A log cabin quilt is a great pattern for novice quilters. It’s a familiar, traditional design so the finished product will surely make the novice feel a sense of accomplishing a time-honored craft and it’s made with straight lines, so learning to maneuver the pieces of fabric isn’t as complicated as a more intricate pattern might be.
The traditional log cabin quilt is made by piecing together many identical six-inch square blocks of fabric that are “built” one at a time. The number of blocks needed depends on the desired size of the finished quilt.
As a rule, a log cabin quilt showcases dark-colored fabrics on one side of the block balanced by lighter-colored fabrics on the other. The center of each block is most often red, to represent the “heart” of the home, or log cabin, as the case may be. For best results, use fabrics of the same weight and weave.
The individual strips of fabric used for making a log cabin quilt are all rectangular, of the same width, but of varying lengths. It’s the variance in length that creates the pattern.
For best results, draw a paper outline of the individual block, with each piece of fabric drawn as a separate rectangle. Number the rectangles on this template, beginning with number 1 as the center, or heart, of the block. Patch number 2 needs to be adjacent to number 1 and the subsequent patches should be numbered in such a way that they flow around the center in a circular pattern.
For the most visually appealing log cabin quilt, use swatches of the selected fabrics over the template to determine the most eye-catching placement. You may even expand this preliminary color scheme by using more blocks, placed side by side, to help decide if all blocks are going to be placed in the same direction and orientation or if the overall design looks best when the darker side of one block is placed adjacent to the dark side of the next block. This placement will affect the finished look of the entire quilt so a little advance planning will probably produce a more satisfying finished quilt and will do so with a minimal amount of seam ripping.
When it’s time to begin sewing your log cabin quilt, sew the patches together in the order they are numbered on the template, working in a circular pattern around the red center. Trim seams for uniformity as you go. Many quilters say pressing each seam with an iron produces a crisper finished block.
Once all blocks are pieced together, sew each block of your log cabin quilt together so the top, patterned, layer of your quilt is one large piece. Sandwich batting between this top layer and the bottom layer, secure all layers in place by hand or with a sewing machine, and finish the four edges with strips of binding.
Making a log cabin quilt can be done rather quickly, using simple straight stitches, and it produces a quilt recognized by many as a treasured addition to any bedroom. The results might be so pleasing, and the process so much fun, that this may be the piece that makes the novice enjoy the craft enough to continue quilting on a regular basis.