Monday, July 25, 2011

Log Cabin Quilt Potholders

In just over a month, my very first novella, Christmas Service, will release as part of the Log Cabin Christmas collection. As I was considering avenues open to me to get the word out about this collection of nine Christmas novellas, I decided I wanted to make up some gift baskets to give away at book signings. At the moment, I have five book signings scheduled between September and October. You can check out the when and where by clicking HERE.

In keeping with the Log Cabin Christmas theme, I made Log Cabin Quilted pot holders to include in the gift baskets, and I thought you might like to see the process. The Log Cabin pattern has been around for a very long time, and it's a great quilting project for a beginner quilter (like me!) Here's a step-by-step of how I created these potholders.

1. Choose your fabric. Traditionally, the center square of a Log Cabin block is red or orange to represent the hearth, then you will need three darker colors and three lighter colors. You can use one of the fabrics as the back fabric if you'd like, but I chose backing fabric that complemented both color schemes.

This was one of the most fun parts of the project, picking out the fabrics. My daughter helped me pick out the fat quarters. There were so many to choose from and we had a blast matching and comparing.

2. Cut fabric into 1.5" strips. Since all the pieces will finish at 1" wide with 1/4" seam allowances, cutting them all for width first speeds up the cutting process. I have a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and template grids, which help so much. 

I cut a lot of strips, then cut them to length. The center square was 1.5" x 1.5" and the longest strip was  10.5" 

3. I made a list of the lengths I would need to cut from these strips, and when I had them all cut out, I laid out the quilt block.

The center square is a cherry print that caught my eye. Log Cabin blocks always have one dark side and one lighter side, hence the brown and blue fabrics. I also made brown/green, pink/white, and red/gold potholders, two of each.

4. Starting with the center piece and working around counter-clockwise, I sewed each of the pieces together. I quickly learned that while plaids are easier to cut (with those built-in straight lines) sewing them calls for extra attention to make sure you keep the lines perpendicular to the seam. Once the top is pieced, I cut batting (medium weight) and the backing fabric. Because I wanted to keep things simple, I decided to roll the edge and sew it down from the top rather than cut and sew on binding by hand. This meant I needed to cut the backing to the appropriate size to allow a half inch turned in and a half inch reveal. 

This photograph shows everything inverted. Since I was making several potholders at once, I did all the cutting at the same time and stacked them between sheets of paper to keep everything straight.

5. When it came time to quilt, I pinned. A lot. Careful to catch all the layers and get everything to lay flat in the center of the backing piece.

It's really starting to take shape.
6. I quilted around each square, in the ditch/along the seam.  Then I turned the backing edges up and over on themselves, pinned it, and sewed all the way around to finish it off.

This was the trickiest part for me, making sure I caught all the fabric I needed to, and yet stayed as close to the edge of the turn as possible.
I plan to put two potholders in each of the gift baskets, along with a few other goodies. If you can stop by one of the book signings, sign up for the drawing to win one of the baskets. 

Question for you sew, quilt, cross-stitch, or do other needlework?


  1. Oh man, you're a master quilter, too! My mom tried to teach me and everything I sewed is fraying & coming undone.

    These are sweet.
    ~ Wendy

  2. I can barely sew on buttons, but I'm hell on wheels with a glue stick, glue gun, and duct tape. The potholders are beautiful. I especially love the Heathy colors.

  3. HA! No. I absolutely am horrible at it. And am incredibly impressed by your talent.

  4. Those are beautiful! Great work! I can sew a little bit. I still have a hard time reading those confusing patterns but once I get past that, I'm good. I've always wanted to learn to quilt though. Some day...

  5. Me sew? No. Not if I can help it.

    The potholders are a great idea for a giveaway. So pretty and such a great tie-in to your book.

    I checked your list of book signings, but you don't have any in California. Good thing I'll be seeing you at the ACFW conference in September. =)

  6. Wendy, master quilter made me crack up. I'm very much a beginner. My Mama is a master quilter.

    CJ, I am pretty good at hemming with a stapler...

    Katie, You know me, I tend to jump into a project headfirst, then wonder why I'm drowning. I took over the dining room for two days making these things, and the family had to work around me. :)

    Lacie, this is a great project for learning how to quilt. My daughter and I learned by making an entire queen-sized quilt (loving instruction provided by a dear friend.) We were in over our heads, but my DD has a lovely quilt now. :)

  7. Keli, I'd love to do a book signing or two in California, then get lost in mining country at museums and historical sites. :D

  8. Love this idea. I'm a quilter and anything w/ quilting catches my eye. In fact, in some way or another, every novel I've written has a quilt in it somehow. :)

    Great marketing idea. I love to quilt by hand, but after piecing my two first quilts by hand, I've decided I'm going to piece w/ the sewing machine and only quilt by hand. I have a picture on my website, but never thought to post pics of putting it together. hmm..

    Lovely. I was thinking of doing a log cabin pattern next. :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. There's no way you're only a beginning quilter! That potholder looks perfect. What a perfect giveaway to help promote your book!

    I WISH that I could quilt/sew/cross-stitch/knit/crochet but I am woefully inept in all those crafts. I'm pretty much no good at any kind of craft unless you count scrapbooking.

  10. I love that you quilt. I used to quilt years ago and made myself crazy with them but loved every moment. I also used to sew a bunch of my daughters clothes and even made a few mommy and me outfits. I'm glad to have this in common with you! Lovely work girl. I hope the winner really appreciate it! Every time I come to your blog I feel like I get a nice cozy hug. Thank you for being you!

  11. The potholders are a lovely idea and beautifully done, Erica. I'll bet the brown & green colour scheme is particularly nice... they'll match the book cover.

    I'm a Jack of all needle trades and master of none... I do basic sewing but don't really enjoy it, have knit precisely one baby outfit for each of my children, crocheted an afghan, and have a quilt for my daughter's bed in pieces in a box (I started it when she was about ten and she's been married for eight years now!). I've embroidered a couple things, too, but... needlework just isn't my thing. Now oil painting? :)

  12. I wish I was that fancy! I love the brown patterns! That's a clever idea. :)

  13. Melissa, you pieced by hand? Eek! I don't even quilt by hand. Picking out the fabric is my favorite part of the process. It's all new and I haven't had to rip any seams yet. :D

    Mary, I should have you help with my scrapbooking. I'm pretty slapdash at it.

    Tana, you made my day. I've really been struggling with the whole social media thing, fretting about 'doing it right' and I came to the conclusion that I have to just be me.

    Carol, Oil Painting? That's like cooking for me. I love to watch shows about cooking and painting, but I have very little talent in either of those areas.

    Jessica, my daughter picked out the fabric for that particular square. She's got such an eye for color.