Log Cabin is such a classic (and simple) design; although often seen with a limited number of fabrics it is one that cries out to be made from scraps – as it would have been back in ‘the Olden Days’. These are two of Barbara’s vintage quilts – the black and light one is just a coverlet (no wadding) while the other one is a folded Log Cabin.
The basic premise of the block is that you start with a central shape – usually a square and then stitch strips around. The strips are usually the same width so you should end up with a neat collection of squares when you finish. The number of strips you add is up to you – stop when you get bored! The more strips you add the bigger the block; the wider the strips, the bigger the block; the bigger the central square, the bigger the block. Talking of which – your central square could be an orphan block or a random orphan unit such as a half-square triangle. Likewise, in theory, you make half the block from light fabrics and half from dark – like the black and light quilt above. But you don’t have to. These blocks are again some vintage ones from Barbara’s collection.
If you use different width strips – narrow light ones (say) and wider dark ones then you can get the illusion of circles or curves in your quilt. You do need to make a less than subtle difference in the widths for this to show up properly. Chris’s autumnal quilt only has a slight difference in the widths of the strips.
Having half the block light and half dark – whether the strips are the same width or not – can allow you to play with all sorts of settings before you decide which one to stitch together.
You don’t have to have all the same size strips either – you can make a ‘wonky’ log cabin block by randomly stitching different sizes of strip around the centre and then trim everything square and the same size at the end (thus creating even more scraps, but tiny ones), or add a border around each block to make them square.
You can find the pattern to make the quilt this collection of blocks eventually turned into in British Patchwork and Quilting magazine July 2019 issue – and the finished blocks did not look like the photo above, that was just one try-out!
Or you can, as Ann Jermey has done with these ones, stitch random strips around squares and/or rectangles to make a variety of blocks to put together into a quilt, with a neat sashing to hold it all together.
Although all these quilts are ‘scrappy’ they have one thing in common – they stuck to a particular colour palette (autumnal) or a particular fabric type (hand-dyes and flannels).
And one thing you can never have too many of – books for inspiration!