The Log Cabin Quilt

I gathered all my bright and pastel mens’ cotton shirts to make this quilt.  I literally tore random width strips as you can see in this picture.

I pieced traditional log cabin blocks that measured 10-12″ each.   I straightened up the edges and sewed blocks into rows 5 across. I laid the rows together and if one row was too short, I simply added another strip.  When I sewed the rows together, I did not try to match blocks as you can see in this picture.

Look at the end of this row – I just cut it off straight so that one strip is skinny and the one below it is fatter.  I didn’t care.

I quilted it in straight lines – of course.

It has such a soft “feel” to it – those shirts had been washed many times.

Now for those of you who were so concerned about the width of my logs, you can see I didn’t care.  And it will be a wonderful quilt to curl up with.  Many of you who wonder how I get so much done must not really have the desire to do things.  I want to do lots of things and simply do them.  What would I be waiting for?  What are you waiting for?  I don’t watch much TV and maybe that’s where we differ.  I think it’s almost a crime to waste time.  I remember when the shop and pattern business was so busy, we could hardly catch our breath.  I was mowing lawn, taking care of flowers and feeding animals then, too.  Now I feel like I’ve got time to kill!

And here’s my next project — just fat quarters paired up so far.  I’ll post what I’m doing if it begins to take shape nicely.  If not, you’ll never see them again.  Ha!

So here’s the lesson for the day – jump into your next project.  Don’t stew about it so much – if you get started and you hate it, move on to something else.  Life is too short to dream about doing things – just do it!  Sometimes the hardest part of any project is actually starting.  Here’s my challenge to all of you – start a new project very soon and see it thru.  Get up 15 minutes earlier every morning to work on it.  Skip a tv show which you’ve probably already seen anyway to work on it.  Little chunks of time can add up to big results.

And then write and tell us about your project!

58 thoughts on “The Log Cabin Quilt

  1. Diana in WI

    A HUGE thanks!! I needed your pep-talk today! I’m almost paralyzed by the number of quilt kits and projects lined up and needed to hear “Just do it!” Thanks.

  2. Janie

    Very good advice! I’m guilty of watching too much tv, but I try to cut out patterns or crochet so I don’t feel so guilty. Lol!

    1. maxine lesline

      Sharon… you are so right.. “doing” is the thing… Harvard Health research finds that working with hands slows down heart rate and blood pressure.. also eases muscle tension, .. a healthy journey.

  3. mary hawk

    YOu sound like my mom, well maybe a little more straightforward. That idle hands thing we were raised with…… Nothing frustrates me more than when someone looks at something I’ve made and says they don’t have time to do that sort of thing. Not true. We all get 24 hours, how we choose to spend them is up to us, to some degree, other than making a living.
    So many old quilts that we all treasure are not sewn perfectly, just like the one you just made, and frankly I think that is part of the appeal of them, no? Love your shirt quilt.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mary – yes, it’s very frustrating – we do all get the same amount of hours in a day and I want to DO THINGS! I hate it when people say – oh, you have so much energy. My back hurts, I have a headache and I can tell I’m getting old but one can’t just stop living!

  4. andrea

    t T hanks for the push I needed this summer ! love the pictures of the animals and all the goings on.

  5. Marilyn

    Well said wonderful powerful words love the quilt and your words of inspiration Mary. Right on!

  6. Kathy

    Great post to get readers motivated! If I watch a TV program I do hand emobroidery. Always have something traced and ready to embroider. I had to chuckle because this morning I decided to attempt my first tiny half triangle pincushion and it ended up in the trash as I just couldnt get it right. It was just leftovers so nothing lost. I am still sewing strings for the June quilt blocks but it’s a leader and ender.
    Making my first baby ribbon tag blankie with 6″ flannel squares.

  7. Kathy

    Great words to heed about starting a project and not “hem and haw” about what to do. I have been putting off doing some scrap book work and will start this project this very afternoon! You gave me the push I needed ! I love the log cabin quilt. Next project is to do a lap quilt for the winter time as gifts and one for myself (the cat will probably claim it!).

  8. Kristine

    My favorite time of the day is early morning; it’s my quiet time.
    I start out most days Monday thru Friday at my sewing machine.
    It’s when I feel my most creative – at the end of a work day I usually have brain fog and find myself
    having to remove stitches – nobody likes having to do rework – LOL
    Thank you for the words of encouragement Mary – maybe someone else will get up with the sun and stitch a few before starting the rest of their day.

