We’re thrilled to be kicking off a brand new sew-along here on the Fat Quarterly blog today, not only because these activities are always a fun way for our community to work together on a common project, but also because it gave us the opportunity to collaborate with the lovely and supremely talented Susan Beal.  Susan is the author of one of our favorite quilting books of the year, Modern Log Cabin Quilting.  We’re such big fans of Susan’s and of the book that we asked her if she would be interested in co-hosting a summer sew-along activity together with us … and imagine our delight when she agreed!

Modern Log Cabin Quilting

For those unfamiliar with the book, Modern Log Cabin Quilting is a wonderful book showcasing the versatility of the classic log cabin block via 24 original sewing patterns, including 10 quilt patterns.  Susan and her team at Potter Craft graciously offered to make one of the book’s patterns available for the Fat Quarterly sew-along.  We agreed that the Block Pocket Apron pattern would be a great choice — it’s a relatively quick and easy-to-sew project, it’s fun and original with its use of a pillowcase alongside traditional quilting fabrics, and — let’s face it — we’ve never heard of anyone hosting an apron-along before!

We hope you’ll join us and whip up a few aprons — one for yourself, and maybe some others for your friends and loved ones.  Hey, it’s never too early to start stockpiling holiday gifts!  Interested?  Just download your pattern here and read on to take part in Susan’s apron-along.  Be sure to add photos of your aprons — both in-process and completed — to both the Fat Quarterly Flickr group and Susan’s Modern Log Cabin Quilting Flickr group.

Without further ado, let’s turn it over to Susan …

Hi, I’m so excited to share my Block Pocket Apron pattern from Modern Log Cabin Quilting for the Fat Quarterly summer sew-along this summer! Thank you so much to Potter Craft for sharing the pattern, and to FQ for graciously hosting the crafty party over here. Every week we’ll focus on a different part of the project, from picking out the perfect pillowcase to stitching on the sash.

The “Modern” version of the apron

You can see lots of projects from the book people have made, including the apron, over here at my MLCQ Flickr pool. Please add yours if you’d like to, too – I’d really love to see your aprons! This is a very simple project that uses just a pillowcase, two small bits of coordinating fabrics, and wide bias tape (sometimes labeled “hem facing” or quilt binding”) to create a fun apron with a pretty log cabin block pocket in the “picture frames” style, so you spotlight a favorite part of your fabric as the center of the block. You can make a Vintage version of the apron with a delicately gathered waistband, or a streamlined Modern version with a flat waistband and a neatly edged pocket – it’s up to you (and your pillowcase!).

The “Vintage” version of the apron

One important note: there were two typos in this project in the first edition of the book, which are corrected in this downloadable version of the pattern! You’ll use a 3.5” x 4.5” (not 3” x 4” as it’s mentioned once) piece of pattern paper for spotlighting centers, and for the first tier of logs (fabric B) you’ll cut a 1.5” x 21” (not 1.5” x 18” as it’s mentioned in the Cutting Key) strip of Fabric B. I apologize for the confusion, and I’m so glad to have the chance to share the corrections here and on my book website.

For this project you’ll need:

  • 1 standard pillowcase
  • Scraps of 2 coordinating fabrics for the block pocket
  • 2½ yards purchased 2”-wide binding tape
  • 4½” x 3½” piece of pattern paper
  • Thread that matches your pillowcase, binding, and fabric

And for the Modern version only:

  • 9” x 1½” strip of fabric for binding and ¾” finished binding-tape maker, if making your own

Choose a standard pillowcase in a solid or pattern you like (remember, the case will be cut down the side seam, so any pattern should look good vertically as well as horizontally) for the apron’s body. Then pick out two fabrics, A and B, you like that harmonize with it to piece your pocket. For my new apron, I chose a bright, colorful cheater print pillowcase and decided to also use the remnants of that for my A fabric – the pocket’s center and second tier of logs – instead of a contrast print or solid. For my B fabric, I went with a solid pink. Then you’ll just need coordinating thread for the sash and your B fabric, if you make a Modern version.

For cutting your center, you may want to use a 3.5” x 4.5” piece of pattern paper for spotlighting any design you like best. I like the semi-opaque kind with inches marked with a grid or dots, so I can move it around and then choose the section of the print I want to highlight in the pocket.

For the waistband sash, choose a package of wide hem facing or quilt binding bias tape that measures approximately 2” across flat. You can also make your own sash with a 2” bias tape maker (not pictured, but Clover sells a great one)… if you go the handmade route, you can match your sash to your pocket, apron, or anything else you like! If you do make your own, you can cut straight strips of fabric instead of diagonal, since this won’t need to curve or stretch – a much more efficient way to cut.

Optional, if you make the Modern version, is a ¾” bias tape maker (again, mine is Clover) for edging the top of the pocket with your first-tier log fabric (B). Next week we’ll do all the cutting, and build the log cabin block for the pocket – it pieces up quickly and I love the “picture frames” effect. See you next Wednesday right here on the lovely Fat Quarterly blog!

Thanks a bunch, Susan!  To give you a sense of the schedule for the apron-along, we’ve written a rough outline of what we’ll cover over the coming weeks:

Week 2 (July 13):

  • All cutting
  • Building the block
  • Tips & tricks from Susan

Week 3 (July 20):

  • Making the apron
  • Assembling the block pocket
  • Tips & tricks from Susan

Week 4 (July 27):

  • Finishing the apron
  • Gallery of aprons from participants
  • Introduction of the Modern Crosses Get-Together … coming soon!