A timeless favorite set aside
Log Cabin quilts are among my favorite quilt block designs, and I spent plenty of time making them when I first started quilting. (See a tip below that I learned from a wise teacher in my early days of quilting.) They are the perfect blocks to learn many quilt making skills such as accurate ¼” seams and controlled lengths of straight-line sewing. Not just for beginners, though, the Log Cabin has been infinitely explored by quilting artists of all skill levels.
But, after a while, my tastes changed and I put aside the humble Log Cabin to explore more ‘sophisticated’ piecing. Sound a little snobby? Yeah, I think so, too.
Now. Happily, Log Cabins are back in my life again and I am making them with a modern influence. My quilt, “King of the Cabin,” featuring solid gray in every block for balance plus a variety of prints, was published in Modern Patchwork March/April 2018 and I now sleep under it every night.
My renewed interest in Log Cabins couldn’t have come at a better time.
A new book, Beyond the Block: Modern Patchwork Projects Inspired by Log Cabin Blocks, edited by Jodi Butler, is really knocking my socks off. As a lover of the Quarter-square Log Cabin block in particular, I am thrilled to see many examples of this block in the book including quilts by Gina Tell, Vikki Burton, and Nancy Mahoney plus a clever variation called Reconstructed Log Cabin Quilt by Jemima Flendt. Among my favorites from the pages are Cory Yoder’s “Mod Cabin Quilt” for its on-point setting and clean, white background and “Interrupted Log Cabin Quilt” by Tula Pink, where she starts with a Quarter-square block but then turns it around to use it as the center of a larger block!!
This is a brilliant design that I can’t wait to try!
Of course, there are many other Log Cabin quilt designs in the book including the classic Log Cabin, Courthouse Steps, and ‘Wonky’ Log Cabins with improvisational piecing. The book begins with an excellent chapter on Quiltmaking Basics followed by a chapter on Log Cabin block styles. The versatility of Log Cabins is endless and the 19 quilt patterns in Beyond the Block will have you adding a modern flair to your next project.
For some Log Cabin history and inspiration, I highly recommend this delightful post from renowned quilt collector Gerald Roy with his thoughts on this iconic quilt design.
A tip for you
Oh, and here’s the tip I promised; it’s about cutting. OK, a quick story first: Before I ever made my first Log Cabin quilt, I had a teacher who was crazy about them and liked them scrappy. Here’s her tip to build a stash of strips for your next scrappy Log Cabin with very little heavy lifting.
- Decide on a uniform width of strips—back then, the ‘traditional’ Log Cabin was made with 1½”-wide cut strips (finishing at 1″ wide).
- Every time you cut fabric for a quilt and have extra yardage left, cut 1 or 2—or more—strips in that uniform width.
- Store them in two boxes—one for light strips and another for dark strips.
Then, when you’re ready to start a new Log Cabin quilt, you have a source of strips to get going right away. Pretty smart, huh?
I can’t wait to start planning that Tula Pink pattern for my next quilt! Join me by grabbing your own copy of Beyond the Block, I’d love to see the quilt block designs you’re inspired to make!
Explore quilts featuring Log Cabins and many other quilt block designs.