printable version of baby and doll ninepatch quilts

Doll and Baby Quilts From History by Judy Anne Breneman

Log Cabin Quilt Construction

foundation piecing method

Log Cabin quilts were put together in a specific way. Each block is created on a square of fabric, often muslin. First the central square is put right side facing up in the center of the muslin. Then each "log" is sewn on with the reverse side facing upward. After the seam is sewn the strip is pressed outward before the next one is applied. Names for this technique are "foundation patchwork" or "pressed work".

Foundation pieced quilts were often tied. Decorative quilting would hardly be noticed on such a busy pattern as the Log cabin. They were tied either to the front or on the back depending on how much the quilt maker wanted her ties to show. When they were quilted it was often done in the ditch or with a simple utility pattern.

Making Your Log Cabin Doll or Crib Quilt

Log Cabin quilt with sawtooth borderFor the purpose of reproducing a child's quilt with modern materials I suggest using reproduction cottons from the latter nineteenth century with a thin batting. Check with your local quilt shop or on online reproduction fabric store to find these fabrics.

I've used the sawtooth border for the crib and doll quilt patterns. Don't be concerned if you sawtooth border doesn't come out perfectly. Part ot the delight of making reproduction quilts can be in the imperfection. Sometimes Log Cabin quilts were made with a solid border or with no border at all so go without the sawtooth border if you prefer. Plain borders would be best if you are helping a child make this quilt

The doll quilt is made with just 4 log cabin blocks and measures about 17" square when finished. The crib quilt has 5 blocks in each direction resulting in a total of 25 blocks. With the sawtooth border is is about 35" square when done.

Cutting Your Fabric

Estimated yardage for the logcabin crib quilt.
For the doll quilt get a fat quarter of each fabric.
estimated yardage

1) Cut an 8" square of muslin for each block you will be making.

2) Cut a 2" square of the fabric you want to use for the center, one for each block.

3) Cut a variety of 1" wide strips of light and dark fabric. If you are using scraps the smaller lengths can be used for the middle logs. Long strips can be used for more than one log. If you find you need more as you go just cut more.

4) You will cut the fabric for your borders later.

Making the Log Cabin Blocks

1) Place the 2" square right side up in the middle of a muslin square.

2) Place a 1" wide dark strip wrong side up along the right hand edge of the center square.

3) Sew a " seam along the right side.

4) Carefully cut the end of the strip off even with the square block.

5) Press the strip away from the center square.

6) Turn the block left 90 degrees and place another strip of the same fabric along the right.

7) Sew the seam and press the strip outward.

8) Turn the block and this time place a light strip of fabric along the right.

9) Sew and press. the repeat with another light strip.

10) Continue to add strips alternating two light and two dark until you have three strips in each direction.

basic Log Cabin

Straight Furrows

Barn Raising

Barn Raising variation Log Cabin

Light & Dark variation Log Cabin

Planning Your Log Cabin Block Arrangement

1) Trim the excess muslin. Blocks should now be close to 6" square.

2) Look at the variations above to see some possible arrangements. To do the two larger arrangements you will need to add a row of blocks in each direction as they require an even number of blocks.

3) Arrange the blocks in different ways and decide which variation you will use.

4) Lay out the blocks the way you want them on a design board, table or other surface.

5) Sew together in rows then sew the rows together. Your basic log cabin is done.

Making a Sawtooth Border

1) Decide how many sawtooth squares you will need. You will need 84 for the crib quilt and 36 for the doll quilt if you use my plans.

2) Cut four 2 3/8 " squares, two with dark and two with light fabric..

3) Carefully cut the blocks in half corner to corner making triangles.

4) Sew together one light and one dark along the long edge making a new square.

5) Sew these four squares together and see if they are the same length as one Log Cabin block.

6) If it is way off check your measurements and adjust if needed. If the squares are just a little large you may be able to trim the squares to size.

7) Once you are sure of the size cut and sew enough sawtooth blocks to go around the quilt.

8) Sew sawtooth blocks in 2 strips long enough to go along each side then 2 to go across the top and bottom.

9) Next sew them along each side of the quilt. Try to have the seam line hit the end of each point. It won't be perfect but that adds to the charm.

10) Cut a 1 " strips for each side of the quilt then sew them on. Your quilt top is now done.

Finishing Your Quilt

1) Cut your backing a little larger than your quilt. For an added old time touch you can piece the backing with larger scraps you might have. Many doll and crib quilts were pieced like this.

2) Pin your quilt top and backing either with a thin batting in between or if you prefer no batting at all. Log cabin quilts were made both ways.

3) Log Cabin quilts were usually tied. Women tied quilts both on the front or the back. I decided to tie my doll quilt to the back as the front was already quite busy but either way would be typical of the times.

4) You can tie your quilt with square knots or if you want something a little stronger do a surgeon's knot. It is done just like a square knot but you wind the string or yarn around an extra time as shown above.

5)To bind the quilt cut your binding 1" wide. Sew to the front then turn and slip stitch it down in the back. Try to make the binding narrow. A ninteenth century woman would have prided on her narrow bindings.

© 2006 Judy Anne Johnson Breneman (Each person who comes to this site is welcome to use these patterns. Please check with me for permission before you copy this article or the patterns for others.) If you have any questions write to Judy Anne at and let me know which pattern you are asking about.