Easy Log Cabin Quilts
Cutting Strips for Making Blocks
this is part 2 of article

part 1 -  part 3 - part 4  - part 5

   This is part two of the log cabin article:
How to cut strips for making 12" log cabin blocks in both the traditional log cabin arrangement and the courthouse steps arrangement.  Log Cabin quilt top layouts are shown on following pages to show some of the many possibilities.

log cabin block button

Tip: Make one or two blocks individually first as shown and then start doing chain piecing to make 4 to 8 or more at a time for faster assembly. (It's actually fun to do a batch at a time and suddenly the pile of finished blocks grows quickly.)

Fabric and the Cutting the Strips
(See the table below to decide how many blocks you will make for your quilt).

Note: All fabric should be washed and ironed prior to cutting.

1. Look at the sample blocks and layouts in part 3 and 4 of this article and think about a color scheme. Your scheme can be loose since having some oddball pieces of fabric in your blocks makes them more exciting when your quilt is assembled. You may choose to just do "light and dark" fabrics from your stash and totally ignore the actual colors and only focus on the contrast between the fabrics.

2. Choose a color or fabric for your center square in the blocks. These can be the traditional red or toss tradition out the window and pick a bold color (or several colors). You might want to "fussy cut" an image from a novelty fabric for the center. For the center you will cut total length of strips 3.5 inches wide according to the table at the bottom of this page. Or if you are using odd sized scraps  cut the number of squares of 3.5 x 3.5 inches to match the number of blocks you plan to make. Put these aside. [If you are new to strip cutting see these tips on using a rotary cutter and cutting strips.]

[Tip: Get 2 ladderback chairs, a wooden clothes rack, or anything that will be handy to hang your cut strips from and keep them from getting tangled and wrinkled.]

3. Start cutting 2 inch strips from the various fabrics you will use for your blocks. As you cut them sort them into two groups by either contrast (light - dark) or into color families if you choose to do so. If your fabric is full width your strips will be 2 in. x 42", but if your fabric is in odd sizes you will have 2" x assorted lengths and that is fine, too. You need not cut all the strips at once, but cut a variety so you can sew 1-2 blocks to test.

I've shown some small block numbers in the table below. Perhaps you want to just make a 2 x 2 (24" square) pillow top to practice?

Strip Yardage Table for Log Cabin layout in above small sample block:
The table below shows how many yards of cut strips are needed for various size block arrangements. Strip A and B fabrics are cut 2 inches wide for our 12" blocks. Strip A fabrics (which are Yellow in the above little sample block) is the fabric color strips you start with and forms the first short side next to the center. You need a little less of the colors in side A. Strip B yardage indicates the fabrics which up the other side (Blues in the little block above). The Center fabric strips are 3.5 inches wide and are cut into one 3.5" x 3.5" center square for each block.

I have added an extra 10% to all yardages in this table for safety. There is a lot of estimating when doing these types of log cabin layouts. I've estimated on the safe side, but if you start with a lot of short pieces you may have more waste.

Don't try to try to be super accurate measuring the yards of strips - I like to mark a yard on the edge of my ironing board cover and just quickly use that to estimate yardage.

  How many 
yards of cut strips
are needed for log cabin layout?

for  size  # blocks yards A  yards B yards center
12 x 12" 1 block 1.5 2 teeny
24 x 24" 4 (2 x 2)  5.5  6.75 scraps
36 x 36" 9 (3 x 3) 12.75  15.5 1.5
48 x 48" 16 (4 x 4) 22.5 27 2.0
60 x 72" 30 (5 x 6) 42.5  51 3.5
84 x 84' 49 (7 x 7) 69.5 83 5.75

log cabin - courthouse steps button

Strip Yardage for Courthouse Steps Arrangement
The strip requirements are slightly different between A and B for the courthouse steps style block seen just above and in the animated block version lower on this page. The total amount of strips is the same, but a little less of A (shown here in blues) and a little more of B (shown here in yellows) is needed. Again, "A" is the fabric with which you start sewing the shorter pieces on each side of the center square.

  How many 
yards of cut strips
 are needed
for Courthouse Steps layout?

for  size  # blocks yards  A yards  B yards  center
12 x 12" 1 block 1.25 1.75 teeny
24 x 24" 4 (2 x 2)  5 7.5 scraps
36 x 36" 9 (3 x 3) 11.5 16.5 1.5
48 x 48" 16 (4 x 4) 20.5 29.5 2.0
60 x 72" 30 (5 x 6) 38 55 3.5
84 x 84' 49 (7 x 7) 62.5 90 5.75

How many 2" strips in a yard of fabric? 
If you are buying new fabric, or cutting from full width fabric you can figure on getting 17 strips from a yard fabric after washing depending on shrinkage. (If you have a slightly generous yard you may get more and if your fabric shrank a little more than average or was not cut straight you may have only 14-16). Each of these strips will be 40-42" long, so 17 x 42" = 714 inches, or about 19-20 yds of strips from one yard of fabric. Some fabric these days is coming narrower than 40" and you may be lucky and find some 45", so be sure to multiply by the width you have after washing.

The Other Parts to this Log Cabin Article:

Page one - the introduction
This Page two - how much fabric and cutting the strips
Page three - sewing the blocks in two styles
Page four - log cabin style blocks: sample quilt layouts
Page five: courthouse steps style blocks: sample quilt layouts

AND: For more information and links 
to Log Cabin quilt ideas 
and block patterns :



2003-2006 copyright Susan C. Druding

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