March 9, 2016

Chart 41: Use Log Cabin Rulers for Any Strip Technique, and Blossom, Block #15 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along


The error on piece 15A has been posted many places, but it is good to remember the day you cut the pieces. Actually, it won't affect From Marti Michell template cutters because you will use template 100 from Set S to cut 10 pairs of #15A half-square triangles.

Starting Next Week

The next 6 blocks in a row are easily cut with From Marti Michell Log Cabin Ruler #8037 for cutting finished 1-1/2 inch and 3/4-inch strips.

What are Strip Techniques

Quilt designs which are dependent on strips to create designs or squares, rectangles or any combination of same, such as:

1. You cut strips. Often, but not always, many fabrics and the same width strips.
2. Sew strips together in a prescribed pattern and press seams.
3. Cut across the sewn strips, often but not always the same cut width as the first strips.
4. Sew these units with units of other combinations to make a design.

Using Log Cabin Rulers for Nearly Any Strip Technique Quilt

If you started quilting after 1979, the year the rotary cutter was invented, you have no idea how exciting the rotary cutter was to those of us who had previously cut everything with scissors. In the early years of the rotary cutter, the only acrylic cutting companions were long straight edges. The first rotary cutting tools were unmarked but were a specific width, such as 1-1/2 or 2 inches wide by 24-inch long rulers. They were soon followed by the 6-inch wide by 24-inch long rulers, marked in inches and quarter inches. (What a shame no one thought of size specific acrylic tools for quilters then!)

If you started quilting after 1995, when we began to manufacture and teach how to use many other acrylic shapes both size-specific and multi-size, you probably don’t know that starting in 1980, I was one of the original quilting “strippers!” My quilt history includes several years of making, teaching, and authoring best selling books on quilts with only straight cuts. Every piece in every quilt was a square or a rectangle. Over 700,000 copies of my book, Quilting for People Who Don’t Have Time to Quilt, published in 1988, were sold. People often tell me that was their first quilt book, and I love to hear it.

Ten years later, the expanded version, Quilting for People Who Still Don't Have Time to Quilt, was published and it introduced strip techniques to tens of thousands more quilters.

As the From Marti Michell templates and specialty rulers became well known, people begged for templates for Log Cabin blocks—surely with templates they could make Log Cabin blocks that were square and all the same size. Instead of templates, we created the very versatile From Marti Michell Log Cabin Rulers to make it easy to cut Log Cabin strips to length and on the lengthwise grain of the fabric.

It wasn’t long until I realized the Log Cabin rulers are easily adapted for use with many strip technique designs. Why? Because the Log Cabin Rulers are "width-specific." They can be used to easily measure and cut strip widths, as well as to do the second cut to create or help create the piece needed.

Why Log Cabin Ruler #8037?

When you divide 6-inch blocks on an 8 x 8 inch grid, the finished size of each unit on the grid is 3/4-inch square, or 1-1/4 inch cut. The narrow strip on the #8037 Log Cabin Ruler is exactly that wide.

Measure Strips for a Sixteen Patch

If you want to practice this, pick fabrics you like for Nellie (block #77) or Viola (block #98), which are coming soon!

Slide the ruler a few inches to the left (or right), out of the way.

Measure 1¼″ strips by placing the 1¼″ cut side (wide side) of the Log Cabin ruler on the fabric so that the trued up edge and the vertical line that is 2″ from the edge of the ruler are aligned. Hold it securely with the right (or left) hand as you slide the 3″ x 18″ ruler on the fabric so the ruler edges touch.

Remove the Log Cabin ruler and cut against the edge of the 3″ x 18″ inch ruler.

Join pairs of strips and press toward the dark. Join pairs of pairs and press in the same direction as before. (Illustrations are colored for block #77, Nellie.)

Cut the units. Use the 3/4-inch side of the ruler to measure the width and to confirm length and accuracy of strip width at the same time.

My Blossom Block

Click on the image for a larger view.

Click the purple link below to download the cutting and sewing chart for Blossom.

From Marti Michell Template Conversion Chart #41
for cutting and sewing the Blossom block

In addition to our template conversion PDF download, you will want to read Gnome Angel's tutorials for these blocks.

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W.


  1. I couldn't get Chart #41 for Block #15 Blossom to download. Tried it a few times. I haven't had this problem before and I am still trying to do it the same way.

    1. Hi Christine, this is Patti -- I'm sorry you're having trouble, but I think there's a solution. :-)

      Google Drive wouldn't create a preview this time but I think it's working okay, it's just not what we're used to seeing -- that "preview before downloading" page is so convenient! So I re-made the PDF several times and re-uploaded each time, and each time I got "No preview available" -- but it gave me a download link to click on and that worked. I checked it several times to be sure it worked every time, and I just checked it again and had no trouble.

      Please give it another try. After you click on the link, the PDF should go directly into your Downloads folder. If you don't know where that is on your computer, do a search for 41_Block_15_Blossom.pdf

      If you can't download the PDF, write to me through our website's "Contact" page and I'll send it to you. (Sorry for sending you to the website, but we try to "advertise" email addresses as little as possible to help prevent addresses from falling into spammy hands.) :-)

  2. I need to make a 6 x 8 inch log cabin block and am having difficulty drafting it out because I don't know how to draft it. Can you help?

    1. My best suggestion is to draw out the block you want to make on graph paper. Start with a rectangular center, not a square. You will have to decide how many rounds of strips and what width they will need to be to make an attractive block. And try to have the last 2 strips you sew on be on the dark side of the block rather than the light side, unless that will conflict with the overall look of your quilt. I still love to play with graph paper and I hope you have fun with it!