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Simple Sampler Quilt: the Log Cabin and Log Cabin Variation

Day two of the Simple Sampler Quilt block release, I'm here to show you how to create a traditional Log Cabin block and a variation of the Log Cabin block.  Log Cabin patterns are a staple of traditional quilt blocks and are some of the most recognizable patterns.  They have a long history in quilting, dating back to the 1700's

Log Cabin blocks are easy to create despite the number of pieces of fabric used to create them.  The trick to creating seemingly complicated blocks is knowing the order in which they are pieced together.  Knowing this simple trick can open the doors to appreciating the creation of intricate quilt designs and allow you to reproduce quilts you've seen and alter designs by creating your own patterns.  

Today I'll walk you through how to create a traditional Log Cabin and a variation of the Log Cabin block.  There are a variety of ways that Log Cabin blocks can be altered by the sizes of strips,  adding squares (like in today's variation), or strategic placement of colors or prints.

The materials and tools needed for today's blocks include:

  • cutting mat
  • rotary cutter
  • quilting ruler
  • sewing machine and thread
  • strait pins
  • fabric bundle (I chose Persimmon by BasicGrey for Moda)
  • Iron and ironing board

LOG CABIN

Once all of the strips and the square are cut out, lay them out according to the picture above.  Smallest strips in the center, spiraling outward according to length.

STEP 1

Select three different fabrics from your bundle, and cut 1-1/2" wide strips to the following lengths. You need one strip of each length listed:

Floral Print:

2-1/2, 3-1/2, 4-1/2, 5-1/2, 6-1/2, 7-1/2, 8-1/2, 9-1/2"

Blue Print:

3-1/2, 4-1/2, 5-1/2, 6-1/2, 7-1/2, 8-1/2, 9-1/2, 10-1/2"

Red Square:

2-1/2 x 2-1/2"

STEP 2

This block is pieced in in clock-wise direction.  Start by piecing the 2-1/2" square and 2-1/2" strip together, then the the 3-1/2" strip.

 

STEP 3

When the first two floral strips are pieced on, piece the first two blue strips starting with the 3-1/2" strip.

STEP 4

Remember to press open every seam every time you sew on a new strip.  Open seams on this block will create flat seams and a more attractive block.

If seams don't lie flat immediately, don't worry and don't risk burning the fabric by keeping the iron in one place for too long.

You can always press and repress seams as you build and add strips onto the block.  

STEP 5

Continue to add strips as they are laid out in a clockwise direction.  The new strip you are going to sew on should be as long as the existing block .  The final strip you sew on should be the dark blue strip that is 10-1/2" long.

STEP 6

Once the block is completed, it should measure approximately 10-1/2 x 10-1/2".  Press all seams and the right side of the block a final time to ensure the block lies flat.

Log cabin blocks are a foundation of traditional quilting and can be manipulated in a variety of ways to create different and distinct looks.  Color choice, print choice, and the size of strips used can all alter the look of a log cabin quilt and create patterns out of individual blocks, chevrons, stripes, and plus symbols.


LOG CABIN VARIATION 

STEP 1

To create this variation of the Log Cabin block, you will need to select two or three fabrics, and cut strips and squares according to the following dimensions:

Black Print:

  • four 2 x 7-1/2" strips

White Print:

  • four 2 x 4-1/2" strips 

Green Print:

  • one 4 x 4" square
  • eight 2 x 2" squares

 

If you choose to select only two fabrics rather than three, simply use it to replace the light, diamond patterned fabric shown in the picture.

Using two fabrics will change the look of the block and will place a visual emphasis on the squares.

STEP 2

When all of your strips and squares are cut out, lay them out according to the picture on the right.  Don't worry if the strips don't seem to line up perfectly with the inner layers of block.  Remember that these pieces of fabric are larger than they will be once they are sewn.  Seam allowance adds half an inch to unsewn material.  

Remember that all seams are pressed open.

STEP 3

To start piecing the block, begin from the inside.

  •  Sew one white strip to the 4 x 4" square.
  • Attack one 2 x 2" green square to one white strip on the top and bottom of the 4 x 4" square.
  • Attach two 2 x 2" green squares to the remaining white strip.

STEP 4

Use strait pins to line up seams between the green squares and white strips.  This will help to ensure clean corners when you begin to piece the white strips onto the 4 x 4" square.

First piece the white strips on the top and bottom of the 4 x 4" green square .  Then piece the white strip attached to the two 2 x 2"squares.  Make sure that the inner corners of the small squares line up with the corners of the 4 x 4" square.

STEP 5

Repeat the same order of piecing that you followed in Step 4.

  •  Piece one black strip to the inner square.
  • Piece one 2 x 2" square to one black strip on the top and bottom of the inner square. (sorry it's rearranged in the picture)
  • Piece the remaining 2 x 2" green squares onto the last black strip.

STEP 6

Remember to use strait pins to line up seams between the green squares and black strips when piecing them onto the inner block.

  • Piece the white strips on the top and bottom of the 4 x 4" green square .
  • Piecethe white strip attached to the two 2 x 2"squares.  Make sure that the inner corners of the small squares line up with the corners of the 4 x 4" square.

The finished block measure approximately 10-1/2 x 10-1/2"

Remember to press open all seams, and press the right side of the fabric one final time to ensure a flat block.


Four blocks down, 47 more to go!  I'm so excited about this project even though going to be a long one.  Stick with me for complete instructions on block creation, or feel free to choose a single block to create a quilt top.  That's one of the great things about quilting: there are endless variations and possibilities for creative outlet and design.  

If you're new to quilting or are interested in starting, comment below and let me know what you want to learn or how I can improve anything. 

Also, sorry for the late release.  With two small kiddos sometimes things get busy and have a higher priority over blog posts. Anyway, join me next next week for the Criss Cross block!

Happy Quilting!     - Rita