  9. Jeanine

    I don’t watch tv either. It is a waste of time in my book. Love your posts with all the quilts and animals. Love the shirt quilt. I’m getting ready to cut some pieces from my shirts. Going to do Bonnie Hunter’s leader/ender challenge making a rail fence quilt.

  10. Diane

    You go, girl!! You sound like a teacher:) I do have a project that I’ve been wondering about starting. It’s a McKenna Ryan pattern I bought in 2005 at Paducah. No clue at that time how to do it, but I’m going to start it as soon as I finish one for our quilt show. It’ll take a week or so. Thanks for the push:)
    Love that quilt–no rules and it’s gorgeous and looks so comfortable:)

  11. Holly TH

    I love the quilt! I’ve been doing more improv quilting and I love the freedom of it. Using the shirts reminds me of “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”. I love that book! I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do listen to a lot of books while I’m doing whatever around the house or when I’m sewing.

  12. Kay Crandall

    I just spent the weekend with my brother and his wife. The bed I slept in had a plaid quilt on it that I made for them maybe 20 years ago and I had forgotten all about it. Once I saw the quilt I fell in love with it again and as soon as I got home I hunted high and low for the pattern (finally found it) and started digging out plaids from my collection. Sewed two blocks to see what it would look like and then decided I probably should finish some of the other ones I’m working on that have deadlines. My problem is not starting projects . . . it’s finishing them! I LOVE your log cabin quilt and love the idea that it is made out of old shirts.

  13. Ginny

    Thanks for the pep talk! I overthink everything and then I end up not getting something done.

  14. Susan Sundermeyer

    Okay Mary, here I go! I’m going to start cutting those strips for my music themed baby coin quilt.

  15. Lori Vereide

    Mary, you are such an inspiration to me. Your daily emails are the only quilting emails I read these days. I feel like you are a kindred spirit. (I am the one who won the first yearly UFO challenge). I am making a scrappy plaid quilt for my neighbor. I am going to quilt it “Mary Style.” I may have to send you a photo when I am done. Thank you for being you!

  16. Jeanie

    Oh, Mary! I love how you are so grounded and no-nonsense. All of us need that inspiration once in a while. Just like Ginny said, I overthink too much. Thanks.

  17. Marian

    Thank you, Mary, for the pep talk! Gosh, with this hot weather, I need a push! Your plan is ideal and I intend to implement it!!!! Love the log cabin quilt, so soft and ready to use.
    Thought Hazel would be among those little piles of quarters for the next…
    Keep cool!

  18. Julie P

    I learn a lot watching your projects. My request is that the newest project not disappear if it doesn’t go well. Show us what might go wrong so we can learn from that too!!

  19. Shirley

    I take time to sew every day, I enjoy your motivation, it is so right on.

  20. Martha Engstler

    For my sons 18th birthday I made a flannel shirt quilt from his out grown plaid flannel shirts using 2 1/2 inch squares. Used a flannel sheet for the back. Had to add shirts from thrift shops but with the goal in mind to finish it for his birthday I did it. For me having the goal made the difference and the finished quilt made me proud. He’s 47 now and still treasures it. You give such great advice.

  21. Sue

    Now that the quilt show is over I can go back to the on-line mystery quilt I am doing. I fell behind while working on quilts for the show.
    I love your log cabin shirt quilt. Someday I will try that. Did you quilt it with a walking foot? Looks like straight lines up and down.
    Have you ever used minky for a backing? Some say it is wonderful but messy because of all the fluff. But, it certainly would be cuddly.

  22. Annie

    I LOVE your log cabin quilt=so true to the spirit of making do and get ‘er done. There is true beauty in that. Only thing missing was Hazel lounging on top of it.

  23. Leta

    I love this quilt. It looks like it would be so soft. Wish I could snuggle under it. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Sharon Geiger

    I love the log cabin quilt! I actually started a new project the other day and I didn’t care for it at all so I just scrapped it. The cut pieces will join my other scraps for a scrappy quilt later. So, I cut out some other shapes and made a totally different quilt top that I really like. I’m retired now so it really didn’t bother me about the time I “wasted” with the project I scrapped. I won’t have to “waste” time cutting out those shapes later. Right??? I love your blog so please keep posting!

  25. Jan Keilman

    Absolutely love both the quilt and your message on time management.

