Stitching up the block
All the patches for our Log Cabin are cut and organized.
Before we get started, let's share a few...
The Log Cabin is the perfect block for the beginner because it's all straight edges—no pesky bias to fiddle around with.
Accurately sized blocks are much easier and faster to assemble into the quilt top.
Who doesn't want to see their vision come to life—in their lifetime!
There are several techniques to help you create the most accurate blocks possible. My favorites are:
Click any of the underlined links above to learn more about each technique.
Let's get to the fun part--SEWING!
The block in this sample is stitched with an almost white 50wt Aurifil thread and a 70/10 Microtex Sharp needle.
My favorite quarter inch foot with a guide is installed on my machine—it's the perfect complement to starched fabric. The cut edges glide right along the guide. (You'll see it in the first picture below.)
All the seam allowances (SA) are 1/4".
Seams can be pressed either open or towards the most recently added patch.
If you plan on stitching in the ditch to quilt the quilt, then I recommend pressing all SAs toward the last patch added,away from the center. That way you'll have a ditch to stitch in.
... I prefer to press my seams open—I feel the blocks lay much flatter.
And I am loathe to quilt a Log Cabin in the ditch. There's just too many starts and stops for my taste.
Check out this wonky way to quilt a Log Cabin (scroll all the way to the bottom of that page for the diagram) and miss the ditch entirely!
To press, do so first with the patches in the closed position. This 'sets' the seam, meddling the fibers of the thread into the fibers of the fabric.
Then open the patches and press the SA in the direction you've chosen—either open or toward the last added log.
If you've starched your fabrics, you'll be able to give the seam a nice fingerpress after opening the patches. This helps keep a tuck from forming at the seam line.
And finally, don't forget to try my secret pressing technique. You'll be amazed at just how flat your patchwork turns out.
With right sides together (RST) align the edges of the Center (violet) and 1a patch.
Stitch along one side with a quarter inch seam allowance.
Press. For this sample block I have chosen to press all my SA open.
If you intend to ditch quilt then press toward the most recently added patch (or out from the center) to create a ditch.
With Patch 1b in front of you, right side up, layer the Center/1a unit on top, right side down. The last added patch 1a is at the bottom of the unit and closest at you.
We'll use this same positioning as each log is added. There are two specific benefits:
I use a brass stiletto to:
You could use the tip of your seam ripper or a bamboo skewer instead if you don't have one or purchase one here.
Stitch and press.
With RST, layer 1c (closest to the feed dogs underneath) with Center/1a/1b, with 1b at the bottom, closest to your body.
To complete the first round of logs, add 1d to the sewn unit. The wrong side of 1c is closest to you as you sew.
Here is the unit after stitching.
With Round 1 complete it's a good practice to measure the unit to confirm the accuracy of your SA.
Use the chart below. These are edge-to-edge dimensions.
|Round||Finished Block Size|
|1||3½" x 3½"||4¼" x 4¼"||5" x 5"|
The first round of our 11" finished sample block should measure 3-1/2" from edge to edge.
Make any adjustments you need to your seam allowance settings now before stitching any more blocks.
The logs in each round are added in exactly the same manner as the first round:
Below is the complete chart for measuring after each round.
After adding Patches 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d, our 11" sample block measures 5 ½" x 5 ½".
Fast forward and adding 3c.
You can just barely make out the pin under my index finger. I like to use pins to hold the ends of the logs even with the stitched unit and then use my stiletto to keep the long edges even as I sew.
The stiletto also comes in handy as you guide the last bit of your block through the sewing machine. Sometimes those ends want to go a bit wonky as you stitch.
The stiletto puts YOU in charge!
After three rounds, our Log Cabin block is starting to look pretty good, eh?
Continue adding the logs in order. Remember to check your accuracy as you go.
Now adding 4c.
You can see where the edges are slightly out of alignment, I'll use my stiletto to even them up as soon as I put the camera down!
Finally our Log Cabin block is complete.
And here it is from the backside with the seams pressed open. Thread tails have all been trimmed away.
Another benefit to pressing SA open is that the dark fabric can't show—or shadow—through the quilt top. This can sometimes be a problem, especially when you're using light-lights or thinner light colored fabrics.
If you use our tutorials to make your blocks and quilts, there are some easy ways to share your creations so other quilters (including me!) can enjoy the fruits of your labor:
I love seeing your work!
Our readers do, too!