Susan Beal from West Coast Crafty blog recently kicked off her new four class Log Cabin Quilting series on Creativebug! We’re keeping the giveaway for two Creativebug subscriptions open through the weekend, so be sure to comment on Susan’s Log Cabin Quilting post for a chance to win.

In addition to introducing you to the class, Susan wanted to share how she uses the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool to create her blocks. See how easy it is to plan and visualize your quilt blocks!

I love making simple square-within-a-square blocks, like the pillows in my first Creativebug log cabin quilting class, and wanted to share a few ways to switch up an existing block design to make it your own. This patchwork design is so simple that you can mix in color or pattern for great visual pop, so I wanted to share a few variations I sewed, along with the hero pillow!

I love Denyse Schmidt’s fabrics, and it was so much fun to mix four of her pretty prints in blues and whites with a calm white from her new Modern Solids collection for that main 16″ pillow design. This design uses a slightly over-sized center square, as I talked about in the class, with equal-width logs radiating out from the center.

I used the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool to make these block layouts which is a really fun way to design blocks, from this simple to super intricate and detailed. You can change the colors with a single click, or sub in different fabric swatches to audition how they might look together before cutting and sewing; there’s a whole library of fabrics to add to your stash for designing. You can see Jen’s review for lots more details about using the QDT, too.

This week, I sewed a new version of this same super-simple pillow block, but used a completely different palette of Denyse Schmidt prints in off-reds, green, and gold prints– and no solids this time. The only difference here was that I widened that outer tier of logs to become a single frame of my center square fabric, rather than two narrower ones, as in the first pillow. I also quilted it a bit differently, with a concentric spiral that radiated out from the center square at right angles for a soft, calm, striping effect, rather than separated squares with more space between them.

Subbing in new colors on Threadbias can give a simple design a quick and easy makeover, so you can decide what you do and don’t like, and keep editing accordingly before you ever start cutting. I ended up leaving out two other DS fabrics I really liked that I realized were too dark, wanting this one to stay in what I think of as a more muted “martini colors” palette.

Back to the original cool color palette of my main blue and white pillow, I also stitched up two others that paired more of Denyse Schmidt’s Florence prints with her blue and green Modern Solids. (The diagonal plaid is a huge favorite of mine.)

You can see in the block layout that I adapted the size of this block down to 14″ and varied the scale of the center and logs for a bigger contrast, using narrower bands of calm solids while letting the prints shine in wider cuts. I love how the three pillows relate to each other, not matching exactly, but more like friendly cousins, and they each have different simple linear quilting designs that set them apart a bit more too.

I keep a fabric-swatch sketchbook too, in addition to the Threadbias designs! Here are some swatches and notes from the five or six pages that got me to the final pillow designs. I staple bits of fabric in and always use pencil so I can go back and amend or erase my measurements or details. Keeping a stack of folded fabrics together always helps me choose the combinations that look best to my eye, and if one fabric doesn’t harmonize as well with the others, well, that’s what the seam ripper is for!

For more original takes on this same basic idea, be sure to check out Erin of House on Hill Road’s beautiful Chicopee pillow, and Holly of Bijou Lovely’s gorgeous mix of colors for her block!

How do you design your quilt blocks? Have you made anything from my Creativebug class? Please post your favorite photos on Instagram and tag them #cbuglogcabin and #creativebug to enter to win prizes all through May!

Next week’s class is a simple, pretty baby quilt that updates the ultra-traditional Barn Raising log cabin layout with a light-hearted mix of fabrics and an asymmetrical setting. I hope to see you then too!

Susan would love for you to stop by her West Coast Crafty blog on Giveaway Day to enter to win a fun Log Cabin Quilting prize package, including a Creativebug subscription so you can take all four of her classes any time you like (along with any others that catch your eye!).

And here are nine log cabin pillows Susan sewed for her couch, just for fun! Doesn’t it make you want to make a few for your home?!