« chain of custody | Main | anniversary sale »

partial seam/log cabin tutorial

The log cabin blocks I'm making for this quilt aren't "true" log cabins. 

These blocks are called ... uh ... hmm ... I can't remember what they're called!  And I can't seem to find it online or in any of my books.  Nutty nutbar.  If you know what this block is called, please tell me.  For now I'll call it a partial seam log cabin block.

Anyhow, if you look carefully at my block below you'll see that all 4 "logs" in each row around the center square are the same length rather than the small, medium, medium, large of a traditional log cabin block.

I think this block version isn't very common because partial seams are required.  And I'll come clean now by saying if I had to make this quilt all over again, I wouldn't bother doing it this way - I'd just go the regular log cabin route. 

But I got it in my head that because this quilt started with colours inspired by my blog header, I wanted to make it with a design that also references my banner. 

My first thought was to go with hexagons ... but I was afraid I might be overdosing ya'll on those, so I went with the little log cabin blocks - which I had just so happened to make this way.

There is method to my madness ... but madness it is. 

Seems like lots of you want to join me here in craycrayville and have asked me to show you how to make this log cabin block with partial seams.  I will warn you now that my small center squares are fiddly, but not impossible.  Okay?

To start, here are the cutting measurements I used:

  • Center square = 1-1/4" x 1-1/4"
  • First row logs = 1" x 1-3/4" 
  • Second row logs = 1" x 2-3/4"
  • Third row logs = 1" x 3-3/4"
  • Finished block size = 3-3/4".  (And my sashing strips are cut 1-1/4" wide, if you're interested.)

Step 1 - With right sides together, lay a 1-3/4" log on the center square, lining up the top edges.  Starting at the top edge, sew a 1/4" seam that is 5/8" long.  Do NOT sew to the end of the square.

(Other side so you can see how far down the square to sew.)

Step 2 - Press the log away from the middle, but only the section that has been stitched to the square.  Do NOT press the entire log ... you don't want a crease on the unstitched part of the log.

Step 3 - Add the second 1-3/4" log across the top edge.

Step 4 - Add the third 1-3/4" log to the left side.

Step 5 - Add the fourth 1-3/4" log to the bottom edge, tucking the first log out of the way.

Step 6 - Now you need to finish the partial seam for the first log.  But here's where it gets a little fiddly.  Because the center square is so small, getting the sewing machine needle into the right spot is tricky.

To make it easier, I cut a little slit in the seam allowance, about 2 stitches up from the end of the partial seam.  Now the partial seam lays flat and is easy to sew.

Complete sewing the seam.


The first "row" is done.

Step 7 - Repeat Steps 1 & 2 for the first 2-3/4" log.  This time, sew the partial seam about half way down the log.

Remember to only press the stitched portion of the log.

Step 8 - Add the second 2-3/4" log to the top edge.

Step 9 - Add the third 2-3/4" log to the left side.

Step 10 - Add the fourth 2-3/4" log to the bottom edge, keeping the first log out of the way.

Step 11 - Complete the partial seam and press.  The partial seam is easier to deal with this time because the seam is longer and there's enough room to stitch without clipping the seam allowance.

Step 12 - The third row - with 3-3/4" logs - goes on the same way as the second row.

And there you have it.

After a few of these blocks you'll be able to do partial seams in your sleep. 

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (38)

nice tutorial! pretty fabric also!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Fiddly {if thats a word} but oh so Pretty!!! Thanx for the tute :)
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkim
What's your address, so I can send "the men in white coats"? I think this really qualifies for "certifiable"....but it IS pretty.
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
wow thanks for the time to explain, I was a bit confused when you said it wasn't a traditional log cabin. but I vaguely remember making a block like this years ago for a sampler quilt and thinking "wow this is hard, sort of, but the look is fantastic" I love the outcome. It is worth the extra time I think. Not that I will do this myself in the near future but I absolutely love this version of log cabin. I think it is much purer than the other version. Delightful. thank you.
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternanette
They're beautiful!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArchiethewonderdog
I don't know what this block called either. But it looks pretty good and definitly worth the extra work:-)
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHildy
I think it is courthouse steps. Love the fabric selections.
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterT
Your work is perfection:)
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMonique
The block is sweet. Thanks for this tutorial. Not to mention all the beauty and laughter you give us so often!!!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarji
They are beautiful! But I might need chocolate (or a nap) after completing each block!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergreg
Courthouse steps you do opposite sides equal. No idea what it's called.
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSue B
I think it's called: "Variation on a log cabin block that only crazy people attempt."

