• Sarah Hunter

Mod Cabin Quilt

I couldn't be more excited about this quilt pattern! Why? I'm so glad you asked! One of my favorite quilt blocks is the Log Cabin or any variation of it. I wanted to make one, great big log cabin block instead of a bunch of individual blocks. Enter the idea for Mod Cabin.

A bright modern quilt in blue pink green yellow in a log cabin design
If you look closely you can see raindrops on the quilt. Nothing like taking photos in the rain!

First, I must admit to you something that is really awkward for a quilter to say...

The front page of the Mod Cabin quilt pattern

I don't like piecing. I know, that's bad. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who's focused on the final destination and not the journey. I also have a ridiculously short attention span. Puppies can focus longer than I can.

Besides being easily distracted, I'm also the world's slowest sewist. So I set out to create a quilt design that could be made faster than the rate at which I get bored.

This was the first prototype for the pattern.

I came up with this prototype and started writing the pattern, but something was nagging at me. The large rectangle in the bottom felt like it was missing something. A few days into the writing process, I accidentally (and miraculously) stumbled upon a photo on Instagram of another quilt that was really similar in scale and design.

This happens A LOT in quilt design. It's inevitable that the idea you thought was so original has been done by someone, somewhere already. This is especially true when using traditional quilt blocks, like the Log Cabin, as part of your design.

I panicked and hit the pause button on the pattern. I shared my conundrum with my friend Jamie, at Sew Brainy Designs. She talked me off the ledge and offered some ideas on how to tweak the pattern to clearly differentiate it from the other quilt I had seen. Even better, she helped me address that rectangle that was bothering me. It takes a village, y'all!

After regrouping, I made my second prototype in a matter of a couple hours, from pressing and cutting to finishing the quilt top (above). This version used just four colors, which I found my inspiration for on a Pinterest color story (below). (side note: If you like to collect photos for quilt inspiration, feel free to pin to your heart's content from my Pinterest account!)

When I did a computer generated mockup of a two color version in navy and white, I knew I was onto something. Between the speed at which this pattern came together and the versatility of the design, I knew it would appeal to new and experienced quilters alike. I decided I would include multiple versions of the pattern, including a chart that you could use to fully customize the design using as many or as few colors as desired!

For such a simple quilt, the math was horrendous. I wanted the quilt to look exactly the same no matter which size was made, which required some serious number crunching to scale up each row in proportion to the others. Multiply five sizes by four (including the custom option) versions and the result is : "OMG what was I thinking?!"

Luckily, my technical editor, Yvonne Fuchs of Quilting JetGirl, used her background as an engineer at Nasa (how cool is that?) to double check and fix my miscalculations. #lifesaver


Next up, the real challenge. Giving the pattern to 20 quilters of different skill levels and backgrounds and asking them to test the pattern, look for errors or points of confusion and give me their feedback. Just as importantly, I wanted them to apply their own style to the quilt and they DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

Longarm quilter Kristin VanKampen blew my mind with her fabric pull and custom quilting. She would love to quilt your Mod Cabin quilt too!

This is where the real magic happened. My pattern testing team threw their back into it and came up with the most incredible fabric pulls, using both solids and prints and a number of different colors. They also used their sharp eyes to find typos, asked great questions and shared ideas to make the pattern even better. You will find their feedback incorporated throughout the pattern, and in another blog post, BONUS -XXXXX. Again, it takes a village!

Pam found the perfect panto design for this quilt!

While they were testing the pattern, I was making my third prototype. This one is the large throw size using the same colors from Prototype 1. I started thinking about how to quilt it, and I was overwhelmed with ideas.

Here's what ran through my head at 2 a.m.:

"Wouldn't it look great with an all over (edge to edge) design? And wouldn't it be great if I could send it to somebody to do for me?!"

"No, wait... I haven't done any free motion quilting lately and these rows provide well -defined areas I could work in, a little at a time. Swirls, spirals, wishbones..."

"Orrrrrrrr, I could bust out my beloved walking foot and echo the rows with straight line quilting. Or try out one of those cool designs in the book by Jacquie Gering, Walk, sitting on my shelf."

"What about hand quilting? That's so soothing, and I just bought an obscene amount of Wonderfil Eleganza thread for that very purpose..."

Decisions, decisions. Ultimately I pawned it off on the fabulously talented quilter, Katie, of Modern Textiles. She did me a solid favor and agreed to do semi-custom design using multiple pantographs. (I had to give her wine too, that was part of the deal.)

She spent hours and hours and hours getting it just right and probably drinking the wine I had sent, but even so, it turned out P-E-R-F-E-C-T. We used the bamboo/silk blend batting from Quilters Dream since it's the perfect year-round weight, not too warm, not too light. Just right!

So there you have it! This is how the Mod Cabin Quilt was born into existence, then reborn, groomed and turned into a grown up! I don't want to overuse the analogy, but this pattern was truly a labor of love. Nothing is more important than getting everything just right so that the quilter who makes my patterns has a fun and enjoyable experience. If it's not fun, what's the point?

As you've read, it takes a team of dedicated, generous and smart people to make a quilt pattern. A big shout out to the team who made Mod Cabin possible: YOU ROCK!

I hope you will give yourself the gift of an enjoyable quilt pattern, and one that you will find yourself coming back to again and again (hello, Christmas gifts!).