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Create a modern Log Cabin cushion cover using scraps

by Sarah Vanderburgh

Create a modern Log Cabin cushion cover using the features found on PFAFF‘s Performance 5.2. This post gives directions on how to turn some leftover scraps into several log cabin blocks which will be sewn together to make a pillow top.

I went back into my bin of Northcott Fabric scraps for this project – actually I worked on this project and the crazy patch potholder at the same time (you can find that project in my previous post).

log cabin pillow on PFAFF sewing machine Performance 5.2

Modern Log Cabin cushion and Performance 5.2


Scraps to make log cabin blocks – mostly strips from 2″ – 4″ wide and some at least 11″ long

16½” square of cotton fabric for backing of quilted top

2 panels of fabric for pillow back – one 13½” long x 16½” wide  and one 9½” long x 16½” wide

16″ square of batting

thread that contrasts well with all scraps

cushion top pieces log cabin blocks quilt blocks

Blocks needed to make cushion top

The pillow top is made up of several quarter log cabin blocks in two different sizes and a courthouse variation block.

Use the sizes of the blocks to help you pick out your scraps – save the longer ones for the outside edges.

courthouse step block

Courthouse step log cabin block

The largest block in the cushion top is a courthouse step log cabin block. This block is 10½” square unfinished. I originally planned to stop with just this one block, but then my idea grew! Feel free to just make this block if you want to – you can turn it into a potholder or mug rug and still have a surface to play with the decorative stitches found in the PFAFF’s Performance 5.2 – which is the point of this exercise;)

To sew this block start with a center rectangle. Add strips to two opposites sides, press the seams to the added strips and trim even with the center. Repeat adding strips to the next pair of opposite sides.

I didn’t measure my strip widths, hence the use of the term “modern”. And it was luck and my tendency towards symmetry that made the sides match – they don’t have too! Notice that as my block grows I run out of matching strips to add. No problem. Have fun and use up some scraps!

6.5 quarter log cabin block

6½ ” square unfinished quarter log cabin block

You will need to make 3 – 6½” square unfinished quarter log cabin blocks. These blocks start with a rectangle center and are built out from two sides only.

trimming fabric piece to size quilt block

Trimming oversized piece.

Sometimes when sewing with scraps you need to make do with what you have – in this case adding on a piece that is much wider than needed. Simply sew the piece to your block, press the seam to the added piece, then choose a pleasing width and trim. In these photos, you can see I was lining up the ruler beside the sewn piece to determine where I wanted to cut it. Cutting also left enough blue to use on one of the remaining blocks too!

trimming from both ends quilt block

Trimming block square.

Here’s another tip I’ve learned from modern quilting: sometimes when trimming a block square, it makes sense to trim from two sides and not just one. At least it’s true in my experience. If adding the last strip to your block results in a width that doesn’t look right to your eye, try trimming from the opposite side of the block too. I tend to like the starting rectangle to look more square by the time I’m done;)

odd size block log cabin quilt block

Smallest quarter log cabin block

The smallest quarter log cabin blocks needed are not square – they are rectangular.

You’ll need 2 – 4½” x 6½” unfinished quarter log cabin blocks.

This is where using a design wall comes in handy – it’s important to keep adding pieces to the same two sides and that you make the “right one” the longer one.

blocks on design wall quilt pillow lay out

Blocks needed to make cushion top

Notice in the photo above that one of the smaller blocks “grows” from the left side of the center and the other one from the right. Of course you could always make yours differently – part of the fun in quilting is using personal choices to make a unique design.

straight stitch plate and quilting foot Performance 5.2

Straight stitch needle plate and quilting foot

To sew the blocks together I used the straight stitch needle plate and the quilting foot, both included with the Performance 5.2. The IDT system works with this foot which means the fabrics will be guided evenly under the needle. And no pins! I love the time I save sewing with a PFAFF machine!

I also used the knee lift to raise the presser foot between blocks because they are different sizes and I like to keep both hands on the pieces. Most of the time I sew using I the Needle down button and just keep feeding the pieces through.

sew in numbered order sewing diagram

Order to sew blocks together.

Follow the numbers to sew the blocks together. When possible, press the seam to a side with no seams in it (not always possible!)

Pinned halves

Pinned halves

Sewing the two halves of the pillow top together is the first time I used pins thanks to the PFAFF IDT system! I know that it would still be okay without, as I’ve sewn two pieces of backing fabrics for a quilt together before with no pins. But, in this case, pinning made me more comfortable and that’s important when enjoying your time at the sewing machine:) Notice I also used the needle down button – it’s like adding and extra hand when sewing long seams together.

Cushion top on batting

Cut batting to size of cushion top.

Trim your completed cushion top to 16½” square.

If your batting isn’t already cut, trim it to size too.

Next we’ll pin the two layers together to get ready to add some decorative stitches.

pinned top cushion top

Batting pinned to cushion top.

Space the pins out around the pillow top, leaving clear areas you want to put stitches in. I made sure to put a few pins around the edges to secure the two layers at the sides. You can always remove some pins once you have added some stitches.

The modern log cabin cushion cover top is complete. The features on the Performance 5.2 made it easy to be precise while exploring modern piecing too. In the next post, we’ll add stitches!

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3:  Machine stitch a crazy patch potholder

Go to part 5: Embellish the modern Log Cabin cushion cover with decorative stitches


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