Log Cabin Tunnels Quilt Pattern

Log cabin tunnels quilt

Log cabin tunnels quilt

The log cabin tunnels quilt pattern uses a block that I’ve tried to give a three dimensional look.  There are several ways of creating depth in a quilt block – one of them is through colour placement and another is through changing the size of the parts of the block.  I’ve used both these methods for the log cabin tunnels quilt and I’m hoping that it looks as if you’re entering a tunnel in each block.

The quilt measures 49″ square and I have used fourteen different fabrics!  The good news is that you don’t need very much of any one fabric.  I’ve used 1/8 yard each of purple, the darkest three blues and the darkest two browns, 1/4 yard each of the next blue and two browns, and 1/2 yard each of the last two blue and brown fabrics and the white.

Cutting requirements for the log cabin tunnels quilt

Purple fabric:  sixteen 2.1/2″ squares.

Blue fabrics: 1.1/2″ by 2.1/2″, 1.1/2″ by 3.1/2″, 2″ by 4.1/2″, 2″ by 6″, s.1/2″ by 7.1/2″, 2.1/2″ by 9.1/2″.  The smallest rectangle at the beginning of the list is the darkest blue and the largest rectangle at the end of the list is the lightest blue.  You’ll need sixteen of each of these rectangles – one for each block.

Brown fabrics:  1.1/2″ by 3.1/2″, 1.1/2″ by 4.1/2″, 2″ by 6″, 2″ by 7.1/2″, 2.1/2″ by 9.1/2″, 2.1/2″ by 11.1/2″.  These are again listed from darkest to lightest colour and you will need sixteen of each rectangle.

White fabric:  twelve rectangles 1.1/2″ by 11.1/2″, five strips 1.1/2″ by 47.1/2″, two strips 1.1/2″ by 49.1/2″.

Log cabin tunnels quilt block

Log cabin tunnels quilt block

Making the log cabin tunnels quilt block

The idea of a log cabin quilt block is that you have a central square (the hearth of the log cabin) and this is surrounded by strips of fabric (the logs of the cabin).  In this particular version I have placed the square in the top left hand corner of the block and then built up the logs on two sides only.  The logs beneath the square are in six different shades of blue, starting with the darkest blue, which is the smallest log, and running through the shades until the last strip is the lightest and the widest.  The logs on the right hand side of the square are six different shades of brown, again starting with the darkest brown first (on the edge of the square) and running through to the lightest brown which is on the edge of the quilt block.

The first round of logs

The first round of logs

In addition to using different shades of the two colours for the logs, I have also varied the width of the logs in order to give the illusion of depth.  The first two rounds of logs are 1″ wide finished size, the second two rounds are 1.1/2″ wide finished size and the final two rounds use strips that are 2″ wide finished size.

I am counting one strip beneath the square and one strip on the right hand side of the square as one round of logs.  The square should be the darkest fabric of all.  The first round of logs is shown in the top left of the photo – the darkest (and smallest) blue strip sewn to the bottom of the purple square and the smallest and darkest brown strip sewn to the right hand edge of the square.

Second round of logs

Second round of logs

Fourth round of logs for the log cabin tunnels quilt

Fourth round of logs for the log cabin tunnels quilt

The second round of logs is now sewn on – the next longest and next lightest of the blue and brown fabrics sewn to the lower and right hand edges of the block.  Always sew the blue bottom strip first and then the brown strip on the right.

The third and fourth rounds are shown in the right hand photo.

The sixth round of logs

The sixth round of logs

Back view of the log cabin tunnels quilt block

Back view of the log cabin tunnels quilt block

Continue adding the strips of blue and brown fabric to make the fifth and sixth rounds of logs.

Very often I finger press the seams as I build up a quilt block, but in the case of the log cabin quilt block I always press at each stage with the iron.  The seam allowances should be pressed away from the square, so that in the photo you can see all the blue seam allowances pressed towards the bottom and all the brown seam allowances pressed to the left away from the square.

