History of Log Cabin Quilts
If you ask quilters to name their top three quilt blocks, we would guess that the Log Cabin block would make the list of most quilters. It is a perennial favorite and one of the most versatile quilt blocks. Read about its history here.
Log Cabin blocks usually start with a square. Strips are added around the square, often with two sides being of lighter fabrics and the other two sides of darker prints. A red center square was thought to symbolize the hearth of the home, and a yellow center was believed to represent light shining through the window.
In the latter part of the 19th century many Log Cabin quilts were made using fabric scraps that were popular during that time including silk, velvet, wool, and satin. Because the fabrics were of different weights they were difficult to sew together. Quilters stared using a foundation, usually muslin, to sew pieces together to make blocks. When it came time to sew blocks together to make a quilt top, the thickness of the blocks and foundation made quilting the tops difficult. Some quilts made during this time did not have batting, again because of the thickness, and many were tied instead of quilted.
As we moved into the 20th century, shirtings in mourning gray, indigo, and claret along with plaids were fabrics that quilters were using to make Log Cabin blocks. The 1930s introduced pastels for a totally different look.
Depending on the orientation of the blocks and the placement of the dark and light sides, names for the Log Cabin setting can include Sunshine and Shadow, Streak of Lightning, Barn Raising, Straight Furrow, Chevron, and Straight set.
Today, there are many books, specialty rulers, dies for die cutting systems, and plastic templates that have been developed to make Log Cabin blocks. There are also many variations including the Pineapple, Courthouse Steps, and twisted and curved versions. Instead of a center square, you can also use a rectangle, triangle, or hexagons as the center.