I felt inspired to write this blog post today because another blogger, artiste, writer, designer, quilter and general all-around good person, Pat Sloan, shared her tutorial on this pattern. I am no where near her caliber but I enjoy reading, learning and listening to her! ~smile~ Here is the link to Pat Sloan’s recent Jacob’s Ladder tutorial (click here). She is also hosting a fun stitch-along if you would care to check that out, also in the link.
Pat’s tutorial shares two different sizes of this block – an 18″ version and a 12″ version. Just imagine how quickly a quilt would come together when working with 18″ blocks! Two blocks by three blocks would be ample for a baby quilt . . . well you can do the math for the size you are interested in. A brief little mention on the history of this block – it was inspired by the Bible and has been used in the underground railroad. It is amazing to think of the number of quilters who have come before us, and stitched these same blocks.
Let’s dissect this block a bit. The first row is a four-patch, half-square triangle, and another four-patch. The second row is a half-square triangle, four-patch, and another half-square triangle. Row three replicates row one.
How easy is that?! In this example, only two colors were used and you can easily see the ladder or steps that are being built when all nine smaller squares are put together in this order for one block. It is also easy to see how these same nine squares can be shifted around just slightly, by turning the half-square triangles or the four-patch squares and it would make the block look completely different. Pat Sloan addresses this on page 6 of her tutorial by showing a few diagrams with the smaller squares being placed different from this block shown.
Now, one other criteria I consider when selecting a new pattern for including in my repertoire is can it be stitched with strips or do I have to cut out a bunch of small squares and then sew them back together (which IS the definition of quilting, isn’t it?!!). I hate doing that because I think it is too easy to have the fabric stretch on the bias. I made a few minor changes to make this block more ‘strip’ friendly. Let’s pretended I am going to make a baby quilt out of the 18″ block. I would only need 6 of them for a 36″ x 54″ finished quilt without borders. I probably would add a little border . . . but let’s keep this basic for now:
One block needs: (5) four-patch squares and (4) half-square triangles
Six blocks need: (30) four-patch squares and (24) half-square triangles – easy math right?!
Four-patch: Cut (5) each 3.5″ x WOF strips in pink, white (WOF=width of fabric)
Sew one pink and one white strip together; press the seam toward the dark/pink side and then cut into 3.5″ pieces (about 12 from each strip). Take two of 3.5″ pieces, place right sides together – white to pink, and pink to white; sew together, nesting the seams. Press the seam toward one side – it doesn’t matter which way as long as you press!! One four-patch. Repeat this process for all 30 blocks. You can easily chain stitch them, meaning feed one into your sewing machine after completing one – they will be a long chain of four-patch blocks.
Half-square triangles: Cut (2) each 9.5″ x WOF strips in pink, white (WOF-width of fabric)
Cut (6) total – 9.5″ x 9.5″ out of these strips (about 4 from each strip. You will have a piece leftover – I have another use for that which is easy and adorable. Match right sides together – one white and one pink 9.5″ x 9.5″ square; sew 1/4″ around all four side. Use your ruler to cut the square into an “X” – two cuts, each one from corner to corner diagonally. When you open the four pieces, you will have four half-square triangles the needed size of 6.5″ x 6.5″. Pretty slick, huh?! Press them open with the seam going toward the dark/pink side. Snip off those little corner edges that hang over if they bother you. You need 24 half-square triangles. Sew the rows together as mentioned above; be SURE you press each row as you go. If you press row 1 and 3 in one direction and row 2 in the opposite direction, they will nest together nicely and will lay flat when you press the overall block.
Are you wanting to try this pattern? I am. And then I want to play around on my design wall to see how I like the squares laid out best. Let me know if you are game to try it – we can make it a mini challenge of sorts, and have the blocks posted on here or on our Facebook website. ~smile~ Anyone up for a Jacob’s Ladder challenge?
P.S. I will post a note on a cute tutorial to make out of that 23″ x 9.5″ piece of fabric shortly, so be sure to save it.