jelly roll Modern Crosses blocks

March 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Posted in book news, chatty, craftivism, log cabin quilting, portland modern quilt guild, project extras, quilting tips, reader projects | Leave a comment

Did you know that National Quilting Day is March 17? Thanks to CrafterNews for featuring my log cabin patchwork tote bag pattern and book in their NQD feature this week!

Modern Crosses patchwork tote bag

To celebrate, I wanted to share a new pattern extra that a few readers have asked about: making a Modern Crosses block with pre-cut jelly roll strips (which are 2.5″ wide) instead of the 2″ strips called for in the original pattern. I wanted to use my PMQG-mate Monica Solario-Snow‘s Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabric – she kindly gave me a jelly roll with all her beautiful prints last year.

Modern Crosses patchwork tote bag

So when I whipped up two jelly roll Modern Crosses blocks, they were perfect for making another one of the simple 12″-block patchwork kids’ tote bags I’ve been sewing for Craft Hope. Yay!

Jelly roll Modern Crosses blocks

For each modified jelly roll Modern Crosses block, you’ll need:
Four 2.5″ square pieces of fabric A (solid or patterned fabric of your choice*)
One 29″ strip of 2.5″-wide contrast fabric, B, for the cross
One 44″ strip of 2.5″-wide fabric A (to match squares) for the surrounding background of the block

Jelly roll Modern Crosses blocks

Chain-piece the same way as described in the book to create blocks that are approximately 12″ across instead of 9.75″/10″ like the originals. Arrange the cross blocks as shown in the book, or in the order you prefer, to form a quilt top. If you are making a smaller project like a pillow cover or tote, I outline-quilted my crosses and outer squares with a flannel backing, then sewed a button in the center of each cross – to finish as a tote, follow the instructions in the tutorial right over here!

Vintage Sheets

*I have always used solid background and patterned cross fabrics in my blocks, but you can see some lovely, inspiring Modern Crosses that mix prints or reverse the solid/patterned arrangement to beautiful effect. I love this one from Jeni of In Color Order using vintage sheets! Thanks to everyone who’s added project photos to the Modern Log Cabin Quilting and Modern Crosses Get-Together pools – I love seeing them. Happy National Quilting Day, everyone!

make it: log cabin patchwork tote bags

February 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Posted in chatty, craftivism, log cabin quilting, not just log cabin, portland modern quilt guild, project extras | 5 Comments

I wanted to share a tutorial for making cute, simple patchwork (or patterned fabric) tote bags for kids – perfect for sending to The Littlest Warriors project over at Craft Hope, which is also the PMQG charity quilting opportunity for February. I used two 12” quilt blocks/pieces of fabric for a child’s size bag, but I included some suggestions for sizing them up for sturdier adult-size versions – plus some of my other favorite tote tutorials – at the end of the post. I hope you like them!

Bright Furrows patchwork tote

A quick note: I sew in a basement room without a whole lot of childcare time, and it’s February in the Pacific Northwest, so be forewarned that these photos aren’t exactly professionally lit or painstakingly staged. It’s a simple tutorial though, so hopefully you can follow along easily – I made these two tote bags in about an hour and a half, counting all the quilt block piecing! If you use stash blocks or just cut solid pieces of fabric, you can fly through these. My goal is to make 5 for the littlest warriors by the March 12 deadline – all the details are here.

two totes for the littlest warriors

You’ll need:

-Two quilt blocks (or solid pieces of fabric) in the 11”-12” square range for the outer sides of the bag. I used 12” blocks and fabric squares.
-If using quilt blocks: muslin, the same size as your blocks, or slightly bigger, for reinforcing them
-Lining fabric of your choice, the same size as your outer blocks or fabric
-1.5 yards of webbing for handles
-Thread, rotary cutter, quilt ruler + mat, scissors, iron, sewing machine

two quilt blocks

1. Cut two pieces of fabric (I used an Alexander Henry zoo print for my blue bag) or piece two quilt blocks of your choice, approximately 12” square. (You can also make them smaller or bigger if you like – 12” makes a nice toddler/preschooler-to-elementary-school size).

