November Island Batik Challenge

This month’s Island Batik challenge is log cabin quilts! I love log cabin blocks so this one was easy in theory.

I say in theory because I love log cabin blocks so much that designs were simply dancing in my head! So it shouldn’t surprise you that it took me a while to come up with my favorite log cabin design.

I knew that I wanted to use the Alpine Jingle fabric collection for this quilt, and I had a layer cake and some coordinates so my design had to be able to work with that.

In the end, I decided to paper piece a central motif—a Christmas tree in the woods—and to use two different log cabin blocks in the quilt—a traditional log cabin block and a courthouse steps version.

Here’s my quilt.

For the quilting, I quilted swirls of snow. Every once in a while I added a snowflake.

I continued to learn more about my new sewing machine as I made this quilt. First, I had to tackle 1/4” piecing. Janome offers several 1/4” inch feet for it’s machines, and mine came with two different O feet—one with and without a metal guide. Here I’m using the foot without the guide because that’s what I’m used to. My machine also came with three different needle plates—a regular one, a straight stitch one (with a single hole) and a Professional Grade plate that I think you use with the Professional Grade walking foot.

With my old Bernina, I typically used the straight stitch plate for everything, unless I needed to do a zig-zag or something similar. Using the plate improved my pieced and stopped that annoying “suck the fabric down the hole” thing that often happens when you start stitching. My Janome doesn’t do that at all, so I haven’t found a reason to switch to the straight stitch plate although I probably will.

There is a button for everything on my new machine it seems, so it should surprise you that I had to find and select the Quilting 1/4” stitch to use the 1/4-inch foot properly. That took a bit of reading in the book to discover, but after that the blocks stitched up quickly.

Free-motion quilting was another hurdle. Try as I might, I couldn’t find anything about that in my manual (I’ve since found it—wouldn’t you know <grin>). So I tried lowering the feed dogs after I figured out how to do that. But that isn’t enough. First, there are several feet you can choose—two walking feet, two “hopper” feet, a foot that works with the Professional Grade stitch plate, and three free motion quilting feet (one open toe, one closed toe, and another that makes echo quilting a breeze). I tried the open toe foot but kept having problems with missed stitches. Then it hit me—I’m quilting batiks so I better use a new, sharp needle to quilt through them. Changing the needle helped a ton but I still had some skipped stitches so I decided to use one of the hopper feet shown here in the photo (it hops up and down as you free motion stitch).

My Janome came with a package that included a Glider, a teflon sheet that you put on the bed of your machine to reduce the friction and make it easier to free motion quilt. I loved it! I’m amazed how great my stitches look with this machine. Almost magical!

Here are the quilt details:

"Christmas in the Cabin"
26-1/2" x 26-1/2"
Original Design: Fall Romance Too
Fabrics: Island Batik Alpine Jingle fabric collection (the center gold fabric is @121706040 which was also used as the backing; the binding is #121723685—both from the collection)
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Select Batting
Piecing Thread: Aurifil 50 wt. #2605 (Grey)
Quilting Threads: Connecting Threads Essential Quilting Thread 50 wt. #21004 (Ivy) and Sulky 40 wt Rayon #1055 (Tawny Tan)
Pieced and quilted by Jennifer Fulton

Disclosure: The products featured here were provided to me free of charge by Island Batik, Aurifil, and Hobbs.

Don’t miss out on my pattern sale!

To celebrate what I call “Fiber Monday,” I’m having a pattern sale in my shop. Enter code FIBERMONDAY at checkout to get 20% off all patterns from now until Sunday at midnight.

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