Designing Your Log Cabin Quilt

The log cabin quilt design is a very traditional design and has been popular with quilters for a long time. It was very popular during the second half of the nineteenth century in America and in England. At that time most quilts were made from dress and shirt cottons, light wools, worsteds and even from tweeds (often worn-out clothing and blankets). In those days, the fabrics were torn into strips and then hand pieced onto a backing fabric known as a foundation. Nowadays the blocks are pieced more often by machine than by hand.

For those wanting access to free log cabin patterns.

The name log cabin quilt describes the formation of each block. The central square represents the hearth fire, and is traditionally made of red fabric. Half of the “logs” in the block are made of dark fabrics that represent shadows and the unknown. The other half is light fabrics, representing the light coming from the fire and the light of civilization. The blocks are always sewn together edge to edge, not separated by plain squares or borders.


The contrast of light/dark fabrics used in the log cabin blocks means that you can assemble your blocks into an almost endless variety of interesting geometric patterns.

Another variation to look at is the wonky log cabin. If you don't like to conform with all those parallel strips this could be the solution for you. The wonky quilt below is designed in EQ using fabrics by Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler and Martha Negley.

Photo courtesy of Playing with Brushes

Making a log cabin block is a lot of fun especially when you learn how to chain piece.

The traditional favorites are:

* Straight Set - This is a simple layout, with all the blocks oriented in the same direction.

* Fields and Furrows - The diagonal lines of darks and lights in this setting look like the rows in a freshly ploughed field.

* Barn Raising - This is a square-in-a-square layout suggesting a building.

* Pineapple - a more complicated variation of the log cabin also known as windmill blades.

Other interesting log cabin designs are:

* Rag Log Cabin - a combination of two techniques, the raq quilt method and the log cabin design.

* Courthouse Steps - This is a simple variation of the log cabin theme. The strips are assembled in opposite pairs, rather than working round the block.

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