SMS Block-Along Week 3

on February 15 | in Quilt Block Sew-Along, Sew-Alongs | by | with 89 Comments

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.
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.

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89 Responses to SMS Block-Along Week 3

  1. Cool story as for me. It would be great to read something more concerning this theme.

  2. Deborah Fair says:

    I just remembered that the very first quilt I ever designed way back in 1983 was based on a log cabin, set in a very different way. I’ll post a pic on flickr, and put a little more explanation tomorrow on my blog.

  3. Deborah Fair says:

    Well, I was going to skip this week because I’m still playing around with Shoo-Fly, but I couldn’t help myself. I pulled out my hand-dyed fabrics and made a Log Cabin block–always one of my favorites for its strong graphic quality. Only took about an hour to make, if that.
    You can see it on the flickr group as well as on my blog

  4. Kate says:

    I think log cabin quilts are possibly my favorite style of quilt! I need to try this someday.. Oh, it’s always someday.. I wish I could make it now.. *sigh 🙁 Lack of fabric drives me bananas! 😉 I think all of you know how it feels! Anyways, thanks for the tutorial! Maybe someday… I will have enough materials to make this! 😀

  5. mj says:

    I’m not doing the quilt along, abut I love the log cabin square. I can never bring myself to measure the pieces for them, so I don’t get consistent results in the finished size, but that’s okay too. That’s what borders are for, right?

  6. jmbmommy says:

    I love all that you guys are doing for quilting…I love it. I really appreciate when the quilts featured are attributed as “inspired by…” if they are not totally original pieces. It is important for everyone to know when a quilt design or color scheme is totally original OR inspired by a designer such as Denyse Schmidt or Kaffe Fassett. Thanks for protecting intellectual property!

  7. Kelli says:

    I just love Vic’s quilt! I had never thought to use a novelty as the center of a log-cabin. Color me inspired!!

  8. erin says:

    The variety is amazing! I can’t wait to start my block!

  9. Shelly says:

    I love the light and dark variation. It looks like one I will be doing after MUCH practice!

  10. Bearfort says:

    Wow – what beautiful quilts. Makes me want to cuddle up with them on a rainy day — they would certainly brighten the mood.

    I have a log cabin style quoilt as well as a patchwork that are quite old — passed down through the family. Both have stitched into them the initials of those that helped to make is as well as the date it was completed. They have dates of 1928 and the other August 1926.

    My question is wit regard to repairing. I could mimic the stitch (there are some very decorative hand stitching patterns) and color but some of the fabric is rather fragile and has begun to pull apart or fray.

    Any suggestions? I figure no better place to ask than on your site – ask the experts. Thanks for your help!

  11. Barbara says:

    My mom made a quilt with this block pattern several years ago. She spent months sewing all the blocks, mostly from mine and my siblings cast-off kids clothes. I wonder if she dreams about us as children as she sleeps under the finished quilt.

  12. I really enjoyed seeing the fairy tale one as well. What a great approach to the log cabin square. I seems very random, until you start to see all the little people in the center of their squares. The log cabin as well as the other squares looks like a good way to get rid of all those slim scraps of fabric I have left over from my Cheese -n- Crackers quilt. I love the idea of using up all my scraps.

  13. Melody says:

    They are so lovely. Wish I was able to make one. Iam still just learning the basics.. Thanks so all the help and great pic.Melody

  14. heather w. says:

    Log Cabin was the first quilt block I ever made! I love them =)

  15. amelia says:

    the last two quilts are my favorites. i love log cabins and variations, mostly pretty modern examples. these inspired me to make two new pillow covers for my couch this weekend! thanks!

  16. Erica says:

    The log cabin is one of my favorite quilt blocks. It looks difficult, but really isn’t and then it takes on a whole new look depending on how it is placed. It was neat to see some of the different variations presented. Thanks!!

  17. Karen says:

    What fun! This is especially inspiring for me to wrap up the baby quilt I’ve been slacking on! It’s my first “squares within squares” attempt…

  18. Pat says:

    Love the Log Cabin!

  19. Georgia says:

    I really like the look of the square in a square blocks – so effective.

    I would love to know how to do that wonky log cabin that I see so often too.

  20. Helen says:

    I love log cabins! A lovely selection of work.

  21. Linda says:

    I love this block/quilt a week! I’ve had a bit of quilter’s block lately and this might be just the challenge to get me motivated again. I love seeing the contemporary takes on the old fashioned quilts. Thanks!
    To respond to Rachel’s question: I have always quilted my log cabin blocks in a spiral, starting in the center of the center square, quilting through the center of each log (no seams to sew through).

