Scrap shrinker! How to make a Log Cabin quilt block (video)

The Log Cabin block is on the favorites list of so many quilters—is it among your faves? The variations are virtually endless. Plus, Log Cabin blocks are super scrap-friendly!

Scrappy Courthouse Steps quilt
Scrappy Courthouse Steps by Lissa Alexander

We wondered where Log Cabin blocks originated, and we found a little history about the design via the American Quilter’s Society blog:

Log Cabin quilt detail“While it’s natural to assume that this traditional block originated in the United States during the pioneer days, the origins of the block seem to go back much further in time and location. Similar designs have been found on ancient Egyptian mummies and in an English quilt predating 1830.

Log Cabin quilts first made a widespread appearance in the United States in the 1860s during the time of the Civil War. The block name may very well have had a connection to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The Log Cabin quilt became wildly popular and was identified with the pioneer spirit and values of America.”

From ancient Egyptian mummies to Abraham Lincoln—now that’s a block design with some staying power!

Whether you’re new to making Log Cabin blocks or just haven’t sewn them in a while, perhaps our latest video on how to make a Log Cabin quilt block will inspire you to start something new. In this video we focused on the classic half-light, half-dark version:


Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video.

Round and round and round you go—Log Cabins are so fast and fun to sew!

Once you get the hang of sewing traditional Log Cabin blocks, you’ll be ready to mix things up with clever variations on the design. And that’s exactly what the 16 designers in Block-Buster Quilts: I Love Log Cabins challenged themselves to do:

Quilts from I Love Log Cabins
Clockwise from top left: Mi Casa by Carrie Nelson; Seeing Stars by Kimberly Jolly; Twilight by Amy Ellis; Blaze by Amy Smart

If you’re ready for your own Log Cabin quilt challenge, pick up Block-Buster Quilts: I Love Log Cabins, where you’ll find 16 ways to create the Log Cabin of your dreams!

What’s your favorite fun-to-sew block: Log Cabin, Churn Dash, Flying Geese, Four Patch? Tell us your pick for best block in the comments!

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44 Comments (leave a comment)

  • The four patch is probably my go to block 🙂 but Log Cabins are my favorite, especially the Courthouse Steps version.

    —Loris Mills on July 24, 2017
  • My fav is Courthouse Steps. I made these 16″ blocks into a QAYG quilt. A real scrap buster.

    —Pat Hoxter on July 24, 2017
  • My favourite and the easiest is the four patch. It can be used with so many other blocks, making it one of the most versatile as well.

    —Margaret Hynes on July 24, 2017
  • The Log Cabin was my first quilt and have made several over the years, still one of my favorites because you can do so much with it.

    —Rose Landon on July 24, 2017
  • I love to make 9 patches with my leftovers.

    —Kathie L on July 24, 2017
  • churn dash

    —Linda Ahn on July 24, 2017
  • Been addicted to Churn-Dash lately. Just finished HAND QUILTING a KING SIZE with 4884 pieces! Yes, I counted every one!! Blocks were 3″ square, finished with 1″ half-square-triangles, made from leftover corners cut off from many projects with that ‘sew-on-diagonal-of the-square-and-cut-off-the-corner’ technique. What is the name of that process anyway??? Think I have enough left for another quilt….

    —Marianne on July 24, 2017
  • While I love the versatility of the traditional "light / dark" Log Cabin blocks – my most used pattern is the 4-patch (teeny ones to big ones).

    sonja on July 24, 2017
  • I love and have made them all, but I’ve always had a special fondness for log cabins.

    —Joy Dickson on July 24, 2017
  • My favorite is churn dash, followed by 4 patch, 9 patch, flying geese, and last log cabin. Well the only reason for log cabin being last is I selected it for my friendship block and I supplied most of the fabric as I have a BIG stash! Many members of the guild do not understand a quarter inch seam! It was a challenge constructing the top!

    —Marilynn on July 24, 2017
  • Log Cabin, since I discovered some fun different designs, it is my favorite pattern.

    —Holly on July 24, 2017
  • I love doing the scrappy log cabins, you can use up all the leftovers from other projects. It’s always fun to see a scrappy quilt and remember what project it was from or see another persons and go "I’ve got that fabric and that one and that one". We did a class on string quilts and you can make your own designs and if you are creative enough and start cutting the blocks you can do a log cabin style.

    —connie b on July 24, 2017
  • Oh I love the log cabin design. I have only been able to do one small one but that is my favorite so far. Just starting out!

    —Tanya on July 24, 2017
  • I make 4 patches as leaders and enders, but if I am honest, I really prefer the log cabin block above all else.

    —Carol Johnson on July 24, 2017
  • Love flying geese, and there are 100 ways / rulers to make them!

    —Jenny on July 24, 2017
  • Love log cabins. Love to make big logs in neutral fabrics for wedding gifts.

