All of the Log Cabin quilt designs shown below start with a basic log cabin block, half dark fabrics and half light, pieced around a center square.
To create the different layout designs, simply flip and rotate the blocks to change the placement of the color values.
Any quilt pattern constructed with half square triangles can be recreated with Log Cabin blocks.
It's a great beginner quilt pattern. All the block(s) use just strips subcut into rectangles and squares—no bias edges to contend with—so enjoy creating your very own Log Cabin.
All of the illustrations on this page were designed using Electric Quilt 7 (EQ7), a quilt design software program.
EQ recently added a version for Mac users, so it doesn't matter if you're a PC or an Apple fan!
This program makes it so easy to audition different colors and values with just a few mouse clicks.
Rotate and flip the blocks
with another series of clicks.
Playing with log cabin quilt designs couldn't be easier! I wouldn't consider my quilt studio complete without it!
A typical Log Cabin quilt block is stitched with strips added in either a clockwise or counterclockwise fashion around a center square.
Ours has 7 rounds of logs added clockwise, but yours can be any number of rounds. The choice is up to you as to how much piecing you'd like to do.
Is one direction better than the other?
I learned to sew the Log Cabin by adding strips in a clockwise order, but really the most important thing is to make them all the same. All clockwise or all counter-clockwise. It's your choice!
Take a closer look and you will see that after the center red square, the next log was a light followed by another light and then two dark logs.
If the first two 'logs' you add are light fabrics, the last two you add will be dark. The resulting design will be slightly more 'dark' than light.
If you would prefer to have it 'lighter', then the first two logs you add should be dark. The last two will then be light. Again, the ultimate design choice is up to you!
With a good contrast between your 'light' and 'dark' fabrics, the finished blocks have a strong diagonal line through the center. And that's VERY important for all the designs below.
While you can arrange your blocks any way you wish (and it's a lot of fun!), there are several recognized layout designs with names reminiscent of the pioneer times when this block first appeared in American culture, sometime in the 1860's.
Like the fields the pioneers plowed, this design emphasizes the straight line. To create a symmetrical quilt with this horizontal setting you'll need an odd number of rows and an even number of columns.
A simple setting to showcase your fabric scraps!
There's lot of energy in this layout. You'll need even numbers of columns for a symmetrical layout.
To complete the pinwheels, you'll need even numbers of rows and columns.
Use even numbers of rows and columns to complete this quilt design.
Use even numbers of columns to have a balanced chevron.
Concentric squares on point radiate out from the center. Prepare enough blocks for even numbers in both the rows and columns.
The strong diagonal line in a log cabin quilt block means oodles of design opportunities.
Any pattern with half square triangles can be created with Log Cabin blocks like this sawtooth star in a Barn Raising setting. Even numbers of rows and columns are needed to balance the design.
Log Cabin quilt designs are a terrific way to use up your scraps
because the design is determined by the contrast between the light and dark
values of the logs.
The colors, the prints are unimportant as long as the values of the fabrics you choose are consistently dark or consistently light.
But no matter how many scraps you use, it never fails.
The same fabric ends up on the outside of a block more than once.
And as luck would have it, you find them 'touching' only after you're halfway through quilting your quilt.
It draws the eye where two like strips meet in an otherwise scrappy quilt, like the purple (left).
Drats! What's a quilter to do?
For this scrappy design where every log is a different fabric, count the number of blocks you'll need for your quilt. Multiply that number by 2.
You'll need strips from that many different light fabrics for the outside 'round' of logs.
Repeat the process for the dark fabrics. This way, there will be no duplicate fabrics in the outside rounds and no worries about like fabrics touching in your log cabin quilt design.
If each pair of logs of the same value (i.e. light or dark) is the same fabric, then you'll need as many fabrics as there are blocks to guarantee that two of the same don't end of touching each other.
For more on Log Cabin Quilt Designs and their variations see:
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Find more inspiration at Quilt Designs 101