  26. Susie Q

    I have seen those fat quarters waiting for your new project………in my sewing room as well….

    Now: My daughter sent me a picture of her flag flying with the caption:

    Finished a five minute project that took ten years to do……. perfect for your just do it advice.

  27. Mary Lund

    Thank you Mary!! That’s just what I needed to hear. You’re posts are so welcome. Always remember that no matter how simple! Thank you!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Pam – it’s been building up. Every time I hear somebody say I have so much energy, I just groan because my back hurts, I’ve got headaches and I go to the chiropractor TWICE a week!

  28. Norma

    Love the quilt! Yes it looks soft and snuggly.
    Best of all are your words of wisdom! I find myself becoming a perfectionist as I grow older and there are just so many things to do ! I have to get with it and move on. Thanks, Mary.

  29. Kathy Hanson

    What a beautiful quilt! Very special.
    I agree, do what you want, life is short and keep doing what makes you happy!

  30. Elizabeth McDonald

    Great post and I LOVE the quilt. It has a timeless quality and seems to ooze “comfort!”

  31. molly

    Love that quilt. Definitely a curl up into kind of quilt. Very inviting.

  32. Lynn

    I decide how much time I am going to spend each day on certain things whether it is cleaning, running an errand, paperwork, sewing, watching a movie or whatever. If you put in the time, eventually you will see the results.

    This isn’t a competition. We all are blessed with different talents and abilities.

  33. Claudia Voorhees

    Love the log cabin quilt…… such a soft “quilty” quilt. Thank you for the pep talk !! I just need to get busy… I have so many things I want to sew. AND now I have been sorting out sheets to try and make rugs using my Country Threads frame. Have a good day !

  34. Ann Barlament

    Love the eclectic log cabin quilt!!! Truly the “reduce, reuse, recycle” that my grandparents embedded into my life. I’m reusing jeans and making “walker bags”, putting the upper portion, with the pockets, to great use. The legs of the jeans will go into another quilt of circle & squares. Right now I’m trying my hand at drawing (what a joke), my brain and hand are not in sync.

  35. Rebecca H

    Love, love, your log cabin. It has a modern flair to it that I love. Thanks for all your pictures, love them also. Ok and your inspiration to get going and get something made. Its hot out now, 100 today, so great day for the sewing room for sure.
    I sure do look forward to your blog, thank you, thank you….

  36. Kate Schloemer

    I love your log cabin. Have a few questions because I was just given my brother in law’s shirts to make a quilt.
    Are all of your shirts cotton?
    Some of these are permanent press

    Do you always rip the fabric or did you just do it for this project??

    How many shirts did you use??

    Hope to hear from you.
    Have a awesome day.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kate – I use only 100% cotton shirts. I tore strips for this project only. I used only 1 or 2 strips from each shirt and it depended on if I used a short sleeve, long sleeve, back – do you see how impossible your question is? I probably had 60-75 different shirts I cut from. Just start cutting or tearing – you’re overthinking this project.

      1. Mary Says Sew!

        OMG, Mary, if you used only one or two strips from each of 60 – 75 shirts, you may have another 30 quilts-worth of strips from those shirts!

        Can’t wait to see what you do next with them!

        I really love the orange strips and the way the plaids and stripes work in your quilt.

  37. Sharon B.

    You said it!!! It truly is a crime to waste time! There are so many interesting things to get involved with… and just getting started sometimes is all that is needed. It’s been about a year since I’ve been reading your blog and I have to tell you that I very much appreciate your philosophies! And because of them, I’ve relaxed with the “stress of perfection” aspect of quilting… and learned to simply enjoy the process and result! Thank you SO much!!!

  38. Wendy

    I love everything about that shirt quilt – especially your “relaxed” attitude while creating it!!!

  39. Donna C.

    I don’t watch tv. I had my cable cut off several years ago. I would rather be busy and creative! Love, love, love your posts. Have a great day!

  40. helen

    Mary, I’m with you –no time for wasting. In the 60’s my husband spent a year in Alaska (isolated duty) I had 2 babies to care for and every spare moment was spent reading, or some sort of needlework. I embroidered this saying which is my motto:
    The clock of life is wound but once and no man has the power
    To tell just when the hands will stop at late or early hour.
    Now is the time you own, live,love toil with a will:
    Place no faith in tomorrow for the clock may then be still.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Helen – what a wonderful poem – I’m going to print it out and hang by my desk!

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