Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Playing with Log Cabins

This post is part of the Finish-A-Long Q1 tutorial week. 

In this post I'd like to show you what fun can be had with the humble (and dare I say it - extremely traditional) Log Cabin block. Don't believe me? Read on!

- EDIT: I am currently working on the pattern for the curved log cabin (see below). Keep an eye on my Patterns Page -

Some quick basics

Many beginning quilters make a log cabin block. Sometimes they are part of a sampler, sometimes they are made into a full log cabin quilt. While it is a relatively easy block, it can create many different quilts. A basic log cabin block has rectangular strips (logs), added around a square centre (hearth) in one direction (in this example anticlockwise), often with one half of the strips dark and the other half light:

Joining the blocks in a simple straight setting can already result in many different quilts:
But a log cabin block is way more versatile than this!

Well known variations

Variations on a simple log cabin block are common in traditional quilting. Courthouse Steps and Pineapple are well known blocks which are variations on the Log Cabin:

Courthouse Steps (left) and Pineapple (right) blocks

Lesser known variations

My second quilt ever (ages ago!) was a log cabin quilt. Not a traditional one repeating log cabin blocks over and over, but a sampler log cabin quilt. It included the above-mentioned traditional blocks as well as some variations that are not as common. Cornerstones anyone? Or corner triangles?

These blocks formed my first log cabin quilt:

Next, what if...

You may all know this of course, but the real fun starts when you start asking "What if..."

So, what if... you make the logs on one side larger than those on the other side?
When the logs at the "dark" side are wider than those on the "light" side, the hearth is being placed off centre:
Log cabin (left) and offset log cabin (right)
And what if... the logs on one side (here the light side) are getting wider towards the outside of the block while those on the other (dark) side are all the same?

Yes, the hearth is not only off centre, but the log cabin block forms a curved shape! Imagine the layouts you can make with that!!

Combining some of these options I've been sewing blocks like these:

Which would have made (and still will make) a lovely baby quilt if only I had finished all the blocks (!!):

Or some other layout possibilities for a larger quilt:

Can you tell yet that I am rather obsessed with log cabin variations these days?!

Improv or liberated log cabins

The block structure lends itself very well to improvisational piecing, too. How about not keeping to the dark/light separation? Logs of different widths? Adding the logs not always in the right order?

Here's one I made a while ago and it combines all of the above broken "rules". It even includes small bits of selvedge (saying "Silver Lining". I thought that was lovely but probably it's just part of the fabric name). It is on my Finish-A-Long list since it is still only a "flimsy":

A couple of blocks from this quilt:

 And what about this block? If you look carefully you can recognise the log cabin structure:

It is part of this quilt top, all blocks are cut at the same time, log cabin in stack and whack style, then set on point:

If you've stuck with me this far, you deserve a medal! So I leave you with a last image of a quilt top which shows what you can do playing with log cabin blocks in black, white and grey. This one includes slightly offset blocks as well as straight blocks:

So, not quite a tutorial, rather a taster I suppose... I hope you have been inspired and maybe consider to play with log cabin blocks. I am sure not finished making them, though first I may have to finish some of these tops into quilts, really.

If you want to see more log cabin ideas, have a browse of the #logcabinquilt on Instagram. With more than 12k posts there are bound to be some photos to inspire.
I also know of a SAL (sew along) going on right now, too, check out #sunnylogcabinsal, they have a lot of ideas for log cabin blocks, and a quilt made up of one huge block... (tempting)!

Well, I've kept you long enough. More tutorials in the coming days:

And don't forget to link up your Q1 finishes, the linkup is HERE.

In the coming days, weeks, months, I will be busy making more log cabin quilts... and maybe finishing some, too. I hope to keep you up to date on that, I may have to add some to my Q2 Finish-A-Long list...

Also, linking up with Mini Archie's March Furtle Around the Blogosphere, because those log cabin blocks is what I've been working on for the last weeks (and weeks...) and not much else. My furtling comes in when I root around the blogs that are linked up as well, seeing what others in the blogosphere have been busy with...



  1. The last one is so subtle,and looks wonderful there.

  2. Great ideas, love, love the geese log cabin blocks!

  3. I love this! Thanks for such a great show & tell about Log Cabin blocks. I wasn't really interested before, but your curvy one with triangles is lovely!!!

  4. Wonderful inspiration in this Tutorial thanks!

  5. I really need to make a log cabin quilt after reading this post, I love the log geese which produce those beautiful circles.

  6. I've done many a log cabin but loved seeing all your variations here. Thank you!

  7. So much information and inspiration here Sandra! Well done! Things I have never even thought of in terms of a log cabin.

  8. Thorough an well presented post!! Thanks!

  9. Thank you for a great tutorial. I love your log cabin samplers.

  10. What an inspiring post - who'd have thought all those lovely designs were able to be produced from log cabin variations?! This must have taken ages to put together, thank you for spending that time sharing your expertise with us. And thank you for furtling!

  11. I really love the curved log cabin! Do you think you could write a pattern for it? I'm sure that there are quite a few of us that would like to purchase one. Thanks so much.

  12. Do you have a pattern for the curved log cabin/flying geese block? I would be happy to purchase if from you. Thank you!

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  14. I am another quilter who would LOVE to have the curved log cabin/flying geese block. It's gorgeous

  15. Please let me know where I can get my hands on the curved flying geese log cabin pattern! I LOVE it!

  16. I too would love a pattern for curved flying geese block. It is spectacular!

  17. These are amazing! My head is spinning and my mind is blown!! Can't wait to try some these!
    Thank you!

  18. WOW WOW WOW...fun ideas and opened my mind to fun options! Thanks ...quilt have quilt making has been my happy place during Covid lock down...stash bashing all year.

    1. Thank you! I hope you keep using your stash :-)

  19. I would love to purchase the flying geese curved log cabin pattern too. Would love to make it!!

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