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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 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 aesthetically. 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

PS Another page that might be helpful to you is How to make a Log Cabin quilt block in 3 sizes.

Comments for Log cabin quilt squares

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Re: 1 log cabin block lap quilt
by: Sally

I just came across your reply to my question about how large to make the center square when making the entire quilt as 1 log cabin block. To answer you, I don't work from any particular size cuts but make my own. However I do want all strips in the block to be the same width.

I prefer to not work with 1" strips if possible.

From the Editor: Great, Sally. I'll work on this over the weekend!

~ Julie

What size first rectangle
by: Sally

I would like to make a lap quilt with only 1 log cabin "block" for the entire quilt. I have not been able to figure out what size rectangle to start with or what width the subsequent logs need to be to end up with a 39×50" quilt.

Can anyone help with this problem?

From the Editor: I'd be happy to help you out, but need to know a couple of things first:
  • What is the width of strip that you'd prefer to work with? The 'logs' will be 1/2" narrower in the finished quilt.

  • What size do you want to CUT your center? The same width as the strips? Or different?

Once I know these dimensions, I'll work up a design and cutting instructions for as close to 39" x 50" as works.

Just respond here to kindly let me know.


Julie Baird

Size of logs
by: Dianne

As a newcomer to the world of quilting (and therefore not a big stash as yet - haha), my preference is to go larger with the logs. (up to 2.5" cut width). Only because I am not as experienced with piecing techniques and find it is rewarding to obtain results to keep the project advancing. I can see taking on the narrow ones in
future as my confidence and skill level rises. thank you for sharing your ideas and knowledge - all so very helpful to those of us less familiar it.

width of logs
by: Anonymous

I have made two log cabin quilts, and I used 2" logs finished in one of them and 1/2" logs finished in the other. Although the quilts both turned out well, I think a 3/4" or 1" finished log make a nicer-looking quilt. The 2" logs were kind of big and "chunky" looking, while the 1/2" logs were kind of narrow. I agree that it is a personal decision that is up to you, and it depends on the look that you like. :-)

by: Joanna

Thank you so much for the information. I ran across a picture of a log cabin quilt square in a floral design. I am most interested in creating a quilt for myself, using large squares. My husband likes pastels o light colours and the floral would have a blue sky & flower garden on lower half. I would like to have larger center & logs. Thank you again

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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