Friday, February 7, 2014

Log cabin hot-pads


Sometimes I get an idea for a crafty project and enjoy it so much that I get stuck on it. Where I meant to make just one, I end up making two - or three, in the case of these hand-quilted log cabin hot-pads. I was enjoying myself so much, I just couldn't stop.

I made the pieced tops with strips from a jelly roll of 1930's reproduction fabrics. I really love this cotton quilting fabric, which is made in the style of Depression-era feedsack cloth. I love the real stuff too, but it's not really in my budget. Actually, even the reproduction fabrics can be expensive, which is why I love jelly rolls; you get lots of different fabrics in a versatile format. This jelly roll contained 30 strips, each one different and each measuring 2.5 inches wide by 44 inches long. I've been cutting some of them in 2.5-inch squares for another project too. It's a lot of fabric. I love jelly rolls so much that I asked the Bear for one for Valentine's Day. Well, to be more precise, I ordered one on Etsy, another assortment of feedsack reproductions, for him to "gift" to me. Obviously, we're very romantic people. But, hey, we love what we love. And I love those pretty fabric strips.

My hot pads were easy to make. They are my own design, which is very simplistic, but I think they'll work well. I'm not actually keeping one for myself, though. The green and yellow one is currently winging its way to my mother for her birthday and the other two will be given to friends for their birthdays. I guess I'll just have to make another...


I started by cutting strips into appropriate lengths for a traditional log cabin-style quilt block. There are lots of ways to create a log cabin block (and you could use any quilt block here, it doesn't have to be a log cabin block, but I've been into those lately, so that's what I used here). I found a great little diagram and piecing tutorial which I used for my measurements. It was really quick and easy because the strips were already the correct width, I just had to zip my rotary cutter through them a few times to get the right lengths. The center piece is easy too, just a 4.5-by-4.5-inch square, which I cut from other coordinating fabrics from my stash. After the pieces were cut, I stacked them and carried them over to the sewing machine. You piece a log cabin block from the center outward, so it's all just straight 1/4-inch seams, building the blocks around the center square. Press each seam allowance open as you make it, and pin the seams open to prevent bunching when sewing perpendicular seams.


When your quilt block is pieced together, it's time to sandwich it with batting and a backing fabric. I used my pieced top as a guide for cutting out the batting. I prefer natural cotton batting; it's soft and it wears well. For these hot-pads, I used two layers of batting. I wanted to make sure the hot-pad would withstand heat and protect the surface underneath. (I'm sure that more layers could be added if desired, but two seemed okay to me. Maybe it's not enough insulation for hot pans right off the stove or directly out of the oven, but it should be fine after a little cooling time.) I did not make quilt binding for these hot-pads; it seemed excessive for such small projects. Instead, I decided to use the backing fabric to bind the edges. I laid the top and batting on the backing fabric, which I trimmed to within about 1.5 inches of the edges of the top and batting. The excess backing fabric became the finished edging of the hot-pad.


I folded the excess backing fabric twice around the edges, to make a sort of rolled-hem edging. Then I pressed it and pinned it in place. At the corners, I folded the fabric in twice at the point, and made diagonal folds on either side. I wanted the hot-pads to have nice, pointy corners. I used lots of pins for this process, to keep everything where it needed to be.


Next, I hand-stitched the binding using an "invisible" stitch. This is not difficult, but it takes some maneuvering, especially when there are lots of pins in the way. Basically, you want to hide your stitches as much as possible, so you're sewing underneath the binding. You're putting the needle through the "unseen" parts of the fabrics you're joining. I stitched all the way around, making stitches about a half-inch apart. I stitched through all the layers at each corner, to tack them down securely. I really enjoy the hand-stitching part of a project like this. I don't think I would much enjoy piecing the blocks by hand, but I like to do some of the construction this way.


