Tutorial Tuesday: Log Cabin

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Quick Quiz Question: How far back in history do we find the Log Cabin design?

  1. 1860’s – designed to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.
  2. 1600’s – designed during colonial days by Dutch settlers.
  3. 1976 – designed in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial of the USA.
  4. It has been found in drawings of ancient civilizations.


“Hmmm – It makes me think of Abe Lincoln so probably 1860s.”

If you’re trying to win the big prize jackpot you probably will want do some research or Phone a Friend before you make that your final answer.

SPOILER ALERT: Here’s the answer …

The log cabin design has been found in drawings in ancient Egypt! I’m fairly sure they didn’t call it Log Cabin, though.

Egyptian log cabin


We at Sisters at Heart haven’t usually associated Log Cabin with Egyptian design at all. At least until recently when my friend Marilyn Stephani did a presentation on the Log Cabin block for the Pensacola Quilt Guild. I learned a lot

courthouse steps

(Did you know that Courthouse Steps is technically in the Log Cabin category?)

and came away with some new ideas for using this very old design. Like this basket made from two log cabin blocks.



Marilyn’s presentation included Power Point. We are including it here – Log Cabin Power Point – with her permission, so that you can share it with your club or guild.


Log Cabin is one of those great blocks that looks harder than it is.

The block starts with a center square, referred to as the hearth (that is why traditionally it’s red-for the fire in the hearth.) Although some people make the center yellow and call it “light in the window.” OR,  you can make it brown and call it mud on the windows. (I just made that up.) Okay, I can hear the Colorado sister telling me to get back to the main thing…

 from all about quiltsAfter choosing the center square, you then stitch strips around the center square, each strip long enough to cover the previous two pieces.


Checking for accuracy often is a really good idea because after several seams a little inaccuracy adds up to a big” catty whampus” (That’s a technical term for mess.) Or, you can use the foundation paper piecing method for exact stitching every time.

Log Cabin is one of those great blocks that is SO versatile. If you make an asymmetrical Log Cabin you have even more setting options – some of which will produce a round or wavy design.

 off centered quilting with Roxanne

Or you can change it up a little and make it into a rose. That’s what we have done in our latest use of this ancient idea – and we put it on a picnic basket lid. If you’ve never done Log Cabin and you aren’t sure it you want to get into a whole quilt, you might think about doing the basket lid as a starter project.

 MM Picnic Basket Lid

The beauty of this design idea is that it can be adjusted to any size picnic basket. After you have made your log cabin block, just add borders until you have enough to cover the lid of the basket. Or – you can use two log cabins.

log cabin rose basket for web

What if you want to use the idea but your basket doesn’t have a lid? Well, there is a way to make a lid for your basket. You can get the pattern on our etsy store HERE.


PS – Over at Stitched in Color, you might enjoy her Log Cabin quilt as you go tutorial. Check it out HERE.

Categories: Inspire Me!, Tutorial Tuesdays | Leave a comment

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