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The Log Cabin Quilting Block

log cabin quilt with stars

The log cabin quilt block has been around for a long time.  It is probably one of the most recognized quilt blocks by quilters and non-quilters alike. 

The log cabin quilt block is most often made scrappy, out of leftover fabrics, so it is a very frugal block.  What matters in the log cabin block is value more than color.

Half of the log cabin block is made light, and half is made dark.  It doesn't matter what the color is, as long as the value is correct.

After you complete your block, you can lay them out many ways, and they all the designs have names.  The picture at the top of the page is a quilt I made from one of Eleanor Burns "Quilt in a Day" designs.  She has added her own personality to the pattern with sashing strips and stars.

the pieces of a log cabin quilt blockThe log cabin quilt square is built around a center square.  Traditionally this has been a black square.  You can choose to add the logs, which are rectangles around the square, either clockwise or counter clockwise.

The center square can also vary in size.  You can find patterns that tell you what dimensions to cut each rectangle, but that is not necessary. 

 It is easy to cut strips of fabric your desired width, and then just sew the logs to the strip and then trim them.

sewing the log cabin block with strips of fabric

In the picture to the left, you can see how a partially completed block is being added to a long strip of fabric.  If you are sewing several blocks at one time,  you just slip the next block right behind, and  chain stitch as many as you can on the strip of fabric.

The thing you have to be mindful of is attaching the blocks in the right order.  Even though it is just a matter of going around and around the block, you can get confused.

Here are two things to remember that will help.  The last log that you sewed on will not have any seams.  Two of the blocks will have two seams.  The side of the block that is ready for the new log will have 3 seams.

a sewn on log ready to be trimmed

Once you have sewn your logs to the strip of fabric, you are ready to take them to the cutting board and trim them.

In the picture to the left, there is only one log attached to the strip.  However, when you chain stitch them, you will be trimming several at one time.

Be sure and make a sample block before you start your quilt to make sure you are going to like your block.


one completed round with the log cabin quilt block

The picture to the left shows one completed round of light and dark colors. You can make as many rounds as you like, and you can cut the center block and logs any width that you like. 

It is faster to make wider logs, but your quilt will have a more vintage look if the logs are more narrow.

The log cabin quilt block can be used to make everything from tablewear to pillows.  It is a great frugal block, because you can just pull out your scraps, separate them according to value, cut them all to the same width, and just start sewing.

In the sample pictures a solid white color was used.  However you can use any light color, and none of the fabrics have to match.  The more scrappy the quilt, the more interesting and vintage the feel of the quilt.

Below I have added a picture of a log cabin quilt made from Thimbleberry fabric.  Notice the muted colors. 

This quilt was quick to make because the logs are wider -  2 1/2 inches finished.  It does not have the look of the old-fashioned log cabin quilts with the narrow logs.

It was machine quilted.  That is usually a daunting task on a log cabin quilt.  However, if your sewing machine has a thread cutter, it is just a matter of sewing down the rows and breaking the stitching where necessary.  Then you pull the fabric forward to where you want to start sewing again. 

Quilts with a lot of straight lines look better with curved quilting.  If would also keep the quilt looking softer if you tied it.




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