February: Nancy Crow – Color Block

Nancy Crow, one of the foremost quilt artists of our time, has inspired quilters for 30 years to break from tradition and explore color through her exhibits, lectures & workshops. She pushed the boundaries of quilt making, using free-form cutting and unmeasured shapes to develop her improvisational construction process.

In the early 1990s Crow experimented with color relationships and created her “Color Block” series which were constructed with improvisational piecing and hand-dyed fabrics in saturated color.

Block design inspired by Nancy Crow’s 1994 Quilt “Color Block #66”.

“It is impossible to measure Nancy Crow’s impact on the evolution of today’s innovative quilts. Her example and encouragement have nourished the creative spirit of countless artists.”

Hilary Morrow Fletcher, Quilt National Director
  • This block is constructed like a traditional log cabin  with logs pieced in courses around a center patch. (If needed, log cabin block instructions are widely available on the Internet or in quilting books.
  • For less rigid design lines set aside your ruler and cut freehand with a rotary cutter or scissors.
  • This sample is an 11” finished block, but you can adjust the log widths, number of logs, or the border widths to make larger or smaller blocks. 

Fabric List

  1. Fabric to build center patch and logs:
    • 2” x 6”-9” strips of assorted solids:
      • (4) Blue
      • (4) Green
      • (3) Red/Purple
      • (3) Orange/Yellow
      • (4) Neutral
    • 2” x 36” of black
  1. Fabric for pieced border:
    • 3.5” x 3”-9” strips of assorted solids:
    • (1) Blue
    • (2) Green
    • (3) Orange/Gold
    • (2) Neutral

Constructing Pieced Log Sections

  • Piece together random size patches from the 2” strips, alternating colors & neutrals with black to make log sections.
  • Press and trim sections to varying widths 0.75” and greater.
  • Design Tip: Sew together and audition several sections to find pleasing color combinations of adjacent logs. 

Making The Block

Step 1: Create the Center

Piece together several color and black patches to make a center patch for the log cabin. Press and trim to approximately 2.5” square (or slightly rectangular).

Design center patch layout
Piece patches in two sections
Sew sections together
Trim center to about 2.5″ square/rectangle

Step 2: Construct 4 Log Sections

  • Refer to “Constructing Pieced Log Sections” above.
  • Piece sections for the 1st course of 4 logs.
  • Layout around center to find best placement.
Course 1 Layout

Step 3: Add 1st Course of 4 Logs

  • Sew right section to center patch, press & trim.
  • Sew bottom section to previous set, press & trim.
  • Sew sew section to previous set, press & trim.
  • Sew top section to previous set, press & trim.
Log 1-1 Added on Right
Log 1-2 Added on Bottom, Log 1-3 Added on Left
Log 1-4 Added on Top

Step 4: Add 2nd Course of Logs

  • Repeat Steps 2 and 3 to add a the 2nd course of log sections. 
  • At this point the overall size should be about 7”-8” square(ish).
  • If needed, add all or part of a 3rd course of logs to increase size.
Course 2 Layout
Log 2-1 Added On Right
Log 2-2 Added on Bottom
Log 2-3 Added on Left
Log 2-4 Added on Top

Step 5: Add Border Sections

  • Piece together random size patches from the 3-1/2” strips to make border sections.
  • Attach border sections (following the log cabin pattern for placement) and press.
Right Border Added
Bottom Border Added
Left Border Added
Top Border Added

Step 6: Trim to Size

  • Trim completed block to 11.5″ square.
  • Tip: For added interest, trim slightly off-center to produce differing border widths.
Completed Block

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