  22. JenniferM. says:

    I’ve never tried the Log Cabin design. These are amazing.

  23. Ulla says:

    I wish I had found this blog in January! Now I just have to start making my log cabins with you.

  24. tammie says:

    I love them all! But especially Vic’s fairy tale version, so adorable. I can’t wait to try one!

  25. Christine says:

    They’re all beautiful!

  26. Mellissa says:

    That fairy tale quilt is absolutely the cutest thing ever. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  27. upstatelisa says:

    I really looooove log cabins!!!!! Have to try a courthouse steps soon!!! thanks for all the inspiration!

  28. maggie m. says:

    Beautiful…I am inspired

  29. Olga says:

    Your project is fun, like your bits of history and useful tips. Thanks!

  30. kerri says:

    i am so inspired. no more patterns for me; i’m going off on a tangent, thanks to these talented quilters! wa hoo, she says, as she dives off the cliff…

  31. Libby says:

    The block quilts are always fun.

  32. Deb says:

    I love them all!

  33. Lola says:

    More great reasons to buy fabric!!! Thanks!

  34. sharon says:

    wow! they’re all so different

  35. Judy Kay says:

    Love the log cabin I have made a log cabin quilt and the log cabin is on my list to make again.

    Have fun quilting
    Judy Kay

  36. Michele says:

    Thanks for showing new variations of the log cabin block…I need to give some of these a try!

  37. Katie says:

    I think the squares in squares is my favourite. I love log cabin so I’m glad to see this… so many ideas, so little time!!!

  38. Christina says:

    Wow, this has opened a whole new world of possibility to me… who knew that Log Cabin could be so great?

  39. Kristin says:

    I was scared that this would come up but I’m gonna do it! I do really like the squares in squares.

  40. Melissa says:

    I have a big set of coordinating fat quarters I have been wanting to use. This is the perfect pattern for them. Now I’m full of inspiration.

  41. Carol says:

    I just got Judy Martin’s Log Cabin book and it’s very inspirational as are these examples. I know I have at least one gigantic log cabin quilt in my future. I’ve already started one log cabin style quilt, Pagodas by Maple Island Quilts.

  42. mary says:

    Wow! Those are some stunning examples! Thank you so much for compiling them together.

  43. Megan says:

    Yay! Can’t wait to try this — I’ve never done a log cabin quilt.

  44. Lissa says:

    I too love Amandajeans blog.. I visit it at least 3 times a week and I have joined in the fun of her quilt a longs, can’t wait for the next one! I am always surprised at how different log cabin quilts can look with just different layouts of the blocks…


  45. Carrie says:

    I’ve tried the log cabin pattern before, but haven’t tried the courthouse steps and squares in squares yet. I am excited to try them and use my new rotary cutter! Thanks for all the great info and tutorials–this is a fun topic.

  46. I am very attracted to Amandajean and Linda’s quilts I just love the colors.

  47. Julia D says:

    Oh! So excited! I think I’ll try a log cabin tonight. I’ve always liked it. I think it’s perfect for a looong over-due baby quilt for my nephew! (he’s 1)

  48. Joanna says:

    log cabin quilts are my favorite!

  49. tess says:

    log cabin is my favourite block, especially when its random. might have to try that square in square variation !

  50. Kristin says:

    Any suggestions for what sort of quilting looks good with log cabin quilts? I have only used it to make pillows, so there was no quilting involved.


    I read somewhere that traditionally Log Cabin quilts were hand tied. This might have been because of the scrappy nature of the quilt and huge variety of fabrics that were used (quilting through pieces of wool next to pieces of silk would be a hand-quilting challenge.)

    Otherwise, I know I have seen quilting that follows the seam lines of the block (stitch in the ditch). The back of Kim’s thrift store quilt shows this. I think it is lovely.

    I’m sure others will have suggestions….

  51. Nicole says:

    I love this. I have been wanting to try a log cabin for a while, what a great excuse! 🙂 I LOVE Amandajean’s quilt. She always inspires me! 🙂

  52. Tabitha says:

    What a silly thrill it is to see what my new block challenge will be! I’m loving it and the wonderful quilts and quilters that have been featured.

  53. Amy says:

    I am totally overwhelmed with all these beautiful quilts today!! Really amazing!!

  54. Liz says:

    Great inspiration!

  55. Valerie says:

    I stumbled upon this blog through a google search and subscribed to the feed a few days ago. I am absolutely astounded at the fantastic use of color in some of these quilts. I’m still learning and haven’t tackled quilting yet, but boy do these make me want to.

