Over the next four posts, I am going to show different variations on the wonky log cabin block:
- The "standard" wonky log cabin block
- Wonky quarter log cabin block
- Wonky squares-in-squares
- Wonky "bento box"-like block
I do think you should have enough fabric to make all 4 from your cut fabric if you choose to do so, even if you don't use all 4 in your final quilt. You can always piece the extras into your backing, or make some matching throw pillows!
OK, let's get started ...
We're going to start with our center square. Choose one of your 2.5" strips -- any one -- and cut a 2.5" square from it. If you've designated a particular fabric for your centers, use that one.
Of course, you can start with any size strip you want. On later blocks you may choose to mix it up and start with a 2" square or even a 1.5" square. I just like to start with a 2.5" square, so that's where we'll start. The only thing you shouldn't start with is one of your 3" strips. We're saving those for later.
Jelly rollers, you'll always be using 2.5" strips. That's not a problem at all! You'll still be following the same steps, and can achieve the variations in block width by trimming. Carry on ...
Now it's time to start giving your block some personality. Choose a side of your center square and cut a bit off. Just a bit, and at an angle.
One thing I should mention here is that my personal preference is for "subtle wonk". Other people like more "severe wonk". I will always default to softer, more nuanced cuts, but feel free to cut as severely as you like! Just remember, don't ever cut a log so severely that any part of it ever becomes smaller than 0.5" in width ... you will risk losing that part of your log in the seam allowance.
On later blocks you may decide to cut a bit off of 0 sides, all 4 sides, or anywhere in between. I thought that just skewing one side was a good place to start.
Select another strip for your first log. It can be any size width that you want (except for your 3" strip ... remember, we're saving those for later). I chose to start with a 1.5" strip.
Be sure to cut off the selvedge, and then cut the strip roughly the width of the center square. Because I haven't mentioned it yet, let me tell you that you don't have to measure the length of your strip. That's my favorite part about making these blocks ... I don't measure anything!!
You will notice that I almost always cheat a little bit on both sides of the block. I don't even use a ruler when making these cuts.
Sew your first log to your center square and press your seam. I always press my seam toward the log that I just added. So, in this case, the seam is pressed toward the green gingham fabric.
Now, using your ruler, trim the sides to give your block two nice, straight edges. Here's yet another chance to tilt your ruler a bit. No need to use your cutting mat's guides to cut straight lines.
Now you have the beginnings of your block. Turn it clockwise 90 degrees. Choose another strip to serve as your second log. I chose a wider strip here -- I think it's a 2" wide strip. Again, cut off your selvedge (if you have one) and cut your log slightly wider than the edge to which you will be sewing.
Sew together and press toward your new log. Here, I pressed toward the yellow fabric.
Grab your ruler and trim the two sides.
Turn the block 90 degrees, and repeat these steps to add your third log. I selected a wide strip for my third log. It's one of my 2.5" strips.
Cut to width:
Sew & press:
Trim the sides:
Getting the rhythm of it yet? Add your 4th log. Another 1.5" strip for me:
We have now completed our first round of logs. This is the point at which I like to make some wonky cuts.
See that red & white log on the right side? It seems a little too wide to me.
Using my ruler, I gave it a nice, slanted cut. Go ahead and trim the right edge of your square, as straight or as wonky as you'd like:
Rotate the block 90 degrees clockwise, and trim that edge, too. I trim all 4 sides to give myself nice, straight edges. For this log (the dotted one), I decided not to give a new angle. I pretty much trimmed it without adding any wonk:
Rotate again and trim your third side. You can see that here, I did decide to add a little bit more of an angle -- I tilted my ruler to cut a subtle angle from the bottom right to the top left:
I'll say it again ... I prefer subtle angles to more severe ones. But if you want to make very severe cuts, feel free -- the method and steps are still the same.
Rotate and trim your 4th side:
Now you have a nice, clean, somewhat wonky center, and can really see the start of your block:
Remember that 12.5" square ruler that I recommended? Here's where we'll start to use it.
After every complete round of 4 logs, I like to check and see how I'm doing towards my ultimate goal of a nice, even 12.5" block.
