Saturday, November 23, 2013

How To Make A Scrappy Log Cabin Doll Quilt

As I wait for the embroidery to be done on the
 Annabelle book (her machine is in the
shop, so it may be a while) I thought I'd
tackle my scraps & make a doll quilt in my
favorite pattern, the traditional Log Cabin. 
 The Log Cabin block became very popular with quilt
 makers in the 1860's during the Civil War. 
Possibly connected to President Lincoln, as he grew up
in a log cabin and embodied the pioneer spirit.
 The traditional block is made using strips (logs)
 around a central red square.  The red square signifies the
hearth of the cabin.  If a yellow square is used, that's the
 light in the window, to help a soldier find his way home.
Folklore says that a Log Cabin quilt with a black
center hanging on a clothes line indicated a stop
on the Underground Railroad.  The traditional Log Cabin
block has a light side and a dark side.  The light side
represents the good or joyful side of life.  The dark side
represents the sad or unhappy times.  These quilts were
often tied together.  The ties signify the love of family that
 ties and binds us together.  So much meaning in a
simple little quilt block.
 I made my quilt with a technique called strip quilting.
All you need is a cutting mat, rotary cutter,
& a quilters lip edged ruler.  To me, it's a small
investment for years of easy quilt making!

I learned this very easy method from the book
Quilt In A Day by Eleanor Burns.  It has simple
 clear instructions with lots of photos.  It also has charts
for making all sizes of quilts, amounts of fabric needed,
 different patterns for setting the blocks together and how
to bind your quilt.  Here's a link to her site.
Quilt In A Day
If you want to try quilting but are afraid it's too
 difficult, this is the book I recommend.
The book is also available at Amazon.
The following is an introduction to strip quilting,
 just to show you how easy it is, not detailed
This is the traditional block, it has a center square
and 12 strips.  Strips are added to the center
square in numerical order from 1 to 12.
This chart shows the position of the different
fabrics too.  I hang this on the wall when I'm
making a quilt.

My strips. (1 1/2 inches wide)

 If I was buying fabric, I would choose fabrics that
were much lighter for the light side of the block.  I'm using
 scraps, so I didn't have a great deal of choice.  I used
browns for my light side & greens for my dark side.
This is a scrappy quilt. 
I make a chart with fabric swatches.  This
 chart goes on the wall too......I'm old, I need visual aids!

I had just enough of this red to
make 16 squares.
On the light side...
 The first light is the lightest brown,
the 2nd light is a medium brown
 & the 3rd light is the darkest brown.
On the dark side....
The first dark is the lightest green,
the 2nd dark is the medium green,
the 3rd dark is the darkest green.
I use a gray thread for scrap quilts, (it looks blue
here) and ugly duck tape to mark my 1/4 seam
allowance.  It's thick so I can butt my fabric
right up next to it.  I helps me sew an exact seam. 
Start with the red square and the #1 first light.

Sew the strips together.

Iron to the dark side, cut the blocks apart.
(Same width as the strips)

Stack them up.

Next is #2, another first light.

 This is the placement for #2.

Here's the fun & fast part of strip quilting.
 Sew the center red and #1 onto the #2 strips.
Butt them together and keep sewing,

till all 16 are sewn on.

Iron to the side, cut apart, stack them up.
  Move on to number #3, a first dark.
Again, butt them together and keep sewing.

Press, cut apart and stack'em up.

Next is #4 another first dark.

 The chart is real handy for keeping it all straight.

Continue adding each successive strip in numerical order.

In no time, all the blocks are done!
Fast and so easy.
They look like this on the back.

The larger the quilt, the more ways to set the
blocks together.  This pattern is All Sevens.
(All the blocks are facing the same way.)
Sew the blocks into rows.
Sew the rows together.
Do you see the one block that's wrong?
My pet peeve, taking stitches out.

I used muslin for the back, and cotton batting.

I pinned the layers together and tied them with
embroidery thread.

I put ties in the center of each red square and the
corners where the blocks fit together.

I tied a couple of square knots
and cut them off. 

I added the binding and hemmed the back.
This little scrappy quilt is 25 inches square,
 just the right size for a little girl's doll. 

Here's a link to a prior post
that shows how to bind and finish a quilt.
How To Make A Scrappy Nine Patch Dolly Quilt
 Here are a few examples of quilts made from
 the traditional Log Cabin block.  A definite light and
dark side can make a beautiful distinct pattern.

 Full size scrap quilt, blocks set in
the Barn Raising pattern with 3 borders.
(I actually wore some of that fabric.)

Breast cancer memory quilt.  This was a special
request.   Full size, blocks set in the Barn Raising
pattern 3 borders.

 The light side was made from just one fabric.

Twin size, blocks set in All Sevens pattern
with 2 borders.

 The dark side made with one fabric.

 Baby quilt.  Blocks set in All Sevens
pattern, 4 small borders.

Light side made with one fabric.

I hope this introduction to strip quilting
inspires you to make a quilt.
Do you have scraps lurking in a box or bag?
Are they longing to see sunlight? 
Happy Sewing!


  1. Log Cabin is one of my favorite blocks too. I love the history behind it.

  2. Oh the very LAST thing I need to do is take up quilting, but yes, you have inspired me. I love visiting your blog--it's like getting a favorite magazine in the mail. Your scrap log cabin quilt is a work of art, and one of the best parts is your use of the colors/patterns you were limited to.

  3. Beautiful quilts. I love all of them. I don't quilt either, but love them. thank you for showing how to make the log cabin quilt. So much work, but what a treasure you have when you make one of these.

  4. I really am going to do this one of these days! But, I need to finish the Z doll before I dive in. Your directions are so good; just know I can't mess up. This post is another one for your book; can't wait to get mine!

  5. I really *love* the fabrics you used in your dolly quilt. Where do you get your fabrics from?

  6. Mary, The fabrics for this little quilt were left overs from my dolls clothing. I use only 1800's reproduction fabrics. Some of these fabrics came from a local quilt store that has a small but nice reproduction fabrics section. Sometimes they put them in fat quarters, which work very nicely for a little quilt. I actually purchase most of my fabrics on line. Just Google 1800's reproduction fabrics and you should be able to find lots of places that sell them. I've ordered from several places and have had no problems. Most of my fabrics are small prints as they are used for little clothes. Repo fabrics can be expensive so I try to find them on sale. Good luck!


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