Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Log Cabin Block

I LOVE log cabin blocks. I do! I do! I do! I especially love them when they are made from random colors and patterns that all seem to magically flow together. I am not as much of a fan of the more traditional arrangement of two light and dark fabrics like you see here. Those blocks create a larger pattern that I can appreciate, but this is more my bag:

My 12x12 log cabin blocks waiting to find their place in the quilt.

Log cabin blocks are considered "easy" in the world of quilting. In all the books I've looked at, they are always included in the beginner projects. Well, this beginner got confused...twice. Let's just say I will have two potholders in my kitchen that will match my sons quilt. Go me!

Piecing my block with a 1/4" seam allowance.

The thing that tripped me up was the order in which you assemble the pieces. I got cocky and didn't think I needed a cheat sheet. Yeah, I was wrong. I made a cheat sheet and now all is well. Eventually I didn't need to refer to it so much, but it is great when you get started.

Keep in mind...this is the direction you want to keep adding blocks.

Here is the recipe I used to make a random-colored block, hopefully I can inspire some of you to make some too:

Quilter's cotton is recommended, but you can also use corduroy, linen, flannel, etc. The letters before the measurements show where that piece appears on the illustrations below.

A: one 2-1/2” square
B: one 1-1/2” x 2-1/2” strip
C & D: 1-1/2” x 3-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
E & F: 1-1/2” x 4-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
G & H: 1-1/2” x 5-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
I & J: 1-1/2” x 6-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
K & L: 1-1/2” x 7-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
M & N: 1-1/2” x 8-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
O & P: 1-1/2” x 9-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
Q & R: 1-1/2” x 10-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
S & T: 1-1/2” x 11-1/2” strips of 2 different fabrics
U: one 1-1/2” x 12-1/2” strip

Note: I used about 12 different patterned fabrics in my blocks which means I had to repeat them in the block. The trick is carefully repeating fabrics far apart from one another, plus never using a single fabric more than twice per block. Above photo of block shows an an example of how to repeat and still maintain "randomness".

Another Note: You will need to have a hot iron on standby at all times. After you sew every seam, you need to press your seams either open or both to one direction to avoid bulkiness. I personally prefer to press them all to face the outer edges of the block.

Begin by sewing your 2-1/2" square and 1-1/2” x 2-1/2” strip together with a straight stitch and a 1/4" seam allowance (use this seam allowance throughout the block). You will have something that looks like this:

You will always want to add your strips in a clockwise fashion. Therefore, strip C will be added to the right:

And D will then follow suit of going around the center square block, being added to the bottom:

Logically, E gets pieced on the left and you have a square block again:

Then it all starts again at the top with F:

Continue in this clockwise pattern until you have used all your strips and your piece should look like this:

Repeated, this block alone could make an adorable quilt. Used singularly it could be a great pillow front, potholder (ahem), feature on a tote bag or some such. As excited as I am to start work on the other blocks in my grand quilt design, I will miss making my log cabins.


P.S. For more quilting tutorials,please check out our staggered strips block tutorial and easy pinwheel block tutorial.


  1. For sewing on the bias, I always spray starch on my fabric, and it will come out when you are done with your quilt, and you wash it. Gerry

    1. Oh my goodness! That tip is awesome!!! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for this tutorial - I was looking for something I could follow to make a log cabin and you provided it. I will certainly use it.

    1. So glad you found it helpful!! Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I tend to waste to much fabric from guesstimating lengths needed for my log cabins and I always forget to write the actual measurements down.
    I have spent weeks cutting my fabric scraps into strips and now I can start using them with your measurements.
    You're blocks are amazing and like you, I prefer the scrappy blocks versus the light/dark ones.
    Happy Quilting!

    1. What a sweet comment! I get so happy when one of our tutorials can help a fellow crafter! I would love to see your finished scrappy blocks.

  4. If you look at the block you will see that you always add the next strip to the side that is "blocked" in on three sides. Easy peasy!!

  5. que bien explicado,muchas gracias ♥

  6. when making the log cabin quilt do you use the same 12 fabrics throughout your quilt. how do you calculate your requirements? Thanks, J.

    1. Hi J! No, unfortunately I don't have yardage requirements for an entire quilt made from this block. I have never used it on its own for a quilt. What I did was purchase a bunch of fat quarters in the earth tone shades I liked and got cutting.

  7. This was the first quilt square I attempted, and it has proven to be very easy to alter into a variety of beautiful patterns...

    1. Oh! How marvelous! Email us a photo if you get a chance!

  8. Your instructions are the best of all the sites. I have alot of fat quarters and was looking for a way to use them. Great job!!! Thanks!!

    1. Wow! That's quite a compliment! Thanks!!!!

    2. Yes, I agree with that comment

  9. Lovely log cabin idea -going to try that one tomorrow!!

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  11. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your making of Log Cabins quilts. It must be surely an exciting one to try out. Thanks keep sharing

  12. The log cabin is suppose to be EASY and I have yet had a square one and wasted material. Your directions are so easy to follow and I can not wait to start sewing on my log cabin blocks since finding yours. You just made my life easier. Thank you