My Favorite Block Quilt Along, Block 1 from Diane Lapacek


EEEK!  Today is the day!  My other fun thing that I’m running on my blog is starting - ‘My Favorite Block Quilt Along’!

Because whenever I get an idea, my mother-in-law gets a job…Diane Lapacek is our first block designer!  Before we get to her favorite block, the log cabin, let’s learn a few random things about her!

What is your favorite thing about Quilt Alongs?

Quilt Alongs provide inspiration and expand your horizons.

When you look at your quilts - what color do you seem to use the most of?

A few years ago I was really stuck in a rut using earth tones.  I remember making 3 quilts and afterward feeling like I had made the same quilt 3 times.  Since then, I’ve tried to push myself to use different colors schemes  Right now I’m working on 3 quilts.  One is lime, fuchsia and turquoise, one is all hand dyed earth tones and one is red, black and white.  Variety is so much more fun.

When you look at your fabric stash - what color do you seem to have the most of?

Just this week I started a list.  I need limes, oranges, purples and yellows.  Everything else seems pretty equal…and plentiful!!!  I’ve had people call and ask if they can shop in my stash.  It goes from floor to ceiling and covers one entire wall in my studio.

What other quilt alongs are you participating in in 2013?

None at this time.  I seem to have a long list of things I really want to work on this year.

Apples or oranges?  Apples, of course.

Favorite Number:  Hmmmm.  Don’t think I have one.

Nice to meet you Diane!  Now let’s see what you came up with for your block!

Free Form Log Cabin

I love log cabin quilts. They can be simple or complicated, but each has its own beauty. Here are a few examples.


This one was made by Kathy at the 2006 Quilts by Barb Quilt Retreat Getaway Weekend. (I teach there every year.) It is made from all hand dyed fabrics. (I teach that, too. Third Monday in June at Lapacek’s Orchard, Poynette, WI.)


I made Summer Beauty as a sample for the 2008 Quilts by Barb Quilt Retreat Getaway Weekend. It is also made of hand dyed fabrics and was sold on Etsy to someone in Sweden. How cool is that?


Katrina’s Log Cabin was made by my sister Barb (the Barb at Quilts by Barb) as a wedding gift for her daughter, Katrina. It is an amazing quilt and shows how complicated a log cabin can be.


This one doesn’t have a binding yet. And you might think it’s not really a log cabin, but it is. It would have worked for that square in a square… a square challenge many of you did last week in Project Quilting. I think Kim said something about not knowing where I (yes, I dream up the challenges for Project Quilting) come up with these challenges. I‘m working on 2 more versions of this quilt right now to use at the Quilts by Barb Quilt Retreat Getaway Weekend this November.

Orphan Block Scrappy Squares

I like to say that this is the same quilt on steroids. Same block made log cabin style with one color going all the way around. Just a few differences:

  1. Each block has multiple rounds instead of just one.

  2. I used strings and leftover strips of various sizes for each block instead of cutting everything to a consistent size.

  3. I made my own fabric for some rounds by sewing together pieces from my orphan block drawer. image

Enough already. Let’s make this block.
Cutting instructions:


I dug into my drawer of squares and pulled one out in the color scheme I had in mind. Anything left on my cutting board that is kind of square and less than about 3” in size goes into this drawer.


I chose a limey green square that measures about 2¼” x 2½”. The size doesn’t really matter and, obviously, it doesn’t need to be really square. If you don’t have any squares around, just cut one. Any size between 1 and 3 inches on a side will do.


I also have a box of strings. I put any leftover strips, straight or not, into this box. They range in width from about 1” to 2½”. Pull out a few that work with your colors. If you don’t have a box of strings, just cut some strips from your scraps as you need them. Your block will be more interesting if they vary in width.


Line up your square with the first strip of fabric. I like to lay them right sides together on my sewing machine and cut the strip to length with a scissors. Don’t worry about being perfect. We’ll straighten up the ends later.


Repeat for the opposite side. (I like to build it courthouse steps style so you can sew 2 seams before pressing. It could also go around the block.)

image image

Press flat then press both sides away from the center. If the ends are pretty crooked, you can straighten them now. Don’t worry about making the block square. Just make each side straight.


Repeat for remaining 2 sides using the same fabric.

Now, continue adding rounds until your block is slightly larger than your final size. The method is the same for both 6½” and 12½” blocks. Just pick your time to stop.

Here are a few tips. Please read them all before going too far. I’ve learned them the hard way and you might as well benefit from my mistakes.


· If you have a strip that’s wider on one end, don’t straighten it. Just be sure one side is straight and use that side to line up with the edge of the square. In this picture the top edge is straight.

· If you have a strip narrower on one end, use the narrower end on the sides where the block that are wider. Just remember, eventually your block will need to be square.


· If you run out of a fabric, use a make do. Here I added a different fuschia fabric to the strip for the final side.

image image

· If a strip is just a hair short, center it on the block and trim after sewing and pressing. (Sorry about the glare.)

image image

· When you’re getting close to the desired size, be sure to leave yourself AT LEAST ½” all around for the final strip. ¾” would be better. Here I was pretty tight so I trimmed the block before adding the last strip.


· Make the last strip wide enough. Nothing’s worse than being short in one corner. This one I made plenty wide. imageThe pieces I trimmed off will go back into my box of strips.

· Spray starch and press really flat before squaring up to either 12.5” or 6.5” depending on which size block you’re going for.

Have fun! Hope you enjoy this block and the Quilt Along!


Click HERE to print a PDF of this block pattern!


When you’ve finished your block(s) please post it to the flickr group: so we can all see!

Stop back on Thursday to see what block Amy from Amy’s Creative Side has to share with us!


Past Important Links for the Quilt Along:

And don’t forget!  Finish your quilt top by Saturday, May 25th, post it to our flickr site and be entered to win one of TWO $25 gift certificates to Fabrics N Quilts!


  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this block - thanks so much for sharing...and as if I didn't have enough to keep me awake at night .... now I'll be thinking about your "steroids" ROCKS! Gonna start gathering up my strings now...they have a new 'purpose'!

  2. Thank you for the block tutorial. It looks like fun with less stress. Your quilts are bold and beautiful. The steroid one reminds me of a Van Gogh. I bet it's beautiful in person.

  3. Wow! I'm amazed at the variety quilt styles made by the log cabin! I had no idea! i LOVE LOVE the star one that went to Sweden! And, of course, "katrina" since that's my daughter's name :-) But, I agree - your quilt on steroids just makes me drool! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Thank you for the guide to how to co9ntrol a wonky block. I'd figured some of it out for myself, but not all of it.

  5. [...] Die haben auch total Spaß gemacht. Bei dem erten Block “Free Form Log Cabin” von Diane Lapacek, konnte man einfach drauf los nähen. Es sollte auch ein bisschen ungleich sein. Bei dem zweiten [...]

  6. [...] Block 1: Diane from Lapacek’s Orchard with a Log Cabin Block [...]

  7. I love the lay out for the Log Cabin by Kathy . The colours look great too, from what I can see - the picture is kind of small .

  8. I'm jumping in here with the first block, log cabin, this week. Just learned about quilt-alongs and excited to do one square a week, so non-stressful. Looking forward to sewing with you all. Mary

  9. Yeah! I can't wait to watch your progress! Have fun and don't hesitate to ask questions!


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