Quilts for Quake Survivors – shipment to Japan!

April 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Posted in craftivism, quilts for quake survivors | Leave a comment

Daniela and I have gathered 27 quilts (and counting!) to ship to Japan for Quilts for Quake Survivors via Seven Winds’ drive for comfort quilts partnering with Patchwork Tsushin. She just took these lovely photos (the batch below is from the last two hours) and it’s a marvel to see them all!

Quilts for Quake Survivors - Japan Shipment 2

They will go out tomorrow afternoon, and Dani and I each have one or two left that we’re hoping to bind in time to add to the boxes – maybe we’ll get to 30 by the UPS deadline. HUGE thank-you to everyone who has donated fabric, pieced blocks, sashed blocks, made backs, tied, quilted, or bound one or many of these beautiful pieces!!!

Quilts for Quake Survivors - Japan Shipment all quilts!

Special thank-yous to Modern Domestic, Cool Cottons, Rachel and Cherri, the wonderful members of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and all our supporters and quilters near and far. We love you!

The next wave of QfQ quilts will go into our Etsy shop – 100% of the price of each quilt will go straight to Mercy Corps/Peace Winds Japan. Details coming soon!

the MLCQ guide to bias + binding tape

April 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Posted in fabric, project extras, quilting tips | 1 Comment

I wanted to write up a little Modern Log Cabin Quilting-specific guide to which binding tapes I recommend using for the various quilts and patchwork projects in the book, so here goes! I hope this is helpful for everyone who’s new to hand-making their own binding tape, along with people who are choosing from a shelf full of rows and rows of differently labeled + sized possibilities at the fabric store or online, or even vintage versions at an estate sale or thrift store. I know it can get pretty confusing!

bias tape cans
some of my premade bias tape, mostly vintage packages…

The MLCQ projects I designed use either 3/4″, 1″, and 2″ wide binding tape. Here are examples of all three widths for comparison – the Red Cross Bag uses 3/4″ tape on each side of its strap, the Sunshine and Sock Monkeys Baby Quilt uses 1″ tape for its binding, and the Charming Camera Case uses 2″ tape to edge its button/Velcro opening.

Three MLCQ projects using 3/4", 1", and 2" binding tape

First, a little background… the complete written + illustrated instructions for making your own binding tape of any width are on page 38 of the book. For straight-line projects like the edge of a bag strap or coaster, or binding a quilt, you can use straight-cut (selvage to selvage) strips of fabric to make your binding tape, which is a fast and fabric-efficient way of cutting. You can guide the strips through a specially shaped bias tape maker (I recommend Clover brand, but there are many other options) to fold the raw edges to the center while pressing them flat with your iron for a neat, even appearance. The width of this flat tape is what I’m referring to as 3/4″, 1″, 2″, etc. Once you’ve created the flat tape, you press it again lengthwise to fold it into equal halves with the raw edges tucked neatly inside. This method is the one I used to make binding tape for the quilts and projects in the book.

the MLCQ take on making your own binding tape


For curved applications that need to stretch, like clothing or a rounded pocket edging, you’d need to use bias-cut strips of fabric (which is cut on the diagonal) to make your bias tape (see this great Colette Patterns tutorial for more on this approach). As an example (not an original book project, this is a personal sewing project with a vintage dress pattern!), I used 1/2″ bias tape for edging part of my daughter’s Easter dress last year so I didn’t need to add extra armhole facings. Here’s the dress with a few packages of pre-made 1/2″ bias tape and a 1/2″ maker (labeled 12mm).

1/2" bias tape for garment sewing

Most if not all commercially available premade versions of all the tape widths I’ve mentioned are bias tape, which works great for either application – straight or curved. I used store-bought bias tape for several projects (the Block Pocket Apron, Charming Camera Case, and Drawstring Bag), but you can certainly choose to make or buy your own for any of the projects in the book, it’s up to you.

