wide, you would be making a mark at the 21 ½” point.  (Note: from the last picture to this picture, I flipped my fabric over so the folded corner would be to my left, instead of my right.  I am right handed so I wanted to hold the tape at the folded corner with my left hand, and make the marks at 22″ with my right hand)

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Continue to move the tape measure across the square of fabric, starting at the folded corner each time and making a mark at the 22” point.  This will create an arc across your fabric.

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Once you have an arc marked across your fabric, cut along the dotted line.  (Note: You will be cutting through 8 layers of fabric, so if your scissors are not strong enough for this, you will need to cut the interior and the exterior fabric separately, in which case the other fabric will also need to be marked following the instructions above.)

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 Once you have cut along the arc you should have two nearly perfect circles that are 44” in diameter.

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At this point you will need to decide how you want to create the holes on the interior fabric for access to the cording.  I used buttonholes for mine, but you could also use extra large eyelets.  On the interior fabric, place pins marking where you would like to create the buttonholes.   I put 4 buttonholes on mine, spaced evenly around the circle.  Since the fabric had been folded it had created 4 equaled-distance fold lines.  So I used those fold lines as placement for the buttonholes.

At the placement for the first buttonhole, measure down ¾” from edge and make a mark, and then measure down ¾” from that mark and make another mark.   This is where I will create a ¾” buttonhole, with a ½” opening.  I used a flat ½” wide cording and it was a tight fit through the buttonholes.  If you have a larger diameter cord, you may want to make a larger buttonhole.

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Now that I know where the buttonhole will be, I like to stabilize the fabric by ironing some interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric before actually sewing the buttonhole.  I used heavy-duty craft fuse.  Since it has a grain, I ironed on one small piece on the back of where the buttonhole will be, and then ironed on another small piece on top of that with the grain going the opposite direction.  This will strengthen the buttonhole and provide more stability to this area since this is where the weight of the sack will be held.   I would also suggest doing this if you were to use large eyelets instead of buttonholes.

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Do this for all four buttonholes around your circle.  And then sew and open each buttonhole.  The interior of your bag is now ready.

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 If you wanted to do anything special to the exterior of the bag, now would be the time.  I embroidered my grandson’s name onto this one. 

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Moving on…

With right sides together, pin the circles together.  You don’t need many pins, but 10-12 around will help hold it together as you sew.  Once pinned, sew a 3/8” seam around, leaving about 4” unsewn for turning.  Clip edges around, being sure not to clip any of your stitching.  This will help the circle lay flatter.  (I forgot to take a picture of this, but if you need help with it, let me know and I’ll take a picture of a sample and email it to you quickly.)

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Turn right side out and press seam flat.  You may need to roll the seam between your fingers before pressing in order to get the seam to the outer most edge.

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Once the seam has been pressed flat, sew around edge of the sack about ¼” from edge.  Then sew around the sack again about 1-¼” from edge.   (If you do not have a sewing guide for your machine, you may need to mark this second line all the way around.  I know I wouldn’t be able to eyeball that distance with any precision.) The buttonholes should be between the two lines of sewing you just made.  This will create a pocket around the sack for the cord.

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Thread your cord through the pocket, all the way around until you get to the beginning again.  I like to use a safety pin to do this, although you might have your own favorite method.   Tie a knot to join the two ends.  You may need to burn both ends of the cord so it doesn’t unravel.

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Pull up a loop of the cord from the buttonhole that is directly opposite that knot, and tie a knot on that side as well.  This will give you easy access to pull the cord from each side to close the sack.  At the moment, I am leaving the other two buttonholes unused, but you may find it easier to close the sack from all four corners, rather than just 2, especially as it gets full.

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Congratulations!  You have just made a lego sack.

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My grandson just turned two.  If you are making this for an older child, you may find that you need a larger circle.  To do this you would need to either buy 60” wide fabric or sew two widths of fabric together for both the exterior and interior.   You would also need a longer length of fabric.  However, the instructions for creating the sack would be the same.  You start with a square (the length and width of fabric being the same size) and go from there.