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Paper Piecing a Log Cabin Quilt Block

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Start Paper Piecing with a Log Cabin Quilt Block Pattern
Paper Piecing a Log Cabin Quilt Block

Log cabin block and log cabin template, color values marked (mirror image).

© Janet Wickell
The best way to learn paper piecing is to start making paper pieced quilt blocks. My Log Cabin quilt block pattern is a good place to start, because its rectangular patches are a bit easier for beginners to position than the triangles found in other paper pieced patterns.

Most people use the term paper piecing when talking about this technique, but it's actually a method that falls under the umbrella of foundation piecing -- where fabrics are sewn onto permanent or temporary foundations.

Read my paper piecing basic instructions before making the log cabin if you aren't familiar with the technique, and then gather your supplies and start sewing.

Paper Pieced Log Cabin Template

Download the log cabin template. The instructions are for the 6-inch finished log cabin block on page 1, but you'll find an extra 3-inch block on page 2. Print the template onto lightweight paper or another foundation material, and then cut it out, but leave a little excess around the outermost edges.

Log Cabin Block Fabrics

Traditional log cabin blocks are assembled with a split color value arrangement, lights on one side and darks on the other. A few traditional layout options are illustrated on page 8 and offer a preview of the dramatic arrangements that can be created with log cabin quilt blocks.

Choose a scrappy assortment of light fabrics and another assortment of dark fabrics. Fabrics can vary within each assortment, but try to keep values (contrast) consistent for each group.

Log cabin blocks sometimes have a red center to represent the "heart" of the cabin. Choose red or any other color you wish to use for centers.

Cutting instructions allow a 1/4" seam allowance around each piece, but it's fine to use slightly larger pieces from your fabric stash, especially for your first paper pieced quilt block.

Mark the the template so that you'll remember which block half is dark and which half is light.

  1. Cut a 1-1/2" square for the block center.

  2. Cut several 1-inch wide strips from dark and light fabrics. Strips that are at least 7-inches long will work in any position, but shorter strips will work for short logs.

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