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The Log Cabin Quilt Block

the log cabin quilt block

The Log Cabin Quilt Block is probably one of the most well known block designs.  It is also one of the most addictive! 

There are several ways to sew this block.  What is essential, however, is contrast.  One half of the block must be done in light colors, and the other half in dark colors.

You can make each log a different fabric, or you can make some of them the same.  I have made a lot of Log Cabin Quilts, and I love them all, but my personal preference is to make all the light colored blocks out of the same fabric, and use just one color for each round with the darker color, as pictured in the block above.

A Log Cabin block starts with a center square.  Traditionally, this square was red.  Then logs (strips of fabric all the same width) are placed around the square. 

For this block, we are going to be moving in a counter clockwise direction. 

Once you get started, it is easy to keep building your block.  The trick is to get the first few logs put on correctly.

construction of the log cabin quilt blockLog cabin quilts are usually done by chain piecing the the units on long strips of fabric and then cutting them apart.   However, we are going to make just one block so that you can learn the fundamentals of the block.

In the first picture you can see the first two blocks sewn together.  The center block is the red.  It is a square, cut at
1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches.

The size of the center block determines the width of all the strips.  Every strip you add will now be 1 1/2 inches wide.

I will show you how the length of these strips progresses, but when making a Log Cabin Quilt, it is easier to just oversized the strips, and then cut them to size after each log is attached.

The second illustration is important.  Notice in the picture above that the seam of the fabric on top is turned up.  You do not want to have to be fighting a seam turning up on your bottom fabric.  You can avoid this by always putting the last block you have sewn on the top with the seam up.

On the the second round, for length you need the length of the first two squares sewn together (1 1/2 + 1 1/2 inches minus the seam allowance of 1/2 inch) or use  a
2 1/2 inch plus length of fabric.

After you have sewn these two pieces together, take your  rotary cutter, and cut the unit so that it is the same size as the unit underneath it.

Always press away from the center.

how to press the log cabin quilt blockContinuing counter clockwise, you attach your next strip.  Notice again that the seam is pressed up. 

 Also notice that you put the last strip that was sewn on the top- and it will be horizontal.

You can always tell the last strip you have attached, because it will not have any seams.

After joining the first two squares, (the second square being light as in the 2nd picture),  you will add another light .  Then you will continue around the block adding two darks, two lights, two darks, two lights....until you reach the desired size of your block.


construction of the log cabin quilt block When you have added your first four blocks to the center square, you will have a perfect square.  You just keep going, 4 blocks at a time, until your square is the desired size.



construction of the log cabin quilt blockLook at the large picture and be sure you understand how to add the strips. 

This is one block I make where I  "throw out the rules".

When I am strip piecing, I may be doing 16 blocks at a time. Each unit is on one long strip of fabric.  I don't worry so much about accuracy when I cut them off the strip with my rotary cutter. 

I know that when I attach the blocks to the next strip, I can sew following the line of the strips., which will be straight.  Fabric is fluid, and if the blocks are not quite straight, it isn't going to matter.

the log cabin quilt block gridThis block finishes at 7 1/2 inches. Look at the picture  and you can see that it is a 7-patch block.

As far as the length of the blocks, here is how it goes:

After the center block (1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches) you will be adding 12 logs.

the log cabin quilt block construction

Here are the sizes, so you can see how the length progresses when you are using a 1 1/2 - inch width.

You can make the Log Cabin Block with strips of any size, and go around the center block as many times as you want. 

The wider the strip, the faster the construction.  The narrower the strip, the more authentic the look of an older quilt. 

log cabin quilt

I prefer the Log Cabin Block done in rich earth tones, but I've seen them in every color of the rainbow!  Have fun with this block.

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