Wednesday 10 December 2014

Jacob’s Ladder goes Barn Raising

I had already begun to write this post when I found a link on Sharon’s blog, Vrooman Quilts, about the Scraptastic Tuesday party going on over at She Can Quilt blog. If there’s anything I do know, It’s scraps; so joining in sounded like fun. When you've finished reading here, why not take a few minutes to pop over and see what other people are doing with their scraps?
Scraptastic Tuesday

Over the weekend, I cut and stored all the orange scraps shown in my last post. I pressed the contents of three of those shopping bags screaming at me from under the ironing table.
bags in waiting

For now, they are in two trays, waiting to be cut and stored.
 black and white scraps waiting 
Before class on Monday, I decided to sew some small scrap triangles together – my container of triangular off-cuts (from flying geese, braids and string blocks) was getting quite full.
small triangles filling up

I’m thinking I’ll make some blocks called “Cotton Reels” but don’t hold me to that!
Cotton Reels quilt block

I began to put together the four-patches to make what I thought was the Jacob’s Ladder block in class on Monday. Traditionally, the Jacob’s Ladder block is a nine patch, consisting of five four-patch units and four HST units.

In Scrap Quilt Sensations, Katherine Guerrier uses a four patch block to make a Jacob’s Ladder quilt.

I didn’t think to take the book to class and my teacher and I ended up having a long discussion about how the block went together. In the end, my block is a four-patch but not the one Katherine Guerrier uses!
one block 
Now, I had several choices:
  1. unpick the sixteen blocks I had done and make them up correctly according to Katherine Guerrier’s diagram – no way!
  2. add units to my four-patches to make a traditional nine-patch JL block – maybe!
  3. go with a different layout using the four-patches I had made – yes!
When ‘mistakes’ happen, what happens next comes down to two things: is the resulting quilt of an attractive design, and is my time being used wisely?

Option 3 was not only the easiest but also satisfied both my criteria. When making quilts for donation, quick and easy but effective is often a good route to take given that I spend a lot of time in preparing scraps for use in the first place. The less time I fiddle around with unpicking and re-making, the more time I have to make other items.

In lieu of a fixed design wall and tired of crawling around the floor, I decided to be inventive! I still have the flannel-backed tablecloth that used to be my design wall (hanging in front of a wardrobe/closet) at our previous house. The rivets WM had attached to insert shower curtain rings are coming adrift and it’s fast outliving its usefulness as a hanging system. But those shower curtain rings gave me an idea – my design ‘cloth’ now hangs from our bathroom shower rail. The bathroom is used infrequently by WM and I so it seemed like a great idea and WM approved (at least as a stop-gap measure)!

See how the second, third and fourth rivets are pulling away from the doubled-over-for-additional- strength fabric?
2014 shower rail solution

Here is my design wall in use: with the ‘barn raising’ layout of my Jacob’s Ladder quilt; possibly not traditionally but it works!
JL layout
I'm letting it sit for a while before I start putting the blocks together. In the meantime, I’m using leftover four-patches and HST units to make a panel to widen the the backing fabric.

What do you do when you make a “mistake”?
  • Turn it into a ‘design feature’?
  • Throw it in the naughty corner?
  • Toss it?
  • Or resolve it in some other way?


  1. I think you found the most practical solution for a very pretty quilt. I never toss out - it gets reworked, saved for another play date, or becomes something new.

  2. Great new variation of a Jacob's ladder! I hate unpicking so I tend to make something new if I can! Thanks for the shout out and for linking up to #scraptastictuesday!

  3. Love you new version of a design wall....very inventive idea to use what is there!
    Nope ...would not unpick the blocks, but figure out a setting for them. they look like they could be set in another version of a barn raising style. super great ideas here.

  4. This new layout is superb! It's a great use of the scrap blocks! Hooray for mis-remembering!!!

  5. I like you layout and the scrappy feel. I'm with you in resolving a mistake in another way unless it's for something very specific that just has to be fixed.

  6. A great save! What I do depends on when I make the mistake, but I'm most likely to unpick and resew.

  7. mine get sent to the naughty corner. can you have more than 4 corners in one room??? the others are getting pretty filled up LOL

  8. That was a wonderful save!!! Sometimes I make do, sometimes I just give them to someone else lol

  9. I LOVE that quilt and I don't usually go for scrappy!! As for mistakes I usually make them work. After all who would ever know that you didn't mean to do it that way from the start...right? Except those that heard you screaming. LOL.


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