WHY PAPER PIECE YOUR LOG CABIN QUILT?
There are several ways to piece a log cabin quilts. Old quilts are often pieced onto a muslin background, and some quilters piece their blocks with no foundation at all. Although it is certainly possible to make log cabin blocks this way, it creates challenges common for any type of quilt block with intricate piecing - the more piecing you have to do, the more likely it is that you will have distortion from inaccurate seam allowances, variations in cutting, etc. By using a paper piecing method, those factors are eliminated and your log cabin blocks turn out perfect - every time!
More so, paper piecing eliminates the need for accurate ¼” seam allowances and nitpicky cutting off strips to accurate lengths. Instead, you get to spend your time sitting in front of the sewing machine, with a stack of long strips next to you on one side, and a little ironing station on the other side.
If that was not reason enough to make a paper pieced log cabin quilts, this method also allows you to make the logs very narrow without the process becoming significantly harder. Suddenly, the most sloppy and inaccurate quilter (the author included) find themselves piecing show-quality quilt tops without stress and frustration.
Which log cabin paper templates are the right one for me?
Our Paper Piecing Templates are all very easy to use, and the difficulty does not change significantly from template to template. What does change, is the amount of time it takes to complete each block. In general, the narrower the logs and the more logs are in the block, the longer it will take to make. For example, the 5” block with only 3 rounds of logs is significantly quicker than the 4” block with 5 rounds of logs.
If you wish to make a large utility quilt in a relatively short time frame, consider a block with wider and fewer logs. If you are making a quilt designed to impress a judge and be a true heirloom, choose blocks with narrow strips. It increases the wow factor significantly. As a rule, I also think the smaller blocks look “sweeter” even in a large quilt. Do not second guess yourself too much and pick a template that you have a good feeling about and get sewing.
TRADITIONAL LOG CABIN QUILT PATTERN
Traditional log cabin blocks are divided into two color groups with one-half light and the other dark. The layout of these blocks creates bold designs beloved by quilters and quilt collectors alike. Here are some of the most common traditional layouts.
FIELD & FURROWS
SUNSHINE & SHADOW
MODERN LOG CABIN QUILTS
While traditional log cabin quilts work with alternating dark and light halves in each block, there are many other options for working with the log cabin block. One option is to make alternating rounds of light and dark logs in each block. This is called modern log cabin quilts.
DARK BLOCK 1
DARK BLOCK 2
The bold silk star quilt below is an example of this type of quilt. Did you notice how the orange center of each block creates a nice rhythm throughout the quilt?
Japanese Quilters have often made stunning log cabin quilts entirely in monochrome or in very low contrast. These subdued and contemplative pieces of art is an incredible adaptation of this classic block.
How much fabric will I need to make a log cabin?
The fabric requirements for your quilt will increase with narrower logs. For example, a 5” block with 3 rounds of logs will use less fabric than a 5” block with 5 rounds of logs. This is simply because of all the added seam allowance. Each log cabin templates comes with separate fabric requirements.
HOW MANY LOG CABIN BLOCK TEMPLATES DO I NEED?
If you are wondering how many books of paper templates are needed in your planned log cabin quilt, keep in mind that each booklet of templates contains 48 templates. If you are just starting out, you may make a couple of mistakes until you get the process completely down. It can be a good idea to plan to have a handful templates more than you need. 144 templates / 48 per book = 3 Booklets of 7-inch templates needed. In this example, the calculation worked out to be exactly 3 books. If you end up with a decimal number, round up to the nearest whole number.
Also, there are three factors to consider when you are determining how many blocks you need for your planned quilt.
Which size blocks do you plan to work with?
Are you planning on adding a border to your quilt top?
How big do you want your finished quilt to be?
Answering these questions will definitely help you to decide how many block templates are need in your quilt project.
How to calculate the number of log cabin templates needed?
Decide the size of the quilt and subtract any border you plan to have on your quilt:
Quilt Width - Border Width -Border Width = Log Cabin Quilt Center Width
Quilt Length - Border Width - Border Width = Log Cabin Quilt Center Length
Divide the Quilt Center Width and the Quilt Center Length by the size of the block chosen.
Log Cabin Quilt Center Width / Block Size = Number of Blocks across the Quilt Center
Log Cabin Quilt Center Length / Block Size = Number of Blocks the Length of the Quilt Center
If this number is not a whole number but a decimal, round up or down to the nearest whole number depending on your preference.
You can adjust your border size as well if the exact size for the final quilt is important.
Multiply the Blocks Across with the Blocks for the Length to get the total number of blocks needed for the quilt centers.
Blocks Across x Blocks for the Length = Total Blocks needed for the quilt.
Sample Block Calculation
If formulas are hard to plug your quilt size into the sample calculation below. Say you would like to make a queen size quilt at roughly 95”x95” with a border and using the 7-inch blocks as a sample calculation.
Subtract the planned border from the total quilt width. For this example, I am using an 8” Border.95” - 8” - 8” = 79”
Divide the 79” width by the size of the log cabin blocks (7” in this example). 79” / 7” = 11.29 blocks.
Obviously, I cannot have 11.29 blocks so I will round that up to 12 blocks. Making the quilt center a little bigger is no big deal and I can always make the border a little narrower, or also try the calculation with 6” or 8’ blocks to see if that will work better. In this case, I really want to use the 7” blocks so I am going to round up to 12 blocks.
The queen size quilt is square. It will be 12 blocks wide as well as 12 blocks long.12 x 12 = 144 7”- log cabin blocks to make a queen size quilt.