Kim’s Design Wall: a Tilt of the Head!

August 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

A recent Electric Quilt challenge gave me a chance to explore the “merge block” function for EQ7 design. I loved the symbolism of combining the traditional Children of Israel block from my Genesis to Job series with Jacob’s Ladder from Word in Patchwork: the Jacob in the ladder story becomes Israel and the father of a nation, so I called my virtual quilt “All His Children“.

Children of Israel



Jacob’s Ladder


All His Children

I like the pattern: 6″ Jacob’s ladder blocks form the centre of a complex mosaic. In the drawing, though, there dozens of half and quarter square triangles to sew: it’s an intricate design requiring careful measuring and sewing.


The block is interesting and when it’s put into a quilt, it really shines. But, I’m not sure I like it enough to deal with all those bias seams and points to match.

I haven’t managed cute for a couple of decades, but when I give my head a perky little turn to the side, I can see that the complex blocks can be reconfigured for much simpler construction.

Notice the lines that outline the blocks in this traditional layout.

  Now, look at this simplified version: no lines! Instead of the complex blocks, this version is constructed by alternating a series of simple units with 6” Jacob’s Ladder blocks in a diagonal layout.
4-patch – 6” finished size. (square up to 6½”)Sew from 3½ strips** Plain 6” finished size. (Cut 6½”)
6” Uneven stripe: narrow bands cut 1½” wide, wide band cut 3½”

**You can also use our quick 4-patch technique beginning with 7½” squares. See the Jacob’s Ladder Tutorial for instructions

The Jacob’s Ladder blocks finish at 6”(6½” with seam allowances). That seems daunting, but if you follow our tutorial, cutting all the squares 3” [instead of 5” as shown for 12” blocks], you’ll find it’s just as easy to make miniature blocks as full sized ones. Half-square triangle units and four-patch units are squared up to 2 ½” for this version.

This sketch for an 85″ square quilt requires:

  • 16 six-inch Jacob’s ladder mini-blocks
  • 40 4-patch units
  • 40 stripe units
  • 9 plain patches
  • 3 – 10″ squares cut on both diagonals for a total of 12 side setting
  • 2 – 5″ squares cut on one diagonal for a total of 4 corner setting triangles
  • 2″ wide contrast inner borders
  • 6″ wide focus fabric outer borders

*Setting triangles are generously sized to be trimmed even before the borders are added.

The Jacob’s Ladder blocks combine with the other patches in a pattern that is formed by two alternate rows. (Remember all the 6” patches  measure 6 ½” when you include seam allowances.)Diagonal row Layout

Add 4-patch units and setting triangles to the ends of the rows as in the sketch, then trim 1/4″ beyond the centre point of the 4-patches before adding borders. Handle with care: a shot of spray starch before you cut the excess will help control the bias edge.

Now that I’ve figured how to simplify my merged block quilt, I’m adding it to my “I’ve got to make this someday!” file. I look forward to seeing what you do with my idea.

Maybe All His Children doesn’t appeal, but you have your own too-complicated-to-tackle quilt design, Try that perky little head tilt and squint your eyes to see if a diagonal layout will work better for your quilt sketch. I hope this idea helps you too!

God bless!


Entry filed under: Kim Graham's Quilter's Neighbourhood, Kim's Design Wall, Patterns, Quilt lessons. Tags: , , , , , , .

Sunday Morning Coffee: Huckleberry Honey Bran Muffins Sunday morning coffee: Lemon Ginger Cake [aka Martha meets the Kitchen Philistine]

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August 2012

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