It’s the first bonus block! I’m not sure I understand the idea behind the bonus blocks, but this is my first time doing Moda Blockheads, so maybe it was better explained in the previous rounds? It could also be as simple as wanting to have 36 blocks in 26 weeks? I don’t know. Or it’s an incentive to join the Facebook group, since I haven’t seen them posted on the Blockheads archive.
Whatever the reason, I was really excited when I saw the block. It’s a variation of a log cabin block, which is a passion of mine. It is such a simple construction — a surprisingly error-proof one, as well — that can create an incredible variety of designs. This one, for example, looks like a cinnamon twist.
Okay, maybe you’re not seeing the cinnamon twist here, but as we’ve already learned from the previous blocks, it’s all about the fabric choices. For the roundabout block, I didn’t even need to modify anything to give it that cinnamon twist look.
It’s going to look a lot more like a cinnamon twist at the end, I promise.
Cutting fabric for a log cabin quilt is a breeze. Every strip has the same width — in this case, 1″ finished / 1 1/2″ unfinished. So I didn’t have to figure anything out before I cut into my fat quarters. All I needed to do was cut those 1 1/2″ strips and go from there. The only thing to consider when cutting pieces for log cabins is to start with the longer ones and work down to get the most out of the strips. You don’t want to cut all your 2″, 3″, and 4″ segments and end up with a 4″ scrap that can’t be used for the 5″ pieces.
With a typical log cabin, I won’t bother to lay out the blocks. It’s the sort of pattern where as long as you lay out the strips in the order they go around the block, it’s nearly impossible to screw up. But this is a modified log cabin, constructed out of four half-units of log cabins, so you know I laid that out. (Really, for these sampler blocks I will absolutely lay out every one). Once the pieces are laid out, it’s easier to identify those half-units and the order of construction on them, smallest piece to largest.
Log cabin is a great beginner block, and not just because you’re not worried about angles or accidentally assembling it incorrectly. The other great thing about log cabin is it gives you a really great handle on that (scant) 1/4″ allowance. Even for more advanced quilters, it’s a good starting project for a new machine. Not all machines function the same, and what appears to be 1/4″ on one may not be 1/4″ on the next.
The reason log cabin is good for this is, as long as the pieces are cut the right size, it’s immediately obvious if the seam is incorrect. Looking at the image above, you can see that #2 spans the width of #1 and the length of the center square. Because you’ll piece that center square unit and then immediately add #2, you’ll be able to tell if your seam allowance was right by how well they match up. If #2 is longer than the unit, your stitch was too far away from the edge, thus shorting that side. If #2 is shorter, as pictured below, your stitch was too close to the edge. The lengths aren’t too different here, so I didn’t need to pull the previous seam. Instead, I simply ran my next stitch a thread or two farther away from the edge.
I haven’t talked about pressing seams much, mostly because it’s a complicated subject with no right answer. In theory, you want to press toward the darker fabric so it’s less visible, but disregarding the bulk that can build up will lead to a quilter’s nightmare and broken needles. Pressing the seams open — and by that I mean running the iron between the seam allowances so both sides fold on themselves — guarantees the least bulk when done properly, but it’s time-consuming, easy to flip when running through the machine, and can stretch in a way that makes the thread visible between the pieces on the finished quilt top.
I prefer nesting seams wherever possible. By this I mean I press the seams of matching pieces in opposite directions, so when I stitch them together, one side is going forward and the other backwards. I’ll probably go into more detail on this later, but this is a great practice project for nesting seams. As I was assembling the four half-units, I pressed toward the middle on the top left and bottom right units and away from the middle on the other two. When the units were stitched together, these seams butted up against each other without overlapping, ensuring good corners and low bulk.
I promised you a cinnamon twist. I’m not someone who underdelivers. But I’m also a writer of steamy romance, so I am a deliverer of anticipation.
Are you ready for this?
Are you ready for the twist?
If you don’t see the twist, that’s not my problem. That’s yours. I loved this block just as much as I loved the strudel.