Make sixteen of these log cabin tunnels quilt blocks.  Before you sew these blocks together you need to trim them – see my comments at the end of the pattern.

Sew sashing between the blocks

Sew sashing between the blocks

Assembling the log cabin tunnels quilt

I’ve used 1.1/2″ strips of white fabric for the sashing between the blocks.  You need to arrange the blocks in four rows of four.  In each row you will have four blocks and three sashing strips, so that there is no sashing at either end of the row.

First row of quilt blocks

First row of quilt blocks

The design of the quilt is achieved by rotating the blocks across each row.  I think that it’s easiest if I tell you the placement of the purple square in each block so that you can see how to rotate the blocks.

In the first row, working from left to right, the purple square is placed top right for the first block, then bottom left, then top left and finally bottom right for the fourth block.

Second row of blocks

Second row of blocks

Third row of the log cabin tunnels quilt

Third row of the log cabin tunnels quilt

In the second row the purple squares are placed bottom left, bottom left, top left and top left.

In the third row the purple squares are placed bottom right, bottom right, top right, top right.

I’ve shown the blocks side by side in order to fit them into the photo, but you will need to sew sashing strips between them.

Fourth row of blocks

Fourth row of blocks

Sew sashing between the rows of blocks

Sew sashing between the rows of blocks

Finally the fourth row has the purple squares on the top left, bottom right, top right and bottom left.

In order to sew the rows together, use 47.1/2″ lengths of white sashing, in the same way that you joined the blocks together.  You’ll need five strips of sashing so that you have one strip between each row as well as one strip at the top and bottom of the log cabin tunnels quilt.

Sew sashing to each side of the quilt

Sew sashing to each side of the quilt

Digital image of the log cabin tunnels quilt

Digital image of the log cabin tunnels quilt

Finally sew a 49.1/2″ length of sashing to each side of the quilt.

Now this is probably the right place for my confession.  I did not carry out one vital step because I was in a hurry and because I was stupid enough to think that I could get away with it:  I didn’t trim the blocks before I sewed them all together.  If you look at the quilt photo at the top you’ll see that the sashing strips don’t match up down the quilt.  This is quite simply because the blocks have not been trimmed so that they are all exactly the same size.  That’s why I’ve included a digital image – so that you can see how the log cabin tunnels quilt would have looked if I had been more careful.

Once you have completed the quilt top, you can layer, quilt and bind it.  Full details of these steps can be found in the beginner quilting section.

Here’s the video:

Needle eye sculptures

Needle eye sculptures

Last week I told you that I was going to the theatre in Birmingham.  It was a lovely day and an unexpected bonus was an exhibition at the Birmingham Library of micro sculptures placed either within the eye of a needle or on a pin head.  Quite extraordinary.  You can read about it here.

Log cabin quilt without sashing

Log cabin quilt without sashing

Post Script:  I was asked what the log cabin quilt would look like without sashing, so here is a digital image without sashing.

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  1. Barbara Parman says:

    I love all the variations of the log cabin. Your instructions were so easy to follow. can hardly wait to try this one.

  2. Hi, I love the design of this quilt. Do you think it would work without the sashing?

    • Hi Lynn. Good idea. I’ve added a digital image of the log cabin quilt without sashing to the pattern – you can find it right at the bottom of the page – so that you can decide for yourself.

  3. Rose I love your e-mails,patterns and tutorials! You are so informative and refreshing and you do us beginning quilters a great service. It is also refreshing to know that professionals can make a mistake and admit it as a note to others.

    • Thanks, Addie. I’m glad you find the tutorials helpful – many quilts can be made much more easy by breaking them down into small steps.

  4. Dear Rose, It’s comforting to know that even experts make the odd mistake! Just this morning I cut two borders four inches too short. Luckily I have extra fabric!

