Log Cabin Quilt Block
The log cabin quilt block is a classic block. This block is so versatile and can be made in lots of different ways. This post will walk you through lots of different options for creating the log cabin quilt block and various ways to put them together to create a log cabin quilt. If you are a beginner watch the video below for a detailed example of how to sew this block. Also check out my Quilting Crash Course if you are new to quilting or if you are rusty in your skills, this is a great place to start or refresh your memory to set you up for quilting success.
Log Cabin Quilt Block
How to Make a Log Cabin Quilt Pattern
The log cabin quilt block (LCQB from here on out) can be made in varying sizes. If you have a specific size block that you need to make you can design your own, first check out THIS post on how to design a quilt block using a planner.
I highly recommend sketching your block out on graph paper. The graph paper will help you to be super accurate which will save you time, money, and a headache!
For these directions I am going to speak only in terms of the finished size. You will always sketch and calculate based on your finished sizes, then you can go back and add a seam allowance. But for now we will not talk about the seam allowance, just the finished size.
Log Cabin Quilt Pattern 12 Inch Block
So if you have a specific size block that you are trying to make, say 12″, then you want to make sure that the measurement of your base square is a multiple of the finished size. In the diagram below you see that the 12″ block uses a 2″ base square.
For a 12″ block you could also use a base square that is 3″, or even 4″. However the larger your base square, the fewer pieces you will need to create the block. Conversely you could use a 1″ or 1.5″ base square, but the smaller your base square the more pieces you will need.
Designing your own block
Once you have decided on your finished block size you will need to figure out the size of your base square. This first square is the foundation of your entire block. It goes in the middle and you will build upon this square to finish the block.
Your base square should be a multiple of the finished size. If you don’t have a specific finished size in mind, that is ok too. What you need to know is that one edge of each finished piece will always be the length of your base square. The other edge will always be a multiple of the base square.
In the block below our base square is 1″ so one side of each piece will always be 1″. The other side will always be a multiple of 1″. In this example we simply add 1″ to the length every second piece. These pieces build on each other so the next piece should always fit exactly onto the side of the previous two pieces.
Finding the Measurements for a LCQB
Once you have graphed out your block you are ready to take the final step and figure out what the measurements are that you need to cut.
Always wait to add the seam allowance until the very last step. To the finished size of each piece you want to add 1/2″ seam allowance (see image above.) So if your finished square size is 1″ you will cut the square to measure 1.5″.
For the LCQB you will have two of each size piece, except for the final piece. You will only have one of the final piece, this is what will make your block square.
Easy Log Cabin Quilt Block Sewing Instructions
Cut the pieces for your block. Check out THESE tips for cutting fabric straight if this is something with which you struggle.
Once you have cut the pieces for your block you are ready to sew the block together. I like to lay the pieces out so that I can easily see the layout. This helps me to not get confused. If you are making multiple blocks lie the pieces in groups (you can see I have done this in the video below.)
Start in the middle with your two smallest squares. Using a 1/4″ seam sew the two squares together.
Add the next piece. You will place your next piece so that the seam of the previous two pieces is perfectly centered. You will add pieces in a circular manner. So you will constantly be turning your piece to add the next piece.
Continue in this manner. Adding pieces and pressing until you have completed the entire quilt block. There is a special ruler for log cabin quilt blocks. This is meant to help you square the block, you can find it HERE (be sure to find the one that has your finished block size.)
A note on seams: For this type of block I highly recommend pressing your seams open. This cuts down on some of the bulk and puckering of the block. See the video below for an example of how I press the seams open.
Easy Log Cabin Quilt Block Video Tutorial
Quilt Layout Ideas
Once you have mastered creating the LCQB you are ready to think about making a full quilt. You can put this block into a sampler quilt (a quilt with many different types of blocks) or make an entire quilt with this one type of block. You can see some ideas of what a finished quilt looks like by checking #logcabinquilt on Instagram.
The quilt blocks can be made in many different ways. They can look like this where the colors are semi random, this is the block I have demonstrated in the video above. This is a great option for using scraps and playing with mixing patterns.
Or the blocks can be separated diagonally by color or pattern, as the blocks in the layout below.
There are several different popular layouts with this type of block. There is a straight forward layout where you place the blocks all the same orientation. The block for this method can vary.
You can also use this same layout but add sashing.
Another fun layout is to place four blocks together so that they create something similar to a plus sign. For this layout you will want to make the blocks so that they are one color/pattern along one diagonal side and a different color/pattern along the other diagonal side.
Then the quilt will look like this:
You can add a sashing to this pattern as well. The sashing would go between the four block square. You could also place a border row of sashing around the entire quilt (not pictured.)
There are certainly more layout options but this is a good starting point to give you some ideas for using your quilt blocks.
There are also tons of ways to play with this block. You can do a wonky log cabin quilt block which involves squaring the block on a diagonal as you are sewing. This is a less planned method and is more of a practice in sew as you go. If you check the hashtag mentioned above you will see a lot of playful LCQB designs. I recommend trying a few traditional LCQBs before you dive into the more playful methods.