Log Cabin Quilt Block
Pattern Tutorial

This easy log cabin quilt block uses 2 1/2 inch strips. Use your charm packs too. Beginners, get out your jelly rolls and start quilting today!

Log Cabin Quilt Block Pattern

This is a very easy block. Beginners, you will absolutely love the log cabin block! It's a traditional quilt block.

You start with a center square, usually red. This represents the hearth or fireplace which was usually found in every pioneer's home.

Next, you add logs, or strips of fabric, around each side of the square.

You can start adding the logs at any position around the square.

But, the norm is to start at the bottom (6 o'clock position) or right side (3 o'clock position) and add strips of fabric in a counterclockwise direction.

This block is really easy to make when you use a jelly roll (2 1/2 inch strips). They are already cut and ready to use. And, you get a big block!

The traditional log cabin quilt block has a light side and a dark side.

When buying jelly rolls or selecting them from your stash consider rolls that have both light and dark fabrics.

Let's get started!

Quilt Block Fabrics

1 jelly roll with light and dark fabrics

1 (2 1/2 inch x WOF) strip of red fabric (jelly roll strip or cut from yardage)

Quilt Block Assembly Diagram

Take a look at this quilt block assembly diagram. It shows you the order in which to stitch the logs to and around the center square.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Assembly DiagramLog Cabin Quilt Block Assembly Diagram

The center square is labeled 'center'. The logs are numbered 1 - 12. Think of the sides of the center square as the 3 o'clock (right side), 6 o'clock (bottom), 9 o'clock (left side) and 12 o'clock (top) positions on a clock.

For this log cabin block, stitch the first log (1) to the center at the 6 o'clock position. Then proceed counterclockwise around the center.

Refer to this diagram as needed while you assemble your block.

Quilt Block Measurements

Round 1: center square + 1 log round = 6 1/2 inches square

Round 2: center square + 2 log rounds = 10 1/2 inches square

Round 3: center square + 3 log rounds = 14 1/2 inches square

As a bonus, I will show you two ways to get a 12 inch log cabin block. (Sweet!)

Log Cabin Quilt Block Instructions

Step 1 Separate the strips of fabric into two piles: light fabrics and dark fabrics.

Log cabin quilt block Step 1

There's no real science to doing this. I simply used the color of the background fabric to decide. If my strip of fabric had a dark background, I put it in the dark pile.

If the strip of fabric had a light background color, I put it in the light pile.

My block has a scrappy look which I just adore!

Step 2 Cut 1 (2 1/2 inch x WOF) strip from red fabric yardage, or use a red jelly roll strip (not pictured).

Step 2a Subcut 1 (2 1/2 inch) square from red 2 1/2 inch strip. This is the center of the log cabin quilt block.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 2a

Step 3a Choose a light fabric strip. Place it, vertically right side up onto your cutting mat.

Place the red 2 1/2 inch square, right side down, on top of the jellyroll strip, near the top end of it.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 3a

Step 3b Sew the square to the strip using a 1/4 inch seam along the right side of the two.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 3b

Step 3c Use a ruler to trim the excess fabric from one side of the square.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 3c

Step 3d Use a ruler to trim the excess fabric from the other side of the square.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 3d

Step 3e Open the squares with the right sides up. Ensure that the second square (log 1) is in the 6 o'clock position (1 on the block assembly diagram).

Finger press the seam away from the center square.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 3e

Step 4a Choose a light fabric strip (can be the same print fabric strip or a different light strip). Place it, vertically right side up onto your cutting mat.

Place center square/1st log unit, right side down, on top of the jellyroll strip, near the top end of it.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 4a

At your sewing machine, lead with the log just sewn. Meaning, put the last log sewn under the needle first. Sew the unit to the strip using a 1/4 inch seam along the right side of the strips.

Step 4b Use a ruler to trim the excess fabric from both sides of the center square/1st log unit, as done in Steps 3c and 3d. 

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 4b

Step 4c Open the units with the right sides up. Ensure that log 2 is in the 3 o'clock position (2 on the block assembly diagram).

Finger press the seam toward the log.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 4c

Step 4d Now stitch the first dark log to the 12 o'clock position (3 on the block assembly diagram) of the center square/light log unit.

Choose a dark fabric strip. Place it, vertically right side up onto your cutting mat.

