Sunday, July 15, 2012

Behind the Seams - 2nd Generation Log Cabin Quilt

Amanda over at Fabric Engineer has started a new monthly linky party, on the 15th of each month called "Behind the Seams."  The purpose of this linky party is to showcase something sewing related, but not necessarily progress related.  Each month has a different topic and this month's is "the oldest fabric in your stash."  Here's mine, along with the story behind it:

You might have seen my post at the end of May about a puppet theater my mom made (but didn't quite finish) about 25 years ago.  I'm currently working on another one of her "almost done" projects, though this one is only about 13 years old.

My mom started this quilt as a Christmas gift for my husband, before he was my husband.  I don't remember exactly which year, but we've been married 12, so at least that long ago.  My mom made all our clothes growing up but I think she's only done 2 other quilts.  One is hanging on her bedroom wall and the other was for my college dorm room.

Her favorite (only?) block is the traditional log cabin.  She made this set in blues and grays, to mirror the colors of the New York Yankees uniforms (my husband's favorite team).  

I love the way she laid them out, with the darks and lights making diamond patterns.


However, mom doesn't actually "quilt" her quilts.  She ties them (with embroidery floss) in the corners.  I knew that was the case when I found this quilt in her sewing room a few years back, when she decided I'd probably finish it sooner than she would.  Along with the quilt, she gave me a big pile of baseball shaped buttons that I could tie on to add interest to the front of the quilt as well as the 3 pieces of leftover blue print fabric I showed at the top of this post.  

She said she didn't care where this quilt ended up --- at my house, given as a gift, donated to a charity or even at Goodwill --- as long as it was finally finished.

It sat in my craft closet for a very long time before I decided I was going to finally finish this up and give it to my brother, who just got a new apartment.  His birthday is in September, so that's my goal.  

Mom used the "inside out" method (as I call it... it probably has a real name) to attach the front to the back.  She put the right sides of the top and bottom together and sewed around them by machine, leaving an opening for turning.  That's not the method I typically use, but I decided I would work with what she'd already done.  I laid it out to start basting it for quilting, but realized it was a bit lumpy.  After deep deliberation, I decided to turn it inside out, unpick the stitches all the way around, then re-sandwich it the way I normally do, hoping it would lay a little more flat.  It wasn't until I flipped it inside out again that I saw how she had actually constructed it.

When she sewed the layers together, she only attached the front flimsy to the backing fabric.  She did not sew in the batting by machine.  Instead, she had used a whip stitch to attach the batting to the (already attached) front and back pieces.  That's why it was so lumpy... the batting wasn't really attached into the seams of the quilt.

Can you see how the top flimsy and the backing fabric are sewn together, but there are long white hand-sewn whip stitches securing the batting to the rest of the quilt?

It took a few hours, but I was able to unpick all those stitches - both the whip stitches and the machine stitches.  Now I have 3 separate pieces -- top, back, batting.  The back had already been cut to exactly match the size of the top but I prefer my back to be a tiny bit bigger than the front when I sandwich it all, so I have some wiggle room.  The good news is that when she gave me the quilt, she also gave me that leftover fabric from the log cabin blocks.  The oldest fabric in my stash!  

I'm planning to cut up the back and piece in some strips of the extra prints, just enough to give me a few more inches in each direction on the backing.  I should still have enough left to bind the quilt with one of the prints.

I haven't been working diligently on quilt, but I'm looking forward to getting it done in time for my brother's birthday on September 16.  When I give it to him, it'll truly be a gift from both his mom and his big sister.  Though it took over a decade to complete, I think it adds a really nice touch that I get to finish a quilt my mom started, long before I'd ever touched a sewing machine.

Have you ever finished someone else's forgotten quilt?  I'd love to hear your stories!


~*~ May your day be full of Love and Ladybug Hugs ~*~

Thanks for stopping by!
~ Kat ~


  1. You had me until you said mimics NY Yankees!! We're not fans, but this is a beautiful quilt.

  2. I aam working on a quilt my CaMom started when she was 16 - she just turned 60. Quilt Monster in the Closet is having a yester year WIP linky party every month on the 5th.

  3. Lovely quilt,please put a photo on when its finished.The colours are perfect for a fellow.Your brother will love it.
    Laura X

  4. What a lovely story, Kat, and an equally lovely story. I love that it will be a gift from both you and your Mom. How nice that you rescued it from that closet. My Mom made our clothes too when we were growing up. What I wouldn't give to have some of those scraps!

  5. Hi Kat, I loved reading your story about your moms quilt. Looking forward to seeing it finished. I love the idea of using the left-over fabric to make the back larger. I now prefer to piece together a rough back on purpose, just because I think it makes it so much more interesting.

  6. some of my flimsies are so old I need to be reacquainted with them.LOL have never finished for anyone else though. but there are so many different methods to finish one. the method you describe is one that was used a lot in the 80s quilting. the hand quilted stuff was considered too time consuming and a lot of gals "pillowcased" them together and attached the batt only on the seams. then they were loosey goosey in the middle unless they were tied all over. love the log cabin. classic neat pattern that can be modern or not.

  7. ps I too have a brother with a Sept 16th birthday. how fun!

  8. That's a great story...thanks for sharing. (And thanks for joining the linky party!!)

    I finished a crocheted blanket that my mom started. Half way through I realized that it wasn't square. Probably because I was doing a lot of the crocheting in semi-darkness. So I unraveled most of the blanket and started again.


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