Log Cabin

This quilt is made entirely from 2 1/2 inch strips. It is an extremely versatile pattern, which can be set in many different configurations. See bottom of this page for just a few of them. Mine shown here is called barn raising. The quilt without borders finishes 84 inches square, and has 36 blocks. To make the quilt bigger, you can add two more strips to each block, make more blocks, or use fatter strips. I'm going to put a 6 inch border on this one, so it will finish 96 inches square.
Look at your stash of 2 1/2 inch strips. Sort them into dark and light. Which do you have the most of? In my case, I had more darks, so I start with the light strips, and so in each block the dark strips are longer than the light strips. If I had had more lights than darks, I would have started with the darks. Study the block and you'll see how I have longer dark strips on each round. If you look hard at the quilt above, you'll see that the dark areas are a little wider than the light ones.

Traditionally the center of log cabin blocks are red or yellow to represent the hearth, but it isn't a rule. You don't even have to make all your centers the same color, but I like the traditional red (and I had plenty in my stash).

For the first step, you will need 2 full length strips or 4 half length strips of 'center' fabric and the same amount of light. Sew them right sides together the long way. Do not iron, do not open. Put your strips on your cutting mat, and crosscut these into 2 1/2 inch units. Use the lines on your ruler and the seam you just sewed to be sure your cuts are perpendicular to the seam (more important than perpendicular to the edge of the fabric). You want at least as many units as you want blocks in your final quilt. I usually try to start with about 2 extra so if one or two of the blocks look dumb I can throw them out.

Stack the blocks beside your machine, with the red (center) side up. Then take another long light strip and put it right side up on your machine. Pick up one unit, unfold it with THE LAST STRIP TOWARDS YOUR BELLY. Remember, the last piece you added is always is towards your belly. As you sew, there will never be any seam allowances on the bottom to worry about, and the unironed seam allowance on top will fold naturally towards your belly, helped by the presser foot.

Butt the units together, and sew as many on the light strip as it will hold. Pick up another light strip and sew more units to it, and go until all of your units are sew to light strips.

Then, again without ironing anything, cut the units apart perpendicular to the last seam you sewed. You have now sewn the first two light strips in all your blocks. Next we will add two dark strips to each unit. Put the first one, face up on your machine and arrange the first unit on it. The last strip goes TOWARDS YOUR BELLY. Again, you still havent ironed anything. Finger press the unit open at the last seam, and let the presser foot bend the seam allowance towards you as you sew. Attach all your units to a dark strip, then cut them apart perpendicular to the last seam. Do the same thing with one more dark strip. You have now completed one round - two more to go.

Okay, NOW you can iron all the blocks. All seam allowances are ironed away from the center square, towards the outside of the block. The blocks should measure about 6 1/2 inches square at this point. Don't trim them or get too fussy, as long as your seams are a consistent width, you should be fine. If your blocks are too small or too big, don't worry, they should all be the same size.

From now until the blocks are finished, the seam allowances furthest from your belly (the ones on the other side of the center) will be going away from you, but since you've ironed them that way, it won't be a problem. Add two light strips, then two dark strips to the block, cutting each time you have all your blocks attached to a strip. Iron again when you have added the second dark strip, completing the second round.

Add a third round the same way.

Sew your blocks together any way you like, and if you want a border, now would be a good time!


I highly recommend the Log Cabin Book by Eleanor Burns.


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