Log Cabin Blocks: Three Basic Tips to Help You Make this Traditional Block Easier
Today we're going to tackle the log cabin block and help guide you through some common mistakes. Anybody that has completed a log cabin block knows that it's not hard to be left with a block that is too small or one that is just plain wonky and all the ironing in the world won't press it into a square. We have focused this blog on three important steps of any quilt project (cutting, sewing, and ironing) and what you can do to master the log cabin block. Let's get started.
Unless you're making a scrappy or string quilt, accuracy is very important. Always check your pattern or do the math (yes, the dreaded math) to figure out the size you need. We like to cut all the strips at once and arrange them on the sewing table in the order to be sewn.
In order for your log cabin block to end up as a perfect square, all seams must be consistent. We prefer a 1/4" seam while some sew a scant 1/4". Start with the center square and sew the strip on. Now rotate the piece and add the next strip, pressing after each strip. Rotate the section again the same direction and add another strip, making sure your seams are accurate.
Continue in this manner until you're finished. Sew, rotate, sew, press - that's it. Examine your finished piece after the final iron. If it's wonky, check your seams and use the first block as a guide. At this point, we like to do each step all at once by chain piecing all the blocks, then pressing all the blocks, and rotating and stacking all the strips to be sewn next. It saves time and is easier on the brain.
If you are off a tiny bit (and we do mean tiny), you can place the longer of the two on the bottom and the feed dogs will draw in the fabric as you sew, making it even. If you forget where the biggest piece goes, just remember "baggy bottom."
Ironing is VERY IMPORTANT. You have to press your fabric - there's just no getting around it (we know, we hate ironing too). The finished product is worth the effort. If you're exact on your cutting, consistent on 1/4" seams, then the pressing polishes off your project. Place the iron over the piece to set the seams, then slide the iron over the strip to flatten and shape.