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Log Cabin Quilt Block - need cutting instructions for a 9" finished block

A reader asks:

I want to make a 9" finished size log cabin block and am having a bit of a problem.

What size should the center be and what size should "logs" be to attain the finished size.


Julie replies:

I went ahead and drafted instructions for two versions of the block--one with all the strips cut an even width, and one with a larger center square.

I've added another page to the website that includes a step-by-step tutorial to piece a log cabin block, as well as a Cutting Chart to download for a Log Cabin with 5 rounds of log for 1", 1 1/4" and 1 1/2" finished strips. There's also a coloring page for the block. Click here to go to that page now.

Log Cabin quilt block with 5 rounds of logs
Traditional Log Cabin Quilt Block

Construction Tips

When I construct Log Cabin quilt blocks, I add the first patch to the right side of the center square.

Next press the unit, first with it closed to set the seam, then press the unit open with the seam allowances to the dark (or in this case, red) side.

Back at my sewing machine, I then rotate the unit 1/4 turn to the left and add the next patch to the right side. All seam allowances are 1/4 inch.

Continue in this manner until all the patches have been added. Your block will measure 9-1/2" unfinished.

Logs and Center Square are Equal Widths

This rendition of the block is made from a small center square and four rounds of logs. Cut your light and dark (in my example, red) fabrics into 1-1/2" cross-grain strips.

Log Cabin quilt block with even strips

Except for the first and last piece, you'll be sub-cutting both a dark and a light patch to the same length.

Notice that the block is slightly asymmetrical; there is more of the dark fabric than the light.

Cutting Instructions
PatchColorCut Size
Center SquareCenter1-1/2" square
1.LLight 11-1/2" x 1-1/2"
2.LLight 22-1/2" x 1-1/2"
3.DDark 12-1/2" x 1-1/2"
4.DDark 23-1/2" x 1-1/2"
5.LLight 33-1/2" x 1-1/2"
6.LLight 44-1/2" x 1-1/2"
7.DDark 34-1/2" x 1-1/2"
8.DDark 45-1/2" x 1-1/2"
9.LLight 55-1/2" x 1-1/2"
10.LLight 66-1/2" x 1-1/2"
11.DDark 56-1/2" x 1-1/2"
12.DDark 67-1/2" x 1-1/2"
13.LLight 77-1/2" x 1-1/2"
14.LLight 88-1/2" x 1-1/2"
15.DDark 78-1/2" x 1-1/2"
16.DDark 89-1/2" x 1-1/2"

The diagram below shows the position of the patches and the order of piecing. Piece 1.L is added first and is a light patch. Piece 4.D is the fourth patch added and is cut from a dark fabric.

order of piecing for log cabin block

Logs and Center Square are Different Widths

In this block the center square is much larger. It takes just three rounds of logs to complete so it's faster than the first block.

Log Cabin quilt block with a large center patch

After cutting your 3-1/2" square for the center, cut your light and dark strips into 1-1/2" strips.

This block is also slightly asymmetrical.

Cutting Instructions
PatchColorCut Size
Center SquareCenter3-1/2" square
1.LLight 13-1/2" x 1-1/2"
2.LLight 24-1/2" x 1-1/2"
3.DDark 14-1/2" x 1-1/2"
4.DDark 25-1/2" x 1-1/2"
5.LLight 35-1/2" x 1-1/2"
6.LLight 46-1/2" x 1-1/2"
7.DDark 36-1/2" x 1-1/2"
8.DDark 47-1/2" x 1-1/2"
9.LLight 57-1/2" x 1-1/2"
10.LLight 68-1/2" x 1-1/2"
11.DDark 58-1/2" x 1-1/2"
12.DDark 69-1/2" x 1-1/2"

The following diagram shows the placement of the patches.

order of piecing for a log cabin block with a large center

For ideas for laying out your 9" Log Cabin blocks check out Log Cabin Quilt Designs.

Thank you for your question.


Julie Baird

Return to the Generations Quilt Patterns' Quilting Forum.

