Give Traditional Quilt Blocks a Modern Look Three Ways – Quilting Daily

Many of us cherish the heirloom block quilts handed down to us–or even the ones we “inherit” from flea markets and thrift shops. But when it comes to our own quilting, we like a more contemporary style.

Fortunately, it’s easy to combine the admiration for traditional quilting squares with a modern aesthetic.

Take, for example, the log cabin pattern. In the Spring issue of Modern Patchwork, several quilt artists have used the traditional pattern as inspiration for modern quilt and quilt project design.

Here are just three ways you can modernize log cabin quilt squares.

One quilt block, using half a log cabin pattern and
wide fabric strips. By Ellen Maxwell as seen in
Modern Patchwork Spring 2014.


Think outside the block. Use part of a quilt block design, blow it up, or both. For example, in this Log Cabin Pillow, Ellen Maxwell uses one half-log cabin block and adds a modern twist by taking the strips to a wider width. The contemporary fabrics from the Ty Pennington collection for Westminster Fabrics adds to the unconventional look.

modern quilt block coasters kathryn morrison
Wonky log cabin coasters are easy for beginners who
want to think outside the traditional quilt block.
By Kathryn Morrison, as featured in
Modern Patchwork Spring 2014.

Go wonky.

Classic quilting squares emphasize straight lines and precise corners. To modernize, embrace irregular lines and off-kilter angles. Inspired by the liberated block quilting techniques that Gwen Marston, Jean Wells, and the Gee’s Bend quilters used in their work, Kathryn Morrison created these Scrappy Log Cabin coasters.

easy log cabin quilt blocks faughnan
Fabric choices make these quilt blocks contemporary.
By Tara Faughnan, featured in
Modern Patchwork Spring 2014.

Put the focus on fabric.

Contemporary fabric designs in modern color ways instantly bring quilt blocks out of the past. In this Modern Log Cabin Quilt by Tara Faughnan, the large quilt blocks serve as a framework for the intense colors, making the fabric the star.

There are 27 modern quilting projects and block quilt patterns in the Spring 2014 issue of Modern Patchwork magazine. Be inspired to update a quilt block pattern of your own using these tips.

P.S. There are many ways to update block quilt patterns. Be sure to check out Thomas Knauer’s book Modern Quilt Perspectives, our Modern Quilting Patterns, Projects & Techniques bundle, and the Vintage Quilt Revival book.

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