Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not Your Grandma's Log Cabin Curtain {Sewing for Those Who Can't}

I was recently given the difficult fun task of making some valences for a local friend. You know how much I love making curtains {see others I’ve done here and here}  but this time was a bit different. My friend knew she wanted a combination curtain with several different fabrics, but she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted. The idea of doing Log Cabin quilt squares was thrown around, but in the end, she handed me a bag of fabrics to choose from and said, “Do whatever you want!”

Now, having the liberty to play around with a bag full of fabrics is a fun day. :) But knowing that the end result was going to be hanging in her living room, not mine...well, that is a bit stressful. What if she doesn’t like them? What if I screw up and waste her whole bag of fabric??

So I took a couple of weeks to pour over some quilting books, compare different styles and ideas, and finally came up with a pattern that is all my own. I’m calling it:

The idea is based on those Log Cabin squares, but with a bit of a twist. My friend wanted these curtains to showcase some fun woodsy fabric...but I was afraid the beautiful detail in the fabric wouldn’t be visible in just tiny strips.

Instead, I planned to use one larger block in the middle of each quilt square, with a couple of different strips around it ala Log Cabin. Then each square was framed out with yet another coordinating fabric.

I drew my plans out and measured everything carefully.

Since that makes absolutely no sense to anyone else besides me, I’ll break it down more for ya.

I needed to make two different sizes of valence. One needed to be at least 52” wide, the other 37” wide. Both had a  14” hang, not counting the casing and heading.

Here is a bit of a legend to {hopefully} help this make more sense:

Fabric A: Squares in the middle of each block
Fabric B: Light-coloured strips
Fabric C: Dark-coloured strips
Fabric D: Edges, casing and header

You also should have something to use as a liner. I just used basic white cotton material.

For the 52” valence, I cut these pieces:

Fabric A: (4) 7½” x 7½” squares
Fabric B: (4) 9½” x 3” strips; (4) 7½” x 3” strips
Fabric C: (4) (4) 9½” x 3” strips; (4) 11½” x 3” strips
Fabric D: (5) 11½” x 4” strips; (1) 58” x 9” strip; (1) 58” x 3½” strip

    **Note: to achieve those 58” long strips, I had to cut two and sew them together.

Clear as mud yet? Here are the cutting measurements for the 37” window. This one has only 3 quilt squares instead of four.

Fabric A: (3) 7½” x 7½” squares
Fabric B: (3) 9½” x 3” strips; (3) 7½” x 3” strips
Fabric C: (3) 9½” x 3” strips; (3) 11½” x 3” strips
Fabric D: (4) 11½” x 4” strips; (1) 44½” x 9” strip; (1) 44½” x 3½” strip

All of my seam allowances were for ½” seams. And I’m quite proud to say that I only had one small measurement wrong that was easily fixed once I started putting these together. So apparently dwelling on this for a couple weeks before starting in was worth it. Ha!

Here is how it all went together. This is the easy part!

Start with your 7½” x 7½” square and sew one 7½” x 3” strip of Fabric B on the top. Next add a 9½” x 3” strip of Fabric B to the right side. Add a 9½” x 3” strip of Fabric C to the bottom. Lastly add a 11½” x 3” strip of Fabric C to the left side. Aaaaand, one quilt square is complete!

Here it is in pictures {because they make way more sense!}

It is so, so, SO important that you are careful of the seams when you sew. As you are sewing on a strip, make sure that the seams you cross over are open. I find it helpful to 1) work on all the blocks at once (do all the top strips, then all the right-side strips, etc.) and 2) press the seams open as you go. Yes, that takes a bit of time, but it is so worth it!

Here is what the back of your finished square should look like. If you didn’t have all those seams lying open, things would get all bulky and wonky!

Now it is time to add the “trim” pieces, or the Fabric D strips. One of the 11½” x 4” strips goes between each square, and one on the sides. So when this is done, all the squares for one valence should be joined together by these dividing pieces.

Now sew on the bottom and top strips - these should be your only remaining pieces! The top piece is quite a bit wider to add the casing and heading.

Attach these to the quilt squares, and then hem all the way around, adding casing and heading on the top. I’ve described my method of doing so in detail here if you need help with this step. This is also where you’ll want to add in your lining, which is described here.

Aaaand...it is done! Sit back and admire your work!

This finished valence pictured is the 37” one. (It actually ended up being just a couple inches wider than 37” to allow for some gathering on the window...that always looks better!) The 52” valence had four quilt blocks instead of 3, but still looked uniform with this one because the width of the strips and blocks were the same.

The end result is that these look uber cute and cabin-ish, but really don’t take nearly as much actual work as it would seem. The hardest part was figuring out the measurements, which I’ve done for you. :) The sewing part actually goes quickly! This would be a great starter project for the beginning seamstress who would like to try her hand at quilting and piecing blocks. Trust me, you CAN do it!

Oh, and I should tell you that my friend and her husband loved them. The moral of the story? Put deer fabric on your hunter-husband’s windows and he’ll be pleased.

So there are my Log Cabin inspired curtains! As nerve-wracking as it seems at first, I really do love a challenge like this, and am even more pleased when everything comes out so nicely! What are you doing to challenge yourself these days? Any sewing projects going on at your place?

Linking up with: Sew Country Chick, Threading Your Way  
DIY blog Classy Clutter

The DIY Dreamer


  1. Those are adorable, Nicole! You are very crafty, lol.

    1. Well, I try to be crafty, haha! Glad you like them! :)

  2. I think that using curtain fabrics to make your own curtains, furnishings and upholstery is far better than buying them individually. Everyone has their own favourite type of curtain fabric and I have to say that mine is Sanderson Dandelion Clocks. It is a modern fabric that has a retro look and that is the reason I love it!

  3. What a great way to show off that beautiful fabric!!!


I appreciate you taking the time to comment! Some comments may need to be moderated, so don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't pop up right away. I can't wait to hear from you!