Machine Quilting With Style: Ripples Re-imagined

Ripples is the first quilt presented in my book Machine Quilting with Style. The technique is what I call “structured improv.” The basic block shape is a traditional log cabin. However, each of the individual “logs” in the quilt are cut and pieced improvisationally so that no two blocks are alike! I selected teals and grays from my stash, plus leftovers from other projects. Here’s the original quilt as it appears in the book, my abstract representation of rippling water:


Ripples 66″ x 88″ by Christa Watson. Photography by Brent Kane.

Let’s Play!

Now it’s time to have some fun, discovering alternate looks for this design! Of course the layout possibilities are endless. Here’s a another version, showing the same color scheme, set in a more traditional “barn-raising” layout. I imported swatches of fabrics from some of my favorite fabric brands into EQ7 to create a “virtual stash” for this quilt.


I design my quilts in EQ7 so that I know what they’ll look like before I make the first cut!

Here’s another layout, and another colorway, using Bonnie and Camille’s Ruby collection, plus coordinates  from my “virtual” stash. I selected reds and greens for one half of the block, with aquas, creams and light grays for the other half. I set the blocks slightly differently so that now the ripples go the other way and are more centered.


Here’s another graphic layout with very strong lines, called Zig-Zags, using the same fabrics. In all variations, the same number of blocks are made, but each block is rotated differently.


Isn’t it fun to explore the possibilities? I hope you will enjoy seeing all of the quilts from Machine Quilting with Style re-imagined over the next few weeks. Perhaps you’ll discover that one of the designs speaks to you in a new colorway.

Celebration Giveaway

Each week as I share the re-imagined quilts, I’ll celebrate the one-year milestone of my book release with a giveaway. To start off, I’ll give away a signed physical copy of Machine Quilting with Style to one lucky reader here in the US! And my publisher will send an e-copy to one of my international friends!

Machine Quilting With Style

To enter, leave a comment letting me know if you’ve ever made a log cabin quilt – and if you want to share – how many?? For an extra bonus entry, you can share a picture of your favorite log cabin quilt you’ve made in my Facebook group: Quilt with Christa.

Comments will be open through next Thursday at 6PM PST. I’ll  a choose two winners at random (one US, one Int’l.) and will announce their names in next week’s post on Friday, along with the next virtual quilt!

Click here to see all of the quilts from Machine Quilting with Style.

142 thoughts on “Machine Quilting With Style: Ripples Re-imagined

  1. kathy pfaltzgraff says:

    Log cabin was one of my earliest quilts I made and I have made several, and even right now I am working on a QOV log cabin block, love to have your book, Kathy in Colo

  2. Janette Purdie says:

    I made a log cabin quilt-in-a-day method. To my shame it’s still not quilted…
    It’s wonderful how you have changed colour and position and each quilt looks so different.

  3. Rhonda Van Ginkel says:

    I have not yet made one but it was one of the next on my list. I am a fairly new quilter with about 7 or 8 projects completed at this point. I’m focusing on finishing my projects so I don’t have any unfinished piles if I can avoid it. : )

  4. Carol W says:

    I’ve completed two log cabins (one traditional and one with 8 pointed stars at the block intersections) and have a third (with flying geese) in progress.

  5. Connie Tresize says:

    I have only made one Log Cabin Quilt. When I finished the piecing of it, I was not happy with the results, as I had not done enough pressing along the way. However, after I quilted it – with a combo of stitch-in-the-ditch and some straight line quilting with a walking foot – I now really like it! Your post shows some ways of giving it a more personalized design look – so maybe I’ll try it again. Thanks!

  6. Laura says:

    I make scrappy log cabins but none with the panache of your fun patterns. I would like to try Scrappy with a Purpose like you are showing.

  7. becky says:

    I have made log cabin quilts before, but not lately. Can’t keep up with all I want to do. Did some FMQ today ( Not my forte), but I seem to be getting better and the sewing machine cooperated today.

  8. modquiltmom (Anna) says:

    The log cabin (especially the off kilter one) is one of my favorite and go to designs. I have an improv log cabin top I made with orange center squares and blue and Grey scraps and then I made the blocks float with more grey solids. That was from January of 2015 maybe I should finishing sometime. I hope I win because a) I need machine quilting ideas and b) I’m trying to limit my book collection to only signed copies.

  9. Darleen Sanford says:

    Don’t think I ever have made a log cabin quilt. I’m sure I’ve made a couple blocks for BOMs but never a whole quilt. I probably should put it on my to-do-list.

  10. Barbara Hanaburgh says:

    I seriously cannot remember how many Log Cabin Quilts that I have made. Many times I’ve done a Wonky Log Cabin, for charity quilts. My favorite LC quilt is called Sunrise Sunset, and it’s a 2 sided LC, started in a class with the late Margit Echols.

  11. Susan ferguson says:

    I have only made a pillow with log cabin blocks and for a 4 block pillow I probably made 7 or 8 blocks! Harder then I thought it would be si I would love to learn how to make them the right way! Love all the variations available with this block.

  12. Janet D says:

    Loved seeing your play with EQ7! I’ve made a baby quilt with log cabins of whites and pastels, and just finished the blocks for a Christmas log cabin- had shoulder surgery so am sewing one-handed! This project was already cut out. Gotta spend time in my happy place, even one-handed!