Place center square/light log unit, right side down, on top of the jellyroll strip, near the top end of it.

At your sewing machine, lead with the log just sewn.

Sew the unit to the strip using a 1/4 inch seam along the right side of the strips.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 4d

Step 4e Trim the excess fabric. Open the units with the right sides up. Ensure that the first dark leg (3 on the block assembly diagram) is in the 12 o'clock position.

Finger press the seam toward the outer log.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 4e

Step 4f Now stitch the second dark log to the 9 o'clock position (4 on the block assembly diagram) of the center square/light log unit.

Choose a dark fabric strip (can be the same print fabric strip or a different dark strip). Place it, vertically right side up onto your cutting mat.

Place center square/light log unit, right side down, on top of the jellyroll strip, near the top end of it.

At your sewing machine, lead with the log just sewn.

Sew the unit to the strip using a 1/4 inch seam along the right side of the strips.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 4f

Step 4g Trim the excess fabric. Open the units with the right sides up. Ensure that the second dark leg (4 on the block assembly diagram) is in the 9 o'clock position.

Finger press the seam toward the outer log.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 4g

This completes Round 1. Your log cabin quilt block should measure 6 1/2 inches square at this point.

Step 5a Repeat Steps 3a - 4g to stitch a second round (logs 5, 6, 7, and 8) of logs.

To start the second round of logs, choose a light fabric strip, different from those already used. Starting at the 6 o'clock position (5 on the block assembly diagram) stitch log 5 to the Round 1 logs. Trim. Finger press the seam toward the outer log.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 5a

Step 5b Choose a light fabric strip. Stitch the second light log of Round 2 to the Round 1 logs at the 3 o'clock position (6 on the block assembly diagram). Trim. Finger press the seam toward the outer log.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Steps 5b - d

Step 5c Refer to above photo in Step 5b. Choose a dark fabric strip and stitch it to the Round 1 logs at the 12 o'clock position (7 on the block assembly diagram). Trim. Finger press the seam toward the outer log.

Step 5d Refer to above photo in Step 5b. Choose a dark fabric strip and stitch it to the Round 1 logs at the 9 o'clock position (8 on the block assembly diagram). Trim. Finger press the seam toward the outer log.

This completes Round 2. Your block should measure 10 1/2 inches square at this point.

Step 6 Repeat Steps 3a - 4g to add a third round of logs (numbers 9, 10, 11 and 12 on the log cabin quilt block assembly diagram). You will get a 14 1/2 inch log cabin block.

Log Cabin Quilt Block Step 6

Step 7 Press the entire log cabin quilt block with an iron.

Here's a picture of the backside of the block. It show the seams pressed away from the center square.

Backside of Log Cabin Quilt Block

Bonus Log Cabin Quilt Blocks

For both of the blocks below, two rounds of logs stitched around a 4 inch center square makes a 12 1/2 inch unfinished block (12 inch finished block).

The difference between the blocks is how the 4 inch center square is constructed: In Block 1 two (2 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch) strips are used and in Block 2 one charm square is used.

12 Inch Log Cabin Block No 1

To construct a 12 inch log cabin quilt block using only jelly rolls,

1 Make the center square by stitching two 2 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch strips together along the lengthwise edges to make a 4 inch finished size center square. I used two different fabrics with a white background and red print.

2 Then, stitch two rounds of 2 1/2 inch wide strips for logs around the center as shown in the above instructions.

12 inch log cabin quilt block made of only 2 1/2 inch strips

12 Inch Log Cabin Block No 2

Another option for making a 12 inch log cabin quilt block is to use a charm square (5 inch) as the center square.

1 Trim a charm square to 4 1/2 inches square.

2 Add two rounds of logs using 2 1/2 inch strips (jelly roll strips).

This results in a  12 1/2 inch (unfinished size) block.

12 inch log cabin quilt block made with a charm square and 2 1/2 inch strips

As you can see using jelly rolls (2 1/2 inch strips) to make a log cabin block results in a big block pretty quickly.

You can whip up a lap or queen-size quilt in no time! To see what the 14 1/2 inch size block would look like in a quilt, try this traditional log cabin quilt pattern.

Looking for an edgy take on the beloved quilt block - try the wonky log cabin block.


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