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Log cabin quilt squares

When Making a Log Cabin square how wide should the strips and centre square be?


You are in the driver's seat on this one.

The size of your strips and centre square is all up to you, unless you are either:

  • Following a pattern with specific fabric requirements/placements, or...

  • If you are using precuts like Jellyrolls or Bali Pops. It doesn't make sense to me to cut these precuts down into smaller widths
The larger the strips and center squares, the faster the piecing will be because it takes fewer 'rounds' of logs to complete a block.

In my daughter's quilt (below), I embroidered the center squares of these Courthouse Steps quilt blocks with a collection of little kitties from a Cactus Punch embroidery disk. The centers are 3-3/4" square, finished. The logs were cut 1" and 1-1/2". The final block finished at 11-3/4" square.

Log cabin quilt squares with a large center square

Kitties Quilt
Machine pieced and quilted by Julie Baird

In this stunning quilt by Linda Kenneday, the centers of the Chimneys and Cornerstones quilt blocks (another log cabin quilt block variation) are a quilt block in and of themselves.

Log cabin quilt squares with a pieced center square

Star and Logs, Machine pieced by Linda Kennedy
Long arm quilted by Nancy Mancke

If memory serves correct, the logs for Linda's quilt are cut 1-1/2" wide to finish at 1".

Wendy S. Popp outdid herself in this next example.

Excellent use of color. Beautiful quilt, right?!

Log cabin quilt squares with tiny logs

Little Log Cabins, Machine pieced by Wendy S. Popp
Handquilted by Wendy S. Popp

But now look
at it again knowing that the logs are about an 1/8" wide!
Add to that, Wendy has hand quilted this piece. A truly masterful piece of quilting!

Those tiny logs take extra care to get them just right. (I have to admit that for the teeny-tiny like this, I will paper piece to get the accuracy that I desire.)

Personal Taste

In my own quilts, I like to use either 1-1/2" or 1-1/4" cut strips to build my log cabin quilt blocks when the quilt is made from mostly or all log cabin blocks.

The reason is twofold:

  • Using up stash. I have a rather large stash or 'fabric resource center' as I've been quilting for almost twenty years and sewing for at least another twenty five. Thinner logs mean I get to use smaller pieces of fabric. It's satisfying to 'use up' a fabric down to those little bits. I also love scrap quilts. Smaller logs mean I can use more fabrics in a block.

  • This log size appeals to me asthetically. Somehow, in my mind it looks 'right'.
And that brings us back to where we started. It all depends on what you find pleasing to your eye, how much time and how much fabric you have to give to a project. Do let us know what you decide.

And readers...I'd love to have your input on this. Please use the 'comments' link below to share your thoughts on just what size log cabin 'strips' should be.

Thank you for your question.


Julie Baird

Comments for Log cabin quilt squares

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size of the logs
by: Sylvia

I use 1" wide strips. And have been know to use 3/4" when turning a square into a potholder...more rows.

Using 1/4" seams the logs can be narrow but I set up a guide on my machine... I also enjoy water color painting miniatures, sewing for 6" porcelain dolls (and making the dolls), and building HO scale model railroad scenery....I think I just like 'tiny'....

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