Folded log cabin quilt block

Folded log cabin quilt block

If you are looking for something a bit different, a folded log cabin block is a lovely block with some deptch and texture to it.  It’s believed to have originated in the Isle of Man which is why it’s called the Manx log cabin, but in fact on the Isle of Man they call it the Roof Pattern.  Go figure!  This block doesn’t need the precision of a normal log cabin, so it could be sewn when the lighting wasn’t good at the beginning and end of the day and it can be put together by measuring with eye (or finger or hand) which again was a big bonus to early quilters.

The hearth of the folded log cabin quilt block

Fold creases into the calico

Fold creases into the calico


I began with an 8″ square of calico (muslin in the USA) and folded and pressed it along each diagonal so that the creases could be used for lining up the first square.  I used a 4.1/2″ square for the middle.  This is placed right side up, with the corners of the squares lined up with the diagonal creases on the calico.

The first logs of the folded log cabin quilt block

Fold the logs in half along the length

Fold the logs in half along the length

Sew the light logs to two edges of the square

Sew the light logs to two edges of the square

For the logs I have used 2.1/2″ strips of fabric pressed in half along the length to give 1.1/4″ wide strips.  Cut the first two light strips 4.1/2″ long and place one on an edge of the square with all raw edges together and the fold towards the middle.  Sew in place using a 1/2″ seam.  Place the second log on the next edge of the square and sew in place.  Cut two dark strips 4.1/2″ long and place and sew one by one on the remaining two edges of the square.  That completes the first round of logs.

The second round of logs for the folded log cabin quilt block

Each round of logs is 1/2" outside the one before

Each round of logs is 1/2″ outside the one before

To begin the second round, cut one light strip 4.1/2″ long.  Place this so that the fold is 1/2″ away from the fold of the log above it (yellow in the photo).  Sew in place.  As you are using a 1/2″ seam this means that you will only be sewing through the one log plus the calico.  The second light log is 5″ long, the first dark log is 5″ long and the second one is 5.1/2″ long.  Although I measured the distance between the rounds of logs with my tape measure for the first log of the second round, I just guessed the distance after that.

The third and fourth rounds of logs

Further rounds of logs

Further rounds of logs

For the third round of logs, the light logs are 5.1/2″ and 6″.  The dark logs are 6″ and 6.1/2″.  For the fourth round the light logs are 6.1/2″ and 7″ and the dark logs are 7″ and 7.1/2″.

I stopped at four rounds of logs when I had a 7.1/2″ square of patchwork.  The folded log cabin quilt block really is a pretty block and has a depth that normal log cabins don’t have.  The next stage would be to add a border and then it could be used for a cushion or a bag.


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  1. Can these blocks be used to make a twin sized quilt? They will hold up in wash and in use?

    • Hi Marilyn. I’ve never made a quilt using the folded log cabin block, but I don’t see why you couldn’t. Whether it washes depends only on which fabrics you’ve used and it should certainly hold up in use. After all, this was the standard way of making quilts for the women of the Isle of Man at one time.

  2. Brenda Beards says:

    I was told there was a story behind this type of quilting. The centre square represents the fire or hearth of the home and therefore was a bright colour red or orange but I can’t remember any more of the story.

    • Hi Brenda. You are absolutely right. The central square represents the hearth and was traditionally red. The strips around the central square represent the logs of the cabin.

    • The centre square represents the hearth and the strips should be light and bright on one side representing the heat, light and warmth from the fire, and darker strips on the opposite representing the shadows created by the fire.

  3. Anna Jajic says:

    You could make this square as a quilt as you go. On the muslin place your batting. And then sew on the log cabin. Then no other quilting would be needed and it shouldn’t take away from the squares texture. Anna

  4. I’ve seen these as pot holders. Great Idea*

  5. Hazel Lyell says:

    I love this technique! All hand sewing till I get to the border to finish it.

    • Hi Hazel. This block always makes me think of early quilters sat by the fireside working with candlelight only – a lovely nostalgic block!

  6. I watched a lady making one at Cregneash on the Isle of Man last week and bought a Kit to make one. I will post a photo of my attempt on my blog soon. Your instructions will be a great help. Kind regards. Marion

  7. Christine Johnson says:

    Saw a very old quilt at the Western Heritage Museum in Spear Fish South Dakota that used this technique and wondered as how it was made. It appeared to be made from silk scraps and diamond log pattern design set on point. The boarder was wide red silk had hand embroidery. The folded strips were no wider then 1/4-3/8 inch wide. It had to be well over a 100 old. and beautiful

  8. Sue Atkinson says:

    That’so it, no quilting necessary. The base of the log cabin is the back of the quilt. And no wadding is used. The folds add the warmth. I sleep under one .

  9. Helen Cliburn says:

    I’ve made a quilt top using basically the same technique. But how should it be quilted, so as not to distort the folded or pleats?

    • Hi Helen. I only made one block so I haven’t actually tried quilting it, but I think that you are absolutely right that you would spoil the affect with too much quilting. I think that I would probably quilt in straight lines along the diagonals, so that you are only crossing the corners of the layers. Another option might be tying, as long as you chose places where there were not too many layers of fabric.

    • SUE Mulvihill says:

      Try tie quilting at the joins of the squares. I saw this on a vintage quilt of this type. 1905 made in Ireland.

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