Learn how to make the traditional log cabin quilt block with an easy step-by-step tutorial and get inspired by modern log cabin block variations!
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The log cabin quilt block is likely one of the most well-known quilt blocks. It is simple enough for beginners to create, yet it offers such versatility that it can be a challenge even for advanced quilters. Without a doubt, it is a timeless source of inspiration for all quilters. We’ve put together a simple tutorial on how to make the log cabin quilt block and included some contemporary variations to spark your creativity!
What Is A Log Cabin Quilt Block?
A log cabin quilt block is a traditional block, known for its simplicity and versatility. It’s named after the traditional log cabins, where each layer of logs was added to the structure to create a home. The quilt block mimics this construction process by using strips of fabric to form concentric squares or rectangles, representing the logs.
The block is typically pieced using a center square (representing the hearth or the fireplace of the cabin) with strips of fabric (representing logs) added to each side. As each “log” is added, the block grows outward, creating a concentric pattern.
One side of the block is usually made with light-colored strips, representing the sunny or warmer side of the cabin, while the other side is made with dark-colored strips, symbolizing the shaded or cooler side. This contrast gives the block its distinctive appearance.
How To Make A Log Cabin Block?
In this tutorial, I will show you how to make a classic log cabin quilt block. We will make the 14 x 14” finished block with three rounds (three squares around the central square) of 2” stripes.
Color A (central color)
Color B, D, F (light side)
Color C, E, G (dark side)
A Log Cabin Block Step-By-Step Tutorial:
Cut fabrics to get the following pieces:
Color A (1) 2 ½ x 2 ½”
Color B (1) 2 ½ x 2 ½”
(1) 4 ½ x 2 ½”
Color C (1) 4 ½ x 2 ½”
(1) 6 ½ x 2 ½”
Color D (1) 6 ½ x 2 ½”
(1) 8 ½ x 2 ½”
Color E (1) 8 ½ x 2 ½”
(1) 10 ½ x 2 ½”
Color F (1) 10 ½ x 2 ½”
(1) 12 ½ x 2 ½”
Color G (1) 12 ½ x 2 ½”
(1) 14 ½ x 2 ½”
Alternatively, you can cut one long 2 ½” strip and cut it to the required length as you build the block.
Sew together both 2½ x 2½” squares. Keep the square in color A (center) on the left.
Sew the 4½ x 2½” rectangle in color B to the bottom of the unit from the Step 2.
Sew the 4½ x 2½” rectangle in color C to the left side of the unit from the Step 3.
Sew the 6½ x 2½” rectangle in color C on top of the rectangle from the Step 4.
Keep adding aditional pieces referring to the diagram to get the final log cabin block, as shown on the photo above.
Log Cabin Quilt Block Variations
As I’ve mentioned earlier, this classic block is a canvas for your creativity. Here, you’ll discover some great variations that will for sure inspire modern quilters like yourself.
Below you will find some ideas for block variations, but don’t hesitate to mix and match colors and prints, play with various strip widths or block sizes – the outcomes truly are stunning.
Courthouse Quilt Block
The Courthouse quilt block is one of the most known variations of the log cabin quilt block. Its arrangement of strips creates the illusion of a central “courthouse square” surrounded by a series of logs or strips, giving it a timeless and traditional look. The block itself offers different arrangements resulting in eye-catching designs.
Off-Center and Quarter Log Cabin Block
Speaking of impressive results, I absolutely adore these variations of the block. The Off-Center Log Cabin version brings together two different stripe widths, creating a modern asymmetrical look and an off-center composition. On the other hand, the Quarter Log Cabin brings the center to the very corner of the block, which emphasizes the geometric composition even more.
Play with the width of the strips and color arrangements
The log cabin block is very often made using 2” finished strips and has three ‘log’ rounds, resulting in a 14 x 14” finished block. The 2” width matches the size of a jelly roll, which can save you some cutting time. But since we’re talking about block variations, don’t hesitate to experiment with different strip widths to put your own spin on the log cabin block. If you go for wider strips, you’ll make a bold visual statement, especially if you want to show off your fabric prints. On the flip side, using narrower strips will give you a more intricate design.
Have some fun experimenting with various fabrics and colors to achieve striking results. If you’re feeling adventurous, take it a step further by trying different strip widths and colors. Additionally, get creative with how you arrange the strips to produce a wide range of patterns within the block.
I’m sure you can see why this classic block is so well-loved, and I bet you agree it’s pretty amazing. Inspired by the versatility of this block, we’ve put together our favorite log cabin quilt pattern ideas for modern quilters – a perfect source of inspiration for your next quilting project. We would love to know how it goes!