Works In Progress

My first sweater.
Sweater In Progress

That vintage dress, finally!
Dress In Progress

A little gift.
Scooby Doo Pixel People

Modern Crosses Reprise

I may have mentioned that Susan Beal will be doing a book signing event at Bobbin’s Nest in May for her new book Modern Log Cabin Quilting. We’ll be making some samples from the book, and I was tasked with making another version of the Modern Crosses quilt in baby size with fabrics from the shop.

Modern Crosses Quilt for Bobbin's Nest

I think it turned out pretty darn cute! (Excuse the blurriness of these photos — it’s something weird about WordPress at the moment. Click on the photos to see the clearer versions over at Flickr!)

Modern Crosses Quilt for Bobbin's Nest

Modern Crosses Quilt for Bobbin's Nest, detail

Modern Crosses Quilt for Bobbin's Nest, block detail

Modern Crosses Quilt for Bobbin's Nest, block detail

Modern Log Cabin Quilting Blog Tour

I am excited to be talking to you today about a fabulous book by a friend of mine, Susan Beal. The book is Modern Log Cabin Quilting, and it is a feast of inspiration, as well as a great basic resource.

Modern Log Cabin Quilting Book Cover

I have to come clean and tell you that before I received this book from Susan, I had never made a log cabin quilt block. Crazy, I know! And now that I have, I can totally see how Susan comes by her self-proclaimed addiction to this traditional design. It’s simple, it’s fun, it works with any kind of fabrics, and it can produce a plethora of individual designs for your finished quilts.

The book begins with a little bit of history to put the log cabin block in context for us. I love this — you feel a little more connection with both pioneering women of the 1800’s AND the modern quilt movement.

Modern Log Cabin Quilting is a great beginner book. The log cabin block is simple to understand and construct, and the instructions are written in a way that beginners can easily understand. Susan has included lots of great beginner diagrams and definitions for the standard terminology that are usually skimmed over.

Basic Terminology pageBasic Quilt Terminology

However, this book is great for more advanced quilters and sewists as well. Susan includes information on designing blocks so that not only can you see how her projects were designed and follow her step-by-step instructions, you can also apply the principles she describes to create your own log cabin designs with your own flair. She includes tips that are great for every level, from making fabric choices to how to decide how much seam allowance to use to how she decides when to pin.

Log cabin block designsQuilt Block Designs

And I love how Susan writes. It’s like she’s sitting there next to you, cheering you on! She is knowledgeable and friendly, without being pedantic.

But I know what you really want to hear about are the projects!!

Modern Log Cabin Quilting includes 10 beautiful quilt projects and 14 home decor and bag projects.The quilt projects come in a variety of sizes and styles, from baby to queen and from traditional to modern. She even shows us how to use a variety of materials for these quilts, from basic quilter’s cottons to recycled t-shirts to lovely cuddly wools to vintage linens.

T-shirt Memory QuiltT-shirt Memory Quilt

The style of the blocks runs the gamut as well, including the sunshine and shadow, picture frame, housetop, color story, and random variations she describes earlier in the book. She even includes different finishing methods — the Winter Woolens Quilt is finished without batting or binding and uses ties for the quilting, while the Clouds In the Sky project is finished as a duvet cover (what a great idea!).

Clouds in the Sky Duvet CoverClouds in the Sky Duvet Cover

I adore the Housetop Quilt…

Housetop QuiltHousetop Quilt

…but without a doubt my favorite quilt in the book is the Modern Crosses Quilt on the cover. I think this one really shows off the versatility of the log cabin block. At first look you wouldn’t even think this is a log cabin, but it is. And it’s a simplified version as well, with just one round of logs. In my opinion, simple is usually the way to go!

When I saw this quilt I immediately thought of how similar this design seems to the Bouncing Baby Boy quilt that I made what back when. You can get a very similar effect here, but without all the hassle of piecing curves! Brilliant! I’ve already made one of these for the {Modern} Relief Japan project (you’ll get to see it in the next few weeks!).

Modern Crosses QuiltModern Crosses Quilt

The other projects in the book are great as well. It may seem fairly obvious to make a quilt out of log cabin blocks, but Susan shows us how to use log cabin blocks in a variety of other smaller-scale projects. These projects are perfect for using up that pile of scraps of your favorite fabrics that you just can’t bear to get rid of!

The Block Pocket Apron is adorable, and it starts with a pillowcase. She shows one apron made with a plain pillowcase and then one made with a vintage pillowcase that is absolutely adorable! And it couldn’t be much easier to make.

Block Pocket ApronBlock Pocket Apron

Vintage Block Pocket ApronBlock Pocket Apron with Vintage Pillowcase

The Color Story Pillow is super cute as well. Her sample shows some really adorable printed fabrics, but I made one out of solids and you can see how versatile this design is! Keep reading below, because I’m giving away my version at the end of this post!

