Easy Log Cabin Quilt Block Pattern

  • 01 of 05

    Make 14" Square Log Cabin Quilt Blocks

    Log Cabin Quilt Block Pattern
    Janet Wickell

    This easy log cabin quilt block pattern shows you how to sew traditionally designed blocks that finish at 14" square.

    Jelly rolls make it a cinch to sew a scrap quilt made up of log cabin blocks. Jelly rolls are bundled rolls that are formed from pre-cut strips of coordinated fabric. The rolls are usually made up of 30 or 40 strips that measure 2-1/2" in width and are cut from selvage to selvage — about 42" long. The block illustrated was sewn with retro-look fabrics but strips are...MORE available in any color and fabric type you desire.

    Do not prewash jelly roll strips in a washing machine because they will stretch out of shape. If you absolutely must prewash the strips consider doing it very gently by hand. Quilters have not reported issues with color bleeding or crocking when using jelly roll strips produced by major quilting fabric manufacturers.

    If you prefer cut patchwork strips from your own quilting fabrics.

    Sewing the Log Cabin Quilt Block

    This traditional log cabin design is sewn by adding patches in a clockwise direction around a center square. Patches on one side of the block are lighter than the other, creating a diagonal division in the finished block.

    • The outermost strips of the block contrast slightly with the adjacent patchwork, to create just a bit of a frame, but it's more typical for strips on each side to have similar color value (contrast).
    • Fabrics will contrast if one group is cut from cool colors (such as blue and green variations) and others are cut from warm colors (such as yellows, orange, and reds). See Color Wheel Simplified for more information.

    Strips You'll Need for One Log Cabin Quilt Block

    See page 4 for an image that illustrates patchwork sewing order.

    Place strips below in seven piles, keeping them in order by patch size.

    • Red center. (1) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" square. (or square of another color... red is traditional and thought to represent the 'heart of the cabin.') 
    • Light fabric for patches 2 & 3. (1) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" square and (1) 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" strip.
    • Dark fabric for patches 4 & 5. (1) 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" strip and (1) 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" strip.
    • Light fabric for patches 6 & 7. (1) 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" strip and (1) 2-1/2" x 8-1/2" strip.
    • Dark fabric for patches 8 & 9. (1) 2-1/2" x 8-1/2" strip and (1) 2-1/2" x 10-1/2" strip.
    • Light fabric for patches 10 & 11. (1) 2-1/2" x 10-1/2" strip and (1) 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" strip.
    • Dark fabric for patches 12 & 13. (1) 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" strip and (1) 2-1/2" x 14-1/2" strip.
    • How to Cut Patchwork Shapes
    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Sew the Easy Log Cabin Quilt Blocks

    Log Cabin Quilt Block Pattern
    Begin Assembling the Quilt Block. Janet Wickell

    Before you begin, be sure your ironing board and iron are handy, because log cabin quilt blocks have lots of seams that must be pressed. A standard or mini iron set up on a portable board next to your sewing makes pressing a cinch.

    Pressing is less of a chore if you chain piece, but it's helpful for beginning quilters to sew a couple of individual log cabin quilt blocks first, to...MORE make sure construction steps aren't confusing.

    You'll find yardages and cutting instructions for 30 quilt blocks on the next page.

    Be sure to sew with an accurate quarter-inch seam allowance.

    Pressing to set seams before pressing to one side always improves accuracy.

    1. Top left illustration. Sew the 2-1/2" light square to the right edge of the red square. Press seam allowance towards the red (or darker) square. Sew piece 3, a 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" light strip, to the bottom of the red/light pair.
    2. Starting now, press all new seam allowances towards the newest strip.
    3. Top right illustration. Find piece 4, a 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" dark strip, and sew it to the left edge of the block. Press. Sew piece 5, a 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" dark strip, to the top edge if the growing block. Notice that you're adding patches in a clockwise manner. Refer to the block schematic as necessary.
    4. Bottom left illustration. Find pieces 6 and 7, a 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" light strip and another light strip that measures 2-1/2" x 8-1/2". Sew the shorter strip to the block's right edge first. Press. Add the longer strip to the bottom and press.
    5. Bottom right illustration. Add dark pieces 8 and 9 to the quilt block in the same manner, beginning with the shorter 2-1/2" x 8-1/2" strip on the left and finishing with the 2-1/2" x 10-1/2" strip on the top.
    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Finish Sewing the Log Cabin Quilt Block

    Log Cabin Quilt Block Pattern
    Finish Sewing the Quilt Block. Janet Wickell

    Finish sewing the log cabin quilt block by adding remaining pieces with the same clockwise movement.

    1. Top left illustration. Pieces 10 and 11 are next — a 2-1/2" x 10-1/2" light strip sewn to the right side of the quilt block, followed by a 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" light strip sewn to the bottom.
    2. Top right illustration. Sew the remaining two pieces to the quilt block, beginning with a 2-1/2"x 12-1/2"  dark strip on the left and finishing with a 2-1/2" x 14-1/2" dark strip...MORE on top.
    3. Bottom left. Press the quilt block. It should measure 14-1/2" x 14-1/2".

