The Campfire Quilt Pattern is available for digital download. Click here to purchase! This quilt comes in king, queen/full, throw and baby quilt sizes.
Since learning to quilt a million (20) years ago, I have been fascinated with the history and heritage of quilting. I've actually written a handful of blog posts about it:
And last, but not least on that list, the Log Cabin Quilt Pattern. When I first blogged about the Campfire Quit, I dove into the different theories behind the origin of the Log Cabin block. Is it truly even based on a log cabin? I found many sources dating the design all the way back to ancient Egypt!
Aside from the facts, looking at this block, it's easy to see why it's named after a traditional log cabin. The narrow strips of fabric, or "logs," build on each other and are arranged around a center square, or "hearth." Each fabric strip is added to the pattern in much the same way logs are stacked to build a log cabin.
Another reason this design represents patchwork quilting so well is because our great-great-great-quiltmothers were resourceful in all things and mostly quilted with recycled fabric. These women would utilize almost any textile available, often making a Log Cabin quilt the final step in recycling old clothing and stray scraps.
5 Tips for Making the Campfire Quilt Pattern
Many of my quilt patterns are listed as Easy on the how-difficult-is-this-quilt scale. Campfire, however, is listed as Moderate. That's not to say a beginner couldn't make it OR that it's "hard," it's just not...easy.
Don't freak out. Let me explain. This design is a medallion, which means that rather than repeating blocks sewn together to make rows, it starts with one block in the middle and gradually gets bigger. This means that if your quilt top gets a bit wonky in the early stages, it will continue to grow wonky. Here are a few tricks I've learned through sewing four of these quilts. I've also gotten some great tips from my pattern testers.
1. Only trim when you need to sew. Take a look at the pictures below to see an example of what I mean. Rather than trimming every side of each strip as I sew it to the next piece, I only trim sections that need to be sewn at that time. This may sound confusing now, but once you dive into the pattern, I assure you it will make sense.
2. Press, don't iron. You may think these words are interchangeable, but when it comes to sewing, they aren't. You iron fabric to get wrinkles out. This involves moving the iron smoothly and slowly over the fabric. When pressing, set the iron straight down, hold for a few seconds, and then lift up.
With the quilt top facing up, I use my fingers to gently fold back the seam I just sewed. I then press the seam with my iron. If you iron the seam by pushing it open with the side of your iron, you run the risk of stretching and warping the fabric. To clarify, I press my seams to the side with the darker fabric. Check out the picture below for a look at the back of my Campfire quilt.
In this video I show you how I use a Tailor's Clapper to get crisp, flat seams.
3. A little bit of ballooning or distortion is completely fine. It will quilt out! When making a medallion quilt it's almost inevitable for your quilt top to get a little bit off. If the center starts to balloon from distortion or if your quilt top begins taking the shape of a rhombus, don't fret my pet! Do your best to trim and iron and then trust that once you baste and quilt, the fabric will lay flat and look great.
4. Starch before not after. I have not made this quilt using starch, however, most of my pattern testers did. One thing they all agreed on is that if you are going to use starch, starch all of your fabric before cutting and sewing. If you starch some, but not all of your fabric, it won't all stretch in the same way and more harm than good will happen.
Additionally, don't use starch after sewing to iron your seams – this may cause warping. Read more about starching fabric here!
5. Flip it and reverse it. Missy Elliott style.
This is another tip from my pattern testers that I am very intrigued to try. According to a couple of my seasoned sewists, when sewing strips to the quilt top, flip the quilt so that sometimes it's on top of the strip and sometimes it's beneath the strip. Make sense? This should prevent warping in one direction. Since a lot of sewing machines pull the fabric through the feed dogs unevenly, by flipping the quilt top every couple of seams, you will prevent distortion.
Picking Fabric for the Campfire Quilt
Strong & Structured
The original Campfire quilt pulled colors from a literal campfire and added a touch of whimsy – peach anyone? The pop of light blue and peach add balance to this composition. Without them, it would look like a dart board with a red bull's eye in the middle.
If you would like to create a similar look, keep 2 things in mind:
- Use a bold fabric to ground each set of strips. This will give the quilt clear structure. Even though this design uses shades of black, charcoal and gray, every set of strips has at least one black strip to make sure the structure is solidly visible. (The sets are mostly in groups of three)
- Pick a couple pops of color. This will allowing the viewer's eye to bounce around the composition as a whole rather than zooming straight to the bright center. Why is this important? Visual interest is what makes a dynamic composition. Picture yourself at a museum. You're strolling through the halls, glancing at paintings, then STOP. You stand in front of one cause you need a longer look. THAT'S the visual interest I'm talking about.
