The log cabin block is a great way of using up scraps and makes a very visually appealing block. Traditionally it was made with one side light fabrics and one side dark fabrics with a warm colour like red, orange or yellow in the centre representing the hearth of home. It has been used in quilts for hundreds of years.
My method is a quick and simple way which doesn’t require planning your layout in advance and pre-cutting the strips to a set length. I just cut all strips to the same width and then pick and choose which to use as I go. The block shown above is 9.5 inches unfinished (9 inches when sewn to other blocks).
Fabric scraps – I used Foxfield by Tula Pink plus some matching Kona Cottons.
Thread – I used Coats Duet
Cut your fabrics into strips of the same width. I cut mine to 2 inches but the width depends on what you are planning to make. If making something small like a pincushion you may want thinner strips, and something larger like a cushion cover you might want to go for thicker strips.
If your strips are of varying lengths you want to use the shorter ones first and save the longer ones for the outside of your block.
Now you are going to join your first 2 pieces of fabric. Pick 2 strips and place one face down, and lay the other over it at a right angle as per the image above left so it makes an ‘L’ shape. Pin the fabrics together along one side where they overlap.
Sew along the opposite side to join the 2 fabrics together. Unpin the fabrics and fold back the fabric on top so it looks like the top right image. Press the seam with an iron, or with your fingers.
Fold the fabrics back together and trim of the excess. Cut along the edge of where the fabrics overlap leaving you with 2 attached squares of fabric of the same size. The arrows in the image above show you where to cut.
Now youare going to add a third strip into the mix. Lay it face down over the 2 fabric squares you just stitched. Pin along one edge to keep it still and stitch along the other edge (where the red arrows are). Remove the pin and fold fabric the out, it will look like the image on the right above.
Cut off the excess as you did before. You will be left with a square which has 2 smaller squares on one side and a rectangle on the other (this being the fabric you just added).
Repeat the steps above, take a 4th strip of fabric and lay it over half of the square you’ve made. Sew along the outside edge. I’m using a 1/4 inch foot in this picture to give me a straight hem. Trim the excess off once you have sewn the strip on.
Keep repeating the steps above making sure you rotate the block each time you add a new strip and keep going until your block is the size you want. Keep any useable pieces of the excess fabric to use for other blocks.
What could you use your blocks for?
Four blocks of the size I’ve made would work well as a cushion cover or tote bag (4 each side of the bag). Several blocks can be combined to make a quilt. I made a rectangular block to turn into a pin cushion in this tutorial, you could also use rectangular blocks to make zippy pouches. To make rectanguar blocks you just add extra strips onto either side but not the top and bottom. Small blocks would make great cup mats and the rectangular blocks could work for table mats.
I’m sure you’ll find once you start making log cabin blocks they become kind of addictive, they are so easy to make, use up your scraps and look great. Have fun!