It's beautiful, but i can guarantee I'll never make it! Uff da!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarge
I'm not a quilter, but so admire their beauty and the had work that goes into them.

August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSheila
LOVE the fabrics and colors you chose! It just makes me feel happy! Very impressive work!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSonya Mullis
Thanks for the tute. I don't think I've ever seen log cabin blocks sewn this way. I must try it sometime just for the challenge!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl
It looks like a variation of the Bright Hopes block. Same technique, just not as many "rounds."
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
we call it little wood house
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersabrina
Thank you so much for sharing this - I can't wait to try it out.
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline
Thank you! I've been curious as to how you make those. They're so pretty!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelodee
The most lovely log cabin blocks ever!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarla
Fabulous tuto and fabrics.Happy sewing!!
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrosa
I have fabric for a quilt all cut out that has partial seams in it also and I have been dreading it unsure of sewing it wrong, but your tutorial makes it nice and clear. Love your blocks they are so sweet and pretty, it will be a beautiful quilt when you finish. Thanks for another great post!
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen O'Grady
Definitely crazy!!! Beautiful blocks though :)
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephie
WOW I love the quilt!! the colors are sooo pretty. at first glance i thought that it was a court house steps but then read your description and looked again. i think i agree with you on doing it the other way. But this IS really pretty!!!
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlori jones
Better you than me but oh sooo yummy!
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer B
Hi - that is beautifully crazy. I'm actually trying to contact you about a QAL I'm doing from your beautiful book, but I can't find your email address. Can you respond and I can give you the details (and make sure you don't mind!). I have a little blog in NZ.
A overview is at http://shushimquilting.blogspot.co.nz/p/abc-bow.html?m=0
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
THANK YOU! I wanted to know how to do this! :O) Now... where's the chocolate.....so I can try it....
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBari Jo
Madness.....but well worth the effort! looks so cute and great tutorial.
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeredithe
Holy crapola! You are amazing. Seriously, so fiddly!!! Hats of to you :)
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterXanthe
You have the patience of a saint! These are SO pretty. I loved seeing the tutorial, but I think I will just enjoy your version:)
August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeanie

Maria Filomena
August 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Filomena
Yes....This definitely is the Bright Hopes Block ! : )
August 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlittlequilter
I have been looking for the name of this pattern. I got fabric for a quilt in the late 80's and I am now just finishing it. What an old UFO. I don't have a pattern just the notes from my aunt. I am going to be updating my blog as soon as I figure out how to bring the photos off my phone. Thank you everyone who gave the name.
August 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDottie
That is the way my Granny taught me to make a log cabin many years ago.
October 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan
Just saw this on Pintrest. Your fabrics are adorable! I love the log cabin effect design but seems difficult to get the partial seams right.

I love your style. You are my all time favourite blogger. Please keep sharing your unique style and continue being an inspiration.

November 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEva
Thanks a lot for this tutorial.
It's exatly what I want. I don't like log cabin which has got 2 squares in the middle. It's what I've seen many years ago.
Béatrice from france
February 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBéatrice
I love your fabrics, where do you get the one with the words on it....so sweet...
Want to try this quilt can I just add an inch to all the measurements to make it larger?
March 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarmel
Very nice but all the extra headache not worth it to me...traditional log cabin or courthouse steps would work! Lovely fabrics too
June 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarian

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.