Modern Log Cabin Quilt

March 3, 2015

When I first decided that I wanted to return to quilting, I wanted to create a piece which had been floating around in the back of my mind for awhile.  Modern Log Cabin Quilt

Several years ago I had been to an exhibit at The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut which included a “potholder” quilt from around the Civil War.  A potholder quilt is created by quilting and binding individual blocks before whip stitching them together to form a quilt.  This technique was popular during the US Civil War for group quilts made to send to soldiers.  Each person working on the project could piece, quilt, and bind individual blocks.  When the group would meet, they could whip stitch the blocks together and quickly produce a finished quilt.

This quilting technique would work well in a modern context because:

  • The individually bound blocks naturally create a quilt which has a design on both the front and back of the quilt- Its like getting two quilts for the work of one!
  • Since much of the design comes from the binding of the blocks, you can really show off some of those gorgeous fabrics that are available to us now.
  • It is completely plausible to quilt even the largest quilts on a domestic sewing machine using this technique since you are only quilting a small portion at a time.
Modern Log Cabin Front View

Front View of “Modern Log Cabin”

I wanted my first project using this method to be fairly straightforward, but I didn’t want to go with a super traditional layout of square blocks either.  I landed on the idea of creating a modern Log Cabin block on a large scale.  Each “log” is its own bound block.

First, I drafted the layout for the quilt.  I planned accent strips (the orange stripes in the finished quilt) to add visual interest and create a natural place to seam fabric together for “logs” longer than the width of the fabric.  (I always try to design in necessary seams when I can!)/Users/cassandra_ireland/Desktop/Portfolio/Misc. Projects/Quilt

Originally, I planned to unite the front and back of the quilt by making the accent pieces the same color as the reverse side of the quilt.  While selecting fabrics, I decided that both sides of the quilt wanted a jolt of color.  I went with an orange from Carolyn Friedlander’s collection since it worked well with both the grey and the blue sides of the quilt./Users/cassandra_ireland/Desktop/Portfolio/Misc. Projects/Quilt

For the quilting design I used straight line quilting paired with radiating arcs.Modern Log Cabin Quilting Detail

The binding is cut on the straight grain and each side is bound individually (rather than with mitered corners) as a nod to how quilts were sometimes bound in potholder quilts.  Side note- I still prefer doing bias with mitered corners.  I seriously considered how to join the blocks.  The traditional method would be hand whip stitching (I did this on the quilt Low Volume Fail, Pastel Win), but I wanted to experiment with using a sewing machine, so I selected a triple zig zag stitch.  Modern Log Cabin Detail

This quilt came together pretty easily, and I am really happy with the result.  I finished this quilt back in September, but I hadn’t gotten around to sharing it yet.  Today seemed to be a good day to share because I recently found out that this quilt will be exhibited in the Modern Quilt Category at the American Quilter’s Society Show in Paducah, Kentucky this April!  I have been to this show a few times (and as a high school student had a couple of garments in the fashion show there), but this is the first time I have had a quilt in a major show.  This was an awesome surprise since I almost didn’t enter this quilt!  (I had also entered Low Volume Fail, Pastel Win, which was not accepted even though I thought that it would have a much better chance.  It is so hard to tell what each show is looking for in a given year.  For now, I guess I will keep entering shows with a couple different style quilts and just see what happens- It can’t hurt, right?)

Back View of "Modern Log Cabin"

Back View of “Modern Log Cabin”

Quilt Stats

Title:  Modern Log Cabin

Size:  53″x63″

Techniques:  Bound Blocks (Potholder Technique), Machine Pieced and Quilted

Quilting:  Straight Line and Radiating Arcs

Fabric:  Assorted Cotton Prints

Batting:  Warm and Natural Cotton Batting

Thread:  White Cotton Machine Quilting Thread

Binding:  Cotton print, cut on grain in 2″ wide strips, machine stitched to the front, hand stitched to the back

What was new:

  • Bound block technique
  • On grain binding
  • Binding each side individually (no miters)

I’ll be linking this quilt post up with Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts, Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation, and Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  Please take a few moments to stop in and see all of the lovely projects being shared!


  • Reply
    Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
    March 3, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Congratulations on having this quilt selected to be shown at Paducah! That is awesome! 🙂 I really enjoy the thought and care you put into your designs, such as where seams are required and adding in a pop of color at that location. Also, matching up the print pattern across the seam is another wonderful detail.

  • Reply
    March 3, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    The method sounds so interesting and your quilt looks really cool. Congrats on having it in the show.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2015 at 10:30 am

    This is a really interesting post – I really like how your quilt turned out and loved all the detail of how you made it and why you made the decisions you did.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I like both sides of your Modern Log Cabin. The accents are really nice.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    That’s a fascinating technique. I love seeing a modern quilt giving a nod to history. I think the orange makes it. Congratulations!

  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Congrats on Paducah!! That is awesome, and this is a spectacular quilt! The details are amazing, from the way the quilting draws the eye from piece to piece to the fabric choices, simply wonderful!

    I have done a couple QAYG quilts and joined them as you did. I used a straight stitch on both sides so it looked like top stitching. I really like the triple zigzag stitch you did. Will have to keep that in mind 🙂

  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 11:34 am

    This is a gorgeous quilt…the colors, the quilting are just beautiful.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Your quilt is absolutely beautiful. Well done!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I’d never heard of pot holder quilts. Very interesting. Your modern interpretation turned out beatifully.

  • Reply
    Modern Log Cabin is Back! | The (not so) Dramatic Life
    May 6, 2015 at 9:52 am

    […] “Modern Log Cabin” has spent the last few weeks in Paducah for judging and exhibition in the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week show.  It was exciting to have one of my quilts hanging in a national show, and I was so glad that I was able to go see it there.  (I will be posting more about the show as I work my way through the photos I have taken.) […]

  • Reply
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    July 20, 2015 at 7:50 am

    […] Modern Log Cabin is the first quilt that I made after I returned to quilting last year.  It is a “potholder” style quilt that reverses from grey to blue.  This quilt was exhibited at the AQS show in Paducah earlier this year and will also be in the Modern Quilt categories at Grand Rapids and Chattanooga. […]

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