Well, if you're like me, you love the idea of the twisted log
cabin block but have a hard time maneuvering around the difficult instructions for creating your own pattern.
After some time, effort, and hair pulling, I did manage to come up with a foundation piecing pattern that is triangular (like the Simply Quilts episode you're probably familiar with) and measures 7 1/2" . The triangle appears within a square, but it's the triangle you will be piecing (plus seam allowance).
For great photos of a quilt made using the twisted log cabin block look here: Jan's Twisted Log Cabin
If You Are in a Hurry
If you want to skip my tips for the project, you can jump right to the PDF downloads at the bottom of the page.
Good luck, and I hope you make a great quilt.
If you are still with me, the following hints should help you put the block pattern together.
My friend Emily asked me to draft the block for her, and she says it works great. I haven't seen her quilt yet, but she's very accomplished, so it's probably a showstopper. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
The Foundation For the Twisted Log Cabin Block
This block gets bulky, so trim your seams a close, 1/8", and use a wash away foundation. There are some on the market that you can send through your printer in order to get a nicely marked pattern.
This is the Block
A single fabric represents each color in the graphic at the top of the page, but the layout actually calls for fabrics of the same color gradually going from light to darker as the triangle pieces get larger.
This link will take you to the HGTV site that has the episode summary with a fabric sample.
My block is different from the design on the show, but it will faithfully recreate the image you see at the top of this page. There are five fabrics per side, three sides per block (triangle) and one black center triangle.
If you recreate the drawing at the top of this page, you will need 41 fabrics. That comes out to five each of eight colors. You will also need one color for the background.
On the drawing, I used black. Fat quarters will be fine for the color gradations. For my quilt, I was thinking of using ombre fabrics that would make the value changes for me. Remember, each color appears on sections of multiple triangles. There are actually six third-of-a-triangle sections to each colored flower.
The Basic Twisted Log Cabin Pattern
The basic pattern is a triangle like the little drawing, but each side is a different color that matches sections in adjacent triangles in order to make the distinctive colored pattern. If you look at the colored image, you will be able to see the triangles, each has a black, triangular center.
It won't take you long to realize that you will need a good layout before you begin sewing in order to avoid getting hopelessly lost.
The Pattern Layout for the Twisted Log Cabin
Another thing you'll start to recognize as you look at the colored photo is that the triangles aren't always oriented the same way.
They go like this on the top row: pointy side up, pointy side down, pointy side up, pointy side down. The second row starts with the pointy side down, and the third row with the pointy side up again - and so on.
This makes sewing them together easy; there are no set in seams. The hard part is getting organized and really seeing the pattern in your mind.
This little graphic isolates the lavender flower and shows you the outlines of the triangles in red. This might help you start to recognize them in the pattern. Look closely. There are six triangles on two rows for each flower.
The Free Twisted Log Cabin Pattern PDFs
The footer on this page has a number of PDF's that you can download free.
1. The first is a copy of the colored drawing at the top of the page.
2. The second is a pattern for the triangular block above.
3. The third is a layout sheet. If you look at it for a while, you'll see the flower pattern - look a little longer and you'll see the triangles.
4. The fourth is a full page with two inverted half triangles on each side of a complete triangle. You can put these together to create a larger layout for yourself, or use it to maximize your stabilizer by printing two triangles per sheet (and tape one together down the center). The split halves will also work as templates for the end pieces on each row.
Last Minute Thoughts About the Twisted Log Cabin Block
In my layout designs, there are lines for page margins that aren't part of the design. Sorry, I didn't know of any other way to put this all together. If you look, you will see seven whole triangles and two half triangles across each row.
This layout can be assembled in a number of dramatic ways. The one shown above is the most straightforward. It uses black filler segments to showcase the colored sections that make up the flowers. It also has a three inch black border. Emily didn't tell me how much of the background fabric she used. I would estimate about two to three yards.
This isn't a beginner block, although a little familiarity with foundation piecing and sewing triangles is all you need to get started. The block does, however, illustrate how even simple blocks like the popular log cabin can be tweaked to create an extraordinary quilt. I have more information about it in my article: Make the Twisted Log Cabin Quilt.