  13. Donna says:

    A friend asked me the finish her Mothers log cabin quilt. The pieces were cut. It looked easy, But no it wasn’t. Oh I tried and each block came out a different size. With great sadness I returned the whole lot, saying it was impossible to do. So I haven’t tried another since that failure.

  14. petoskeystone says:

    I’m pretty close to set out 4 throw size log cabin quilts (1 for each grandchil’s & 1 for me). I just have to gather the courage to cut & sew. After I make a final decision on layout…..

  15. nancyangerer says:

    Your book looks good, and I enjoyed seeing the variations possible. I have made one log cabin quilt for a wedding gift several years ago. Then about three years ago I made a throw sized quilt for a friend who was graduating from the University of Illinois. The large “I” was made from log cabin blocks. Now I am making a similar quilt for a granddaughter who will be graduating from the University of Alabama. The large “A” is made from log cabin blocks. So, if I can count the last two quilts, then I will have made three.

  16. Doreen Fulton says:

    I have never made a traditional log cabin square. I usually do trapunto quilts for the church or occasionally a fussy cut square with logs framing the square quilt. I really enjoy those but they are very time consuming. I have never had quilting lessons. I just jumped in and I could really use lessons, especially learning fill in quilting like pebbles or walking foot stitching. I would love to win the book and I could pass on some of the tips to my quilting group.

  17. MC O'Neill says:

    Christa, As much as I wanted to, buying books just isn’t in my budget so I borrowed yours from the public library. Now I want my own copy even more. One of several reasons is to make my first log cabin quilt. Your pattern would be the perfect way to use all the scraps I’ve saved. As I’m in Canada the e copy from Martingale would be a wonderful gift.

  18. Carol Kuse says:

    I have made log cabin blocks and miniatures, but not a bed sized quilt. Although I have said many times that I think I could make log cabin quilts forever and never make the same pattern/one twice.

  19. Diana W says:

    Yes I have made a few traditional Log cabin and I am currently planning another one in black great and whites. Would love to have your book, and just a fraction of your Machine Quilting skills on my Bernina.

  20. sgrancio says:

    I love the alternate layouts and think it is well worth playing with several before putting the top together. Back in the 1970’s, when I started quilting, my first five or six quilts were log cabins, with fabric marked with pencil and yard stick and cut with scissors. I think it is time to revisit this block that I really love!

  21. LINDA says:

    HI CHRISTA, these are so neat! Thanks for your inspiration! Over the years I’ve done several Log Cabin;everyone loves Log Cabin it seem. Thanks for a chance to win your book too! YEA!

  22. Janet T says:

    I am working on one now, hoping to have it done by the end of the year, AND TODAY, I just ordered a book for one I saw online and had to have! Not to mention a couple on my bucket list.

  23. Jean McElherne says:

    I’ve made one king size log cabin using lots and lots of leftover fabrics from many years of gathering and adding to my stash. It’s used every day and night on my bed and keeps us comfortable summer or winter.

  24. trina shumsonk says:

    I haven’t tried a log cabin yet but I love the inspiration you’ve provided. It will be on list of quilts to make this year!

  25. Dawn says:

    Yes, I have made several traditional log cabin quilts and created improv log blocks to be combined with other types of improv blocks in a quilt. My adult daughter still has the quilts I made for her when she was 5 and now she wants to make her own using the courthouse steps variation. On my list of quilts to make is a modern improv version similar to the one in your book.

  26. Toni Boldy says:

    A fun story. My girlfriend was teaching me to sew. I had never used a machine or made a quilt. I decided to make a quilt for my husband. Kathy showed me how to make a log cabin block. She told me to keep making them when I could and she would tell me when to stop. The next time she came over she laughed when I showed her my pile and she told me to stop immediately! I had enough squares to make 3 quilts. I made my husband a king size and my son and father a hefty throw! I was a good student!

  27. Teresa Cina says:

    My first real attempt at log cabin was my first real attempt at anything quilted. I made a sewing machine cover and love the results. I have not done another project using log cabin design but have always loved its versatility. I will have to do one for sure. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  28. Lisa says:

    The second quilt I ever made was a log cabin quilt in a large star setting. The edges are very wavy, but my kids loved it when they were young. It’s been nicknamed “The Chilly Quilt” because they would use it when they were “chilly”. They’ve already told me that they will fight over this quilt when I die. ;-). I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at another log cabin quilt.

  29. Janet says:

    The very first quilt I made was a log cabin – made with scraps from my children’s clothing. It is long gone but I still remember the fun I had. Not all the fabrics were 100% cotton since the 70’s were polyester years.

    • Teresa Cina says:

      I’ve only played with log cabin patterns twice. Once for a pillow cover and the other was for my very first real quilt project, my sewing machine cover. I need to do more because I do like the variety one block can give. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  30. Nancy Ridder says:

    Haven’t made a traditional log cabin quilt. My first quilt was a crazy type quilt/improv where each “log” is put on a angle but is built up like a log cabin. So that might count.

  31. springleafstudios says:

    Love seeing all the variations. Exploring different versions is my favorite part when designing. I’ve made couple of log cabins in quilting life with another in the design phase right now. I’d love to win a book and add it to our Modern Quilt Guild library.

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