[ Quilt Along/BOM ]

Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block Tutorial

For my contribution to the Ravelry Block of the Month 2016 quilt, I chose a classic block.  Gather 2 or 3 fabrics to  make the Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block.

jacob's ladder quilt blockJacob's Ladder quilt block

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Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block Design – Basic 9-patch

I always start by analyzing the block to identify the units I need.  The Jacob’s Ladder quilt block has a classic 9-patch layout with 5 four patch units and 4 half-square triangle (HST) units.  Because of the 3×3 layout, this block works best with units that are multiples of 3. Therefore, 6″ and 12″ finished blocks will be our goal.

Fabric Requirements

This block can be made with just two colors, while I show it in three colors.  Of course, you may want to be as scrappy as possible, making each unit with different fabrics, and that is fine too.

For the pictured block, you will need 1 strip of background fabric at 4-1/2″, 1 strip of light/medium fabric at 2-1/2″ x 25″, and 1 strip of dark at 4-1/2″ x 10″.  Note…I use the Easy Angle Ruler to cut my HST units.  If you use a different method, your fabric strips may need to be larger.

From the background strip, cut one rectangle at 4-1/2″ x 10″ for the HST. Cut the remaining piece to 2-1/2″ x 25″ for the four patch units.

fabric for Jacob's Ladder quilt block

Sewing the Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block

Step 1 – HST with the Easy Angle ruler

Lay your background and dark fabrics right sides together.  Place the Easy Angle ruler on the fabric aligned with the 4-1/2″ markings.  Cut 4 units, then sew on the diagonal.  Press to the dark fabric and trim to 4-1/2″ square.

cutting half square triangles

Step 2 – 4 patch units

Place the background and light/medium fabrics right sides together and sew one long strip.

pair two fabrics for four patch units

Press to the darker fabric and cut into 2-1/2″ units.  You need 10 units to make 5 four patches.

two color four patch quilt block

Pair these units together, nesting the seams, and sew the four patch units. Press and trim to 4-1/2″.

Final block construction

Layout the units according to the block illustration.  The HST “kiss” and the 4-patch units all face the same direction to create one light diagonal and one dark diagonal chain.  Note…I flipped the corners so I do not have a light chain in this block.  Remember that errors in quilting are “Design Opportunities.”  This is a mistake I can live with, so no need for the seam ripper.

jacob's ladder quilt block

I also made this sample with just two colors, which creates a strong graphic design with the dark squares and HSTs.

Jacob's Ladder Quilt Block by TrueBlueQuilts

Making smaller blocks

To make a 6″ Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Block, you will need units that finish at 2″.  The HSTs can be made with 2-1/2″ strips and the Easy Angle ruler, while the Four Patch units need strips cut at 1-1/2″.

The math also works out nicely for a 9″ block.  The HSTs can be made with 3-1/2″ strips and the Easy Angle ruler, while the Four Patch units need strips cut at 2″.

To make 8″ or 10″ blocks, you will need to work with units measured at the 1/8″ or 3/16″ line…much too fussy for my taste!


What does your Jacob’s Ladder quilt block look like?  I can’t wait to see the variety of colors and sizes! Join us in the Quilters Knitting group on Ravelry for show and tell.

More details about sewing with HSTs are described in my Pinwheels post.


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Longarm Quilter, Pattern Designer, Teacher



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