How to Make Small Log Cabin Blocks

Are you fascinated by small scale piecing and miniature quilts? Have you ever found yourself admiring a small log cabin quilt block in a magazine, in a show, or at your local guild and thinking “Oh, that looks so amazing and way too difficult for me”?

In quilting, a small scale usually means it is harder to make. Many quilters will agree with me that the smaller the scale of the project and the more intricate the piecing, the more tricky it is to achieve precision. For many of us, it also means that the quilting process becomes more stressful and frustrating, as opposed to the enjoyable and relaxing past-time it should be.

Log cabin quilts are no exception to this rule. Smaller is generally trickier. So what is the best way to make mini log cabin blocks with narrow logs accurate?

 

 

Paper Piece your Log Cabin

It isn’t some long-kept secret and it doesn’t involve 15 years of diligent practice. The secret to very accurate piecing at a small scale, is more often than not, foundation paper piecing. Of course, not all traditional quilt blocks can be easily or efficiently pieced this way, but when they can, it means accurate points, even strips, and blocks the size and shape they are supposed to be!

I have a life-long love affair with log cabin quilts and its relatives, the pineapple, and the courthouse steps. However, I always used to make my blocks at a generous scale with logs no narrower than about one inch. But once I discovered the joy of paper piecing the blocks, the blocks started to shrink dramatically, and the logs got narrower. The result is a series of quilts that are simply exquisite.

The foundation paper pieced log cabin blocks look refined and crisp no matter the size. I have used the technique with large 10″ blocks in dupioni silk, and I have gone as small as 2 1/2 inch blocks with 1/8″ wide strips. (Just to see if it could really be done. It could!)

Use 4-Inch  Paper Pieced Log Cabin Templates

One of the sweet spots for log cabin block size is 4 inches. It is big enough that you can make a bigger quilt should if you want to. However, the blocks are definitely small enough to give you the wow-that-looks-exquisite feel. (I actually have a customer who is working on a king size quilt! Can you imagine how incredible that will look? I hope she is planning to enter it in a show as it is sure to blow the audience away.)

In the video tutorial below, I walk you through the steps of constructing the 4″ log cabin blocks. To try this for yourself, you can purchase the 4-inch templates of log cabin quilts.

I also have a kit with the exact fabrics I used in the graphite-pastel model quilt available. This log cabin quilt kit comes with two books of templates (96 total blocks) and allows you to make a quilt a little bigger than the one I made if you should wish.

I hope this inspires you to make your own amazing paper pieced log cabin quilt.

 

 

 

 

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