I started this month with pictures of the log cabin quilt I made for my mother-in-law for Christmas in 2006. It was the last completed log cabin I have done, though I have a couple of tops that have been worked on since that time. My first log cabin was a far cry from the last. It was made in 1976 which you will be able to tell from the colors and prints. It was made while taking a class through the YWCA in Dubuque, IA. I had messed around with patchwork a few times, but had never really made a real quilt. My mom was the quilter, I knitted. But when my friend Gloria Yates suggested we might have fun taking this class I readily said, "Yes, let's. do that."
The class was held in the teachers home which was a charming old house with quilts gracing the walls covering up extra doors and flaws, she confessed to us. I was in my element as I love antiques and so did the teacher. We were taught how to make templates and how to cut the fabric approximately 1/4 inch outside the lines we drew. Our templates were cardboard -- no template plastic available in Dubuque in 1976. No quilt shop either. No rotary cutters and mats, just #2 sharpened pencils and cardboard.
In the house where we lived, the builder had put veined mirrors behind brown cork board in the family room "wet bar". I really disliked the mirrors. I decided when we learned how to make a log cabin block that I would make a quilt the right size to cover up the mirrors. The walls in the room were still orange at that time. This was not my choice, this was what the builder had painted in the room and I had other rooms more important to me to change first. So, with the orange walls and the brown cork, the color choice for the quilt was pretty much decided. Besides I had scraps of fabric in those colors. Okay, so some of the fabric was kettle cloth and pique, but it was cotton, so into the quilt it went.
In the class, there was no instruction on how to quilt and bind a quilt. My stitches are toenail catchers in this quilt as can be seen in the detail photo that will follow. You will also be able to see the fabrics that really should not have been included in this traditional log cabin. I had not learned how to miter corners and make neat bindings. I had taken no classes with teachers who stressed accuracy. In fact, the teacher who taught the class I took in 1976 had a saying or two. One was, "If it doesn't fit, fudge." And another was, "It will quilt out." Later when more books and classes were available to me, I learned there were better ways to do thing and that accuracy does count in quilting.
Still, the quilt is sort of charming in a Gee's Bend way. It is rather graphic and the contrast is good. I hadn't even realized that 4 of the log cabins I made were in the straight furrow set until I got this quilt out to photograph it. Guess I like that setting.
Here is the detail shot of this quilt where the BIG stitches are shown. I've learned to make much smaller and much more even stitches since that time. And, I'd NEVER use templates for a log cabin ever again. Thank goodness for the rotary cutter and mat. Can I hear an Amen?
A few years after making this quilt, I was able to take a class with Flavin Glover. She was and is a talented quilter living in Auburn, Alabama. When we lived in Montgomery, AL, I visited with her a few times. She is a very gracious Southerner.
I have other log cabin projects to share with you in the future. Abraham Lincoln's birthday is Saturday, so think about him reading by candle light in a humble log cabin.
Until next time,