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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Build Your Best Log Cabin - A Book Review

Steeped in tradition, and incredibly versatile, Log Cabin has always been one of my favorite blocks.  So I was delight.ed to discover Build Your Best Log Cabin, an e-book by Fons and Porter ( ).

The beautiful quilts on the cover drew me right in.  The book teaches the traditional log cabin, with courthouse steps and chevron variations - yet each is done with a twist. 

The instructions are straight forward and easy to understand. A guide for each quilt tells you how wide to cut the strips to make any size block you'd like.  That's handy!

The traditional log cabin, called Bears in Bertie's Log Cabin (cover, left, above) is designed by Ricky Tims.  As the pattern's name suggests, it includes Bears Paws - that's the twist.  The red Bear's Paws are visually striking in the finished quilt, and they'd make production more interesting.  When you get tired of making Log Cabins, you could switch gears and work on the Bear's Paws for a while.

One technique I questioned is the recommendation to make the double triangle squares by cutting two squares diagonally, combining a light and dark triangle, then sewing them together with a diagonal seam.  I was taught to pin two squares together, draw a diagonal line, and sew on either side of the line - then make the diagonal cut.  That method was supposed to prevent stretching of the bias, and distorted points.  While working on another project, I tested both methods.  I got far more consistent results using Fons and Porter's technique - and I found it to be faster.  

The quilting design for Bears in Bertie's Cabin is included.  The border is done with a heavy bobbin thread and trapunto for texture.  Trapunto instructions are included.    There's also an attractive bear design, to be quilted in the Bear's Paws largest square.  This is a refreshing change from the usual "quilt as desired."

Woven Log Cabin (above) is yet another variation on the traditional Log Cabin.  This is my favorite.  It has that Amish look - bold colors against a black background.  Wouldn't this be beautiful on a double bed?  Although the pattern is the same for every block, there are 12 color variations - that would keep production interesting. 
Woven Log Cabin would also make a beautiful baby quilt if done in pastel colors, against a white background.

The Courthouse Step quilt, (cover, center) is called On the Dark Side.  It's made with medium and dark batiks.  Such a handsome quilt.  It's sometimes hard to find quilt patterns for guys, but the deep hues in this quilt are very masculine.  I may have to make that quilt for my son!

The traditional Courthouse Step color pattern is pictured below. 
Hard to imagine that they're made with the same block, isn't it?

Finally Linked Chevrons (cover, right) looks as if it's interwoven.  The warm rust, browns and tan are attractive, and the turquoise blue provides contrast.  Other fabric choices and settings are pictured as well - something I like to see with every quilt pattern.  Linked Chevrons has binding with piping.  The How-To instructions and photos are very clear.

 Here is a more traditional use of the chevron variation.
If it were not set on point, and coloration went from light (corner square) to dark, it would give the look of the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

While all the photos in this e-book are of the usual "Fons and Porter" quality, I would have liked to see one clear photo of Bears in Bertie's Cabin straight on.  The three quilt pictures I've shared here are ideal.  That way you know exactly what you're getting before cutting precious fabric. 

Overall, Build Your Best Log Cabin is a great little book.  There's a tremendous amount of information in just 24 pages.  Whether you like traditional quilts or modern variations, there's something here for you. 

It's only January, so there's still have a lot of winter ahead of us.  Any of these projects would make a great pass time for these loooong winter nights.  :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I'm surprised by your experiment with hst, too.