Color Story PillowColor Story Pillow

The sweet Everything-In-One-Place Zip Bag is definitely on my list of things to make (hello, scrap bin!), and the Market Tote from recycled blue jeans is genius.

Everything-In-One-Place Zip BagEverything-In-Its-Place Zip Bag

Denim is perfect for a bag like this — sturdy, durable, washable, yet beautiful! My market bags are starting to fall apart, and this looks like a perfect replacement!

Market ToteMarket Tote

I encourage you to go out to your local fabric or quilt shop and pick up a copy of this book. My copy is already in heavy rotation at my house!

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can tell you that we are carrying it at Bobbin’s Nest Studio in Santa Clara where I work. And even better — we’ll be hosting a book signing and block making event with Susan herself on May 19! More details on that to follow, but you can keep tabs on it for now over on the Modern Log Cabin Quilting event site.

If you want more log cabin goodness for a cause, Susan and her friend Daniela are the powerhous behind Quilts for Quake Survivors, which is making quilts to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Or if you just want more log cabins in general, or a little boost to get you started, Susan will be teaching a class on Modern Log Cabin Quilting this summer at PNCA. You all know how much I love taking classes at PNCA — spending the weekend with a bunch of creative people and a fabulous instructor is definitely my idea of fun! And if you don’t live in Portland, it’s a great excuse to visit!


As a thank you for joining me for this portion of the Modern Log Cabin Quilting blog tour, I have a giveaway for you. Inspired by Susan’s book from the moment I picked it up, I made a Color Story Pillow in Amy a la Mode style to give away to one lucky reader.

Amy a la Mode Color Story PillowAmy a la Mode Color Story Pillow

Amy a la Mode Color Story Pillow BackAmy a la Mode Color Story Pillow

To qualify, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by 11:59 PM on April 13 telling me what your favorite traditional quilt blocks are. I’ll choose a winner at random from all the valid comments. The winner will receive the pillow cover (the pillow form is NOT included). This contest is open to anyone internationally. Good luck!

Enjoy the rest of the blog tour!

The Days of Cross Stitching

It seems like we all go through phases where we focus all our attention on a particular kind of creative activity — quilting or scrapbooking or knitting or whatever.

I was all about cross-stitching at one point. It was back in grad school. I was finally done with my coursework and had finally passed my qualifying exams. I finally had a tiny bit of spare time after my 10-12 hour days in the lab (with shorter days on Sunday to make time for food buying and laundry), to do something fun. But what?

A friend and I were in Michael’s one day, the reason for the trip now long-ago forgotten. But we stumbled across the aisle of counted cross-stitch patterns. I picked up a tiny pattern — a bookmark or something — and that was it. I was devoted to counted cross stitch. It was slow and I didn’t have a lot of free time, so I didn’t complete a lot of big projects, but I really enjoyed it.

Pots of Herbs Cross Stitch
11″ x 14″, currently hangs in the hallway bathroom

And when we went on our honeymoon to Williamsburg, VA, I purchased a sampler based on one in the museum there that I could personalize with my family tree information. It had a lot more than cross-stitching in it and was fun to do, but took me a really long time. I finally finished it 5 years later!

Family Tree Sampler 17″ x 18″, currently hangs above my desk in the living room (I’ve blurred out all the details, but the words are all in cross stitch.)

Nowadays I don’t have much interest in cross stitch. My husband had purchased a map kit a long time ago and I got it out at one point to try to finish it, but just couldn’t get into it. In fact, there’s a picture of it sitting on my side table in one of the first posts on this blog. It stayed there a while and finally got put away again.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll take it up again someday.

Is there a craft you used to love but no longer spend much time on?

Quilt Pattern Survey and Giveaway!

I decided in December that one thing I wanted to do for the Amy a la Mode business this year was to write quilt pattens for some of the improvisational quilts I have designed.

In thinking about how to go about this, I’ve decided that a little bit of market research is in order, and I would like to enlist your help with a short survey. There are just a handful of easy multiple-choice questions, with a chance to win a giveaway if you participate!

If you are viewing this post in a feed reader and do not see the survey, please click over to my actual blog to participate.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

At the end of the survey you will be given the opportunity to enter to win these beautiful fabrics. You’ll get 1/2 yard of each of Scallop Stripe, Daisy Bouquet, Tulip Medallion, and the hard to find cheater print from Denyse Schmidt’s County Fair home decorator line of fabrics.

The survey will be open until midnight on Feb. 28, 2011. I’ll definitely be sharing the results with you when they are tabulated.

Also, for additional chances to win, post the link to this survey on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog, and leave another comment here letting me know that you’ve done so and the link to your post/tweet.

And thanks so much in advance!

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