Fast & Friendly Quilting

A FREE Quilt-in-a-Day Log Cabin Tutorial to Work on This Weekend

Weekend warriors, this quilt-in-a-day log cabin block is a fantastic project for beginners. You can make the block using a simple method of piecing called strip piecing, use strips of fabric, rather than template pieces. Strip piecing is a much faster way to make quilts — with strip piecing, you can piece together an entire quilt top in a single day!

Follow along to learn how to make this quilt-in-a-day log cabin block!

Make a basic Log Cabin Block

One of the pioneers of the strip piecing movement of the 1980s was Eleanor Burns. Through her videos, she showed quilters how to strip piece their quilts, and have a lot of fun while doing it! Lucky for us, she’s also a Craftsy instructor and teaches the online class Quick & Easy Quilting.

Strip piecing materials

Quilt-in-a-day log cabin tutorial

To make a simple strip-pieced block, you will need:

  • Strips of fabric (we are using 2.5″ strips here, but any size will work)
  • Ruler
  • Rotary cutter
  • Mat
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and Ironing board

Step 1:

Decide on your fabric. We are using seven different fabrics — three lights,  three darks and one central fabric. The lights are light, lighter, lightest and the darks are dark, darker, darkest. You can choose whatever fabric you like for the center that pulls your fabrics all together, but red is a traditional choice for the center of a log cabin block. It represents the hearth or the center of the home.

selecting fabrics

If you are making a single block, one width-of-fabric strip of each is enough. However, if you are making multiple blocks, you’ll need additional strips.

Step 2:

Time to start stitching. For this tutorial, as with most quilts, all seams are 1/4″.

Start with your center fabric, and your lightest light fabric. Use 1/2 strip of each. Place them right sides together and stitch together down one side.

stitch first strips

 

Step 3:

Cut the stitched together strips into 2 1/2″ segments (the width of the original strips).

cut into sections

Step 4:

You can press your seams open, or to the side. If you press your seams toward the side, you will press in the direction of the most recently added fabric (pressing out). For this seam, that will be away from the center fabric, and toward the light fabric.

press out

Step 5:

Using the second half of the light fabric strip, place it right side up on your sewing machine. Place the stitched and pressed segment on top, with the most recent strip towards you. Stitch until you near the end of this first piece.

place pieces on strip

Step 6:

If you’re making more than one block at a time, here is where the magic of strip piecing comes into play. Butt the next two-part segment up against the first (again with the most recently added piece closest to you), and keep stitching. Repeat with each unit.

adding first row of lights

Step 7:

Using the rotary cutter and ruler, cut the segments apart by cutting between each segment to cut the strip.

trim up blocks

Step 8:

Press your seam. You have added the first color!

first row of light fabrics

Step 9:

Pick up the lightest of your dark strips. Place it on the sewing machine, right side up. Place the pressed unit on top, with the most recently added strip toward you.

place on strip

Step 10:

Again, if you’re making more than one block, you can butt the pieces up against one another. Once you’re done, cut the pieces apart and press just like before. Add the second row of your lightest dark.

keep adding strips

Step 11:

Cut apart and press. You now have the lightest light and the lightest dark added to your block!

single round

Step 12:

Repeat these steps, adding the second light, the second dark, the final light and the final dark fabric.

adding second light layer

You’ll notice that as you add more fabric strips, each strip is longer than the last. If you want to make multiple blocks, a single strip of the center is often enough, but you may need a dozen or more of the outer strips.

almost done log cabin block

Once your block is complete, you can square it up. Include it as a block in a sampler quilt, quilt and bind it to make a mini quilt, or make several log cabin blocks to make a log cabin quilt.

Finished Log Cabin Block

There are lots of ways you can change up this simple quilt-in-a-day log cabin tutorial. Use varying widths of fabric for a wonky or more modern-looking block. Switch up your light and dark fabrics to make a scrappy looking block. Use very wide strips to make a one-block quilt.

Once you understand the basic construction of a strip-pieced log cabin block, the possibilities are endless! And, because they come together so quickly, you can get an entire quilt done in a day.

You might also enjoy our collection of 6 quilt-in-a-day patterns.

Top Log Cabin Quilt Patterns

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9 Comments

m spotten

I recently made a log cabin quilt for my neighbor. I found a tutorial that claimed to have timed 2 different ways of sewing them together and finding it to be faster by pre-cutting all strips to length. After sewing a test block to verify the lengths, I tried some both ways and found that it seemed faster, as well as more accurate to pre-cut. If using a scrappy block or wonky block, it may not hold true. In any case, the log cabin block is a fun challenge for any quilter

Reply
Kim Kenna

I found the descriptions of the steps to be incomplete and hard to follow and the pictures were of absolutely no help at all in clarifying what was meant by the instructions. As a tutorial, it was of no use to me at all.

Reply
Carolina

People learn in different ways. For some, reading instructions and Looking at static photos is more confusing than helpful. Fortunately, Craftsy.com has amazing video classes! Try enrolling in one – watching the video instructions may be more helpful. Good luck on your quilting journey!

Reply
Puma

She’s adding the strips in sequential order Kim. What’s not to understand; she tells you how and then shows you what they will look like when finished. This is a simple block, and if it escapes you, perhaps quilting isn’t for you. I thought it very understandable, and well explained; and her pictures helped the understanding.

Reply
Mary

Ouch! Let’s be encouraging here, Puma. We all learn differently, as Carolina mentioned above. Kim, find another tutorial that works for you, or better yet, visit your local quilt store and ask for some help. If the staff won’t help you, surely another shopper will. Don’t give up; log cabins are fun once you get the hang of ’em.

Reply
Kimberly Gorall

thanks…I thought it was me
next post…wow encouraging the Newbies…how about give some girls a break. Paper piecing and this type of- what looks like chain stitching-could elude anyone at first!!!

Reply
quiltlady

even in quilting we can be catty! WOW!!!! very bad.

Reply
Bec

Tsk… Tsk….. Puma.
Kim, Hang in there, everything is difficult at first 😉
I had trouble understanding a few things at first, but when the light bulb goes on……….. It’s a blast <3

Reply
Elizabeth

I see things in numbers and sizes so if I see the photos I can usually figure it out on my own. But we all learn differently. I am a self taught quilter and love it. One year newbie here! Start with something really easy and work up to harder patterns a little at a time. I started with patchwork which is just squares sewn together. I’m on my 12th quilt! I have found that nearly all quilters I have met are overly kind and helpful, some people just have a bad day and comment before thinking. Good luck! I’m rooting for you

Reply

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