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Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

Are you ready to unleash your creative spirit? If you've been longing to break free from traditional quilt patterns and explore a world of boundless design possibilities, then you're in for a treat. In this article, we'll dive into the captivating realm of improvisational quilting. Together, we'll unravel the secrets of crafting an exquisite Improv Log Cabin Quilt Block that will take your quilting endeavors to extraordinary heights.  Make sure to scroll down to the video tutorial!

When it comes to quilt blocks, the Improv Log Cabin Quilt Block holds a special place in the hearts of many quilters and is the perfect way to play with improv.

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

However, before we delve into the intricacies of constructing this extraordinary quilt block, we'll explore selecting fabrics and colors that will bring your creation to life. Once you’ve picked out your fabrics, I'll then guide you through the step-by-step process of constructing the Improv Log Cabin Quilt Block.

By the time you reach the end of this blog post, you’ll have the confidence to make an incredible improv log cabin quilt block and also have a newfound sense of creativity and liberation in your quilting endeavors. :). So, grab your fabrics, dust off your sewing machine, and let's embark on this quilting revolution together!,

What is an Improv Log Cabin Quilt Block?

An improv log cabin quilt block is a unique and captivating creation that breaks away from the traditional rules of quilting. A traditional log cabin quilt block has been around since the 1800s and is a representation of home.  It is sewn by taking strips of fabric and building out from a small center square.  

In an improv log cabin quilt block, there are no set rules or patterns to follow. Instead, you have the freedom to intuitively design and construct your block as you go along. This approach allows you to be spontaneous and experimental, as you add pieces of fabric in whatever order or arrangement feels right to you.

The beauty of an improv log cabin quilt block lies in its unexpected and unstructured nature. As you work on your block, you may find yourself making decisions on the fly, responding to the shapes, colors, and textures that emerge as you sew. This process of improvisation can lead to surprising design choices and unique combinations that you may not have envisioned at the beginning.  

And, if you’re new to improv and feel some nerves about not having a pattern to follow, fear not!  With the log cabin block, you simply keep building with different strips.  You can start by cutting strips of different width and also play with your edges to make them wonky (and oh so cute!)

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

With an improv log cabin quilt block, the possibilities are endless. You can play with colors, textures, and prints, mixing and matching fabrics to create a visually striking and harmonious composition. You can experiment with different fabric widths and lengths, creating varying widths of "logs" that add visual interest and movement to your block.

Choosing Fabrics and Colors for the quilt block

The joy of creating an improv log cabin quilt block lies in the sense of liberation it offers. There are no strict guidelines to follow, no rigid patterns to adhere to – just you, your fabrics, and your imagination.

One option is to select a cohesive color palette that will tie your block together and create a harmonious look. You can choose colors that evoke a specific mood or theme, such as soothing blues and greens for a calming effect, or vibrant, bold hues for a more energetic and lively feel. Consider the overall aesthetic you want to achieve and use that as a guiding principle in your fabric selection.

Another approach is to embrace variety and mix and match fabrics that have contrasting colors, patterns, and textures. This can create a dynamic and visually interesting block, adding depth and dimension to your quilt. Don't be afraid to experiment with different fabric types, such as cotton, linen, or even silk, to add tactile elements to your design.

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

While choosing fabrics, it's important to consider the scale of your prints. Large-scale prints can make a bold statement, while small-scale prints can add intricate details to your block. You can also combine different scales to create visual interest and balance.

Additionally, keep in mind the contrast between your fabrics. High contrast can make individual fabrics stand out, while low contrast can create a more subtle and cohesive look. Experiment with different levels of contrast to find the right balance for your quilt block.

Lastly, don't forget about the importance of texture. Mixing fabrics with different textures, such as smooth solids, rough linens, or textured prints, can add depth and visual appeal to your block.

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

For me, I’m getting scrappy!  I’ve been saving up all of my fabric scraps from different quilts I’ve made during 2023.  I’ll be using fabrics from each quilt to sew up one or two blocks that I’ll piece together into a quilt at the end of the year.  Going with this approach, each block will have a cohesive color story, but the final quilt will be very scrappy.

Constructing the Log Cabin Quilt Block

Now that you have a better understanding of how fabric choices can influence your quilt block, it's time to put your knowledge into action. Constructing the log cabin quilt block is where the magic happens, as you transform your fabric choices into a beautiful and unique piece of art.

The construction of the log cabin quilt block typically starts with a square or rectangle in the center, which serves as the focal point. This central piece can be any fabric that you desire, whether it's a bold print or a solid color that complements your overall design.

Next, it's time to add the "logs" to your block. These logs are strips of fabric that are sewn around the central piece, creating the iconic log cabin pattern. As you add each log, consider the color, pattern, and texture to create a visually appealing contrast and interest.

