Cabin Fever: Log Cabin Quilts

  • Scott Log Cabin c.1860

Cabin Fever showcases an iconic quilt block design, the Log Cabin, at its best, including examples of coverlets, table covers and cushions in a myriad of colours and fabrics from the mid-nineteenth century through to the present day.

The Log Cabin patchwork block is instantly recognisable and features strips of light and dark coloured fabrics placed around a central point to create a block which can be arranged in different layouts to produce an infinite number of designs. Many of the variations do not have specific names, but some of the more common designs form diamonds (Barn Raising), crosses (Sunshine and Shadow), diagonal stripes (Straight and Furrow) and zigzag designs (Streak of Lightening) and will be on display in the Exhibition.

The versatility and popularity of the Log Cabin block can be seen through the variety of Log Cabin Quilts on display. They range from the practical and utilitarian quilts, which use hard wearing and warming fabrics such as wool or left over everyday shirting fabrics, to the decorative and embroidered luxurious quilts which use more expensive silk and velvet to create their Log Cabin designs.

The origins of the log cabin design are difficult to pin point, as evidence for the design can be found all across the world in different cultures, dating back as far as the wrappings used on Ancient Egyptian Mummies. Its use in quilts in Europe and America was popular in the second half of the nineteenth century, when it was called various different names. The most popular explanation of the Log Cabin design asserts that it represents the construction of an American Log Cabin house, with the central square, often a red colour, representing the hearth and the dark and light strips or ‘logs’ representing the light and shadows cast from the fire.

Cabin Fever will appeal to a wide range of quilters as it showcases a perennial favourite block design that can be adapted to both traditional and contemporary tastes.

Image Caption: Scott Log Cabin Quilt, c. 1860. The Quilters' Guild Collection.