Comments for Log Cabin Quilt Block - need cutting instructions for a 9" finished block

Click here to add your own comments

Excellent info!
by: Kimmer

Thank you so much for this thorough explanation. I love log cabin blocks, but have trouble adjusting them to the size I need. Your info has improved my confidence!

pattern for moda flowers
by: Anonymous

I just brought 12 cuts of Moda Spring Garden because every thing matches. I spend the last 25 hours looking for a pattern. I am a higher beginner. My instructor taught us to use different measurement according to Alex Anderson.

Do you think you 9 inch cabin would be easier.

I love your instructions but will wait for an answer.

Thank You

Retired teacher
New to quilting
Fl now

From the Editor: A 9" block will be neither easier nor harder, just a different.

I like to double-check the measurements of my blocks after each round. If my seam allowance is off, I'll be able to catch it early...a big time saver when I'm suffering from brain-fart-itis...which happens more than one would expect.

Having a square ruler big enough to measure the whole block is invaluable.

It's worth the time to do a sewing test across multiple seams as described on my page, Perfecting Log Cabin Quilt Blocks. I'm also a huge fan of cutting my logs so that the long edge is parallel to the selvedge. Way less stretch in the logs makes for more accurate blocks. That info is also in that article.

Good Luck to you. Quilting is one of the most fulfilling adventures you can go on...without leaving your house! :D


Julie Baird

sizing of logs with 3 inch square
by: Ros

Lovely instructions Quick question. If I have a center square of 3 inches and have a lovely matching 2.5-inch jelly roll can I make this work as the surround and still create a log cabin?

Many thanks,


From the Editor: Of course you can! Is the center square cut 3"x3" or does it finish at 3" x 3"? That will affect the length of the strips you'll need. Also what size block do you need both in finished and unfinished sizes to make sure we're talking about the same thing.


Julie Baird

Log cabin block
by: Linda

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such clear and comprehensive directions!!

Thank you!

From the Editor: Thank you for writing. Enjoy!

~ Julie

Log Cabin Block
by: Barbara

SO SO Easy with your instructions. Thank you as I also am new to machine quilting and really love this pattern, but could not figure out how to do this.

Thank you!
by: Charlene Stephens Robinson

Thank you coolio much for all your great advice, and for doing the math! I want to do a lot cabin quilt with the larger center that will end up being 10" square. I bought the shiny Michael Miller Frost line and that will be so cool as all one color family in one side and a paler color family on the other side. It didn't come in red so I am not sure which one to choose for the center.

Log cabin
by: Anonymous

Allways drawing from the outside in

by: Darlene

I'm getting ready to make my oldest son a quilt. He lives in a cabin, so this will be perfect. It's the easiest and clearest instructions I have found. Thank you.

log cabin
by: Anonymous

Finally, very good instructions on how to make the block. I've been all over the web. this is the best one.

Mug rugs for teachers
by: Dorothy

I am making the heart square log cabin for mug urges for great-great-grandkids teaches

Thank you for the pattern.

Time to Quilt
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your patterns and guides. I have just retired and have always enjoyed quilting. Now I have the time to "stitch" away my days!

Best ever!
by: Stephanie

Thank you so much for these instructions! I Am not new to quilting but I've found log cabins to be very confusing. I've referred back to your instructions whenever I've been lost and have found my way again.

Best instructions ever!

From the Editor: Thank you so much for your kind words. It's nice to know that quilters are using them and find value.


Julie Baird

Great Log Cabin instructions
by: Jann

Great pattern for Log Cabin, have been looking for a block that I liked & easy to understand instructions to make alternative blocks & colour ideas.


From the Editor: You're welcome! Thank you for writing.


Julie Baird

Log Cabin
by: Sharon

What a great site!! I would like to make a log cabin quilt with a 3 1/2" finished center block. Could you please let me know what the strip sizes would be?

Thanks much.

From the Editor: I need to know the strip width (the width you cut) you want to use and how big you want the finished block to be to give you a usable answer.

