Before there was computer technology to figure out iterations of pattern, 19th century quilt makers fiddled with narrow strips of fabric in light and dark tones to create intriguing optical illusions within a design format known by the umbrella term LOG CABIN QUILT. It is a favorite graphic of Americana dealer Laura Fisher, who has gathered a diverse collection of them to welcome the winter season Find many examples on this website .
Popular LOG CABIN variations are called BARN RAISING, LIGHT AND DARK, WINDMILL BLADES, STRAIGHT FURROW and COURTHOUSE STEPS. Easy to construct as small squares while on the route west in the late 19th century, the juxtaposed light and dark strips reflect quilt makers’ experimentation. Contemporary artists like Frank Stella explored the same concept in his colorful square canvasses, painting concentric narrow strips that from a distance look just like a log cabin quilt, a century after quilt makers first explored the graphic.
Any Log Cabin variation is created by making individual square blocks in which narrow strips are sewn to a foundation fabric, with a solid color square usually centering the arrangement, considered to represent the ‘hearth’ of a log cabin’s construction. Blocks containing both light and dark tones are joined together in an orchestrated placement to create larger motifs from their contrast. Some read as larger concentric diamonds, others as small diamonds, still others as zigzags or propeller forms. Log cabin quilts were made in all fabrics, but perhaps more of them from the last quarter of the 19th century were done with fine quality wool challis dress prints or the heartier woolens of suits.
The collection also includes late 19th century cotton Log Cabins in both lovely prints and in solid colors, as well as some rarer bold early 20th century Amish examples in solid color wools. Contact us for images of all that might suit your needs. Arrangements can be made to have them stretcher mounted for display in time for the holiday season.