How to make a twisted cabin quilt block

Written by s. a. holt
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The log cabin quilt block is one of the most basic and popular patterns used today. It is easy to assemble, but can be graphic and versatile. Starting from a central square and growing through the addition of a series of strips, it usually ends as a square block. The interplay of colour and value in the block offers the quilt designer some amazing quilt layout options. The addition of a shape variation to the traditional log cabin block adds another element to the design. This is a twist in more ways than one. The twisted log cabin block is three sided, not four sided. It also grows in a series of wedges, not strips, swirling around a central triangle. The careful use of colour in this dynamic configuration results in startling and sometimes unforgettable quilts. The twisted log cabin quilt is remarkable because the finished pattern appears to curve, but no curved pieces are used.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Foundation
  • Twisted log cabin block pattern
  • 40 Fat quarter fabrics
  • 1 1/2 yards background fabric
  • Quilt layout
  • Tweezers

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Invest in quality fabric. Some segments of the quilt are quite small, and quality will show.

  2. 2

    Select eight colours plus a neutral for the twisted log cabin layout. Most blocks will have four colours, one for each side of the triangle, and a neutral for the centre.

  3. 3

    Choose fabrics that are vibrant and provide contrast.

  4. 4

    Use five different shades of each colour ranging from light to medium.

  5. 5

    Place fabrics side-by-side to insure a good flow from one shade to the next.

  6. 6

    Wash all fabrics before using to reduce problems with shrinkage and colours bleeding.

  1. 1

    Plan the overall design you will be using for the quilt.

  2. 2

    Select a lightweight foundation. This block becomes dense and heavy because it has so many pieces, so reduce bulk where you can.

  3. 3

    Preshrink any foundation fabric you will be using.

  4. 4

    Mark the twisted log cabin block pattern on each foundation piece with a permanent marker, being careful to make it easy to see from the reverse.

  5. 5

    Note the location of each foundation piece on the layout. This will tell you which colours you will need for each block.

  6. 6

    Cut the foundation pieces using a generous seam allowance.

  1. 1

    Sew each block completely before going on to the next. It's easy to get the colour sequence confused, so staying with one block at a time is a good way to keep focused.

  2. 2

    Tighten up your stitch length or reinforce the beginning and ending of each seam. This will help keep the beginning and ending stitches intact.

  3. 3

    Trim each seam allowance to 1/8-inch. This will help eliminate bulk and avoid shadow through.

  4. 4

    Use tweezers to place and hold small pieces, and handle fabrics carefully to avoid distortion and ravelling.

  5. 5

    Iron each piece after you sew it. The pieces start out so small that even a little distortion will cause problems later.

  1. 1

    Refer to your layout during each step of the assembly process.

  2. 2

    Lay out the entire quilt to verify the pattern has been stitched correctly. It will be a lot easier to fix a mistake now.

  3. 3

    Check each twisted log cabin block for colour, configuration and shadow through.

  4. 4

    Assemble the quilt in rows.

  5. 5

    Trim seam allowances to 1/8-inch as you go.

  6. 6

    Apply a pleasing border, bind and quilt as desired.

Tips and warnings

  • Wash-away foundation can be printed on a copier or printer and won't add bulk to the final project. It is a good alternative to cloth or paper foundation material.
  • Cutting the fabric pieces before starting to assemble the block can save time and frustration. When using wedges, it's easy to misjudge the width of the piece of fabric you need. Measuring and cutting fabric wedges ahead of time will save fabric in the long run.
  • Each flower in the quilt design is made up of six triangles blocks.
  • When working with triangles, offset blocks in order to match seams. This pattern has no set-in seams, but triangles can be tricky if you haven’t sewn them before.
  • The twisted log cabin block is assembled with half of the triangles inverted. This is what creates the distinctive flower pattern in the finished quilt.
  • Use a good contrasting background fabric in order to take advantage of the graphic nature of the twisted log cabin block pattern.

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