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The Log Cabin Quilt Block

pictures of log cabin quilt blocks

The log cabin quilt block is one of the most popular and recognizable quilt blocks.  It is a great scrappy quilt block, and for that reason it has been made for years by women who only had bits and pieces of fabric.

Traditionally the log cabin quilt block was made with a red center.  Then rounds of rectangles, or logs, are placed around it.  Half the block is made in a light color, and half the block in a contrasting medium or dark color. 

The color is not as important as the value. As you can see in the above picture, the darks are different colors, but all of similar value.  When I make log cabin quilts, I do like to repeat the rounds of a single block with the same light fabric. I think it unifies the quilt and makes it a little less busy, but that is just a personal choice.

There are many ways to layout this block when you are done with it. A few of them are pictured at the bottom of the page.  There are also many ways to vary this log. In the picture at the top of the page, the center is larger than the logs. You can also make the center the same size as the logs.

the pieces of a log cabin quilt blockThis block is easy to chain piece. If you want to sew the logs together a couple at a time, the picture to the left shows you how you would begin, moving in in a clockwise direction.  In picture at the top of the page the logs were attached going counter-clockwise.

Here is how you chain a very traditional log cabin quilt block.

You start by selecting the size of your logs.  The wider the log, the faster the quilt will be to complete. However, thinner logs make more vintage looking quilts. In this example, let's make them 2-inches finished.  To begin you cut one 2 1/2 inch strip for the center, and one 2 1/2 inch strip for the first log. Sew them together, and then cut them apart every 2 1/2 inches.  You center piece will look like the above picture, except the center will be smaller.

Now you start adding the rounds.  Cut one long 2 1/2 inch strip of the dark or light fabric.  Put it under your presser foot, and place one of the cut blocks along the edge, right sides together.  Start sewing the blocks on the long piece of fabric.  After one is sewn, just slip the next block behind it.  When you are done, you cut them apart and press.

Note: If you've never made a log cabin quilt before, I recommend Eleanor Burns book, Quilt in a Day

It is easy to get confused on which way to place the logs. She takes you step-by-step through the process, and with her illustrations, you won't have any problems. Every time I start a new log cabin quilt, I pull out the book to make sure I get started correctly. This book has been out for years, and there are many inexpensive copies of it.

There are other ways to make this block. Some people carefully measure and cut out all the logs in advance.  Others paper piece it. However I think you get just as good a quilt with the quick piecing method.

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