The Free Motion Quilting Project: How to Quilt a Log Cabin Quilt - Part 2

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to Quilt a Log Cabin Quilt - Part 2

Okay, so we've already had one quilting design for this log cabin quilt made by Meredith K.

But this is really just scratching the surface! There are so many other patterns and designs we could do.

In fact, when I was designing the first version of this quilt top, I realized that the rays could get a bit distracting in the border. I played around with it again and only changed the border design.

It just goes to show that you can change ANYTHING on a quilt and come up with something totally different.

Here's the quilt with a new border design:

I personally like this better because it makes a dramatic difference between the quilt top and the border.

This design will be relatively easy to mark. First starch and iron your quilt top. I personally use Niagara brand spray starch which comes in a squirt bottle (not an aerosol can).

You want your top to be as stiff and straight as possible, so be careful not to stretch or skew your quilt top as you iron it.

Then take a clear, rotary ruler or just a yard stick and mark your lines. For a bed quilt, space them around 1-2 inches apart. For a wall hanging or show quilt, space them no bigger than 1/2" apart.

Again, this is a great design for a bed quilt. It won't take you forever to quilt, especially if you free motion quilt the lines rather than use a walking foot.

In a smaller quilt show this might do quite well, but if you really want to go for the ribbons, fill every other space with dense filler quilting.

As time consuming as it would be, double pebble or escargot would be a beautiful texture to fill this quilt with!

Now let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Hello Leah, I live over in Mooresville and my Mom and brother live there in Shelby so I'm sure we'll meet each other eventually. I just found your blog and website and then all of a sudden you changed the format. At first I was so disappointed, but now I'm so excited and think it's absolutely a fabulous idea! It give me a chance to chatch up with all the designs and view the videos and now the quilting designs for the log cabin quilt are so amazing! So thank you for following your intuition regardless of what you promised yourself! It's awesome and I'll still be checking by everyday! But don't worry if you have to even skip a day entirely. Your family and life should come first, but thank you for your committment!

  2. You must have a mind like a computer - you can see something so effective where many of us only see a huge conflict - do we stick to shadowing ditches, mirroring blocks or what!!!!

  3. Hi Deb - That's wonderful that you're local to NC! I'm sure that we will bump into one another at a local quilting event soon.

    Yes, I agree. I'm on the receiving end of so many emails from readers who may not understand what a filler is or what it can be used for.

    I think the quilting design suggestions will make for a great addition to the blog!

    Ethne - I don't know if my mind is like a computer. I wasn't always able to "see" the quilting designs like I can now.

    Really it was getting into Trapunto (tutorial soon to come) that I really started to see the potential for amazing quilting designs on top of amazing piecing designs.

    The sky is the limit, and while I've shared 2 pretty good design suggestions, there's always a million more ways to quilt a quilt.

    Let's go quilt!

    Leah Day

  4. I think that your new idea is great. A little time in-between the new fills will give us all a chance to practise them a bit and give you a little breather too. I'm making quilted purses this year for Christmas for all the women in the family (last year it was aprons) and I've been using the bags as a filler practice. BTY. I love the cheater needles that I bought from your online store!!! They make it sooo much easier to bury my end strings!

  5. I compared the two and I see the difference you are talking about. How do you choose a thread color? I currently change colors when needed but in a design that covers the whole area like this one what do you do? You are opening up my eyes to new possibilities and I have the perfect top to play.

  6. Hi Linda,

    For this quilt if I wanted to match color or at least the thread not to show a whole lot, I would quilt it in black.

    Keep in mind that Meredith said she photographed this in front of a window, so the colors are very dark. Black thread will likely blend in very nicely with the fabrics.

    If you wanted to show off your quilting, white thread, or silver, would be the best choice.

    While many quilters would stop there with the possibilities, there is actually one other choice.

    You could also choose a complimentary color, like red, which would contrast with all colors, but it wouldn't be as "in your face" as white or silver would be.

    You would be able to see the stitching very clearly close up, but if you stood far away from the quilt, red thread would barely register.

    Thread color is definitely something to play with! Always buy more fabric than you need for a project, make a couple sample squares, and stitch over the squares with several different thread colors.

    You don't always have to match thread and you don't always have to contrast. There is usually several "in between" colors that will work just fine.

    I hope all that makes sense!

    Leah Day

  7. Thanks Leah that really gives me some things to think about. I have a couple of tops I can try some new things on.

  8. Leah, enjoying your filler stitches and the quilting designs, but not being a straight line person, I would like to see a design or two with a free form shape or wavy irregular lines. How about it?
    Sally in Seattle

  9. Like others, I too only recently discovered your work and immediately became a huge fan. I have so much to catch up on and I love the way you are approaching this. Thank you.
    Bernie in Colorado


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