Houses in the forest


  • Fat quarter of five different brown fabrics
  • Fat quarter of six different cream fabrics
  • Fat quarter of rust for centre squares
  • Scraps for the house blocks or use a picture block
  • Four country style squares for appliqué detail
  • 40cm of dark red for the binding
  • 110cm square of calico for the backing
  • 110cm square of wadding

Finished Size

39in (1m) square

Skill Level


You can download a pdf copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, Houses in the forest

Kathleen’s hanging is made from log-cabin, courthouse steps and one pineapple block. If you draw out the basic blocks for courthouse steps, pineapple and log cabin and then cut up and rearrange there are many other patterns than can be created by twisting and turning the blocks. It is best to do this before the blocks are made as it may affect the order that you piece the colours.
Kathleen pieced these blocks by machine, but you could piece by hand or use foundation piecing if you prefer.
All blocks are sewn with strips cut 1 1⁄2in wide. It is easiest to cut a variety of strips from all the fabrics and keep in two bags; you can then take a strip at a time from the bags. Return the trimmings to the bags, as they may be long enough for one of the other blocks.

Sewing the blocks

The courthouse steps block is similar to log cabin except the strips are added in pairs on opposite sides of the central square instead of rotating around it.

Figure 1: Courthouse Steps
Figure 1: Courthouse Steps
  1. Cut a 4 1⁄2in square in rust. Working on two opposite sides sew two cream strips in position, press to the outside and trim to match the square.
  2. Add two brown strips to the remaining two sides. Press and trim as above. Continue in this manner until five strips have been added to each side. See Figure 1.
  3. Make four blocks as above. Kathleen chose to keep the fabrics in the same position in each block to add depth, but you could mix them up. Hand appliqué the country style squares to the blocks, using the photo for positioning.


  1. Make five house blocks 4 1⁄2in square from the template
  2. Trace the shapes from the house block onto freezer paper. Add 1⁄4in seam allowance around each shape. Number each piece to match the pattern.
  3. Cut out these shapes complete with turnings and iron onto the RS of your fabric. If you iron onto the WS of the fabric the block will still piece together but will be in reverse.
  4. Cut out the fabric exactly to size. Lay the pieces onto a spare piece of fabric in the correct order to make the house.
  5. Peel off the paper from pieces one to five and sew the fabrics together to create the first line of the house block. Remember to use a 1⁄4in seam allowance.
  6. Repeat with pieces six to ten, pinning the shapes which are at an angle before sewing to ensure the correct fit.
  7. Use the same method to join the bottom left and righthand sections, joining the smaller pieces together first if necessary.
  8. Pin the rows together and piece into the house block. Press well. Repeat to make five houses. If you choose you could have one house facing the opposite direction, either by pressing the paper onto the WS before cutting out or trace onto the shiny side of the freezer paper. Note: The freezer paper can be reused a few times – iron onto a spare piece of fabric for future use.
  9. Use four houses for the centre of the log cabin blocks and put one house block on one side for the pineapple block.

Log Cabin

  1. Using a house for the centre of each log cabin block, sew four blocks
  2. The brown strips of the logs need to point towards the centre of the quilt. Sew the first two in position on each house, check that the houses will be the correct way up and the colours are in the right order as shown in Figure 5.
  3. Continue to sew the blocks with two cream and then two brown strips. Continue until five rounds have been completed on each block. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Log cabin block
Figure 2: Log cabin block (note each block will be different)


  1. Take the spare house block made above. Cut two 4 1⁄2in squares diagonally in half. Sew to two opposite sides and press open.
  2. Sew the remaining triangles on the opposite sides. Trim square ensuring that 1⁄4in seam allowance is left by the point of the house block as shown in Figure 3.
  3. Using only cream strips, add four of the strips on the sides to put the house on point and then add more strips on the corners following the triangles to keep regular.
  4. Repeat as above until you have added five rounds. Cut two 5 1⁄2in squares in cream and cut in half diagonally. Add to the corners to bring up to 13 1⁄2in. Press well, see Figure 3.
Figure 3: The centre of the pineapple block Figure 4: Completed pineapple block
Figure 3: The centre of the pineapple block
Figure 4: Completed pineapple block

Assembly and Quilting

  1. Check that all your blocks are the same finished size. If there is a big difference you could add some more rounds to correct the problem. Assemble into three rows as shown in Figure 5. Join the rows to complete the top.
  2. Cut a piece of wadding and backing 42in square. Layer up with the quilt top and pin or tack.
  3. Kathleen has hand quilted around the houses and the picture blocks on the courthouse steps. There are simple trees quilted on the central cream areas. On the corner log cabins there is machine quilting joining the corners of the logs and the courthouse steps have machine quilting making arrows towards the picture blocks.
  4. Cut 2 1⁄4in strips of red for the binding and join into one piece 170in long. Fold in half lengthwise and press. Sew RS to the edge of the quilt top. Mitre the corners as you come to them. Fold over to the back and slip stitch in place.
Figure 5: Quilt top layout
Figure 5: Quilt top layout
Figure 6: Finished Quilt
Figure 6: Finished Quilt

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 11 Issue 10 - October 2003