{Double staircase}: A quilt block tutorial

This tutorial first appeared on A Girl in Paradise back in May for her Building Blocks with Friends series.  I thought it was time to bring it back to this space as well!

You will need:

Focus fabric:
Eight (8) 1.5-inch x 5-inch rectangles

Background fabric:
Eight (8)  1-inch x 5-inch rectangles
Four (4) 2-inch x 8-inch rectangles
Four (4) 2-inch x 5.5-inch rectangles
Four (4) 2-inch x 3-inch rectangles

Choose your focus fabric and cut out eight (8) rectangles, 1.5-inches x 5-inches.  You might choose 8 different fabrics or a combination of a few fabrics in your desired colors.  Since these pieces are 5 inches wide, this is great project to use some charm squares.

Now, cut out the fabric for your background.  For each 12.5-inch block, you will need 2 strips of background fabric 2-inches x width of fabric (WOF).

Iron the fabric (you can still see wrinkles in mine, but trust me, it lies flat) and fold it in half so the selvedges line up.  You might have to slide the fabric along the selvedge a bit so that the fold is even.  Place the background fabric on your cutting mat, lining up the fold with one of the guide marks.  Trim off any uneven excess perpendicular to the fold.

Now line up your clear ruler with the horizontal guide marks and cut two, 2-inch strips of background fabric.

Lie the two folded strips of background fabric on top of one another so that you now have 4 layers of fabric (two stacked strips, each folded in half).

Cut the stack of strips in the following lengths (you will have 4 rectangles of each size): 8 inches, 5.5 inches, 3 inches, 5 inches.  I love this block because with these two 2-inch strips, you get all the pieces you need with very little waste.  This is all that’s left at the end of the strips:

Cut the 5-inch strips in half lengthwise, so that you have eight rectangles that are 1-inch x 5-inches.

Now you have all your background pieces cut.  This is what you will end up with (the leftover is the little bit in the bottom right of this photo):

Match each of the eight 1-inch x 5-inch background pieces with one of the 1.5-inch x 5-inch rectangles of focus fabric and sew them together along the length.

When you’re finished, iron the seams either open or to the side.

Decide on the arrangement of your steps.  You can construct the block so it appears to have the same structure right side up or upside down.  In this case, the lower four steps will be arranged so that the background fabric is toward the bottom.  The upper four steps will be arranged so that the background fabric is toward the top.

Alternately, you can arrange the steps so that the background fabric on the steps is always to the same side.  With this arrangement, you will have the effect of a continuous staircase across several blocks, should you choose to put more than one together.

Add the rectangles of background fabric to the focus fabric.

I usually only pin the pieces with a rectangle of background fabric on either side so that all the pieces stay together.

Line up your pieces and chain piece them together.

When you’re finished, you will have to attach the other side of background fabric to those pieces with background on both sides of the “step”.

Iron the seam open or to the side and sew the rows together.

Between rows, I actually prefer to iron seams open for this block.  It makes the block lie flatter and you don’t have to worry about the direction of the seam if you are putting more than one block together.  I sew the rows together in pairs, then sew sets of pairs together, then sew the top half of the block to the bottom.  Trim to 12.5-inches.  Finished!

In the block I used to take the photos for this tutorial, I arranged it so that the background fabric with each step (the “space” between the steps) was toward the outside of the block.  The block has the same look  right side up or upside down.

In the blocks I made for this baby quilt, I wanted the steps to continue across the quilt, so the space between the blocks is always on the lower side of the focus fabric.

I made a mistake when I was putting the blocks together for this quilt.  Did you notice right away?  Can you see it now that I mentioned it?  (I’ll show you in a minute.)

I think I like the back of this quilt as much as I like the front.  Each piece of the rainbow solid has the addition of two charm squares in that color.

I quilted it by following the step pattern above and below as well as 1/4 inch into the white space in the border pieces.

Remember that mistake I mentioned?  Here it is.  On one block, I accidentally flipped the bottom half of the block so that there is no white space between those two steps when the quilt is put together.  I didn’t notice when I put the block together and I didn’t even notice when I put the quilt together.  I didn’t see it until I was actually quilting it, and there was no way I was going to take all that stitching out!

I love it.  I love it so much I almost want to have another baby who will use it.  Ha!  In any case, I don’t think I can give this one away.  I still need to bind it, though.  I’m thinking red.  What do you think?

If you’d like to see more photos of this delicious quilt, click back to May!

4 replies
  1. Monica
    Monica says:

    I love that quilt. The more colorful, the better in my book. How did you quilt it? And I didn’t notice the mistake.

    Reply

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  1. [...] of your beautiful babies, I'll pitch in another blanket as well. … Read this article: {Double staircase}: A quilt block tutorial | Sewing by Moonlight ← Design Wall Monday – 08-06-12 – [...]

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