Okay! On to the binding tape sizes + details…


This is the size of binding tape I use for machine-binding my quilts (as well as for a few other patchwork projects). For this very popular size, you can easily find it at a fabric store in solid colors in approximately 3-yard packages, folded or flat (there’s one labeled package of folded 1″ tape as an example in the photo below) – or make your own. To make this one, you’d use a 1″ binding tape maker (which can also be labeled 25mm) and strips of fabric cut to 1 7/8″ or 2″ wide (check your packaging to see what the maker you’re using recommends). When this tape is folded and stitched around a quilt’s or project’s edge, 1/2″ shows on each side – the 1″ refers to how wide the finished tape is when flat (unfolded).

1" binding tape for binding quilts

The projects in the book that use 1″ binding tape are:

1″ QUILTS: Sunshine + Sock Monkeys (pictured), Housetop, Modern Crosses, Vintage Linens, Bright Furrows, Northwest Modern, + Anniversary. [The Winter Woolens, T-shirt Memory, and Clouds in the Sky Quilts don’t use binding.]

1″ PATCHWORK PROJECTS: Cheerful Potholders + Drawstring Bag.

Can you use another width? For quilts, you could use 2″ wide binding tape (see below for more details on that size) for more of a blanket-style edging, either with straight stitching or zig-zag. I personally prefer 1″ for its streamlined look and neat, clean edge when machine-binding. I wouldn’t recommend going narrower, like 3/4″, especially for a quilt that uses a batting layer. For the two patchwork projects, I’d stick to 1″, especially the drawstring bag which uses a ribbon inside the casing.


This is the size I use for intentionally wider edging, like a waist sash on an apron or the rim of the camera case. To make this, you can use a 2″ binding tape maker (also labeled 50mm) and strips of fabric cut to 3 7/8″ or 4″ wide (again, check the packaging to be sure what your maker suggests).

2" bias tape maker

You can also buy 2″ tape at the store, which I did for these projects – here are two labeled options for similar versions (1 7/8″ – 2″) of this very wide bias tape, one folded (the one labeled quilt binding) and one flat (the one labeled hem facing). Since this size is less common than the 1″ tape, I wanted to show a few more details so you can track it down more easily.

Two store-bought versions of 2" tape for a Block Pocket Apron project

When the 2″ tape is folded and stitched around the apron waistband or camera case, 1″ shows on each side – so it’s twice as wide as the standard 1″ tape would look. The 2″ measurement refers to the flat (unfolded) width of the finished tape. Note: the description given in the materials list for the camera case and apron projects is 2″ (extra wide) binding tape, but since narrower-width tapes can also be labeled ‘extra wide’ depending on brand, etc. – the 2″ is the important detail here. Sorry for any confusion!

2" binding tape for edging wider projects

2″ PATCHWORK PROJECTS: Block Pocket Apron and Charming Camera Case (pictured).

Can you use another width? Yes, you can use 1″ tape for either the apron or camera case projects. The case uses a double layer of batting so just make sure you can fit all four layers (lining, batting x 2, and outer fabric) inside the narrower tape before binding. For the apron, a 1″ sash will obviously be much narrower as a finished element of the garment, so it may fold or crease on itself like a ribbon instead of keeping its flat, smooth appearance while you’re wearing it. I wouldn’t recommend going narrower than 1″ for either of these projects.


For a slightly narrower edging, like the strap of a bag or the edge of a tea towel, or binding a smaller coaster, this is the size I use. To make this, you use a 3/4″ binding tape maker (also labeled 18mm) and strips of fabric cut to 1 3/8″ or 1 1/2″ wide (check packaging). When this tape is folded and stitched around a bag strap or coaster edge, 3/8″ shows on each side – the 3/4″ measurement refers to the flat (unfolded) tape.

3/4" binding tape for edging narrower projects

3/4″ PATCHWORK PROJECTS: Roundabout Coasters (pictured), Color Block Tea Towels, + Red Cross Bag (pictured).

