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Scrap Happy: Log Cabin and Ohio Stars

Scrap quilts. I adore them.

And as far as “scrap quilt powerhouse,” a Log Cabin quilt is perfect. It uses up scraps, is relatively simple yet dramatic, and has the kind of traditional roots that appeal to the romantic in me.

Courthouse Stars by Diane Tomlinson

The quilt Courthouse Stars pattern is what ultimately inspired me. I really liked how the Ohio Star blocks paired with the Log Cabin blocks, adding a little sparkle. For my quilt, though, I departed from the design, and instead of a center square (traditionally of red fabric, to symbolize the hearth), I decided to put my 3-1/4” finished Ohio Stars in the center.

(The eagle-eyed quilter may have spotted these Ohio Stars in the background of “Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting” on public television or through QuiltingDaily TV. Guess I’ll need to sew some replacements!)

A lot of what I’ve learned about building Log Cabin blocks has been from workshops with Kate Colleran, who has taught several courses on the Log Cabin design. Her tips for achieving a perfect ¼” seam—and the importance of it—made me check my own seams. Were they accurate…?

They were not. Very much not.

I followed a lot of Kate’s tips for adjusting my quarter-inch seam allowance, including investing in a ¼” presser foot with a flange. As a result, my seams are much, much better. In fact, dramatically better.

There’s so much to explore when it comes to Log Cabin quilts, and they are so scrap-tastic, I’m definitely making another one. The hexagon Log Cabin blocks in Kate Colleran’s Log Cabin Quilts with a Modern Twist Workshop are really cool—it would make a nice counterpoint to my oh-so-traditional, blue-and-white quilt to have a funky, scrappy modern Log Cabin with a non-traditional shape.

But this quilt (which I’ve taken to calling Blueberry Summer) was meant to be traditional two-color quilt: all in blue and white, primarily reproduction fabrics. Over the course of about 5 years, I collected fabric for this quilt.

‘Scrap quilt’ is a loose term, in many ways. A scrap quilt can look scrappy, but really be all freshly purchased fabrics;  it can be made from actual scraps from other quilts; or a combination of new and old. There are no “scrap police” authenticating a particular scrap’s provenance. 

Many of the fabrics I used were purchased specifically for this quilt, from various stores around Des Moines, Iowa, when I lived there—The Iowa Quilt Block, Creekside Quilting, and Piece Works in Winterset, Iowa. Several more were picked up at the Fabric Shack in Waynesville, Ohio, on a hometown visit. A few were ordered online, and of course, a fat quarter or twelve came from Holly’s Quilt Cabin in Centennial, Colorado. I love mentally revisiting the shops when I look at the quilt, almost as much as I love mentally revisiting the original quilt a scrap may have come from.

And I REALLY enjoy using scraps from previous quilts for that very reason. It adds a little flavor, that memory of another quilt. So while many of these fabrics were purchased, there are a lot of personal “Easter eggs” for me. The smallest patch is 4-3/4” x 1-3/4”, and pretty much any project will give you a scrap or two that’s perfect for that dimension.

There’s a few patches from quilts I’ve finished in the past couple of years, and then there’s a single scrap from a test block that was just too pretty to toss, and there are even a few leftover scraps from Love of Quilting’s episode 3101: It Waves Forever.

But even a scrap quilt can generate more scraps.

Already, some of those scraps have made it into my “daughter block” project.

Started back in 2018, these daughter blocks have been a joy. After a project is complete, I can whip up a little daughter block from the leftovers, or sometimes I’ll sew a few when I’m between projects and just want something quick. Having a scrappy side project that just keeps building has been a lot of fun.  

Maybe too much fun. Who knew it would get so…big? Purrfessional Quilt Tester included for scale.

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