How to Quilt a Log Cabin Block

Kimberlee Tanner

We are now on block 2 for our year long Online Quilting Bee and this week we are sharing quilting ideas on how to finish your log cabin block. These ideas will translate to any log cabin blocks you make and are easily adaptable. If you want to sketch along, you can save the blank block photos below and print them out to sketch your own quilting designs.


As I post these videos, my goal is to help you see different ways you can approach blocks, there is no right or wrong way to quilt a quilt! Take what I show and adapt it to fit your favorite designs or ones you are comfortable with, or just use them as inspiration and a starting point to create  your own unique plan.

Quilting Plan 1

The first design quilts each of the different sections of the log cabin block individually. This is probably the most obvious way to approach the block. When doing this, you can mix and match any of your favorite border designs. You can pick a different design for each section, or keep things more simple and repeat or alternate the designs. I like to pick a few designs and repeat, simply so I don’t have to come up with as many different options. This design can make things busier in the log cabin block, so I kept things simple and just used straight lines in the background This is a great technique to use and can keep your eye focused on the log cabins and not competing with the background.

Quilting Plan 2

With this design, I opted to treat the entire log cabin section as one piece and quilt it all together. With this approach, I’m going to ignore all the seams between the sections. I chose a feather to fill in all the different spaces. In the background, I chose to use diagonal lines to add a nice frame to the block. Instead of doing even spaced ones, I mixed it up and did a few lines together, then left a wider space before the next set.

Quilting Plan 3

For the final design, I wanted to break the block up in a completely new way. As I was looking at it, I saw each of the different colors as a single element, so I planned the final quilting plan around that. First I started with the yellow, and added lines that connected behind the shape. Then, moving up a layer, I designed the quilting for the light green section, again, connected it behind the center cross. I also decided to throw in a diamond and quilt different elements inside the diamond and outside of it. This really made that center cross stand out. Finally, I chose an element for that center cross. First, I added the diagonal lines across the center, this then gave a base for adding more all the way out, simply echoing that same shape. For the background, I echoed around the log cabin twice, leaving a channel that will help separate the elements, Finally, a little repetition brings the pebbles back and I filled in the remaining space.

Whole Quilt Plans

Any time you have lots of negative space behind a quilt, it’s a great opportunity to really play up that area. These negative space areas are often done in solids or simpler prints, and this can be an opportunity to really let your quilting stand out. When approaching a quilt in this way,  I always look for ways to break up the negative space and then I simply need to fill in those areas. In the first design, I drew in a diamond between the log cabin blocks. I worked within the shapes that were there and then filled things in. In the second one, I connected them together and created different squares. I  ignored the fabric shapes somewhat, connecting them to the background with the quilting.

The best way to get more comfortable creating quilting plans is to do lots of sketching and practice! If you want to sketch quilting designs for your log cabin block, simply save the blank photos before and print them out, then sketch away! If you aren’t liking the way something is going, save what you do like, and start again. After you create a plan, it also makes it easier to work around the quilt and actually quilt it, cause you know where you are going next.

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