I quilted each hot-pad by hand too, which I enjoyed very much. I chose a simple quilting design, just tracing the insides of the outer squares of the blocks. I wanted the center square to stand up, a little puffy, and for those outer squares to have a little bit of puffiness too. I used regular white cotton sewing thread for the quilting, making straight lines of small stitches along each side. It looks neat from both the front and the back, and there's just enough puff.



I pressed them again after quilting them, and they laid nice and flat, and the corners looked pretty good. The corners are the trickiest part for me. It has taken me years to get them (mostly) right. I still get frustrated at times. I made my first quilt, twin-size for my own bed, when I was fourteen. I was more patient then, I think. I also had fewer pictures in my head - fewer ideas about how things should look. My friends were impressed; there weren't many quilters in the eighth grade. All I knew is that I liked to sew and I thought it would be fun to make something big that I could really use. Sometimes I think the internet has hurt crafting, in a way; now it's much easier to compare your own work to that of others, and if you're like me, to beat yourself up over the imperfections. But it's important to me to try to maintain my old youthful mindset about my projects as an adult. I remind myself of the self-confidence I felt then, and the way creating felt then - pure, clean, uncomplicated - and it helps me enjoy it more today.


I really like my hot-pads. I hope their recipients will like them too. They were fun to make; each hot-pad has a very different color-scheme and I enjoyed putting together fabrics for them. The backings are from my stash, cuttings from large, multipurpose bargain-buys I've used for a lot of projects. They're good quilting blenders as well as backing material. Any chance to raid the stash is appreciated, of course. And those jelly roll strips, in all their kitschy, retro glory, always make me really happy.

40 comments:

  1. I'm not surprised you couldn't stop, they are gorgeous. I love the corners, and all the fabric is beautiful x

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  2. They are so cute! I know your mom and your friend will love them!

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  3. Oh those are absolutely lovely. Jennifer, you did great! :)

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  4. The hot-pads are wonderful! So is your picture tutorial. I know how much time it takes to do a blog post like this!

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  5. The are so lovely Jennifer and will be well received as gifts I am sure. It is a lovely way to collect lots of different fabrics by buying jelly rolls, you will be able to have lots of variety in your projects. We do the buying things for gifting by the other person sometimes if we want something specific, so you are not the only ones! xx

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  6. These hot pads are great, I am going to make some. I have to suggest to Richard to get me a jelly roll for Valentines first :-). What a good idea to use the backing as binding for the hot pads, this never occurred to me. I am ever so glad to be following your blog. Thank you for sharing this tutorial Jennifer and have a wonderful weekend. Cx

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  7. They're lovely Jennifer, and I know what you mean about jelly rolls, they're great. I'm impressed you made a quilt while you were still at school, although I do remember my friend and I making huge beanbags with hexagon English paper piecing. She taught me how it was done. You've brought back a great memory. The internet can be quite harsh in terms of comparisons, but it's also incredibly inspirational as well I think, in big ways and in small ways too. And I always find your blog inspirational and uplifting, thank you. CJ xx

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  8. Those are lovely hot pads! The fabrics are so pretty, and thank you so much for the tutorial - it actually looks like something I could manage, you made each step clear! Chrissie x

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  9. Oh I love that fabric as well! I just set up my sewing machine last night so maybe one day I will be able to make something like this! The funny thing is I think they are just so pretty I would almost frame them!!! Great work and a happy weekend to you! Nicole xoxo

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  10. They're fabulous, I love the fabric you've used. Your mum and friends will be really pleased with them.

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  11. Oooh I love these. I'm going to show my crafty club friends this post. I'd love some for Betty. Have a great weekend Jennifer. xx

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  12. Very nicely done! Log Cabin is one of my favorite patterns, and making a quilt in the barn-raising design is on my "bucket list!" I like how your pastels work just as well as the darker tones usually associated with Log Cabin squares.
    Sometimes it's just practical to take care of gifts yourself when you're a mommy - I did, and of course daddy paid for his own birthday, Father's Day and Christmas gifts for years!

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  13. Love the hot pads, and the color combinations are so evocative of that decades-passed period. On what etsy site did you find the fabric? Yes, wasn't the snow lovely?