~ Julie

Thank You!
by: Anonymous

I've been searching everywhere for a 9-1/2 block. This is perfect and your directions are very clear and so helpful! (I'm a beginner.)

Thank you!
by: Anonymous

I looked everywhere on the internet for these instructions! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

Thank You!!!!
by: Terri

Very helpful instructions, as I'm overseas and can't just wander into a store for a "how-to" book. Thanks again!!!! :)

Thank you !
by: Ciar

Thank you for the clear instructions.
The diagram is really useful especially for me
as I'm teaching myself how to make quilts and a
log cabin is on my list.

Thank You
by: Marion

I just realized that your's is one of the 1st sites I found when I started to learn quilting about 4 years ago. I have been using your block patterns ever since.

Many thanks for the patterns and the many tips. You have been a great help in my quilting adventure.

Log CabinTutorial
by: Radha

Thanks for thelovely instructions. I shall start this project as I have tons of strips lying around me. Thanks for sharing...



Log Cabin
by: Veronica Subban

Thank you for the different sizes & easy instructions
For Log Cabin Quilts Blocks
So helpful to a Quilter.
Would love to get onto your site

by: Elizabeth

Hi, Julie.
I´m a beginner from Brazil. Your comments and diagrams will help me in a new project. Do you have the measure units in the metric system? I'd like to make the block with 3 1/2" center square.
Thank you for posting!

From Julie:

Hi Elizabeth! Unfortunately the only rulers I have access to are in inches. I feel uncomfortable providing metric measurements without testing them first.

I wish I could be of more help.


12 1/2" blocks
by: Kellie

I noticed where someone asked you about instructions for 12 1/2" blocks, but never got back to you. I would also be interested in those! I would like my blocks to be 12 1/2" finished with at least two inch strips, and I would prefer the smaller center square. I appreciate, so much, your taking the time to help others!

What a blessing!

From the Edit: Hi Kelli!

Quick question. 2" finished strips or 2-1/2" finished strips?


~ Julie

by: Linda

I was so completely happy to find your site after searching so much on the internet.

Your comments and diagrams are priceless, easy to follow and "user friendly."

Thank you so very much, what a delight to find someone like you to take the patience to help others.

by: Cindy

Looking forward to the "new math" guides this fall a kick out of "piecefully" in your reply.

by: Cindy

I'm a new to quilting and wanted to start with a log cabin quilt to give to some friends. I've bought a book but the directions were not nearly so user friendly as your list and chart.

Thanks for posting!!

From the Editor: You're welcome, Cindy! Thank you so much for taking the time to write.

Coming some time in the fall (after quilt show season) I'll be adding more pages about Log Cabin quilts. One of them will have the math done for several other sizes. Another will be paper piecing patterns (free to download) for smaller blocks with smaller logs.

Again, thank you! It's pretty cool to wake up on a Saturday morning and know that I've been able to help someone!



12.5" log cabin block
by: Kathy

I would like to make a 12.5" block with a bigger center with just rounds of logs. Can you give the instructions for that?

From the Editor: Not a problems, just need a bit of extra information.

  1. How big a center do you want/need?

  2. What size logs/strips do you prefer to work with? You'll need to let me know whether it's the finished or unfinished width.

  3. It is a 12-1/2" finished block or is 12-1/2" the unfinished size?

Once I have that information, it's easy-peasy to do for you!

I'll await your reply.

~ Julie

Easiest instructions
by: Jennifer

Thanks for doing this diagram. I want to make a log cabin quilt for my son and you have given me two options with instructions and pictures. This has made it so easy.

From the Editor: You're Welcome! Glad it helps!


Thanks for 9" log cabin
by: Julia

Hi, I have been tearing my hair out trying to design this on a (well-known) software program....I am using log cabin blocks for a QOV quilt with a log cabin star layout. Thanks for doing the math!

by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for the nice diagram and instructions on making this block! I think I am going to give it a try ! I love the red and white, too!

From the Editor:You're welcome! ~ Julie

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