My interest in Log Cabin Quilts stems from a TV program I saw by chance
called The Great American Quilt.

I made my first Log Cabin quilt in April 1998, and have been amazed by the different designs that can be made from this one block. This led me to research, and I'm still researching, as much as I can about log cabin quilts. Please if you know of any good sites or information about log cabin quilts, please email me so I can include it here.

See my log cabin quilts - here

This is what I have learnt about log cabins.

    Patchwork Quilts are often associated with the American pioneers, never the less patchwork quilts can be found all over the world, and the design dates back before America had pioneers. Traditionally the centre of the block is red for the warmth of the fire in the home. This fire symbolises the warmth of the heart - home is where the heart is. Log cabins were often the first house that American pioneers lived in - built of round pine logs - and symbolise the American pioneer.

    Occasionally the centre of the block will be yellow or golden, symbolising the light in the window welcoming family and friends home, and it is often black, representing the burnt embers of the fire. It is this centre piece that the block is built on. Today the centre block is often a colour that blends with the strips of material surrounding it.

    The origins of the log cabin block seem to be in dispute. Some say the log cabin block stems from the American Pioneer spirit and symbolises the security and warmth of the home. Indeed log cabin designs can be found in the early American quilts. American Amish quilts also feature the log cabin design.

    Log Cabin quilts can also be found in Great Britain, although the English ones only go back as far as the early 19th century, the design as been found on items from the 1650s. Janet RAE, in her book The Quilts of the British Isles, maintains that the 'logs' are actually strips of farmed land with the red centre squares depicting the sun shining on the fields.  Scottish log cabin quilt patterns have been handed down in families since the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 (Averil Colbey, Patchwork).

    It would seem, therefore that the design was taken to America by the British emigrants.

    In Australia, the earliest known log cabin quilt dates from 1882, when it was called Canadian patchwork. Indeed there are numerous examples of the quilt dating from 1900.

    The design has also been found in Egyptian mummy wrappings and on the tiled floors of ancient Egypt.

    Whatever the origins, the Log Cabin  has been a popular design for well over one hundred years, and remains associated with American quilting.

    The most time consuming, and exciting aspect of the Log Cabin block is the design and colour selection. The idea of the block is to arrange dark materials together, and light materials together in order to make a design.
    The traditional block has dark material on one half and light material on the other half. The blocks are built around a central square, traditionally made of red. Cut strips of material and from this first square, sew a strip of dark material along one side of the red square. Trim using your set square. With the newly placed strip at the top, sew the next dark strip along the end of the  new strip and continue on around the original red square. Continue until the block is complete. This is the method I use.

Blocks can also be made by using the piecing method.


Depending on the placement of blocks, an endless number of designs can be made. Here are some names of some log cabin designs. I would like to know where the designs originated. If you know please mail me.

Traditional Block 

Asymmetric Block - using two different widths of fabric. This makes the centre block off centre.

Barn Raising

Central Fire - This block has the 'central block' in one corner. Light and dark fabrics can be either alternated, or laid in a dark half and light half.

Chimney Stones

Corner Stones - using a contrasting colour for the central block, continue that colour on all corners between the dark and light sides.

Court House Steps - dark strips are placed opposite each other, as are the light strips. This gives an hour glass effect.

Pineapple - light strips are placed diagonally across the corners of dark strips on alternate rounds. This gives a 'pineapple' effect.

Straight Furrows
Streak of Lightning
Sunshine and Shadows
Windmill Blades

The log cabin block can be made by beginners to advanced quilters.
They can be used together, or combined with other designed blocks, depending on the effect wanted.
You can make great scrap log cabin quilts.


CREATED 4 MARCH 1999        LAST UPDATED 17 January 2006

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