Can you use another width? For the bag and tea towel projects, a 1″ tape would be an easy substitution. Personally, I liked the look of the narrower tape on these two, but if all you have handy is a 1″ maker or package of tape, that’s a good choice too. For the coaster, since it’s such a small piece, binding with 1″ tape is a little trickier. I’m sure it can be done but I liked using the streamlined 3/4″ tape, especially at the corners.

This is just a quick photo post for now, but I’m hoping to make a short video showing how I make binding tape soon, which would go with the full written + illustrated instructions on page 38 of the book. Any questions? Please comment and I’ll do my best to answer them and update with any helpful details!

beautiful book projects: bags!

April 12, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Posted in chatty, log cabin quilting, reader projects | Leave a comment

Wow, thanks so much to everyone who has made a project from the book and shared photos in the MLCQ flickr pool – I just love seeing them. I wanted to spotlight some lovely bags that people have made the last few weeks… just click each photo to see more about them and their makers!

Yellow and gray is one of my absolute favorite color combinations, and this Gray Cross Bag by Elizabeth Hartman is stunning.

Modern Log Cabin Quilting in Gray Cross Bag

I love the higher contrast piecing (mine used the right and wrong sides of a single dark-red corduroy for a more subtle effect) and the yellow and white handmade binding tape that edges the strap – she shared some fun details in her book review post. Just gorgeous all the way around.

Gray Cross Bag

Another beautiful gray and yellow project I fell in love with is this Sunshine on a Cloudy Day version of the Everything In One Place Zip Bag by Sara of rhymeswithsp00n. She stitched it all up on a Friday night and snapped this pretty photo in the morning!

sunshine on a cloudy day

My friend Kayte also made an EIOP Zip Bag from colorful scraps, which she included a few darling photos of in her book review post. I love how the colors pop while staying such good neighbors, and I thought that the striped-scrap zipper pull was the sweetest touch!

everything-in-one-place zip bag by Kayte Terry!

And chloeandme made two different log cabin bags in similar fabrics – a soft-sided Drawstring Bag with a yellow, pink and green color mix,


and a more structured one-block zip pouch in the traditional Sunshine and Shadow color mix in yellow and green, with pretty hand-quilting details!


Thanks so much to everyone who’s shared their great log cabin quilt and project photos – I would love to spotlight yours if you want to add any to the MLCQ flickr pool! Coming up, I’ll be posting a round-up of quilts and pillows people have made so please let me know if you have a new project I could include… that would be awesome.

Huge thank-you to everyone who’s been so supportive and complimentary of the book! I am so glad that people are enjoying it – and making things from it!!

beautiful quilt by Rachel + Cherri + Kaci

PS: We’re in the middle of a big push for Quilts for Quake Survivors so we can donate our first round of quilts to Japan, and would love your help or your quilt blocks, tops or backs – we have two long-arm quilting bees coming up Thursday and Friday here in Portland! Details here. Thanks to everyone who has jumped in already, you’re the best!!

Daniela's quilt top

the book parties!

April 5, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Posted in book events, chatty, log cabin quilting, quilts for quake survivors | Leave a comment

Thanks so much to everyone who came to Modern Domestic on Saturday or to Powell’s on Sunday (and especially to my husband Andrew, who came to both with the two kids and was a total rock star as always). The Modern Log Cabin Quilting parties were so lovely and everyone who came out to say hi was so cool. I wanted to write up a quick recap with some photos… thank you to Daniela for sharing hers from MD, and Patrick and Diane (for snapping some with my phone) at Powell’s.

my book event at Modern Domestic

The Modern Domestic party was just awesome. Beautiful light at the end of the day in that lovely space, seeing lots of PMQG friends and meeting some new Portland sewers and quilters, having cupcakes and wine, and signing books and giving away log cabin block kits… what’s not to like?

Susan's book signing event at MD

cupcakes and Patchwork Cellars Pinot Noir

Just a quick note on the wine… yes, that IS a log cabin block on the label – !!! I originally saw a Pinot Gris by Patchwork Cellars on the shelf at New Seasons (that one has a double wedding ring design on the label) about a month ago, and got really excited to serve it at Modern Domestic. When I was planning nice party things, I went to their site and was awestruck to see that their Pinot Noir had an antique log cabin block in the Sunshine and Shadow style, with the red center (love). Oh, I just couldn’t believe it.

