Simple Log Cabin Quilt Tutorial

Jenny Doan

Simple Log Cabin Quilt Tutorial

Quilt Size: 63" x 63"
Jenny Doan demonstrates how to make a classic Log Cabin quilt using 2.5 inch strips of precut fabric (jelly roll). This is a beautiful traditional block that can be laid out in countless ways. The pretty, wavy border was made with a Scallops, Vines & Waves Template for Quilt In a Day and it is bound with bias binding.
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video transcript

Hi everybody, it’s Jenny from the MSQC. And today I’ve got a fun project for you and it is a simple log cabin quilt. The log cabin is a really old block; it’s super easy to do. And I discovered on our site I’ve done lots of different log cabins but not just the standard simple log cabin. So today we’re going to work through that. Let’s take a look at this quilt. Isn’t this fun? Now some of these blocks are scrappy, some are not which I’ll talk about in a minute. But I set it in a fields and furrows way so that you can see how the darks are together, the lights are together. There’s literally tons of ways to set a log cabin. But this is how I did mine. Because we just want to talk today about the simple Log Cabin. So let me tell you what I used to make this. So to make this quilt you’re going to need one roll of 2 ½ inch strips and we have used Walnut Creek by Julie Hendrickson for Windham Fabrics. And then we’re going to use some border fabric. So we just used the roll and the border. Now our border out here is an eight inch border, at the peak, it’s an eight inch border. And so you’re going to need a yard and a half of that. We’re going to talk about this border a little bit later. But for now we’re going to get to making the quilt.

Now traditionally with a log cabin block the center square right here refers to the heart of the home or the light of the home. And so they’re traditionally red or yellow. And I decided to make mine red. When I saw this line of fabric literally I, into my mind came, I need to make one of those old fashioned blocks out of this and the log cabin came to mind. So the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to cut, take out some of our red strips and we’re going to cut some 2 ½ inch squares for our very center of our log cabin. And I am going to just take this and trim both sides because I think. So you are going to need 25 of these 2 ½ squares. And out of one strip you’re going to get 16 blocks. So you’ll need two strips for your middle. And most of mine are the same. There’s a few that are different, thrown in here and there. But most of them I kind of just pulled out a strip and did it.

Alright so for our first little round, on the block, let me show you the block right here. We have our little red piece in the center. One side of it is light and one side of it is dark. And they generally go, they graduate from light to dark, you know, and lightish to less lightish on this side. And that’s generally how you layout a log cabin block. Here’s another one I can show you right here. So we’ve got the dark on this side and the light on this side. Now how we do that is we’re going to start with a 2 ½ inch square of our light fabric. And we’re going to sew it to the 2 ½ inch square of our red fabric, just like this. And this is the beginning of our log cabin. So we’re going to put these on here and just sew a quarter of an inch. Alright.

So now what you’re going to do is you’re going to add a light to the side of this. So in the pattern they tell you all the measurements for all the pieces and you will know that you need this many 4 ½ inch pieces and this many 6 ½ pieces. But when I put a log cabin together I literally sew it on and trim it off. And so I’m going to show you how to do that. So this little rectangle I’m adding right here is a 4 ½ by 2 ½ and I’m just going to add to the side. And this is one of those quilts also where you’ll want to make yourself a little ironing nest, you know, so you’re right there ironing. So here’s what we’ve got right here, press this back because I iron after every step on this. Now you can see we have, here’s our center red block and we have our light side started. And then come over here and we’re going to add a dark side over here. And I’m going to go with this, let’s go with this red right here. And this is going to be on my red side. So now I haven’t cut my strips to size, again in the pattern it will tell you the size but what I’m going to do is I’m just going to lay this onto my strip and sew down. In this way, if you start a bunch of blocks, you can have a bunch going at one time where you’re sewing the sides of all of them. Or you’re sewing all the 2 ½ inch squares together and you’ll get a bunch done at once. What I try to remember when I sew my squares on is that generally the piece I finished is the piece that I’m sewing to. And let me just sew that right along here and show you what that means. Alright so now what I do is I would just trim this off just like this. And then press it open. Alright.