    —Becky in Georgia on July 24, 2017
  • My favorite from those listed is the churn dash. However, I find the 4-patch more adaptable and usable in many patterns.

    —Sandy May on July 24, 2017
  • Log cabin still is my favorite pattern ever – I’ve done many versions of it, and I never tire of it. I have a paper-pieced pineapple one in the works now – it’s slow-going so I put it away for months, then do a few more blocks, repeat!

    —Elizabeth Bolton on July 24, 2017
  • I love the log cabin block and the scrappier the better!

    —Carol Broughton on July 24, 2017
  • Churn dash with log cabin almost tied.

    —Connie on July 24, 2017
  • My favorite is Log Cabin. Can be such an interesting pattern.

    —Gloria on July 24, 2017
  • I love log cabin quilts. It is the first quilt block I made.

    —carol on July 24, 2017
  • Log Cabin is my favorite and my "go to" block. I keep logs cut and will piece log cabins as my "leaders and enders" Not only do I have logs for a traditional log cabin, I also have logs cut for a corner log cabin and have small strips for a foundation pieced off kilter log cabin.

    —Jolene Otter on July 24, 2017
  • Definitely my favorite block is the log cabin. I especially love using those pre-cut packages to make log cabins. They go together great.

    —Frances Claassens on July 24, 2017
  • Log Cabin is my favorite by far.

    —Beth on July 24, 2017
  • Log cabin and snail trail are my favourites

    —Kerry Grose on July 24, 2017
  • I love log cabin blocks. They are my go to blocks when i want to use up my scraps for some lovely sewing.

    —Sandra on July 24, 2017
  • I like Flying Geese. Not only is it an attractive block, but just looking at them, I can imagine the real birds and hear them honking as they fly overhead!

    —Teri Gailey on July 24, 2017
  • I love log cabins because they are so versatile in the ways they can be placed. My plan right now is to make a black/white log cabin. I have a pretty red fabric I plan to use here and there all over the quilt just as a pop color. I have a red/white/blue one I made years ago and still use all the time. Log cabins are a great scrap buster. I do need to develop a system, however, of keeping the "logs" stored in such a way that they are available for use and don’t get lost in each other. The person who designs such a thing might get rich.

    —Vickie on July 25, 2017
  • My favorite quilt I have made is a scrappy log cabin for my grandson. I made an awfully pretty churn dash with pink and brown scraps. I love Goose chase blocks because they are so versatile. Log cabin blocks are like eating chips, you can’t stop at just one. They are fun to hand quilt too. My favorite size uses 1 1/2″ strips, but I have made the other sizes too.

    —Kay Menefee on July 25, 2017
  • I love Carrie’s My Casa block. Log cabin clocks are the best!
    Mary

    —Mary Kastner on July 25, 2017
  • I am definitely partial to flying geese – I love to put a flock of them flying around a border. But the log cabin is really the only pattern that I’ve made more than once.

    —Susie on July 25, 2017
  • Log cabin is my all time fave.

    —Patricia Newhouse on July 26, 2017
  • Log cabin .. it was the first quilt I ever made & I have made several since. There are so many variations they all turn out differently.

    —Mary on July 28, 2017
  • The Log Cabin is my most loved block for its many variations and settings.

    —Karen on July 28, 2017
  • I love all simple blocks, log cabin, flying geese, churndash ……..

    —Laurie Anders on July 28, 2017
  • Courthouse Steps..There was one on our bed at a lodge in the Smoky Mountains some time ago. I have wanted to make one ever since, but need to get brave enough!! Thanks !

    —Marta on July 28, 2017
  • The very first quilt I made was a wedding gift for our youngest daughter and it was in bright Amish solids against the black background. Even though it was king size and I was a newbie to quilting, it turned out wonderful. So I made some for all the other kids and continue to do so. I did courthouse steps for one son, and several log cabin quilts for friends. Fun and easy to do. Quilting is such a wonderful hobby….everyone benefits.

    —Mary C. on July 28, 2017
  • Log cabin blocks are so versatile with so many design posibilities, the sky is the limit. Just need more quilting time to make them.

    —Cindy on July 28, 2017
  • I just made my first log cabin quilt and I love it. It was really easy.

    —Billie Fellers on July 28, 2017
  • I’ve made two log cabins and really enjoyed the construction.

    —Vin M on July 28, 2017
  • I am partial to Snail’s Trail and Pineapple blocks, which are variations on the versatile Log Cabin. So many blocks, so little time!

    —Linda Towers on July 28, 2017
  • I guess four-patch, mostly because I haven’t done the others!

    —bookboxer on July 29, 2017
  • I use 4-patch often. But I really like log cabin. It’s so versatile.

    —Pearl on July 29, 2017

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