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Simple Sampler Quilt: the Step Ladder & Rail Fence

Alrighty, day one of the Simple Sample Quilt block release is here!  As promised last week I have tutorials on the first four blocks of the series ready for you, but I'm breaking them up. Today I have the first two: the Step Ladder and Rail Fence blocks.  Thursday I'll post the other three, I didn't want this post to be over whelming with four separate tutorials.  I think I might split up Thursday's posts too, but that depends on how long the tutorials will be.

For all of the 4 blocks, you are going to need the following materials and tools:

  • cutting mat
  • rotary cutter
  • quilting ruler
  • sewing machine and thread
  • fabric bundle (I chose Persimmon by BasicGrey for Moda)
  • Iron and ironing board

So grab everything you need and let's get sewing!

 
 

Before jumping in there is some basic preparation that should be done prior to cutting your fabrics. Washing and ironing your fabrics before quilting will help prevent your fabrics from shrinking or bleeding, and will help ensure more accurate cutting is the fabric lies flat on the cutting mat.

I would also suggest that you look through the different blocks and compare them to the types of fabrics you have. Decide on which fabrics you have will work the best with the blocks. Sometimes fabric choice can make or break the look of a block so be sure to keep in mind how tight a print is and how colors might contrast one another. Select those fabrics and set the rest of your bundle aside.

Make sure to look through and read the instructions first before you start. Being familiar with the instructions and knowing what steps are next will help you to prevent making mistakes and wasting fabric.  

The Step Ladder and Rail Fence blocks are simple and require strait cutting and strait sewing. That's it.  Remember that seams should measure 1/4", about the width of the sewing machine needle and the edge of the sewing machine foot.   



STEP LADDER

STEP 1

Choose two contrasting fabrics and cut one strip from each, 3-3/4" wide.

Of the blue fabric cut

  • one 3-3/4" square
  • one 6-3/4" rectangle

Of the orange fabric cut

  • one 3-3/4" square
  • one 6-3/4" rectangle
  • one 10-1/2" rectangle 

STEP 2

Sew together the 3-3/4" squares and 6-3/4" rectangles together and press the seams open.To do that, open the small amount of fabric on the wrong side of the seam and press the pieces away from each other.  Then flip the fabric over and press the right side of the fabric as well.  Pressing both sides of the fabric will help ensure flat seams.

 

STEP 3

Sew together the strips, and press open the seams.  Press the right side of the fabric one final time to make sure that the seals lie flat.

The finished block measure approximately 10-1/2" by 10-1/2"

 


RAIL FENCE

Railfence alt.jpg

STEP 1

Choose 2 fabrics of contrasting colors and cut three strips from each along the long side of the fabric, about 17" by 1-3/4".  

Lay out the fabrics like the picture to the left. The fabrics on the top will be known as Strip A, and the fabrics on the bottom will be known as Strip B.

STEP 2

Sew the strips of fabric together lengthwise.  Be sure to press the seams open and flat.  To do that, open the small amount of fabric on the wrong side of the seam and press the pieces away from each other.  Then flip the fabric over and press the right side of the fabric as well.  Pressing both sides of the fabric will help ensure flat seams.

STEP 3

Cut the sewn strips of fabric into 3-3/4" squares.  You will need 5 squares from Strip A for the horizontal corners and center of the block, and 4 squares of Strip B to create the vertical middle squares of the block.  

It's always a good idea to layout your blocks before you start sewing them, especially as a new quilter.  That way you can easily see how blocks should be sewn together.  

 

STEP 4

Sew the blocks together to create three columns.  Instead of pressing the seams open, this time press seams towards the dark fabrics. For the two outer columns, press the seams away from each other.  For the center column, press the seams towards one another.

 

STEP 5

The final step is to sew the columns together. Pin the columns together where the squares intersect so that you have clean corners and accurate piecing.  Press seams towards one another before giving the right side of the fabric for a final time.

The finished block measure approximately 10-1/2" by 10-1/2"

There you have, off to a great start with two blocks under you're belt!  While these blocks are simple to create, they do not have to look simple, especially the Step Ladder.  While the Rail Fence relies on a mix of vertical and horizontal lines to look complicated, the Step Ladder by itself looks simple.  Too Simple.  But when combined with multiple block the layout of the quilt could look like a series of staggered, lines, chevrons, or plus signs.

Don't be put off by simple block creation.  Starting simple is the way to build skill and talent, and those simple blocks cam be thrown together on a while and look quite professional to those around you.

Join me on Thursday for the rest of the first five blocks of the Simple Sampler Quilt, and remember: quilting doesn't have to be complicated to look good!

Happy Quilting!     - Rita