So now I need to add this red to the other side and so, ok so now I’ve sewed my red piece on and I’m ready to add the side piece over here. So I’m just going to put my strip right along the side like that. And I always keep the piece I just finished at the top so that I know exactly where to lay my strip. Alright so now we’re going to trim this off just like that. And press it back. So now we need to add another layer of the light. Now this particular roll didn’t have a ton of lights and so as I was adding my lights on I was really searching for those light strips. And when I didn’t find them I did a trick that I often do, I used the back of my fabric. And so on this one right here, see this block right here you can see that the back of this is the darker red because I needed to keep this light out here. So don’t be afraid to use the backs of your fabric especially if you don’t have enough lights and darks. So what I’m going to do is I am now going to take this. I’m going to trim this little selvedge off right here so I can start right on the edge. And then again, now this is the piece I just sewed on and I just finished with it so I lay my strip right along that side. Alright. So now we’re going to sew this on to, oh I almost used the wrong side. We’re going to flip this over. This does get a little confusing sometimes because you’re looking for the lights but we’re so accustomed to putting right sides together. This time we’re going to put the wrong side together. And we’re going to sew that down. And then, surprise, it’s a light. And so we’re going to press that open and then we’re going to add the other piece to the other side right here. And again I just put this piece on so I turn it and my strip goes on this side, oh but it goes this way. I almost did that twice. Alright now we’ll trim this off.

And then we need to add one more side to our red and I’m going to add this blue. And you can see I’m using pieces here. This is when your block gets a little scrappy is when you start, you know you just pick up a piece. And let’s see we’re going to put whatever side you sewed last goes at the top and you lay your strip along the side. I have all these little mantras I have to say every time. Trim that off. We’re going to lay that back and then we’re going to put one more on the side of here. That one is not long enough. Let me see if I can find another dark here. Let’s see here, maybe this guy. Alright so we are going to put this one right on this side right here. And this will bring us to a whole new set of talking points. I thought for a second there I was putting it on the wrong side. I had to stop and look. Alright so you’re doing two rounds from the middle on each side and I’ll show you how I count that. So here’s your center and one, two. And here’s your center and one, two. So two rounds from the middle on both sides. This is your block. And this is what’s going to give you the lights and darks.

Now if you chain piece your blocks. So if you have all these 16 of them or all these 25 of these and you get one long strip and you just keep adding to it, adding to it, adding to it, this center block is always going to be the same. That’s ok. If you want to make them block by block so that both your colors are the same, that’s ok. If you want to scrap them up and make them different, that is also ok. So I want you to look at the quilt behind me right here. So this one, the same, all the same, same. Well this one is a little different. Let’s see, this one is a little different. I’m trying to find one that is exactly the same. This one is exactly the same, all the strips are the same. But you can see whether they’re the same or you scrap them up, it doesn’t make any difference. You can see where the lights come together, you see where the darks come together. And it just makes this awesome pattern.

Let’s talk for a minute about this border. This is a nice big eight inch border. And because the quilt is a smaller quilt, you know, you don’t get a great huge quilt with this, I think this one is 63 by 63. And we just used one roll for it. I wanted to put a beefy border on. And when I got this big border on it, I just thought it needed something more. So I decided to cut it in a vine method. Now there’s a ruler that I love called Scallop and Vines and it’s a quilt in a day ruler. And it has a little book in there that says if your quilt is this big this is how many scallops you need or how many, you know, vines you need. And I went ahead and did this nice vining piece. Now whenever you do a border with a curve in it, you have to have bias binding. You know, straight cut binding is great but it’s not going to have the give of bias binding. So bias binding is when you cut your binding on the 45 and I have a tutorial on that that you can look up. But also I actually just ordered, Missouri Star sells bias binding and I actually ordered ten yards. I think I used about seven of them to make this quilt. And you just put this nice binding all the way around. And it’s already sewn and cut for you. Now ten yards of bias binding does not mean ten yards of fabric. If you’re buying fabric to make your own binding you’ll need about a yard. So if you want to purchase bias binding for the edge of your quilt and you need to know how to measure that. You’re just going to measure all four sides. You’re going to add those together and then you’re going to add maybe five, ten extra inches so you have overlap and that sort of thing. And that’s just in case. And then you’re going to divide that by 36 because 36 is the number, how big a yard is and that will tell you exactly how many yards you need to purchase for the outside of your quilt.

So once you figure out how much binding you need out here, this is our backing and it’s just four yards of backing. So it would be really fun for you to google the log cabin quilt and see all the settings because there’s so many ways to set them. And once you know how to make this simple block there’s so many different things that you can do. I hope you have fun with this. Remember that if you don’t have enough lights you can flip them over and you can use the back. You can scrap them up, you can make them the same, whatever you want to do. This is just a fun and easy way to make a simple log cabin. And we hope you enjoyed this tutorial from the MSQC.

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