Road Test: Pineapple Trim Tool Mini Quilt by Creative Grids
Driven by Michelle Marvig
The Log Cabin block is a classic in the quilting world. It is very versatile and when colours and values are changed, dramatically different looks can be achieved. It also has two just as popular and adaptable variations: Courthouse Steps and Pineapple Log Cabin. I have been quilting for 26 years and never made a Pineapple Log Cabin, so was very interested to play with the Pineapple Trim Tool Mini Quilt acrylic ruler designed by Jean Ann Wright for the Creative Grids company.
The Pineapple Trim Tool is available in two sizes, the smaller size resulting in blocks that are either 4in, 5in or 6in when finished. The larger Pineapple Trim Tool results in blocks that are 6in, 8in or 10in. They both work on the same principle. For this article, I worked with the smaller Pineapple Trim Tool Mini Quilt. A page of basic printed instructions for using the tools is included with the ruler at the time of purchase. It is only the cutting and piecing instructions to make a single block, not full quilt instructions. The tools are supported by instructional videos that can be found at www.creativegridsusa.com. As with all rulers manufactured by this company, a unique opaque grip is embedded on the back of the ruler. It allows you to still slide the ruler over the fabric, but it holds the fabric once pressure is applied. The !/4in seam around the edge of the ruler is completely covered by the grip, and #/8in spots strategically placed around the balance of the ruler. They do not interfere with your vision of the fabric underneath when cutting.
To start, a single 1!/2in square is cut for the centre of the block. Around this square are sewn rounds of rectangles, the size of which is given in the instructions. The minimum width of the strips remains the same, but the length varies as you move away from the centre of the block. The width of the strips for each round can be wider than listed — it just means you will trim away from fabric. The diagrams in the instructions show the fabrics in either a light or dark variation in each of the rounds. In the instructions the centre is a dark square. Around this is sewn four 1!/4in x 1!/2in rectangles of light-value fabric. You need to match the length of the rectangle being sewn on to the size of the centre square, and this will leave uneven edges around the block on every round that you sew. All the seams are pressed away from the centre. The Pineapple Trim Tool is then used to trim away the uneven edges.
Two sides of the ruler are used to trim the different rounds. For all odd-numbered rounds you use the angled edge of the ruler, for even rounds the opposite 90-degree corner is used. So for the first round it is quite easy and makes sense; the white Round 1 square sits over the centre square and you trim the excess fabric back to !/4in past the corner of the square one side at a time. The result is a dark square inside a light square. The next round has dark 1!/4in x 2in rectangles sewn to the side of the newly pieced square. However, when you trim this time, you place the Round 2 printed square on the original centre square and you trim using the 90-degree corner markings, trimming two sides at a time. The 3rd Round has 1!/4in x 2!/2in light rectangles sewn onto the pieced centre square.
However, when I came to trim this stage, I thought I had made a mistake. As this is the odd round, you use the angled edge of the ruler. I lined everything up as per the instructions and I realised I would be losing points on the triangles. I made another sample and the same thing happened. What had I done wrong? Then it dawned on me. A Pineapple Log cabin has blunt points, not perfect points. I went ahead and trimmed and it was correct. For each odd-numbered round, there is a line marked on the angled edge that is placed on the seamline of the previous round and the trim is made at the same height for each round, with seam allowance included. It does cut off the points of the triangles. Another white line is marked down the centre of the Pineapple Trim Tool to help keep this trim square. The white centring line should pass through two diagonal corners of the original centre square, at 90 degrees to the edge that you are cutting. For the Mini Tool, to create a 4in block only six rounds are added, for a 5in block eight rounds are added, and for a 6in block a total of 10 rounds are added. To complete the blocks, triangles are added to the angled corners of the block. Each block size requires a different-sized triangle and the sizes are in the instructions. However, each size is generous to allow you to trim the corners to the final size.
This tool is very handy for making the Pineapple Log Cabin block. The design is perfect for using up lots of left-over and scrappy pieces of fabric and although it does present some minor issues, they are controllable. It is very important that you start with an accurate cut centre square. Also, a scant !/4in seam is suggested — but do not be too stingy on this measurement. If you are too scant, problems will arise. Sewing straight seams is important. This may seem obvious, but when you only have a small amount of fabric to hold, sometimes the seam end waver and become narrower than they should be. It will affect the seamline, which will affect where you place the ruler to cut, so it affects the end angle of the cut.
I suggest making a sample block out of scraps just to get the feel for the technique of sewing and trimming. Also, a word of warning: all trimmed edges are bias, so treat with care as they can be stretched out of shape. As all the seams are pressed in the same direction, it does add a little bulk to the seams when the blocks are joined. However this is the case no matter how you approach this particular block.
Once you have the tool, you will have to work out your own pattern or find one for sale using the Creative Grids ruler. To give you a little inspiration, I have drawn up three different layouts for the Pineapple Log Cabin. You will find many more variations online. My sample mini quilt will actually be turned into a cushion, but I have visions of a Christmas table runner and a scrappy comforter quilt made from my stash of modern fabrics. Or what about a queen-size design with sashing… there are so many possibilities and so little time. It will not be another 26 years before I make my next Pineapple Log Cabin. Creative Grids rulers are distributed in Australia by Ascot Lane. The Pineapple Trim Tool, available in your local patchwork store, is only one of many useful rulers manufactured by this company.