Log Cabin with Centre Blocks

The log cabin quilt block has been around for a long time. It has many varied blocks and layouts. But it is an easy quilt block that uses jelly rolls or strips sewn together to form the blocks.

Have you ever looked at your pile of UFO’s (unfinished objects) and wondered what you will ever do with them all? I recently was going through my quiltng projects and found five quilt blocks with an appliqued heart in the centre square. It had 1 1/2 inch strips on all sides.  The appliqued heart was hand-stitched down. As I was looking at them, I realized that the blocks had become part of my stash when my mother had passed away.Log Cabin Block with appliqued heart centre

I wanted to use the blocks, but I would need more than five log cabin blocks to complete a quilt.  I decided to make a baby quilt for the youngest grandchild in the family who had just joined the family.

I wanted to use the five blocks that had been so lovingly pieced by my mother! Following is a tutorial of how I creatively used the blocks to make a Log Cabin Baby Quilt. Get a FREE Colouring page and Cheat Sheet here.

How Would I Fit Everything Together?

First I decided I would need 20 additional blocks, to have a quilt of 5 blocks across and 5 blocks down for a total of 25 blocks. Then I measured the original five and decided that a block around 8 to 8.5 inches would work well.  I also wanted to accent the five already pieced blocks,  so I decided that they would go diagonal across the quilt from corner to corner.  My Mom did not waste any fabric, so these blocks had a scrappy look about them, which I also continued in the 20 log cabin blocks which I pieced to complete the quilt.

Log Cabin Block Construction

How to make a Log Cabin Quilt Block inforgraphic

I used scraps from my stash and kept the colour selection to pinks, blues, greens, lavenders and variations of these colours. I used half light and half dark or darkish medium fabrics. Click the image to the right to get a FREE printable colouring page and cheatsheet!

Step 1 Cut  Your FabricsCutting centre squares and strips for log cabin quilt blocks

Cut 20 squares 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″.  These will be your centre blocks.

Cut strips from various light and dark fabrics 1 1/2″ wide and can  be in varying lengths.

Step 2 Piece the Blocks

Starting with the 2 1/2 inch square, add a light strip. Trim the length to fit, then add a dark strip on the next side, a dark strip on the 3rd side and finally a light strip on the 4th side. As you sew each strip, press the seams away from the centre.

Log Cabin Centre block with first light strip

Log cabin block with the first dark strip

Multiple Log Cabin Blocks chain piecing technique

I used chain piecing and did about half of the blocks at a time. After each strip you cut them apart and press the seams. Repeat with the next strip, until you have 3 strips on all sides. At this point the block should be square and measure approximately 8 1/2″.  Since I was combining these blocks with the original five, I found that I needed to trim the blocks to 8 1/4″ to match the already pieced blocks. Normally you should not need to trim or square up log cabin blocks.

Step 3 Layout the Blocks for the Quilt Top

You will notice that log cabin blocks are half light and half dark. Since I wanted to accent the original blocks, I laid the light sides toward the heart blocks on both sides diagonally across the top.  following the furrow layout I finished laying out the blocks. I recommend taking a picture on your phone to refer to later.

Log Cabin blocks, centre blocks with applique and centre blocks floral

Log Cabin blocks completed and laid out to be sew together

Beginning at the top, pick up the top row of blocks in the order you want to sew them and clip the together. Repeat for the remaining rows.

Step 4 Sew the Blocks Together

In this step you will sew the blocks together in each row, one row at a time. Press the seams to the right left, alternating with each row. When you sew the rows together the seams should lay to opposite sides allowing them to “nest” and lay flat. Keep your rows in order after they are pressed.

Log Cabin Blocks sewn together in a row

Step 5 Sew Rows Together

Sew your rows together, matching the block seams and in the proper order.  Press them to the side.  You should have a pieced quilt top!  It is always an “ah ha” moment when all the blocks are sewn and you see the pattern that all the blocks make! It is inspiring to see your creation coming to completion!

Log Cabin Baby Quilt

Step 6 Add the Framing Border

Measure the sides of your quilt.  My measurements were 39 3/4″ x 39 3/4″. I like to use a fabric that will contrast to the quilt for a border.  In this case, I chose a white tone on tone.

Cut 5 strips of fabric wof and 2 1/2″ wide.  Then sew them all together to form one long strip. Then cut strips for the sides the measurement of the sides.  Sew them to the pieced top and press them away from the centre.  Then measure the top and bottom and cut 2 strips to the measurement.  Sew them to the top and bottom and press away from the centre.

**Note wof = width of fabric  Also you may choose to use more borders. Sometimes I have added three borders of different widths and varying values.

Step 7 Quilt Sandwich

Measure your completed quilt top. You will need to cut batting and backing 2 inches larger than your quilt top on all sides. So I measured my top and it measures 43.5″ x 43.5″, so that means adding 4″ to each measurement making it 47.5″.

The backing fabric that I chose to use was only 44″ wide; so I decided to add some inches.  I had some strips leftover from the quilt and I used these.

First: I cut the backing in three lengths widthwise and then added the strips to the middle of the centre section and strips to opposite sides of the top and bottom sections. I then sewed the three sections together. My pieced backing measured 49.5″ x 50.75″.

3 Steps to make the Quilt Sandwich and baste all the layers together, ready for quilting!

To make the quilt sandwich:  Divide the backing piece in half lengthwise and crosswise and mark with a pin. Repeat this with the pieced top.

Lay the backing fabric on a large flat surface wrong side up and tape it down.  For a

baby quilt size the floor works great.  Then lay the batting on top. And lastly the pieced quilt top. Match up the pins marking centres with the backing and top.

Once you have the quilt sandwich made I usually safety pin them together about every 6 inches.  You can also spray baste or use your favourite method for basting.  After it is all pinned I remove the tape and get ready for the next step, quilting and binding!

Step 8 Quilting and Binding

For quilting you can machine quilt, hand quilt or tie a quilt.  I usually machine quilt my quilts. And since this is a smaller size, I will quilt it on my home machine. Once the quilting is done, trim the batting and backing to the same size as the quilt top.

Then you can add the binding to finish the edges using your favourite binding and method.  I like to use either crosscut binding or strip pieced scrappy bias binding, get a tutorial and cheatsheet here. Don’t forget your FREE printable colouring page and Cheatsheet!

make a quilt label and place it on the front corner of the quilt

Step 9 Quilt Label

Adding a label is optional, but a really good habit to get into.  I am adding a label to this quilt. The quilt label documents the beginning of the quilt.  Who the quilt is made for, the date it was made and the quilt maker’s name.  These three pieces of information are the most important to have on the label.  You can read more on how to design and make a quilt label here . . .

Log Cabin centre blocks banner

3 Comments on Make a Log Cabin Baby Quilt, a Quilt Pattern for Beginners, a Tutorial

    • An easy way to figure it out is to measure your queen mattress and then decide if you want overhang on the sides and end. Then using those dimensions, divide the length by the size of your quilt block to find the blocks across and do the same for the length. This will tell you how many blocks you need.

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