Bright Furrows Quilt

This is a great project for stash quilt blocks, or if you need to piece up two quick ones, log cabin is an easy one! I made a random log cabin block in the six yellow fabrics I originally used in my Bright Furrows quilt from MLCQ. To make two 12” blocks like these, cut 6 selvage-to-selvage (44”) strips that are 1.75” wide, in the quilting cottons of your choice. Here’s a short video of how I piece log cabin blocks…

For an approximately 12” block, you’ll start with a 1.75” center square in one of the fabrics and add 4 tiers of logs using different fabrics in any order, piecing clockwise and pressing when each tier is completed. Press front and back and square up your blocks.

quilted blocks ready to stitch into a bag

2. If you’re using quilt blocks, quilt them with a muslin backing (or use the technique of your choice) to add stability. I quilted a square outline pattern about 1/8” outside the center square and then each tier (you can see this more easily in the photo that precedes step #4). Press again and trim excess so your blocks are square. (This would also be a great project for foundation piecing/quilting as you go!)

3. Now, cut two pieces of lining fabric the same size as your blocks or outer fabrics. I used my guildmate Violet Craft’s Peacock Lane for my lining.

pinned outer bag sections and lining

4. Pin the two outer pieces together around three sides, right sides facing and leaving the top open, and then repeat the same way with the lining fabrics. Stitch the three sides with a 1/2″ inch seam allowance, back-stitching at the beginning and end to hold the seam. You’ll sew the outer and lining sections together the same way.

making the box corners

5. Make box corners by pressing the corners into flat triangles with the seams pressed open, pinning them, and stitching 1” in from the corner. You’ll do this the same way for the outer and lining bag sections.

trimmed box corner

6. Trim the extra fabric at each corner, as shown.

finished box corner

This is what your finished box corner will look like from the outside!

bag + lining nestled together

7. Now turn the outer bag right side out and tuck the lining in, making sure they fit snugly together. Turn the raw edges of both the bag and lining under and press them evenly (you can turn under 1/4″ to 1/2″, depending on how bulky your quilted outer section is – just keep your bag and lining consistent). Pin the bag and lining together all around the perimeter of the opening.

bag pinned and ready to sew

8. Cut two 18” lengths of webbing for handles and pin each of them in place. I placed mine 2” (patchwork) and 2.5” (wholecloth) in from the side seam – I followed the outer edge of the second tier of my log cabin blocks as a guideline for my patchwork tote, and eyed it with my wholecloth one. Just make sure they’re even with one another and match the handle on the other side, and that the handles aren’t twisted!

two tote bags for the littlest warriors - linings

9. Edge-stitch around the perimeter of the bag, catching both layers evenly, and then reinforce the four handles with double-stitching.

two totes for the littlest warriors

You’re done!

Bright Furrows patchwork tote

To make a larger/adult size, try starting with 15” or 16” quilt blocks or fabric squares (and same-size lining) instead of 11”/12”, and reinforcing the blocks with a home dec weight fabric instead of muslin. You can cut your handles to 24” each (instead of 18”), too.

Some other tutorials I like:

The Purl Bee’s Twenty-Minute Tote (my original inspiration – an adult-sized bag without lining or box corners)

-My guildmate Monica’s adorable Pick-A-Pocket Purse (with clever outer pockets!)

The Pink Penguin’s Lunch Bag tutorial

-And here are four other tote bags I’ve made for my own kids and their friends in this same style!

Everett's tote

So, the March 12 deadline is two weeks from tomorrow… I would love to cheer you on if you are sewing for the littlest warriors too! Please comment or keep me posted on what you’re making, and I will be so excited to share photos of all the finished bags and hats I see. Thank you!!

Happy new year!

January 10, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Posted in book news, chatty, log cabin quilting, portland modern quilt guild, project extras | 2 Comments

Hello and happy 2012! It’s been a busy couple months but I’m really excited for some new quilting. I’m so honored to be the incoming president of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and my fellow officers and I are planning some fun things with the guild! Hope to see you at our January 19th meeting – 7-9 pm at PNCA, room 205.

my Portland Modern Quilt Guild name badge <3

I have a new patchwork project to share that I’ll write up and post this week – a little companion/sequel to the Sunshine and Sock Monkeys Quilt.

the Sunshine + Sock Monkeys seque

Everett really loves this one! It was kind of hard to get even a quick snapshot of it.

Everett and the Sunshine + Sock Monkeys sequel

Last, I just posted a new correction for the Market Tote (page 141) from Modern Log Cabin Quilting.

market tote corrections

The seam allowance is incorrect on the first page (says 3/8″, should be 1/4″) – lots more details here on the corrections page. I’m so sorry about the error, but you can make a beautiful, sturdy, slightly smaller bag with the 3/8″ seam allowance, like Mary‘s here on the right (approximately 14″ blocks instead of 16″).

Market Totes comparison - approximately 16" + 14"

I’ll see you soon with the new project and some of my favorite photos of reader-made projects from the book – thank you to everyone who has added theirs to the MLCQ flickr pool!