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

One of the defining characteristics of the log cabin block is the way the logs are added. Traditionally, these strips are added in a clockwise or counterclockwise manner.  As you sew each log, be playful with your fabric choices.  If you don’t have a strip long enough or the edge you are sewing - sew two smaller strips together end-to-end to create a strip long enough for what you need.  

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

If you want to create a “wonky” edge or side, lay your strip at a slight angle.  When doing this, it is important to be mindful of the seam allowance.  Take your time and use a ruler to trim any excess fabric before pressing to keep a consistent 1/4” seam.

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

You will want to make your block slightly bigger than what you would like it to finish at because once you have completed adding the logs all the way around the central piece, it's time to square up your block. Trimming the excess fabric and ensuring that all the edges are straight and aligned will give your block a polished look.

For my quilt, I would like the blocks to finish at 12 inches.  This means, I need to trim by blocks in to 12 1/2 inch squares to account for the seam allowance when I sew all of my blocks into a quilt.

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

With the log cabin quilt block constructed, you have laid the foundation for a stunning piece of quilting. But, before we move on to the finishing touches, let's admire your handiwork and appreciate the creative choices you've made in constructing this unique block.

Note - The video below is sped up 8x natural speed.

 

Finishing Touches

With the log cabin quilt block expertly constructed, you have taken the first step towards creating a remarkable piece of art. Now, it's time to shift our attention to the finishing touches – those small yet significant details that will bring your quilt to life. These final steps in the process will require attention to detail and a touch of creativity, allowing you to put your personal stamp on your masterpiece.

You can use your quilt block in a variety of ways!  Set it aside and save up a bunch of blocks to make a quilt — that’s what I will be doing!  Or, you can use the block in a Quilty project such as a pillow, tote bag, table runner or wall hanging.  Once you decide what you’d like to make, it’s time to think about how to finish your quilt or project.

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

One way to add flair and sophistication to your log cabin block is through the use of borders. Consider choosing a border fabric that complements the colors and patterns already present in your block. Whether you opt for a contrasting hue that makes a bold statement or a more subtle shade that ties the elements together, the border will frame your block and give it a polished, cohesive look.  This is a great option to consider if you are making a pillow or tote bag.

Another finishing touch that can take your quilt to the next level is the inclusion of sashing. Sashing refers to the strips of fabric that separate individual blocks, creating a harmonious flow and providing visual interest. You can experiment with different sashing widths and colors to achieve the desired effect. Don't shy away from contrasting colors or even using a mix of low-volume fabrics to create a dynamic and eye-catching design.  This option is great when making a scrappy quilt.

To add a touch of dimension and texture, you may also consider adding embellishments to your log cabin block. This could be accomplished through the use of embroidery, appliqué, or even carefully placed buttons. These extra details not only serve as decorative elements but also allow you to showcase your unique style and creativity.  This is perfect for small projects like a wall hanging.

Now, take a moment to step back and admire the journey you've taken so far. Consider the choices you've made throughout the construction process and the overall impact they have had on your log cabin block. By appreciating your handiwork, you gain a deeper understanding of the artistry and skill that goes into quilting.  If this is your first improv project…congratulations!

Master the Art of Making an Incredible Improv Log Cabin Block | A tutorial from Nollie Bean

You made it! By following these steps, you’ve just created an Improv Log Cabin Quilt Block. With a few basic elements of quilting, like fabric color selection, piecing, and quilting, you can make this block on your own with ease. Now take this newfound skill and go create a quilt of your own design - the possibilities are endless.  And remember that each quilt block tells a story – your story.  So, grab your fabrics, let your creativity flow, and enjoy the journey of bringing your unique vision to life. As Maya Angelou once said, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

If you enjoyed learning how to make an Improv Log Cabin Quilt Block, let me know! Share your log cabin quilt blocks with me on Instagram!  I’d love to see your work and hear how you’ve used your new quilting technique.

How to Make an Improv Log Cabin Quilt Block | A Nollie Bean Tutorial

Happy sewing!!
I always love to see what you make!  Tag me when you share on Instagram and use the hashtags #nolliebeanpatterns.
xoxo. ~Jenni

3 comments

  • Hi Linda! That might be true! I’m planning a 100-day project for myself to start in January making more of these blocks and I know I’ll be diving completely into my scrap bin that has a lot of prints in it! I’ll be sure to share pictures!

    Jenni (Nollie Bean)
  • Seems most improv blocks use solids, something I don’t have a lot of.

    Linda Phillips
  • Seems most improv blocks use solids, something I don’t have a lot of.

    Linda Phillips

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