Toppers and Logs

We have had some misty mornings lately at Forest Moor

Hi Everyone,

I once read that, in quilting circles, Toppers are people who enjoy all the designing and piecing of tops of quilts and then leave them to languish, incomplete , while they go on to make another top. It’s true that quilting and binding a quilt is not as much fun but that’s when you really see it coming together and beginning to look like a proper quilt.

Lately, I have been working very much as a Topper, going through each of my fabrics and patterns-in-waiting, cutting out the shapes of fabric needed and wrapping all the paper pieces. Then I put them back in their respective boxes. The idea is I can pick any box and begin piecing; all the bits are there, ready to sew. I managed to do all but two of the medium sized quilts because the last two need either more fabric or more paper pieces.

I’ll show you some in this post, the ones that are predominantly about working with strips of fabric, whether long strips for sashing or shorter strips like those found in log cabin blocks. The others will keep for a later post as I don’t want to overwhelm you! I have photographed the tops on my desk, laid out in their pattern but not yet sewn together:

This post mostly concerns working with strips of fabric, very long strips for sashing (the strips of fabric between quilt blocks to space then out) and shorter strips like those found in log cabin blocks

For anyone who might not know, the log cabin is much loved traditional quilt block that is built from the centre outwards, adding longer pieces as you go. The centre represents the hearth of the home, often shown in a red fabric, while the logs represent the wooden walls of the ‘cabin’. There are many variations in the number and size of logs and blocks can be short and fat or tall and thin. Some quilts are made up of a single large log cabin block, while others might use multiples of the same block.

I have had four log cabin ideas waiting to be made for about a decade now. It makes me cringe writing that; realising how long it’s been. One is a long panel, a lovely ‘ Princess and the Pea’ print that I want to make into a log cabin design but haven’t decided whether I will, as all those logs arranged around the centre make for long and tedious sewing time. The panel would sit in the space numbered 1 in the diagram below and logs of various widths of fabric would work outwards from there.

I also had two log cabin quilt ideas for children but I have given up on the design I originally planned for these, just to get the quilts done faster. In the first one below, I have done away with layers of ‘logs’ in favour of a Framed One Patch design, taken from ‘Quilts for Baby’ by Ursula Reikes, using a fun safari fabric. The green fabric you can just see on the far left will make a wide border around the centre frames. This is now much more do-able and not nearly as much sewing time.

The second child’s quilt has morphed into a pattern called ‘Barney’s Block’, using the same safari fabric but in a different colour way (more browns and rusts, fewer yellows and greens and with shorter logs and squares.

It looks rather dull at the moment but will be framed in fabric of the same bright orange yellow squares as the giraffes you see here, so that should brighten it up quite a bit! This pattern is from ‘Even More Quilts for Baby by Ursula Reikes.

My next quilt top is a variation of the Log Cabin design, called ‘Courthouse Steps’. In this block the logs are arranged differently, as in the diagram below:

I have been avoiding this one for years, even though I had all the fabric, because of the amount of sewing involved (even cutting out all the logs takes ages) but now I have begun I am rather pleased with it. I have called it ‘Temple Window’ because it reminds me of one I saw once, in Nepal. All the pieces are wonky in the photo below but once they are all sewn together, I think it will look nice. I don’t really need that second strip of red and blue that runs between the top and bottom two blocks, but I quite like it, so I am leaving it like that for now. In fact I have decided to add another five blocks to make it a much larger square for the wall, except that means even more cutting and sewing (sigh).

Once upon a time I bought four or five Charm Packs, and as many Mini Charm Packs, all so easy to fall in love with and buy. But then you have to use them. This one was a charm pack by Moda called ‘Sphere’ and the pattern is ‘Amanda’ from ‘3 Times the Charm (Book II)’ by Me and My Sisters. In the early days I bought books and followed patterns which I don’t do anymore, but I want to complete these quilts as far as possible in the way I intended them because they were part of that time.

The original pattern has a series of larger rectangles in the same fabric that frame the pattern above but that makes it look VERY busy, so I have decided to add a border of blue between the pattern the outer row of rectangles, to soften the overall brightness a little.

In addition to many the toppers I began this January, I also added to earlier incomplete quilts. Do you remember this mermaid, ‘Attic Window’ design? The first photo shows all the completed blocks sitting on my desk, the second shows the paper pieces that will make up the sashing and the third shows the fabric sashing in place.

You will notice that the sashing strips are a little too long. This is so I can adjust them to the right size later. Strip lengths have a habit of shifting slightly when you are sewing and if you have cut them too short you’re in trouble!

Another thing you might notice is that the paper sashing in the middle picture is made up of lots of short pieces. All kinds of shapes are available from sellers of English Paper Piecing papers but no long strips. It took a while for it to dawn on me that I could make my own by sellotaping pieces together. If I need an 8″ strip I could sellotape two 3″ pieces and a 2″ piece together or two 4″ pieces. Later they can be cut apart again and re-used.

So that’s it for today. More to come soon and then all I have to do is sew all the pieces together. Hmm, I think that could take a year or two! It’s time; they have been hanging around far too long and I have so many, very different, ideas of my own that I am itching to get to.

I hope you are all well and keeping cosy. Spring is not far away!

Till next time….

4 thoughts on “Toppers and Logs

  1. As usual, your creativity traveled well across the pond to the Oregon woods, where we have a different kind of “logs.” I really love the jungle quilts for babies. Almost makes me want to become a mom again! But I’m into grandchildren now and even great-grandchildren!!
    Love and blessings,


  2. Hi, Lesley,
    You’re so ambitious! You’ve got some great projects going. My least favorite part of quilting is the cutting. I don’t think I could be as organized as you.
    It took me nearly three years to complete a velour quilt my daughter ordered. My mother made many, including one my daughter wore thread bare. I gifted it finally this Christmas and was happy to finally be finished. It was made from upcycled garments.
    Now I can move on to other ideas. There are so many more things I’d like to try, but only so much time and ambition. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your work.


    • Hello Jean. It’s lovely to hear from you. I have realised that if I don’t get organised they won’t get done. I have the ambition but like you, so many more things I’d like to try and only so much time. I certainly need to get a move on!


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