Tutorial - Scrappy Rebuilt Log Cabin

I call this a Rebuilt Log Cabin because we "build" our log cabin blocks, then tear them apart, then "rebuild" them.  Narrow strips help our eyes to blend the values.  I've made it with wider strips, but scrappiness on wider strips does not look as appealing as the narrower strips.

Size - without borders -- approx. 57 in. x 76
Finished Block size:  Approx. 9.50 to 9.75
- Yards and yards of scrappy lights and darks.  I use fabrics that blend.  Use those bits and pieces of previous projects! 
- Ruler to cut strips at 1.5 inches x WOF (width of fabric)
- Template cardboard or plastic material, or an 8.5 inch ruler.  Size must be accurate.
- Chalk marking wheel, etc., and a regular pencil.
- Regular sewing supplies
- Larger square-up ruler, 10.5 or 12.5 or template material that size

Modified 11/3/2011 -
Always make a test block to determine if this unorthodox method is your cup of tea.  Also, using a different machine may result in slightly different measurements. 

We will be using 1.5 in. strips, lights and darks, around a center red, yellow, black or ??? square of 1.5 inch.  Keep your center square color constant. This is a scrappy project, so we don't get hung up on "how long should I make that strip?"   That's another Tutorial!  8-)

This project calls for 6 x 8 blocks (48).  I am making 50 blocks, figuring to use one or two for practice.  Each block finishes at approx. 10.00 or 10.12 (don't get hung up on that 10.12 inch size!)  after trimming.  Your border is optional - at this time I don't have a border on my project yet.  My recent project blocks trimmed to 10 inches.  I sewed with a different machine, and used a full 1/4 in. seam.  A scant 1/4 seam will result with a slightly larger block.

For your center square, you will need 2 strips WOF (width of fabric), cut at 1.5 inches.  There will be a few inches extra.

Next, cut two (2) light scrappy strips at 1.5 inches WOF,  and sew them to your 2 center strips.  Sewing this as strips is easier than sewing and cutting each separately.  Press to LIGHT, then segment to 1.5 inches.  Your lights can be all the same or totally scrappy, but keep it LIGHT.   If we start by adding LIGHTS, the block will finish with a DARK. 
I found this ruler to be VERY helpful for accuracy and tired eyes.  The slits are cut every half inch.  Determine your increments and use caution when cutting.  It's easy to use, but also easy to miss your cutting mark.  I know!  My Olfa rotary ruler fits, but my blue one does not.  The ruler assures accuracy, and also holds the fabric firmly so it doesn't slip one bit. 

Choose a second light - use the same light or a new choice.  You will need more than 2 strips as your strips are now getting longer.   I sew in a clockwise  (viewing from the top) direction.  I sew each side (light or dark) to all the blocks at one time, then press them at one time.  Press OUT - towards the outside of the block. 

The above photo shows the 2 lights already sewn and I'm adding my first dark.  Keep your work organized, and all the blocks in the same configuration.  You will add 2 of each value, sewing in a clockwise direction, pressing between sides.   Don't get mixed up and forget.  There are many other ways to sew these together - but this is how I am doing it in this Tutorial.

Photo below shows 2 rounds of light, and I'm adding the 2nd round of dark.  Note that my pieces are NOT cut to length.  If you are close to accurate, you don't need to measure each one, but can add them on strip style piecing, and cut them apart later.  The length will be determined by the previous piece SIDE.  See the green facing up?  The horizontal side is the correct length to cut that next piece (under the foot).  I don't get fussy about this with a ruler -- I might cut them apart carelessly with a scissors - (never too short) -- then trim more carefully later, but I don't get paranoid with perfection.   
Here are all 50 blocks with 2 whole rounds completed.  Many of my fabrics are the same from block to block, but there are also some where I went back to my stash, when I ran out of something.
You are making a traditional Log Cabin, with 5 rounds.  Press carefully after each round - sometimes little tucks get in the way, and the block sometimes gets a bit narrower in the center if you aren't pressing it well.  If your block starts getting narrower across the middle, this will cause problems later on.

