The most versatile of the log cabin quilt block designs is the basic block, which often has one diagonal light side, contrasted with a darker side. This block can be used in many layouts. [Link to Log Cabin Quilt Layout Variations.] It is made by sewing strips together around a center square. More complicated basic squares can have many concentric strip sections or use thinner strips. The blocks can be made in any size you like–if you want a large block, you just follow the basic steps, adding strips until it is the size you want. Today, many people make basic log cabin squares using pre-cut 2.5-inch strips called “jelly rolls” or “strip sets”. Using the pre-cut strips saves a great deal of cutting time.
This is what the most common log cabin block looks like. It has a central square, with diagonal sides of contrasting colors.
Below you will find one of many free basic log cabin quilt block patterns available. Because it is such a popular block, many printed patterns and books are available on Amazon. Many of these books will include common and special layouts, we well as tell you how much fabric you will need to complete each quilt. These books include the basic log cabin quilt block, as well as its many variations. Log Cabin Quilt Block Patterns and Books
Tutorials for Making Basic Log Cabin Quilt Blocks and Using them in a Quilt
Donna Jordan from Jordan Fabrics has a great instructional video using pre-cut 2.5-inch strips: Log Cabin Quilt from a Jelly Roll Tutorial Here is her pattern: Log Cabin Quilt from a Jelly Roll Pattern Even if you do not use her pattern, her instructions on sewing a basic log cabin block are excellent.
National Quilters Circle has another excellent tutorial using a slightly different pattern and an alternate construction method. The instructor uses scraps for her quilt, without paying attention to dark and light sides of the quilt: Log Cabin Quilt Squares with Scraps
Basic Quilt Block Tools
You could create your log cabin quilt block with a standard ruler, plastic or metal right-angle triangle, pencil, scissors, and needle and thread, but using a sewing machine, iron, and special quilting rulers, mats, and cutting tools can make your hobby quite a bit faster and easier.
The most basic quilting tools are a [finish this with list format].
There are several tools available to help you make perfect basic log cabin quilt blocks. These tools are readily available from Amazon and eBay. Below, I have described each item and provided a link to Amazon and a corresponding link to YouTube tutorials where available.
Log Cabin Quilt Block-Specific Tools
For many years, people have been making log cabin quilts without the use of log cabin-specific tools, but having at least one tool can make your blocks not only faster and easier, but more precise too. Precision in making blocks makes putting your quilt together much easier. If you decide you want to use a tool, figure out which size of block you want to make, and pick a tool that is made for that size. I have not used all of the tools, but there are some which seem to work better than others. Take a look at these tools, watch the tutorials, and buy or save up for the ones that will work best for you.
I highly recommend Creative Grids products. Because they have dots which grip the fabric better, the rulers are less likely to shift while cutting. I used to have problems with shifting rulers, but ever since I started using Creative Grids products, I have had no problems.
4in Creative Grids® Log Cabin Trim Tool – CGRJAWMN4
4in Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool With this trim tool, you can do multiple styles of traditional log cabin blocks (basic, courthouse steps, and half log cabin) all of which measure 4″. 4in Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool Tutorial
6in Creative Grids® Log Cabin Trim Tool – CGRJAWMN6
6in Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool With this trim tool, you can do multiple styles of traditional log cabin blocks (basic, courthouse steps, and half log cabin) all of which measure 6″. 6in Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool Tutorial
8in Creative Grids® Log Cabin Trim Tool – CGRJAW1
8in Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool The designer of the trim tool is the instructor in this video. She gives additional instructions on how to use scraps with the trim tool. These instructions also apply to the 4″, 6″, and 6″/12″ trim tools. With this tool, you can do multiple styles of traditional log cabin blocks (basic, courthouse steps, and half log cabin) which measure 8″. 8in Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool Tutorial
Creative Grids® Log Cabin Trim Tool Two (for both 6″ and 12″ blocks) – CGRJAW
This tool is very versatile. You can use it to make both 6″ and 12″ log cabin blocks. With just one tool, you can make log cabin quilts that include both sizes of blocks. In this video, the designer gives additional instructions on how to use scraps with the trim tool. These instructions also apply to the 4″, 6″, and 8″ trim tools. With this tool, you can do multiple styles of traditional log cabin blocks (basic, courthouse steps, and half log cabin) which measure 6″ and 12″. Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool Two Tutorial
Marti Michell Rulers
Marti Michell rulers help you cut the correct lengths of strips for use in log cabin quilts. I have listed the rulers first. Following the rulers, you will find the tutorials.
Marti Michell Tutorials
Marti Michell has a four-part series on how to use her rulers to make log cabin quilts:
Quilt in a Day
Quilt in a Day Log Cabin Ruler
The Original Log Cabin Ruler by Quilt in a Day – Companion to The 6th Edition Log Cabin Book by Eleanor Burns
This is an earlier version of the Quilt in a Day Ruler.
I could not find a YouTube tutorial for this ruler, however, there is a companion pattern book: Make a Quilt in a Day 6th Edition Log Cabin Book by Eleanor Burns