Susan's book signing event at MD

I called to find out which local stores carried both wines, and Brian was so warm and helpful and personally made sure I could successfully track down three precious bottles of each one by Saturday – truly the kind of friendliness that makes Oregon a very special place to live (and throw a party). I really can’t recommend their lovely wine highly enough… here’s where you can find it for your next craft night or cocktail hour!


After the book signing, we gave away prizes, and then everyone settled in to a super fun open sewing night upstairs and downstairs.

Susan's book signing event at MD

Nice chill sewing night after the book party at MD

It was really great to see what everyone was making! Daniela, Monica, Marcia and I were all piecing blocks for QfQ, Christina was making a very nice intricately pieced block for a bee,

Christina sewing at MD after the book party

Jill was cutting for a new quilt, Jen was making a Modern Crosses (yay! more on that next week!), Bethe was cutting for a Vintage Linens-inspired tonal quilt, Gillian was cutting for a Single Girl Quilt (on my dream list so it was really great to see it in action), and Deb was making her daughter a beyond adorable Oliver + S ensemble – which I had the bonus treat of seeing modeled in person at Little T the next morning when we bumped into each other in the coffee line!

Me at Powell's with the projects on display!

Getting ready for Powell’s was really exciting and also a little overwhelming. With two children under three, three boxes of lovely snacks, and three huge bags of quilts and patchwork projects in tow, we descended on the Pearl Room just in time to set everything up! Huge thank-yous to Diane and Jamin for helping me, Kevin, and Christopher from Powell’s get everything organized so nicely.

Susan's Book Signing

We had such a nice crowd, including five of Pearl’s closest buddies and their parents, and Christopher (who is making his first quilt – a crazy quilt!) gave me a really awesome introduction. I chatted about a few of the projects, my design process for a few favorites, how much I treasured the crucial help that some dear friends gave me this week when Pearl was sick, and then read my short history of log cabin quilting. I took a few questions about quilting and log cabin, and then everyone enjoyed delicious log cabin- and quilt-themed treats made by Kathy.

This was also an only-in-Oregon miracle! I’d met Kathy once about a year ago, and she’s good friends with my dear Diane. She’d emailed Diane saying how much she’d like to make some fun petit fours for a party if she had any suggestions for something coming up, and Diane connected her with me for what turned out to be a magical collaboration.

Lovely treats for the Powell's party

Kathy made us lovely apple tarts, fat quarter chocolate tarts, lovely macarons, and even log cabin block-inspired lemon bars (with, of course, the beloved red center representing the heart of the home). Awesome.

Lovely treats for the Powell's party

You can find her at her blog or right here if you’re interested in a pastry collaboration extraordinaire, too!

Kathy's adorable cards

Then I signed books and got to chat with people, which was really fun. Everyone was so great, from old friends to people I’d never met before that afternoon. It really felt like a party all of the sudden!

Me and Caitlin at Powell's!

Signing a book for Liz

Anyone waiting to get their book signed got to hang out by the long tables of projects and check them out along the way (with treats in hand). It was really fun to hear which quilts and bags and projects people were the most drawn to, or curious about… thanks to everyone who had nice compliments to share!

People checking out quilts + projects

People checking out quilts + projects

And yes, that is Michelle of PMQG (yay) wearing a hand-sewn log cabin pendant!

Michelle at Powell's wearing a log cabin block necklace!

One last thing – speaking of Portland Modern Quilt Guild, I am super thrilled that my Anniversary Quilt from the book will be part of the Modern Quilt Show at PNCA that opens this Thursday!

Anniversary Quilt

It’s in gallery room 214 at PNCA, come by between 5:30 and 7:30 for drinks, snacks and quilts this Thursday, April 7… would love to see you!

Anniversary Quilt detail block

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