Welcome to Week 3 of the Sew,Mama,Sew! Block-Along! The first two weeks we encouraged you to try both traditional and modern variations of the 9-Patch block.  This week we’re exploring the very popular Log Cabin design.  If you’re sewing along with us, you can choose to make one or all of these blocks. For more information about our sew-along, see this post.

Log Cabin

The Log Cabin quilt block has always been one of quilters’ favorites.  Historically, it was the ideal design to make use of scraps and recycled linens.  Today, sewists who love to play with pattern and color are drawn to the Log Cabin block for use on quilts, pillows, apron pockets, placemats, and more.  Although the quilt design is often associated with pioneer history in the US, the pattern goes back much further than that, perhaps inspired by decorative art of the Ancient Egyptians.  (For more about the history of the Log Cabin quilt, see this interesting article by Jane Hall.)

Log Cabin is gratifying to design and sew.  See this tutorial for instructions.  You might also want to check out this animation showing the order in which to sew the strips.  (I always just try to remember to work clockwise.  Top, right, bottom, left, top, right, etc…..)

Today’s quilters can look at a Log Cabin block in a variety of ways.  You can see it as a stand-alone work, with each block making its own bold, unique statement (whether as part of a quilt, as a pillow, or as any other item.)  You can also see it as a piece of the big picture, which is the overall design you are going for in your quilt.   Historically, this is how quilters viewed their Log Cabin blocks–as just one part of the whole.

Very often the Log Cabin blocks were (and still are) constructed in shades of light and dark.  The arrangement of the blocks can create one of many recognizable Log Cabin quilt designs–Barn Raising, Furrows, Sunshine and Shadow, etc.  To learn more about the variations of the Log Cabin quilt, read this fascinating article.

In the beautiful quilt above, Corry arranged her blocks in the Barn Raising pattern.  Although she used a huge assortment of prints and colors, you can see how your eye first perceives the contrast between light and dark, and then registers the color.  To get a closer look at her amazing work, see Corry’s blog, and Flickr set.

Calamity Kim’s brother found this excellent example of a Log Cabin quilt at a thrift store.  This arrangement of the blocks is known as Light and Dark.  See Kim’s Flickr set for more photos of this vibrant quilt.
Vic’s approach to the Log Cabin block is fun and modern!  We love the fairy tale images in the center squares, as well as Vic’s bold use of color.  You can see more photos from this set of blocks in Vic’s Flickr set.

Courthouse Steps

Courthouse Steps is a variation on the Log Cabin design.  The order in which the strips are sewn is different than the Log Cabin, and typically the color/tone is the same on the top/bottom and left/right.  See this tutorial, and remember, instead of working clockwise you’ll sew top, bottom, left, right, top, bottom…etc.
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Linda made this lovely Courthouse Steps baby quilt using the same fabric for all the strips on each side of the block. (If you’re considering a quilt like this, you might want to try a coloring page to plan your fabric placement.) You can see more of Linda’s work (and lots of great sewing tips) on her Craft Apple blog.
Kristin used gold center squares in this otherwise monochromatic Courthouse Steps wall-hanging quilt.  We think it is a wonderful effect.  You can see more of Kristin’s work in her Flickr set (you must see her applique Valentine cards!) and on her blog, Knit One Quilt Too.

Squares in Squares

Whether it’s perfectly square and symmentrical, or a little wonky and irregular, the squares in squares (my term) quilt block is popping up everywhere you look.  (If anyone knows the proper term for this block, let me know.)  Most recently popularized by Denyse Schmidt’s Drunk Love and Bunch of Squares designs, this block is another variation on the Log Cabin.  It is constructed just like the Courthouse Steps block (see above), but you use the same fabric on all four sides of each concentric square.
Amandajean was inspired by Denyse Schmidt’s work when she made this beautiful king-size quilt.  You can see many more of Amandajean’s stunning projects on her blog, Crazy Mom Quilts, and in her Flickr set.
Linda has a knack for combining solids and prints and balancing color.  The fantastic blocks in this quilt are perfect examples of the beauty of a little asymmetry.  You can see more of Linda’ work on her blog, Lindamade, and in her Flickr set.

If you’re sewing along with us, you can share a photo of your block(s) with our Quilting Month Photo Pool. We’ll be featuring some of the blocks from Week 3 of the Block-Along on our blog on Monday, February 25. Blocks from last week will be featured Monday, February 18, so if you have them completed, please share! If you are posting a photo, please include any relevant information (fabric, patterns, technique) in the photo description. If you’ve blogged about it, please include a link.