- Color 1: Various black scraps I had on hand. Some include: Kona Black, Loominous Black
- Color 2: Moda Bella Lead
- Color 3: Kona Iron
- Color 4: Various gold scraps – Moda Bella Harvest Gold and Firefly Marigold
- Color 5: Loominous Headlines
- Color 6: Moda Bella Robins Egg
- Color 7: Kona Creamsicle
- Color 8: Kona Snow
Soft & Squishy
This next Campfire quilt is the opposite of strong and structured. The key word here is "squish." Made up of cream and light blue scraps of fabric, this baby quilt is effortlessly cloud-like. And did I mention that it's backed in organic flannel? ooohhh yes. My only mistake was not making it large enough for my king-sized bed.
Those crisp edges are from using steam with my Tailor's Clapper.
This Campfire quilt uses the same structural concept as the Original, except with MORE COLOR! Warm pinks and yellows fade into cool blues and greens. If you are interested in making a Campfire quilt just like this, Fabric Bubb is currently selling a kit to make a throw.
If you saw my IG stories from QuiltCon (still in highlights) you already met my fab friend Amy. She's not a quilter, but that doesn't stop her from still being the most adorable human I know.
I bought all of these fabrics from Fabric Bubb because I like that you can order a 1/4 yd. – which is perfect for this quilt. Below are the Kona colors I used and how much you'll need.
And if you're thinking, "Wow that water is green!" Yes, you're right. I took this photo on St. Pat's Day and most everything in Chicago was dyed green. Apparently Chicago is pretty Irish...or maybe we just like beer. 😉
Cotton + Steel Campfire Collaboration - GIVEAWAY!
After posting a few of these photos on Instagram I quickly saw a trend in the comments, "I don't know which is cuter, the sweet little girl or the adorable quilt!"
Guys. That's a no brainer. The little girl! She is STEALING the show from my quilt and I'm more than a little bit peeved. Come on, Zora! Stop being so cute!
If you act fast and jump on Instagram Cotton + Steal and I are running a giveaway to give you a free Campfire Quilt Spectacular fabric bundle. It's so easy to enter! The giveaway runs from 9:00am CST March 22 - 4:00pm CST March 26.
Cotton + Steel has more pics on their blog of Zora and this quilt if you want to check them out.
This Spectacle line is shipping to stores this week, so a lot of places do not have it yet. Below are the fabric requirements for when it starts popping up in shops. Actually let me check something...yep! Fabric Bubb has it listed.
Campfire Quilts in the Wild
My pattern testers made some beautiful variations of this quilt. Not only do these talented sewists make a quilt, they also give me invaluable feedback and tips on how to improve your pattern sewing experience. Check out what they made!
Gradient Rainbow by Saija Elina
My Finnish counterpart, Saija, always finds a way to transform quilt patterns into something completely unique to her. This gradient rainbow Campfire quilt is not exception. She chose to create a Courthouse Steps appearance through her color placement.
Art Deco Pastels by Evie Jespersen
Pretty in Pink & Teal by Elizabeth Ray
Baby Blue by Tiffany Horn
Magenta Magic by Christine Myers
Gingham Stripe by Krystina Hopkins
Spring Color Pop by Oh Sew Brooke
Yellow Mermaid by Caitlyn Williams
Fussy Cut Fireflies by Jessica Schunke
"When I saw this pattern and the 5" square for the center, I couldn't resist fussy cutting those little fireflies. And using Campsite fabrics for the Campfire quilt seemed like a no brainer. I love the texture and play of colors the chambray background adds as well."
Perfect Picnic by Holly Hughes
Pink Punch by Leah Weskamp
Mod Flowers for a Queen by Veronika Bush
"This is a queen! And I love it so much!! Biggest tip is to buy TWO bottles/cans of starch - one for starching all fabric before cutting and one for starching each row as you press it open after it’s sewn. And then starching the whole thing after it’s all sewn together. (I still have to do the after sewing starching - I need to buy more! and ps Evie Jespersen is the one who told me she starched the whole thing afterward and hers looks super flat!)"