In 1979, I took my first quilting class at Poppy Fabrics in Berkeley, CA. Little did I know how this class would change my life! Sharing my passion for quilts through teaching has been the icing on the cake. The Log Cabin block, shown in upper left corner of the sampler quilt below, was my very first piecing experience. My colors weren’t great and my fabrics were limited but I immediately fell in love with the process.
My first quilt. Made in a class at Poppy Fabrics in Berkeley, CA in 1979.
Since I started my online Craftsy class with a Log Cabin block, I thought it would be appropriate to share some history and images of some wonderful Log Cabin quilts.
I’ve always loved the traditional patterns as they are often my go-to for inspiration when I am looking to start a new quilt. Antique quilts are the ones that make my heart sing. I am fortunate enough to share the following images provided by Julie Silber of The Quilt Complex. I couldn’t agree more with Julie when she says “I have long believed that quilts, the work of hands, are among our richest tools in uncovering the lives and experiences of everyday women in an earlier America.” Please enjoy the following examples of antique American Log Cabin quilts.
Double Light and Dark Log Cabin, Unknown Maker, Probably Pennsylvania, Circa 1890. Made of wools.
Double LIght and Dark Log Cabin, 75″ x 75″. Unknown Maker, probably Pennsylvania, Circa 1880. Made of cottons and silks.
Log Cabin, Light and Dark, 86″ x 86″. Pennsylvania circa 1880. Made of wool challis.
Log Cabin, 40″ x 40″. Unknown Maker, Pennsylvania Circa 1880. Made from wool challis.
Log Cabin, Zig Zag or Lightening Streak. Found in Michigan, circa 1880. Made of cottons.
Log Cabin, Light and Dark, 35″ x 35″. Unknown Amish Quiltmaker. Holmes County, Ohio circa 1930. Made of cottons.
You can see that this easy-to-piece pattern translates into so many beautiful setting variations. It can be as simple or scrappy, traditional or contemporary as you like. Here is a quilt I made using the Offset Log Cabin block that I am demonstrating on Craftsy this month. I used one jelly roll of Terrain fabrics designed by Kate Spain for Moda fabrics. Because the strip widths vary, the blocks form a circular design when joined together. I named this pattern “Sweet Rolls” as it can be made from one 2-1/2″ wide jelly roll and one 1-1/2″ wide honey bun set. It is available on my website at www.lauranownes.com.
Thank you to Julie for graciously allowing me to share the images of antique Log Cabins. Julie is one of the world’s most respected quilt experts and has been selling and lecturing on antique quilts since 1968. Please visit her website to learn more about her lectures, workshops and exhibits.
One final note: On Saturday, January 5, at 2 p.m., Shelly Zegart, Exec Producer and host of the series Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics, and an expert at the forefront of quilt study for over three decades, will present a special program at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, located at 520 South First Street, San Jose. Following a conversation with SJMQT Executive Director Christine Jeffers about the “Art of Collecting,” attendees will be treated to a viewing of WQM Episode 4: “What is Art?” A reception follows at 4 p.m., providing the perfect opportunity to “continue the conversation.” Tickets (including the reception) are $20 for museum members, $30 for non-members, and $15 for seniors and students. For more info, and to purchase your ticket(s) in advance, click here. To read Darra’s August 17 post about Why Quilts Matter, click here.
Kentucky Quilt #2, 64″ x 76″, made by Tom Pfannerstill, 1998, found cigarette packages on canvas. This unique interpretation of the traditional Log Cabin appears in the documentary Why Quilts Matter: History, Art, and Politics.
Happy January everyone!