Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Crooked Courthouse Steps!

It all started with The Plague.

Okay, so it wasn’t really the PLAGUE – but a round of bronchitis, double ear infection and sinus infection that may as well be forever known as the 2019 Trifecta of Death.

But something happens when I’m under the effects of copious amounts of antibiotics, cold meds and Nyquil.  I QUILT!  

In fact, I can’t even TYPE NYQUIL without turning it into NYQUILT and then have to edit it.  So there you go. Enough explanation.

I love my string bins more than life itself.  The depths are bottomless and full of so much variety that it is a complete joy to dig in and see what I can find and sew into good use.  And that’s where this whole saga of a tutorial starts.  The strings.

Click HERE for printer-friendly version.

Everything 3/4’’ up to about 2’’

This bin lives next to my cutting table and I am always tossing leftovers into it.  It’s like stone soup – the more you add the better it gets, and be sure to stir it around liberally.

If you don’t have a string bin, cut yourselves a wide variety of strips in colors and in neutrals in widths from 3/4’’ up to 2’’.  And do yourself a favor – don’t cut them all STRAIGHT.  Things are more interesting if strips taper and lean a bit.  These Crooked Courthouse Steps blocks go in every direction.

Start with some scrap 2’’ squares.

Add a scrap of neutral to either side of the center square.

Press toward the neutral scraps.

Trim with scissors – no squaring up allowed!

This whole quilt was a scissor trimming project for me.  Sew the scraps on, trim the excess off with scissors over the trash can. Let things organically lean this way or that – or even trim things at a slight angle to get your block started off in a fun direction.

The process of of Courthouse Steps is simple – two neutrals on the sides, two colors top and bottom, and then repeat – two neutrals on the sides, followed by 2 colors top and bottom –all seams being pressed toward the outside of the block.

Two colors going on opposite sides.

Trimming – not looking too wonky yet!

Next neutral choices -

Some wider, some narrower.

Next two colored sides -

Things are starting to lean!

3rd set of neutrals -

We are wider than we are tall! LOL!

Round 3 of colors -

As I am working on blocks there are a couple of things I like to do.  This is a great block for chain piecing.  I worked in chains of 5 blocks at a time.  Sure, you could go to town and do 90 blocks at once, but I like to watch things grow. 5 is manageable.  Then I can trim them up and start the next batch.

Look for different widths of strips.  You can trim anywhere, you don’t have to maintain a perfect 1/4’’ seam allowance.  You can even purposely lay the next strip on top of the block at a slight angle to force a lean, there really are NO RULES.

Also – I go for variety in color, print style, as well as size.  If I’ve already used a purple print – chances are I’ll chose a different purple for the other side of the block.  Mix it up as much as possible.

Round 4 of neutrals.

Round 4 of colors.

This was my “average” number of strips going around that center 2’’ square.  At this point, measure your blocks and see if there is a common size of block you can get from the majority of them.

Some blocks may end with a neutral round, or with only 1 side of the final color round because you are sewing for BLOCK SIZE, not the same number of strips per block.  Strips vary in width, so some blocks may take more, some blocks may take less.  Just stop when your block reaches the size you are shooting for.

Ready to trim up!

I trimmed my blocks to 8’’, finishing in the quilt at 7 1/2’’.

Trim yours whatever size you want.

I purposely did NOT center the ruler, nor did I try to have the center square directly in the middle of the block.  I let them be where they wanted to be and trimmed wherever I got the most fun out of the block.

I tried to leave at least 1/2’’ of any strip showing at the edge of the block.

Meaning when I sew it into the quilt, there will only be 1/4’’ of that strip showing, but it is enough of the strip showing without losing the whole strip in the next seam.

This block ended with only ONE 4th colored strip -

I didn’t do a 4th one on the opposite side because the block was already big enough.  Shoot for block size, not block symmetry!

Four blocks in a row…I can see a lot of crazy fun happening here!

Blocks sewn in rows, ready to join rows together.

Quilted and trimmed, waiting for binding.
(Hanging sideways over the rail)

I made 120 blocks and set them 10 X 12 for a quilt that measured 75’’ x 90’’.  It was the PERFECT measurement for one of the twin beds at Quiltville Inn.

I bound it in an old VIP Cranston print.

I love how it works with the great yellow/green backing fabric.

Binding finished, and photo op over the porch rail.

And even better on the bed in bedroom #3 -

Just waiting for someone to come sleep beneath it!

Those four leftover sample blocks became a cushion!

I loved making these blocks.  They were fast and so much fun.  I loved the amount of scrap fabric they used up.  I love how the quilt looks on the bed, and now I find myself wanting to make more pillows and cushions from leftover blocks.

