January 6, 2013

Book Review: Build Your Best Log Cabin

Log Cabin block, Barn Raising setting

I'm starting out the new year by doing something new.  I was invited to write a book review for an ebook about log cabin quilts by Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting.  I've never written an official book review before.  So here goes:

I like that this book includes the connection to traditional quilts and quilt history.  Compared to my early years as a quilter  -harumph- years ago, I think that now there is less focus on the history of quiltmaking.  We've been so blessed with tons and tons of new fabrics and new tools and techniques, that it's easy to forget the long tradition that we all represent.  I like keeping that continuity alive.  We are all part of quilt history.  Quilts have always been a window into the way our lives have changed over the centuries.  The traditional quilts chosen for the book are lovely and clearly show the different kinds of log cabin block construction.

Courthouse Steps block

The patterns presented for contemporary versions of the log cabin are all interesting and sometimes challenging.  These designs highlight the versatility of the log cabin block, and show why it's a pattern that has been so popular for so long.  There is so much room for creativity without lots of intricate piecing, for example Lori Christianson's courthouse steps quilt becomes concentric squares just by changing the color placement.

A nice addition are the technique instructions like quilting with speciality threads in the bobbin and lump-less finishing for bindings.  This way experienced quilters can improve their techniques at the same time as beginners are learning the basic piecing.  I especially love the tip about how to not lose that teensy little bobbin case screw by adjusting it with the whole thing held inside a plastic bag.  

My only addition to the book would be to say that these patterns don't need to be made as is.  They can serve as inspiration to experiment and create with these blocks.  Simply making traditional blocks and playing around with orientation and placement when building the top can be very exciting.  But these blocks can be taken in so many other directions as well.  The sky's the limit with log cabin quilts, really.  

The downloadable ebook is available from Fons and Porter here.  

The two photos in this post are not from the book.  They just came along to decorate the page.  One is a log cabin quilt that I own, and one is a quilt that I did some restoration work on.  The barn raising is c. 1870.  The courthouse steps is c. 1900 or 1910.

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