Sisters, aprons, a book signing, and a class!

July 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Posted in book events, book news, log cabin quilting, project extras | Leave a comment

Wow, July is shaping up to be a whirlwind month already – I wanted to pass on some quick updates on the book and some other quilting excitement coming up! I have some photo round-up + bonus project posts planned for the next few weeks, so look for those soon – a special thank-you to everyone who has posted pictures of your projects in the Modern Log Cabin Quilting flickr pool. I LOVE them and it’s been such a joy to see what people have made from the book. Jen‘s orange-and-linen Modern Crosses is a huge favorite of mine…

Modern Log Cabin Cross Quilt

First, I’m so thrilled that Fat Quarterly’s Block Pocket Apron-a-long kicked off today!

block pocket apron

You can download the free updated pattern + instructions over there and get lots of ideas on choosing your materials, from a vintage or new pillowcase to a couple of favorite fabrics to pair for the block pocket. There’s lots more over in the post, and each week in July we’ll share more tips and fun details on making and customizing your apron, step by step. Thank you SO much to John and everyone at FQ for hosting our crafty party! I can’t wait to see everyone’s aprons – here’s everything I picked out for my new one… now I’m just wondering if I should make a Modern or Vintage version??

Block Pocket Apron-a-long - Week 1!

One important note: there were two typos in this project in the first edition of the book, which are now corrected in this downloadable version of the pattern! You’ll use a 3.5” x 4.5” (not 3” x 4” as it’s mentioned once) piece of pattern paper for spotlighting centers, and for the first tier of logs (fabric B) you’ll cut a 1.5” x 21” (not 1.5” x 18” as it’s mentioned in the Cutting Key) strip of Fabric B. I apologize for the confusion, and I’m so glad to have the chance to share the updates here, in the pattern, and on my corrections page.

Last, if you’re in Oregon, or nearby, I would love to see you at one of these quilt events this coming month.

Modern Crosses Quilt

On Saturday, July 9, my Modern Crosses quilt will be part of a special Portland Modern Quilt Guild exhibit at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon. We’ll be in the courtyard between Paulina Springs Books and Jennifer Lake Gallery. If you’ll be there, please come by our group show and say hi, a dozen of us from the guild are going!

Quilts inspired by Gee's Bend - the Stitchin' Post, Sisters
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, 2009

I also just set up a Modern Log Cabin Quilting book signing at The Stitchin’ Post from 1-3 on Saturday (huge thank-you to Jean, Valori and Sally for having me) and will have some of the book projects and my sketchbook there, along with free log cabin block kits. Yay! I’d love to meet up if you’re at the festival too!

The Quilters of Gee's Bend at the Stitchin' Post, Sisters
The Quilters of Gee’s Bend at The Stitchin’ Post, 2009

Then the next weekend, July 16 and 17, I’m teaching log cabin quilting at Pacific Northwest College of Art as part of the Summer of Making program. The workshop is 10-4 both days and we’ll have lots of time to design, piece, and work on projects big and small.

Market Tote

All the information is here (including a class syllabus) and don’t forget, if you’re a PMQG member you get a 10% discount on a PNCA class, which is so cool. If you’re interested, please let me know if you have any questions, or what you’re most excited to work on – this class will be very collaborative and very personalized, and you’ll have lots of blocks (or even some finished projects) by Sunday afternoon.

Bright Furrows Quilt

Hope you are having a wonderful summer, with plenty of time to sew!

Block Pocket Apron – free pattern and quilt-a-long!

June 29, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Posted in book news, log cabin quilting, project extras | 1 Comment

I’m very excited to announce that my publisher, Potter Craft, has generously offered the Block Pocket Apron project as a free download that just went up today! This is one of my favorite projects – it’s beginning-sewer friendly, inexpensive to make, and super-customizable. You just need a pillowcase, small pieces of two coordinating fabrics, and a package of hem facing bias tape to get started! You can read, download, or print the full project instructions over at Scribd.

block pocket apron
the modern version from Modern Log Cabin Quilting

Even better, my quilting heroes at Fat Quarterly are hosting a Block Pocket Apron quilt-a-long party that will launch on their blog next Wednesday, July 6th with the full pattern, plus lots of photos, tips and extras! The quilt-a-long will last for 4 weeks (July 6, 13, 20 + 27), with a different part of the project covered each week.

Vintage Block Pocket Apron - MLCQ
the vintage version from Modern Log Cabin Quilting

See you there!

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!

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