    • Hi Nola. They always say ‘measure twice and cut once’, but I’m always in a hurry so I’ve only got myself to blame. I’m glad you had enough fabric to correct your border problems.

  5. What a beautiful effect, Rose. I buy lots of scrap quilt magazines but find the patterns call for new fabric to ‘help’ use up your scraps. This one is absolutely perfect because it uses so little of any one single fabric. Don’t be too concerned with your mistakes, my friend always says “Would a horseman riding by on a stormy night notice”?

    • Hi Lynne. What a lovely saying – I must definitely remember that one! In general, log cabin quilts can be good for using up scraps, but I agree that with some scrappy quilts you don’t seem to reduce your overall stash by much.

  6. I love this one, thanks so much!!! 🙂

  7. Linda Beyea says:

    Love it , the colours and the lay out are just so right .

    Thank you . Have a wonderful week-end .

  8. Betty Grove says:

    I love your quilts, but this one is begging to be made as soon as I can. Thank you for sharing your talents with the rest of the world.

  9. I just finished a labrynth quilt, so looking forward to trying this pattern. Thanks very much for sharing it with us.

  10. Hi Rose, Thank you for such a lovely pattern.
    As you said a great one for using up stash.

  11. Clever to say the least. You gave the quilt the perfect name. The colors are cheeful and It does have a three dimensional look. I can visualize the quilt on a king size bed. Wow!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Claire. Is that your next project – a king size quilt?

      • You have got to be joking, Rose. I can picture YOUR quilt on a king size bed but I can’t picture me making one. From now on, I’ll be sticking to making baby quilts, lap quilts and table runners.

        • Hi Claire. The beauty of small projects is that you can see the result so much more quickly. With a big project it can sometimes be disheartening just seeing how much you still have to do.

  12. Thank you Rose, this is a really pretty and effective pattern.

  13. very eye pleasing, but then again I love blue,s and browns.
    ill have to make this one.

  14. bayeaston says:

    My first thought was that this one looked hard–from the having to find and put together fabrics standpoint which is my greatest weakness. Then I saw the single block and realized that it’s a pretty simple dark to light. I can do that! Thanks. Always love your posts and videos.

    • Thanks, bayeaston. That’s right – just find a range of fabrics shading from dark to light. The log cabin is a lovely quilt block.

  15. Debra Friendly (Canada) says:

    Rose – I think it is very good that you “confess” to your misstep on trimming. Learning by one’s mistakes is good – learning by others saves fabric! Thanks for being so honest and, of course, for your tutorials.

    • Hi Debra. I was just so cross with myself for making such a basic mistake – and one that is couldn’t be hidden. But I’m glad if I saved someone some fabric!

  16. Tania Grobler says:

    Wow! this one is going on my quilting bucket list! Thank you!

  17. Gwyneth Smith says:

    I love log cabin. As a new quilter I am looking for variations on log cabin and this fits the bill! I will certainly be having a go at this one. Thank you.

    • Hi Gwyneth. That’s the beauty of log cabin – there are just so many variations both within the block and in the way that you can sew the blocks together.

  18. I’m inspired!


  19. Carol tambourine says:

    Oh I love this effect. Can’t wait to try it. Stay warm this week.

  20. I really love this pattern, colors and all that you have done here.

  21. Thank you Rose. I enjoy your teaching and your quilts are quite lovely.

  22. A really eye catching and interesting version on a log cabin quilt. Love it.

  23. Rose, awesome quilt, I will add it to my list of must do-s..thank you!

  24. Dear Rose – What a lovely pattern – only right angles in sight. I will have to have a go at this but first I must finish the butterflies and the baby quilt. I just love the tunnel effect and the colours you have chosen suggest going into something special and happy surprise not a dark tunnel. Thank you.

    all best Janny

    • Thanks, Janny. I think lots of people will be pleased with the absence of triangles! This quilt is also a great way of using up stash because the requirements for each fabric are so small.