Tips for Beginning Hikers Part 1
April in Review

Log Cabin Baby Quilt: A Tutorial

There’s always a moment when I’m making a quilt as a gift when I think…is this worth it? Will the recipient appreciate it? Do I do this well enough that I can give this without being embarrassed?  Maybe I should just give something practical, like diapers and wipes.

(Usually this moment comes when Kendell has had enough of the quilting mess!)

One time, six or seven years ago, I went to a baby shower where I didn’t make a quilt. I made a little “baby’s first year” scrapbook album instead. While we were chatting and snacking, one of my friends whispered to me “I can’t wait to see what quilt you made!” and right then I decided, husband’s grumpiness and my self-doubts aside, I will always bring a baby quilt to a new baby. Maybe the mom will love it, maybe it will be the baby’s favorite quilt. Maybe it will just sit on a shelf in the baby’s room, and that is OK too.

It’s my way of telling the baby and the mom that I love them, and that is enough. I hope it becomes a part of their story in some way.

I made this quilt for my niece, who is having her first baby in a few weeks.

Big log cabin finished

I’ve been a little bit obsessed lately with making log cabin squares. There are several new babies coming this year, so I’ve been making smaller squares—but this shower was sooner than I expected. So I made one big log cabin, which was faster. Here’s what I did:

  • The center square is 10” of paisley minky. This was a left-over scrap from a quilt I made for another niece, Lydia, eight years ago!
  • The logs are roughly 3” wide. I say roughly because I fussy cut some of them, so they are larger. Twelve light logs, twelve dark logs.
  • I wanted to include more minky, but I’ve discovered that putting TWO minky logs perpendicular to each other is difficult—the stretch and nap run in different directions so it’s hard to keep the square square. So, instead I put in two different minky logs (the solid pink, which actually has stars on it, and the print with the white background and big paisleys). I think with a scrappy quilt like this, it is totally OK for the vertical and horizontal logs to not always match.
  • I used scraps! Some of the scraps came from my mom’s stash, some came from mine. I love scrappy quilts so this was a fun challenge for me.
  • I only used flannel and minky, no regular cotton (except for the binding). I’ve learned that, with flannel and minky, a 1/4” seam will not be very durable. So, all of the seams in the quilt are 3/8” instead. The texture mix of flannel and minky is so luscious and lovely to me!
  • I backed it with a polka dot minky. The finished quilt is about 43x46”, so I didn’t have to seam the back since minky is 60” wide. Big log cabin backing
  • I really wanted to try to quilt this with some free form quilting, instead of straight lines. In the end, though, I decided I’m not skilled enough at free form yet, so I did straight lines with echoing. My favorite part of the quilting is the four echoed square medallions in the corners. I know straight-line quilting isn’t as impressive as free-form, but I think with some thought and purposeful decisions it is just as beautiful. Big log cabin quilting detail
  • I freaked out about the binding. I love making quilts with a binding that contrasts in some way, or is a little bit of a surprise. (Like, last year I made several all-pink baby quilts with aqua binding.) I wanted to bind this one with a brown and white floral, but I couldn’t find anything I really loved. (I learned that brown is rarely paired with a white background.) Big log cabin binding stripI LOVED this pink floral I ended up binding it with, but I didn’t have the quilt with me when I bought the binding fabric, and I didn’t realize until I got home that it was more coral than pink. So then I agonized. Literally, I had dreams about this quilt binding. In the end I decided to go with the strips I’d already cut, even if the color was a little bit not-quite-right. I ended up loving it, though. I think it works.

Big log cabin binding close up


Here’s a story to go along with the quilt:

While I was making this quilt, I found myself thinking quite often about my mother-in-law, Beth. And my mom, too, since I was using some of her fabric. I had just one small piece of this fabric, with the ballerina elephants and sweet little angels, Big log cabin shared fabricbarely enough to make the two logs if I fussy cut it. I stopped to think…should I use it? Or save it? And I swear: Beth just keep nudging me to use it. So I did.

I made this for a niece on Kendell’s side, Lexie. When Beth passed away, we found several finished receiving blankets, and my sister-in-law, Cindy, has given one to each granddaughter for their first babies. (None of the grandsons have had babies yet.) She brought one to the baby shower…and it was the same fabric as that one Beth was nudging me to use. My mom didn’t know Lexie, but she did know Beth, so it made me happy to know they’d both contributed, in strange ways, to that quilt. I think it would make my mom happy to know that story. Beth too.



The quilt you made me for Nancy’s baby shower is still my favorite of all her blankets! It brought so much cuteness and fun and bright spring colors to that stressful first baby period of time. Now looking at it or touching it brings back all my newborn and early motherhood feelings and it’s such a precious keepsake.

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