    Make Additional Log Cabin Quilt Blocks

    Calculating yardages for scrappy log cabin quilts isn't as precise as determining fabric requirements for an orderly quilt. The amount of each fabric needed depends on where that fabric will be positioned within the block and how many log cabin quilt blocks you intend to make.

    • Each quilt block requires about 105 running inches of fabric, but keep in mind that you'll use multiple fabrics to create the blocks. The number of fabrics can vary.
    • A quilt with a layout that's 5 blocks across and 6 down finishes at about 70" x 84" (without borders). That's 30 quilt blocks and a total of about 6-1/2 yards of fabric.
    • A jelly roll pack with forty 2-1/2" wide strips should make 13-16 quilt blocks, depending on how you position fabrics and whether or not all strips work with the design.
    • Compare mattress sizes if you aren't sure how large the quilt should be.
    • After determining the number of blocks required, refer back to the cutting instructions on page 1 to calculate the dimensions and the total number of strips needed for the quilt.

    Yardage for a 30-Block Quilt

    Looking for quilt layouts? Be sure to take a look at the pictures in the Log Cabin Quilts Photo Gallery.

    Red Center, Patch 1

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" squares (can cut from two 2-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage)

    Patch 2, Light

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" squares (can cut from (2) 2-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage)

    Patch 3, Light

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" bars (cut 2-1/2" segments from (2) 4-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — a little over 1/4 yard to allow for shrinkage and squaring up)

    Patch 4, Dark

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" bars (cut 2-1/2" segments from (2) 4-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — a little over 1/4 yard to allow for shrinkage and squaring up)

    Patch 5, Dark

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" bars (cut 2-1/2" segments from (2) 6-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 13" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 1/2 yard to be safe

    Patch 6, Light

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" bars (cut 2-1/2" segments from (2) 6-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 13" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 1/2 yard to be safe

    Patch 7, Light

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 8-1/2" bars (cut 2-1/2" segments from (2) 8-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 17" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 5/8 yard to be safe

    Patch 8, Dark

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 8-1/2" bars (cut 2-1/2" segments from (2) 8-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 17" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 5/8 yard to be safe

    Patch 9, Dark

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 10-1/2" bars (cut 2-1/2" segments from (2) 8-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 21" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 3/4 yard to be safe

    Patch 10, Light

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 10-1/2" bars (cut 2-1/2" segments from (2) 8-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 21" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 3/4 yard to be safe

    Patch 11, Light

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" bars from (2) 12-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 25" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 7/8 yard to be safe

    Patch 12, Dark

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" bars from (2) 12-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 25" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 7/8 yard to be safe

    Patch 13, Dark

    • (30) 2-1/2" x 14-1/2" bars from (2) 14-1/2" wide strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage — 29" of usable length along straight grain of fabric, 1 yard to be safe
    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Log Cabin Quilt Block Layout

    Log Cabin Quilt Block Pattern
    Log Cabin quilt block strips sewing order. © Janet Wickell

    Chain Piece for Faster Assembly

    Once you've made a quilt block or two, and are familiar with the process, try chain piecing to make block assembly faster. When chain piecing a log cabin block, it's helpful to place a completed block within view for quick reference.

    1. Sew a patch 1 and 2 together as described earlier. Instead of removing it from the sewing machine, feed another patch 1 / 2 combo under the presser foot (without breaking threads).
    2. Continue sewing the units together in a long string...MORE until all 1 / 2 patches are joined.
    3. Remove from the sewing machine, clip threads between the units and press seam allowances.
    4. Repeat the process to add patch 3 to the bottom of all units. Clip apart and press seams.
    5. Repeat the chain sewing process to add each new patch to the growing quilt blocks.

    Another Quick Piecing Option

    Some quilters prefer to work with long strips of fabric, rather than cutting fabric into strips of a specific length.

    1. Cut all 2-1/2" squares required for patch 1. Leave remaining fabric as long strips.
    2. Align a squared-up end of a strip to the top of patch 1 and sew. Trim the long strip to match the edge of patch 1. Press seam allowance.
    3. Add new strips in the same manner, sewing first and then trimming and pressing.
    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Amish Inspired Log Cabin Quilt by Diane Rode Schneck

    Shipshewana Log Cabin Quilt by Diane Rode Schneck
    A Log Cabin Quilt by Diane Rode Schneck. © Diane Rode Schneck

    Diane Rode Schneck's vibrantly colored log cabin was inspired by a quilt made by an Amish woman in Shipshewana, Indiana.

    Diane says:

    "It's an uneven block, and there are actually two "centers", one is color and the other is black... and the color half of the block is larger. This layout seems to be unique to Northern Indiana."