Even though I fall into the modern quilter category, one of my favorite topics of interest is the history and tradition of quilting. Campfire is my modern interpretation of one of the earliest quilt blocks on record – the Log Cabin.
The Log Cabin block has been a well-known and popular patchwork pattern since the 1800s. Its simple sophistication, versatility and easy strip sewing construction has not only kept quilters making this block throughout the years, but propelled it to remain one of the most popular quilt blocks today.
American quilters consider this pattern to be the quintessential American design – representing life on the prairie. To pioneers traveling West, it symbolized home, warmth, love and security. The center square of the block was done in red to represent the hearth, the focal point of life in a cabin or home.
The name, Log Cabin, comes from the narrow strips of fabric, or logs arranged around the center square. Each fabric strip or log was added to the pattern in much the same way logs were stacked to build a cabin; and because the straight lines and small pieces of the pattern could utilize almost any fabric scrap available, it often became the final step in the recycling of fabric.
Even though I would like to stop there and fondly think of the Log Cabin design as traditionally from the USA (We, Americans, are the beggars, borrows and thieves of history, so just let us have this one!!), sadly I can't. There is a lot more history to be explored when it comes to the Log Cabin.
After a bit more research, and it doesn't take much to uncover the facts, the first dated Log Cabin textiles (according to Barbara Brackman's database) were seen in Great Britain. Not only has this block been discovered in Great Britain, the basic Log Cabin design can be found in many cultures and dated even as far back as the Egyptian mummies! No joke!
In the early part of the 19th Century when the British were exploring Egypt and tombs were opened for the first time in hundreds of years, thousands of priceless relics surfaced and were brought to the public eye. Of those artifacts were thousands of small animal mummies found placed around the main mummy as objects of respect for the departed.
Some of the cute (can I call them cute?) ani-mummies (I made that word up, so don't try googling it to check my accuracy. Also I should tell you that anything labeled "fact" or "history" in this blog has the potential to be slightly biased...also slightly made up...no promises ;)) are housed in the British Museum.
Now that I'm looking at them...I guess they kinda look like log cabin blocks...I don't know...I still reeeeally like the American pioneer story...
To break up this history lesson, let's throw in a picture of me basting a quilt.
Whether the Log Cabin design is Egyptian, American, British or Canadian (Canadian, you say? Oh yes. That was a whole theory I decided to leave out. Ancient Egypt is enough competition for our feeble grasp at the ownership of this design.), we quilters can all agree on one thing – it makes for a lovely quilt block and it has and will continue to have a steady presence in all genres of quilting – traditional, crazy, scrappy, modern and, probably, post-modern...whatever that looks like.
And if you're one of those people who reads something like this and says, "Where's the proof?"
All I can say is, "I read it on the internet, so it's gotta be true, right?" 😉
Here are some references:
I'm realizing, now that I'm about to hit publish on this blog post, that I really didn't tell you anything about the making of my Campfire quilt. Instead, I went down a rabbit hole of history. Let's see, my attention span is waning, so I'm going to do this quickly.
Below is a picture of Scrappy sitting on the quilt as I am trying to jam the entire thing through my domestic sewing machine. Frustration was very high at this point, if I remember accurately. It's a good thing I didn't know about the ani-mummies or Scrappy's life may have turned out differently.
Here is a picture of my quilt thrown on a couch...
That's a shot from Modern Patchwork magazine. For some reason they keep forgetting to put my website on my patterns. According to them I'm just the Lone Quilt'n Ranger with no internet presence...I actually like that thought of living off the grid and being super hard to track down...
Better read this blog now, cause next week I may delete it ALL!
And finally, here's a picture of the quilt. Ta da!