Quilt Patterns

Log Cabin Quilts

irish chain quilt

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The log cabin quilts are perhaps some of the most famous patterns that a quiltmaker can use in his or her creation. Log cabin quilts are just one repeated design used over and over to fill the length and width of your comforter. The center of log cabin quilts is usually a square and then strips are sewn around it following a specific sequence of light and dark colors.

Quilters have been creating log cabin quilts for ages and have even taken them into the digital age. Computer programs can help a quilter create a new design for log cabin quilters just as he or she can for any other type of quilting design.

The skill level of a quilter does not particularly matter when you are talking about log cabin quilts because they can be made to fit the novice or the expert. Sewing log cabin designs can be addictive for some quilters as they try to expand on their log repertoire.

Log cabin quilts come in various patterns and designs. It can be fascinating to view as even though the log cabin design and pattern may be the same, each quilter brings something different to the fabric. They come in all shapes and sizes and can even go on quilts, pillows, bags, clothing and bedspreads or a blanket.

History of Log Cabin Quilts

Some quilters believe that the log cabin quilt did not reach its first peak in popularity until the American Civil War. Since President Abraham Lincoln grew up in a cabin, this style of quilt designs could be seen as homage to the head of the Union during the war. They were often sold during raffles to raise money for the war effort.

While this may be true, log cabin quilts can be seen throughout history including the ancient Egyptians. In the tombs of the pyramids in Egypt, the log cabin design can be seen on mummified objects. The pattern can also be seen in Asia and the Middle East in their textiles and carvings.

Despite its European, Asian and even African roots, the log cabin quilts are considered very American in its design. Even quilters across the Atlantic and Pacific are taught that these types of designs represent a log cabin nestled on a prairie somewhere in the United States.

Older quilts were usually pieced together using fabric foundations. They did not necessarily concern themselves with color coordination, but instead overall pattern. The log cabin quilts could even look a little rough because of this lack of attention to color and the narrow strips of fabrics that a quiltmaker would use.

The different types of log cabin fabrics that used to be used by quilters would actually require that the quilt be hand tied instead of sewn on the end. This is because the fabric was very thick and when it was combined with more fabric, it made the quilts even harder to sew by hand. Some quilters will tie their log cabin quilts now, but given the variety of fabrics available, it is easier to sew the ends together.

No matter where you think they originated or what style looks the best, these quilts have long been popular and continue to be so in part due to its easy piecing technique.

Make Your Quilts Unique

Just because log cabin quilts consist of a repeated pattern or design, does not mean that you cannot make your quilt unique. The way you lay out your rows can lead to several different types of patterns.

Types of patterns for your quilts include:

  • Courthouse steps
  • Barn raising
  • Amish crib
  • Straight set
  • Roof pattern
  • Canadian logwork

Using different size blocks is a great way to set your quilts apart as well as give it extra dimension. This can make for a beautiful wallhanging or bedspread for your home or to give as a gift. Some quilters will even employ a zigzag design for their quilt to give it a different type of look and feel.

There seems to be a thousand ways blocks can be pieced together to make a log cabin quilt, it just takes a creative mind to keep finding new ways like using scraps, paper quilt techniques and various patterns.

A really neat twist on the log cabin quilts design is just that - twisted. By using over 40 fabrics and 8 colors, quilters are finding new ways to twist the old design. Instead of the design spreading across the quilt, it spirals out almost giving the illusion of movement, which is pretty cool when you think about it just being static fabric hanging on a wall or laying on your couch.

Like any other quilts design or pattern, it is up to the quilter to make it special. Anyone can follow a one, two, three step manual, but a true artist will bring something new to even the oldest of designs. Beginners should not be intimidated by tackling one of America's most favorite quilt patterns, but instead be encouraged to do what they feel and try to see what they are capable. Experts could follow the same message as they expand their quilting experience with every twist of a square and spin of a new row of fabric.

Designs and patterns can be found online for you to try or you may want to look at a quilt book or take a course. Most community colleges offer a course and even your local recreation department may have a crafts class that goes over the basics of quilting.

Dream in Color

Color is important for all quilts, but this type of design pays particular interest to the colors it uses. More often than not, this type of design will use a red square in the middle and this is supposed to represent the warmth that a fire provides in a home. Color is a powerful tool to relay an emotion. The warmth of the red is just one example.

The use of color in log cabin quilts usually involves a strong mix of light and dark color contrast. Even the patterns used by the Egyptians would include the standard light and dark color motif. That means you need to understand what colors compliment each other so you can make the design appropriately.

You could use a mixture of primary and secondary colors. The secondary colors are green, purple and green. Secondary colors are made by mixing the primary colors of red, blue and yellow together in even amounts.

How you place your strips of color fabric throughout the quilt will also add to your design. One way to make the pattern appear twisted, as stated above, is by using your colors affectively. The placement of color can help bring your log cabin quilts to life and give it a specific meaning.

The important thing with log cabin quilts is to choose colors that contrast each other well. You could mix red, light pink, flower patterns and a deep burgundy with a brown base to give your quilt a rich feel for example. Colors can be welcoming or they can give you distance. Soft and cool colors provide those experiences respectively.