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  14. really pretty work, I like the way the center stands out. Would love to try and make one or two! Heather x

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  15. Fun fun fun.. those turned out great! I'm old enough that when I was a child, I really had clothes made from flour sacks! My grandma used them as curtains on her Hoosier cabinet, and many other projects around her tiny farm house in Oklahoma. Those will be wonderful gifts! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  16. Ohhhhh I want one, I think they are just perfect. Well done my friend.
    Meredith

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  17. They look great - I really must learn to sew, it's something I've never got to grips with and find it quite scary! Have a great weekend. x

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  18. Your hotpads are really cute. Loved your snow pictures from your last post! It's snowing at my house right now, but it never amounts to much way down here. I want some of that cranberry bread!!

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  19. Thanks for another great post, Jennifer! I especially appreciate your tutorial which I will need if I ever make a log cabin hot pad...which is now another item on my want-to-make list :) I am blogging, knitting, drinking hot chocolate almond milk, and hot tea, and watching more snow fall from Winter Storm Orion.
    Happy Weekend to you and yours! xx

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  20. Lovely Jennifer. I am sure they will be wonderfully received.

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  21. They are lovely Jennifer and such nice gifts to receive - your tutorial was very well done too and I like your attitude regarding your youthful mindset etc., and agree it is too easy to be caught in that trap where we compare our work with others' - we can so easily lose confidence in that way but no reason for you to feel like that, you do a wonderful job with everything you tackle! Well done my friend! Hugs, Joy xo

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  22. These are seriously cute, and very well made x

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  23. I love these Jennifer and such a good tutorial too. Julie x

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  24. These are seriously cute Jennifer and I must say my little quilting bug has bitten too and I just didn't want to stop, so I am already planning the next one. I am sure you are going to love using these xoxo

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  25. They are fabulous Jennifer, lovely bright and cheerful, they will be so well received. :)

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  26. Jennifer, these pads are stunning. You made me want to run and go buy a new sewing machine .My daughter studied textiles are uni and my last machine died, it was killed sewing plastic bags for her final collection.
    Seriously, Jennifer these are awesome.

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  27. Visiting via Gilly Makes and enjoying your colorful happy. Those hot mats are delightful; any time hand made love is added to the mix, the day is made better.

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  28. These are so lovely! I like how each one has a really different feel from the other with the different colours and patterns you chose. Beautifully neat stitching too. They will make such nice gifts. x

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  29. Aren't you the clever one!
    Your blog has really changed...its look especially....great job!
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  30. These are just lovely Jennifer. Beautiful choice of fabrics too.
    Marianne x

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  31. They are gorgeous Jennifer, you have used some lovely fabrics.

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  32. Wow there so lovely! I love the mixes of materials too really nice x

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  33. They look so pretty, you have done a great job.

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  34. The little hot pads are darling, and will be very much appreciated by the lucky recipients. Those 1930s retro fabrics are lovely; I used a jelly roll of them to make a quilt for my first grandchild. And log cabin is one of my favourite designs too. Great sew, Jennifer!

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  35. These heat pads are delightful!! Love the reproduction fabrics you used ... makes them look like "Grandma's own" heat pads. You've done a very neat job on those corners ;) Good for you for not stopping at one ... much more fun to have a little stack! Wendy x

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  36. Lovely colour choices and beautiful fabrics, I'm sure the recipents will be thrilled by them.
    Clare xx

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  37. These are so pretty! I love the fabrics you used. Such great gifts, too.

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  38. These are just fabulous Jennifer, I love the mix of fabrics, i especially love the one on the right in the bottom picture, I spotted that in a previous post, the patterns just go together so well - love love love - lucky birthday girls! xxx

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  39. I love these, and the fabrics you have chosen are wonderful. xo

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  40. These are just adorable, Jennifer! I haven't used the Log Cabin pattern in quite a long time. You've reminded me how much fun that pattern is.

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