20 February 2012

Tutorial - wonky diamond log cabins


A few months ago I came across this photo on Flickr, by Jill (falling for pieces). Ever since I spotted those blocks it's something that's been on my to-do list. And, as March is my month for the Friends + Fabric stash bee, I figured this is a great block to play around with, and hope that my bee mates think so too!

So, a few days ago I wrote Jill and asked her if she had worked from or made up a tutorial for her blocks, and if not, whether she would mind my posting them for this bee. She graciously responded that she had not done so - just worked improv style, and gave me the go ahead to share.

Following is a step-by-step tutorial for how I made these guys, but in all honesty it's a basic log-cabin construction just at an odd angle. I found that the trickiest part is at the end, adding those corner pieces in order to get the right sized square (which I have to admit I did not, but more on that later!) So, please follow along if you like, or just play around on your own!
Beware! This is a LONG tutorial, and gets a little convoluted at the end. I apologize in advance if you have trouble following - but if that is the case PLEASE let me know and I'll try to make clarifications!

Starting out
Begin with your center diamond - perfect for pulling from your scrap basket and just trimming a couple of corners off willy-nilly! The size of these is completely up to you, though I wouldn't start with anything so small it's hard to sew onto, nor so big that you finish up your 12 1/2" block in 2 rounds (that will make more sense as you read further).

And you're going to want an assortment of "logs," or strips of coordinating fabric, ranging from 1" to about 3 1/2" wide. I am using 3-4 different fabrics per block, with at least one repeated at some point. These don't need to be straight cuts, in fact a little wonkiness is preferred, but they can be trimmed once you've sewn on each round.

Next...
Start sewing on your logs. Starting with one side of the diamond, trim your first strip, being sure to add extra length to accommodate the angle of the corners.
(note how you can follow the line of both that lower left edge and the upper right all the way across that strip)

Flip the strip over Right Sides Together, and stitch using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Press open with seam allowance going toward the outside (the "log").

Continue going around the diamond in the same manner. Once you have sewn the next strip, trim the tail from the previous log even with your seam allowance before pressing open.



and keep doing this for each side...


until you have a complete frame around your center diamond.
(I was working on all 4 blocks simultaneously, using my favorite method of chain-piecing, which might explain the switcheroo of blocks mid-description. I hope that doesn't confuse anyone too much)

Trim all of the tails (and now would be the time to add any wonkiness if one desires).


And now for round 2
Which is pretty much like round 1, though perhaps with slightly wider logs (though totally not necessary!)

Oh, and this round is a good time to throw in a high contrast coordinate!


Again, trim those edges before starting on round 3! Also, keep in mind your finished block size. For this bee I was aiming for a 12 1/2" block (before piecing), and a couple of my blocks after round 2 had reached the desired length from top point to bottom. I went ahead and trimmed those corners to the finished length to indicate that I didn't need to continue going around the whole corner in the next round (avoiding wasting just a little bit of fabric in the final outcome).



On a couple of my blocks for round 3 I chose to return to the same fabric that I had used for the center diamond, when I could. Again, not necessary, but it adds a little continuity in the block, and we all know that a *little* repetition in quilting is not a bad thing! One could also wait until the outside corner pieces and choose from any of the previously used fabrics.

Okay - now for finishing these blocks!
Honestly, this was a challenge for me, so I hope that my explanation is clear enough! I started out by laying out my diamond on my gridded cutting mat, centering it within the indicators for the 12 1/2" dimensions (my desired finished product).
(oh yeah, and if you have a 12 1/2" square ruler (or even a 15" square) that helps TREMENDOUSLY.)

Then I made a note of the measurements from each of the points on the diamond out to the corners of my 12 1/2" guide. More often than not the measurements on diagonally opposite corners were close enough to assume I could use the same sized rectangle split diagonally to finish those corners. For instance, in the photo above, the top left corner and the bottom right corner each show dimensions of approximately 3" wide by 6 3/4" long. From those dimensions I rounded up about 1/2" - 3/4" to get my cutting dimensions for the rectangle I would need.
Now, as it turned out, I still fell short, since the angles of that final seam weren't consistent, so my advice is round up even more than you would think. My suggestion is to add at LEAST an inch to both dimensions. And of course, if your opposing corners are close, but not exactly the same, use the greater of the two measurements as your initial guide.

Cut rectangles from the fabric based on those rounded-up measurements. Then you are going to slice them diagonally. Be sure that you take into account which corners you're cutting for, and make the diagonal cut in that same direction (in this example I'm working with my top left and bottom right corners that I was talking about above, so I want to cut from the bottom left corner to the top right of the rectangle to get those pieces.) Since your dimensions on the opposite pair of corners will likely be different, this DOES matter.


make the diagonal cut

lay out the triangles with your block, using a guide to be sure they will square up to your desired size.

Flip RST and stitch with that 1/4" seam allowance.

Trim the excess before pressing open.

Once pressed, square up to desired size!


Ooof, I commend anyone who actually managed to make it through this cumbersome explanation - thanks for sticking with me!!

*An added note for the Friends + Fabric bee members: as I alluded to, I did NOT hit my target size on all of these blocks, so they ended up measuring 12" square once trimmed. That said, please aim for 12" blocks (before piecing together) as opposed to the usual 12 1/2". The benefit of these blocks is that you totally don't have to worry about matching points, or even KEEPING all of the points... trim as needed! Thanks for your flexibility!

3 comments:

  1. This looks like fun and can't wait for March to get started. A tad bit more "quilt math" than my comfort zone but I'll certainly give it a go. Yours look fantastic.

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  2. Beauuuuutiful! I like that you didn't make it any harder than it needed to be! Really great combo of solids and prints and spontaneity!

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  3. Love a wonky block, but wonky log cabins are very very cool!! Thanks for the tute :)

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