[ Quilt Blocks ]

4 Log Cabin Quilt Block Variations

The Log Cabin quilt block may be traditional, but simple variations in color placement can create a whole new look.

Option 1 – Traditional Log Cabin

If a quilter refers to a log cabin block, s/he is probably imagining a center block surrounded by light strips on one side and dark strips on the other.  A red center was used to symbolize the heart of the home.  Even in the scrappiest of quilts, the center squares were often a consistent fabric.

log cabin quilt block

Option 2 – Scrappy Log Cabin Quilt Block

For quilters who like to use all the colors at once, try this ROY G. BIV colorway. Make each segment of the log cabin block in a different color, progressing through the rainbow’s hues of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

rainbow colors in a log cabin block

Think of all the possibilities with the rainbow color scheme…the colors can spiral inwards or outwards, you could alternate between the warm and cool colors, experiment with one color family per block.  You have lots of options when you quilt in a scrappy palette.

Option 3 – Courthouse Steps or Lanterns?

When you use color to separate the four sides of the log cabin block, it becomes a Courthouse Steps variation.  And when the courthouse steps blocks are lined up with matching colors, they resemble lanterns.  These blocks can be grouped by color family or stitched from one designer’s line of fabric, or become as scrappy as desired.

courthouse steps or lanterns

Option 4 – Rings

By using a different color each time around the center square, the block loses it’s traditional feel.  This is the perfect opportunity to play with gradients from light to dark and vice versa.  The block is constructed in the same way as all the other variations so you can see what a big difference your color choices make.  Use a design wall or coloring page to audition your favorites.rings with dark center

The ring block is featured in the quilt Yellow Suns.  You can find the pattern in my book Monochromatic Quilts: Amazing Variety

Bonus – Half Square Triangles can be used in log cabin patterns

Make a split 9-patch block with half square triangles to create a straight line between the light and dark fabrics. These blocks can be arranged in many of the traditional log cabin variations.

log cabin variation with half square triangles

Which log cabin variation will you try next?

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Longarm Quilter, Pattern Designer, Teacher


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