So far, so good:
Repeat the steps for your second round of logs. Here, I started with a 2.5" strip:
Sewn & pressed:
Trimmed for the nice, clean edges:
Logs 3 & 4:
Trimmed up nice & neat:
OK, see that pink gingham strip? It's bothering me ... I think it's a little too wide. I'm going to make a cut here. I angled my cut in such a way that I try to bring the block back closer (but not exactly) to square:
Another round of logs done, so back to my ruler "guide" to see how I'm doing. Still in good shape -- at this point, I'm estimating that I'll likely add another 2 rounds of logs:
Continue on with your third round. Notice how, at this point, my block is a little bit wider than it is tall? No big deal ... I am not going to cut it to get it more square. However, I am going to be conscious of my strip selections -- I am going to use narrower strips on right and left, and wider strips on the top and bottom, in an effort to stay in square territory instead of winding up with a rectangle.
Here, I added the red dots and the pink flowers, trimming as I go:
Two more logs added ... the green rose fabric and the white on top:
Now trim down all four sides of your block again, determining as you go whether you want to add some wonk to any of your sides.
For me, no wonk on the first trim:
A little bit of wonk on that white border. It seems too wide to me. Are you starting to see how using some of the wider strips gives you more flexibility in skewing the angles on your logs?
Here's a tip: if you keep cutting your angles in the same direction, your block will begin to take on a spiral-like effect. To avoid this, alternate the angles of your cuts. For example, look at the picture above. See how the pink gingham log is narrower at the top and wider at the bottom? Recognizing this, I made sure my trim of the white log is wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. It evens the two out.
A wee bit of an angle on the third trim:
Another slight angle on the fourth trim:
You know what? That white border still looks too big to me. I'm going to go ahead and give it another shave. Don't be afraid to keep making modifications to your block until it feels right:
Based on my 12.5" ruler guide, it looks to me like we have enough room for one more border. This is where we will use our 3" strips. I like to err on the side of very wide borders for my outermost borders, because I really dislike thin outer borders. For example, you can see from the image below, if I decided to use 1.5" or 2" strips for my next border, I would then have to add another round of very thin borders. I like to overshoot my final round of logs, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.
Here's my block with its final four 3" strips attached. No need to really trim this round as you go, because we will square it up to its final size.
And here's why I love my 12.5" ruler ... and also why I use really wide outer logs. By doing so, you have some options. You can trim your square down in a fairly straight way ...
... or as tilted and as skewed as you like:
I actually rotated by ruler a little bit the other way, because I didn't want to lose that rose in the bottom right hand corner. It helps to be cognizant of any patterns or pictures that you don't want to lose when cutting:
And voila! You have a nice, clean, squared-up, perfectly 12.5" wonky log cabin square:
I thought some people might like to see the back of my block, just to see how I recommend pressing your seams. See how they are all pressed to the outside? That's because I always pressed to the log that I just added. I don't know if this is right or wrong, but it works for me!:
If you're not "sashing" your blocks (i.e. framing them so that they will be floating in your final quilt), then you're done! If you're sashing, read on ...
From your sashing fabric, cut 3" strips.
Cut 2 sashing pieces slightly longer than 12.5". Attach to alternate sides of your block (I did right & left), press, and trim up:
Do the same thing with the other set of opposite sides (top & bottom):
"Why are the sashing strips so wide?", I can hear you asking me. "My block is bigger than 15.5"!"
I know, I know ... but that was deliberate. It's wider for the same reason we had wider strips up above -- it gives you more flexibility in how you trim down your block.
I turned my block at an angle that gave it some movement, but making sure that it all still fit within a 15.5" diameter. Trim to 15.5":
And now you see why we didn't just use traditional horizontal and vertical sashing strips. This way, your interior blocks can all be slightly tilted (and wonky!), giving your final quilt that added touch of interest, whimsy, and movement.
And here it is, your final 15.5" block!
How'd it come out? Is this what you were expecting? I'd love to hear your thoughts, feedback, questions, concerns, corrections ... please let me know either here in my comments or in the Flickr group. Of course, I'd LOVE to see your first blocks!
How about a giveaway??
I won't be sashing the blocks in my quilt, which means I won't be using the block I made for this tutorial. I will make it into a quilted pillowcase for one lucky reader! Simply leave me a comment on this post to be entered to win. I am going to limit this giveaway to those quilting along with me, so please let me know your Flickr name in your comment. I will use the random number generator to select a winner, which will be announced in the next quilt along post.
Next up, the wonky quarter log cabin block ...