  56. Linda says:

    I was just thinking of starting a log cabin quilt and now you,ve convinced me! Thanks! Love your quilting month!

  57. Judy says:

    Inspiring and motivating, so much creative energy through the computer. Such beautiful examples you have given us. Thanks for another wonderful choice of a traditional block that is different every time you make it or see it.

  58. Jen says:

    I’ve always been drawn to the Barn Raising log cabins. (just don’t know that I have the patience to do one) Corry’s is just stunning! And Kim’s Light and Dark… oh my! Vic’s fairy tale one is CUTE!

    I’m getting the itch to try this now!

  59. Anna says:

    I love the framed versions. I feel an idea blooming….

  60. Cassie Ogle says:

    I love the adorable fairy tale log cabin quilt!!

  61. Rose L says:

    Oh wow – the barnraising and Light and Dark arrangements are just eye-popping!

  62. Amanda says:

    Your blog is fantastic! Second time here today, and I decided to come back to this blog. Taking a second look at these quilts and I realized they are absolutley stunning!! I especially like Vic’s quilt! The colors are fantastic, and i love the fabric choices!

  63. Dina says:

    thank you for the inspiration. it is so precious for people who are starting out now like me 🙂

  64. Regina says:

    Wonderful examples. I have not tried any of these yet – but want to, soon!

  65. Erin says:

    Oh my! These quilts are gorgeous. I love, love, love the log cabin pattern. It was one of my first and only projects. Can’t wait to make my square this week. What great inspiration.

  66. renee says:

    I really need to try a log cabin. Been wanting to and now that the directions are right here, i think i’ll go start cutting now. Thanks for the great links!

  67. Gina says:

    I love this, but I’m falling behind! Eeek!

  68. Mrs. H. says:

    The barn raising quilt was my favorite…so beautiful and intricate. I am not quilting right now, but I am knitting a log cabin blanket, which is done in pieces, and has a remarkably similar look to it.

  69. LadySnow says:

    I have always wanted to make the log cabin quilt. This gives me inspiration.

  70. kim says:

    the log cabin is on my list to do again soon. I love all the pics of the different settings and the coloring sheet will come in very handy.

  71. Rachel says:

    Any suggestions for what sort of quilting looks good with log cabin quilts? I have only used it to make pillows, so there was no quilting involved.

  72. alison says:

    Oh boy, log cabins! I’ve really been eager to try doing some log cabin blocks. Thanks for giving me a reason to just do it! 🙂

  73. Allison says:

    I love all these quilts you’ve shown! I think I know what I’ll be doing this evening 🙂

  74. Lil' d says:

    They look great.

  75. Sam says:

    just what i needed–more inspiration! beautiful quilts; the last is definitely my favorite. such great use of color!

  76. Libby says:

    I LOVE Amandajean’s blog. (crazy mom quilts) Her work is very inspirational!! and that girl really turns out some quilts!!! Libby

  77. dianne says:

    WOW! Great post . . . I am filled with log cabin lust!!!

  78. Ellen says:

    The possibilities are endless with this block…one of my favorites!

  79. alison says:

    Wow I had no idea there would/could be so many variations of this square!

  80. Alissa says:

    Fun fun fun! I just did my first log cabin blocks for a quilt back and now I’ll get to keep perfecting the block. It’s one I love – so I’m happy to see it here!!

  81. Stephanie says:

    Wow. These are all so inspiring! Log cabin never gets old!

  82. Tina says:

    I just love the variety that you have shown us here. Too many new things to try!

  83. Wendy says:

    There are so many ways to vary a log cabin, it’s great.

  84. Violet says:

    Such wonderful quilts! I love these little square variations.

  85. Kate says:

    This is just the inspiration I was needing. Thanks.

  86. Sarah says:

    These are all fantastic! I think Lindamade’s at the end might be my favorite, though. Definitely going in the bookmarks for future quilts!

  87. Julie says:

    I am new to sewing and really love all the tips, tutorials and inspiration I get here!!


  88. Amanda says:

    I’m just learning all the tips and tricks of sewing, since I am new to it. This is a great way to use all of the different fabric pieces I have from here and there! And a great project for a beginner! Thanks for posting this, it is veery helpful!!!

  89. Carrie says:

    Wow…I had no idea there were so many variations of the Log Cabin. I’m especially drawn to the Barn Raising and Light and Dark….simply stunning. Can’t wait to try some of these!

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