OK, all your blocks are completed, and pressed flat.  Do not worry, fuss, or take the time to trim off any bits around the outside of the block.  You will do that later.

Draw  an 8.5 inch square on cardboard, or template of some sort.  If you have your 8.5 in. ruler, that works fine -- I couldn't find mine.  DO NOT use a 9.5 inch ruler, or any other size.  8.5 is THE size.  It must be square.

Lay that template or ruler in the configuration above, so that each corner of your template or ruler touches each side of your block.  Turn your template so it leans left, as shown.  It doesn't work as well if you turn it to the right, but whichever way you choose, stick with the same configuration - don't tilt that ruler both ways, willy-nilly.  Sometimes you need to fiddle but it must touch.  If your block is not square, that template doesn't fit well and you might have to repress it to size.  You can cheat by small bits, but be as accurate as possible!

Draw around your template (or ruler) with chalk or marking tool.  You will need a light marker and a dark marker.  A pencil will work fine on the lights.

OK, now with your ruler and rotary cutter, cut along that line.  You don't have much choice where that line crosses - don't call the Quilt Police!
Exchange the corners across from each other.  But hey!!! - they don't line up right - that's EXACTLY what we are aiming for!
Mark each one, then cut each one, then flop the 4 triangular pieces on each block, on the side they will be sewn back onto, until the entire 50 blocks are  cut, and stacked.  This helps with production.  Keep them all in the same configuration.  (It just looks neater that way!) 

Sew them back on, start with the larger corner that you cut off and lay it on the corner of the block.  (Below)  Do not bring the cut-off triangle even with the corner of the block, but about 1/4 inch down.  Sew that triangle back on the block using a 1/4 in. seam.  There are pointy bits of seam allowances that get in the way as you sew -- trim them off, then sew down to the point of that triangle.   Do not worry about edges that are not long enough, or a bit too long - some will NOT be the exact size because of whatever inconsistencies you sewed.  The point of that triangular cut off piece will end approximately where the next corner is to be sewn down.  You can sew all four triangular pieces down without cutting your thread.  Don't get hung up about bits, or not-matching, or the Quilt Police.  Just sew them down with 1/4 in. seam -- do NOT use a larger seam.  You can "practice" on those 2 extra blocks you made if this casual sewing makes you nervous.  Yes, those edges will be bias, but you're not doing anything with them except sewing them down. 

Ta dahhhh!  Press open and flat.  Yeah, but what about those messy edges?  This is where you take your larger ruler, and trim them to ... mine trimmed to 10.25 or slightly less.  If you trim them too much, you lose too much fabric and when you sew them together with other blocks, you want to have a piece of fabric showing, not just a skinny bit.  This is where I said 10.12 (10 1/8) inch is a good number.  Check several of your blocks to see what YOU have.

Options - You can use any number of "rounds" - and some gals suggested the last 2 rounds be wider - those are excellent suggestions and if you are adventurous, you might want to try.

Here is my final trimmed block.  Note the small amounts I trimmed off.  Do not worry about some bulk when you sew the blocks to each other, Just moosh them flat and any bulk with go into the batting.  I have several of these quilts and they are all my favorites.  After all, they are scrap quilts.  Your friends will look at them and wonder how you made them!  Have fun.  If you have questions, please e-mail me. 

Here are some examples.  Layouts are up to you.  This one had definite diagonal rows.  I think my cut-off triangles were skinnier on this one - it was my first experiment. 
This one destined for Quilt of Valor (below) has 4 rounds. 
I think this one has 5 rounds.  Dig that crazy border! This was totally scrappy! 
    Here is my final version from the block at the top of the page.  Hey, it looks a lot like that turquoise sample above!   I figured out what kind of border it should have.