So, you have decided to make a log cabin quilt! Perhaps you have seen some gorgeous log cabin quilt ideas at a quilt show, or maybe you have a large log cabin board going on Pinterest just like the one I have. But have you ever wondered how much fabric do you need to make a log cabin quilt?
If you have studied log cabin quilts, you may have noticed that they can be an amazing opportunity to use up leftovers and scraps. They can also be mind-blowingly gorgeous when they are master-planned with a controlled color scheme. It is really up to you to decide the style of log cabin quilt you want to make.
For you, maybe making a log cabin quilt is an opportunity to use up a bunch of scraps in your stash fabric or incorporate smaller cuts leftover from other projects. One quilter I know is including a huge collection of her father’s old work shirts in a wedding log cabin quilt for her daughter.
Perhaps you want to finally use a pile of “very special” fabrics that you have been collecting for a while? Or maybe this new project is a chance to go shopping for new fabric treasures? Either way, you need to start your new log cabin quilt project knowing that you have enough fabric at hand.
Log cabin blocks, with all their seam allowances, consume a fair bit of fabric. The log cabin quilt fabric requirements will depend on the log cabin block sizes you are using. In general, the narrower the “logs” in the blocks and the smaller the blocks, the more fabric you will need to complete a square foot of your quilt. This isn’t a bad thing. Most quilters have a good size stash and log cabin quilts can be the perfect way to use it up.
How to Calculate Fabric for a Non-Scrappy Log Cabin Quilt
Another factor that may affect the amount of fabric you need is how large your cuts of fabrics are. If you are using yardage at the full width of fabric (WOF) to cut your strips for logs, you will not end up with a lot of waste. I recommend that you add about a 10% buffer to all the requirements just in case.
How to Calculate Fabric for a Scrappy Log Cabin Quilt
Generally, you may find that the more scrappy your quilt is, the more unusable odds and ends of fabric you may end up with. This can be especially true if you are including fabric from clothing etc. It is also true that if you are making smaller blocks with narrower strips, you are able to utilize smaller scraps and cuts of fabric.
In the end, if you are making a very scrappy quilt with irregular cuts of fabric, it is a good rule of thumb to add a large margin of error when gathering enough fabric. If you think you will need about 5 yards of fabric total, gather 6 or 7 yards worth of scraps. You may have too much in the end, but there is nothing more frustrating than running out of fabric that can’t be bought in the store three-quarters of the way into a labor-intensive quilt top. If you end up with extra fabric at the end of a project you can always make a few extra blocks and turn them into coordinating pillows, small mug-rugs, etc.
Fabric Requirements for Log Cabin Quilt
Traditional log cabin blocks have two contrasting color groups (light vs. dark or complementary colors are common in traditional quilts). The calculations below assume that you are making traditional blocks. If you have another log cabin quilt design in mind, you may need to adjust the proportion of fabric in the different color groups.
The below yardages also assume that you are cutting the strips for your logs in accordance with the pattern directions. If you cut your strips wider than the directions, you will need more fabric. The yardage requirements here include a 10% margin on top of the mathematical bare minimum. If you are working scrappy, I recommend you add a bit more, just to be on the safe side.
Listed below are the fabric yardage requirements for each Log Cabin Paper Piecing Templates by Felicia’s World.
Fabric Requirements for 7” Log Cabin Block with ½” Wide Logs
The 7” Log Cabin Paper Piecing template is pieced from 1 ¼” wide strips and a center square that is cut to 1 ½” x 1 ½”. For the logs in the block, you will need a minimum of 1 yard per 10 blocks, or ½ yard of each color group. Add a 10-15 percent margin to these numbers when you calculate your yardage. If you are using very small and scrappy cuts of fabric, add about 20 percent just to be on the safe side. For the center square of the fabric, a 1 ½ “ wide strip of fabric (WOF) will be enough for 26 blocks.
Examples of fabric requirements for different quilt sizes using the 7” Log Cabin Template:
1. Nap and Sofa quilt with no border:
Size: 56” x 70”
8 x 10 block layout
80 blocks total
8 yards of fabric total + 15% buffer = 9 ¼ yard total.
What to do:
Gather 4 ¾ yard in each of your two color groups. You will need about one fat quarter or 6” WOF for the center squares.
2. Queen size quilt with 8” border:
Size: 100” x100” including borders
12 x 12 block layout
144 blocks total
14 ½ yard total + 15% buffer = approximately 16.75 yards total
What to do:
Gather approximately 8 ½ yards in each of your two color groups. You will need ¼ yard WOF or a generous fat quarter for the center squares. Add 3 yards for the 8” border (to allow for border cut along the selvage of the fabric with no piecing).
3. King size quilt with 8” border:
Size: 114” x 114” including borders
14×14 block layout
196 blocks total
20 yards total + 15% buffer = 24 yards total
What to do:
Gather 12 yards in each of your two color groups. You will also need a minimum of ⅓ yard fabric for the center squares. Add 3 ¼ yard for the border (to allow for border cut along the selvage of the fabric with no piecing).
Fabric Requirements for 4-Inch Log Cabin Block with ¼-Inch Wide Logs
The 4” Log Cabin Paper Piecing template is pieced from 1” wide strips and a center square that is cut to 1 ¼ ” x 1 ¼ ”. For the logs in the block, you will need a minimum of 15 inches WOF per 10 blocks or 7 ½ inches WOF of each color group. Add a 10-15 percent margin to these numbers when you calculate your yardage. If you are using very small and scrappy cuts of fabric, add about 20 percent just to be on the safe side. For the center square of the fabric, a 1 ¼ “ wide strip of fabric (WOF) will be enough for 32 blocks.
Examples of fabric requirements for different quilt sizes using the 4” Log Cabin Template:
1. Small Wall Quilt with 2 ½-Inch Border:
Size: 32” x 40”
7×9 block layout
63 total blocks
95” total fabric + 15% buffer = approximately 110” fabric total.
What to do:
Gather about 1 ½ yard fabric in each color group. Three 1 ¼” strips WOF for the center squares. Add ½ yard fabric for the border.
(This article was written on September 7, 2020, and updated on August 10, 2021.)