The Log Cabin quilt block is perhaps the most iconic block, and its endless piecing options and contrast play makes for a creative challenge any quilter is happy to take on. There are a variety of Log Cabin variations, some of which include: standard Log Cabin, Courthouse Steps, and Pineapple. Because there are so many varieties of this quilt block, I’m going to break up the Log Cabin block into a short series of settings and styles. The first of the series: a basic log cabin quilt block in the Barn Raising setting.
Like other Log Cabin patterns, high contrast is the key to making this pattern pop. Construction of this quilt block consists of piecing fabric strips, or “logs”, of fabric around a square center, alternating light and dark fabrics from corner to corner. The Barn Raising layout was popular during the Civil War era. The quilt to the right, from made by Abba Jane Blackstone Johnson circa 1910, is a beautiful example of this setting. I love the flipped block at the top center that gives the illusion of a spiral.
According to Marin Hanson of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum and Patricia Crews of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the log cabin quilts from the late 1800’s to about 1950 exhibit stark differences in the construction of Barn Raising design. For example, the blocks are larger in later designs and a deep, traditional color scheme shifts to a more pastel palette.
This change might be a reflection of lifestyle changes for the makers of these quilts from domestic life to amusement found outside the home. Alternatively, it may be a preference for modern taste.¹
Many experienced quilters can take the Log Cabin quilt block and adjust the color placement or contrast, the sizes of blocks, etc. and create a quilt of their very own. This might be what makes the Log Cabin quilt block so popular and timeless. Mary Fons took creative license and made a variation of this setting in her quilt Curved Log Cabin. It’s a challenging, and visually graphic wonder!
For many quilters, Log Cabin is the first block they learn. However, if you’ve never created it and aren’t sure where to start, we have a class on making a Log Cabin quilt by expert Marti Michell. You’ll be learning from the best.
What have you done to create a quilt of your very own using the Log Cabin quilt block? Comment and post photos in the comments.