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Overlocked Crazy Log Cabin with Jennie Rayment

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Workshop notes

The technique is developed from Crazy Log Cabin which is an abstract version of Log Cabin - a tradional patchwork pattern well known to many quilters. In essence the Log Cabin design features a centre square bordered with strips - one strip on each side but in Crazy Log Cabin, strips are added at a slight angle to the edge of the central shape - the angle can be subtly different each time. By altering the arrangements of colours, an irregular spiral pattern can be produced. As the design is not symetrical, accuracy of piecing is not that important which is most attractive to anyone who gets worried about precision in their piecing. Wiggles work wonderfully!

These spiral designs featured are made on the overlocker using four different coloured fabrics. The design can be constructed on the sewing machine but the overlocker is much faster - no stopping to hand trim any excess material with scissors or rotary cutter - the overlocker’s blade does the task for you.

Sergers/overlockers?

Remember the overlocker is called the serger in USA and many other parts of the world..

Fabric choice

Firmly woven pure cotton materials with a crisp finish are a good choice. They press well and retain their shape when handled. Stretchy or loosely woven materials are not so suitable as the fibres may distort in the sewing provess causing a rippled finish.

These designs can be made any size you like - just keep going. When boredom sets in, square off the block with a border and use for cushions, quilts, tableware, soft-furnishing and even on garments.

MATERIALS - for one block

One 8 cm (3") square (centre)

Two/Three 4 x 115 cm (1½ x 45") strips* (colour1)

Two/Three 4 x 115 cm (1½ x 45") strips* (colour 2)

Two/Three 4 x 115 cm (1½ x 45") strips* (colour 3)

Two/Three 4 x 115 cm (1½ x 45") strips* (colour 4)

(*All strips are cut across the fabric - selvedge to selvedge. Trim the selvedge from the fabric before cutting the strips )

25 x 115 cm (10 x 45") for border - any of the colours may be used

Threads to match fabrics

(For economy, select a regular weight polyester serging/overlocking thread in a neutral or mid-tone colour such as beige or gray)

Setting the Overlocker

Use three thread setting and remove left-hand needle. Set the stitch length at regular with the blade engaged. Thread both loopers and right-hand needle with threads that match the materials.

Tip: Cut looper threads near spool and tie next set of threads on to ends. Turn the flywheel backwards (away from you). This action should release the exisitng thread chain and allow the knots to be pulled through the loopers easily. Then thread the needle in the usual manner.

Tip: Thread upper looper first then lower looper - much easier to thread from centre out.

READ CAREFULLY: There are two rules that have to be followed:

1. Every strip that is sewn to the design MUST cover the underlying fabric from one end to the other

2. Keep the colours in the same order 1/2/3/4 - do not deviate or the spiral will not happen.

Start to sew

Seam allowance approx 6/7 mm (1/4”) - absolute precision is not required - consistency would be useful. Press all seams towards outside edges.

1. Colour 1:

Lay one strip at a slight angle (R/S down) across the 8 cm (3”) square (R/S up). Cut the strip just beyond the underlying material. Sew along the raw edge of the strip (blade trims excess fabric outside the edge of the strip). Turn the strip back. Finger-press the seam (seam towards the outer edge).

2. Colour 2:

Lay colour 2 on top (R/S down) across the square at a subtly different angle. Cut the strip just beyond the underlying fabric. Sew along the raw edge of the strip (blade trims excess material). Turn the second strip back. Finger-press the seam towards the outer edge.

3. Colour 3:

As before, lay colour 3 strip at a slight angle covering all the underlying fabric. Cut the strip and sew in place. Turn back and finger-press the seam etc..

4. Colour 4:

Place as shown before in Stages 1 - 3. Sew, fingerpress etc..

5. Colour A:

Using the colour A complete the ring of strips around the central shape. Cut, sew, fold back and press as before.

6. Press the block well.

This completes the first round of strips.

7. Continue in the same manner using the colours in the same order - colour 2 is next

8. Keep going for several more complete rounds of strips using the colours in the same order -  1/2/3/4. The spiral design will gradually become apparent as the block gets bigger. Press well between each round of strips.

Square off the design

Make the block into a square by adding sections of fabric to the sides. Trim excess material to form a square. For accuracy and ease of cutting square use one of the rotary cutting boards or make a card/stiff paper template to the correct size, draw round then trim to drawn line.

An abstract alternative

The technique is developed from Crazy Log Cabin which is an abstract version of Log Cabin - a tradional patchwork pattern well known to many quilters. In essence the Log Cabin design features a centre square bordered with strips - one strip on each side but in Crazy Log Cabin, strips are added at a slight angle to the edge of the central shape - the angle can be subtly different each time. By altering the arrangements of colours, an irregular spiral pattern can be produced. As the design is not symetrical, accuracy of piecing is not that important which is most attractive to anyone who gets worried about precision in their piecing. Wiggles work wonderfully!

These spiral designs featured are made on the overlocker using four different coloured fabrics. The design can be constructed on the sewing machine but the overlocker is much faster - no stopping to hand trim any excess material with scissors or rotary cutter - the overlocker’s blade does the task for you.

Sergers/overlockers?

Remember the overlocker is called the serger in USA and many other parts of the world.

Jennie gives various options in several colourways and it is a great way to use up your strips and projects suggested are the 2-colourway quilt; cushions; table cloth and mats.

If you do have an overlocker machine, then there are lots of other ideas in Jennie's book which is available from the shop and which has free p&p in the UK.

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