I’ve got some fun hints on how I did the cushion as well, and I’ll be saving that for another post.  Be watching!

Quiltville Quote of the Day 

Vintage string quilt found in North Carolina

It's okay to go your own direction, even when others don't understand it! You do YOU!  You be YOU!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!


  1. The quilt turned out beautiful, Bonnie! I love it and it will give so many a cozy night at Quiltville Inn. Thanks for sharing the pattern with us! Every time I sew ANY pattern I am thankful for the quilting techniques you have taught that improve my accuracy. My quilting adventures are so much more enjoyable when I'm not fighting fitting issues. :-)

  2. Thank you for another scrap quilt to make. In the quilt ministry at church I am the queen of scraps. What is left over or wonky they let me go through and play with to make crazy quilts etc. I find such joy in just putting tops together and they donate them. Don't get me wrong I eagerly wait for the Mystery Quilt every year. Love those too.

  3. I just love this quilt....I have never attempted one of your quilts, but may have to give this one a try, of course I don't have nearly as many scraps, but could certainty hit up the fabric store for remnants and have a go! Thanks for sharing the pattern.

  4. Oh, it looks so nice in the bedroom! Think of the lucky quilt retreaters who will get to sleep under that and get a close-up look at all the fun scraps.

  5. this quilt has mysteries of it's own....been following along and am working on the 25th 12 1/2 inch block....my scrap bin is an 'art box' not nearly the size of yours and was full when I started these blocks.....it is still full....the neutral bin is almost empty however.....I am beginning to believe in quilt Leprechauns.

  6. Simple perfection , love love love :)

  7. Thank you for these directions! I am planning more scrap quilts in my future to get my scraps storage to a more manageable size, and this is very helpful.

  8. Nice job ! Thank you for the free tutorial

  9. Awesome! I can't wait to tackle this one. Thanks, Bonnie! Hugs!!!

  10. Thanks Bonnie! I look forward to your blog every morning with my coffee. I appreciate all your adventures and inspiration. Big hugs to you!

  11. The QI is shaping up nicely. It's got the perfect welcoming look.

  12. Thank you for this tutorial! I'm going to quilt camp in a few weeks and will bring my strings along with me! You have really inspired me to become a scrappy quilter! And after doing Punkin Patch - I'm addicted to strings!! Thanks for all you do! Look forward to coming to Quiltville Inn someday! Hoping to have an AK Cruise (2016) reunion there!

  13. What a beautiful quilt, thanks for sharing yet another way to fling strings!

  14. Thank you again, Bonnie. I am going to "quilt camp" next week----string box and this tutorial will be #1 project I think :-)

  15. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial. I have been on a mission to control my scrap basket-cutting into useful squares and strips and have cut out 8 baby quilts from scraps but have to say I agree with the previous quote that for some reason the scrap basket is still full...also in cutting up the scraps into ever tinier pieces I repeat in my head that poem by Swift? The naturalist observed the flea has smaller fleas that on him prey and on them smaller still that bite 'em and so proceed on infinitum. But I do draw the line at 1 1/2 in squares and 3/4 in strips...stili...

  16. Such a fun and cozy quilt. Every corner of Quiltville Inn is looking so inviting. It is wonderful how your dream is coming together after so much thought and hard work. My quilting buddy and I are trying to figure out how we can find a group to let us join a retreat with them very soon.

  17. What a fun, colorful, and easy quilt you gifted us today. I'm thinking how fun a smaller one would be for a Christmas throw. The tip of 5 blocks at a time works for my skill level, method of piecing, and like you I'm wanting to see how my blocks will turn out. Yours looks fabulous on the bed. Thanks

  18. It looks really beautiful and with a bonus cushion. You have created a lovely and elegant room.

  19. I love this quilt. I can't wait to dig into my scraps. Thank you Bonnie for another great pattern.

  20. I’m excited to give this a try! My string bin is plumb full!

  21. Thank you for this colorful quilt, that any of us can make, it is beautiful on the bed.I also have a huge bucket of scraps, am anxious to get started.

  22. Your quilt is beautiful and looks so homey on the bed.

  23. I am definitely making this! Bonnie, can I have your permission to use your quote for today on my next blog post? I would love to expand on that idea and use your graphic (with credit to you, of course) but won't do it without your permission:) I love, love that quote!

  24. I'm itching to do any kind of quilting! I still don't have all my toys in my sewing room yet, and it's bugging me. Fortunately (unfortunately), I have help moving stuff in, but "they" can't play every day, "they" have to go to work, leaving me here to stare at my fabric longingly. *SIGH*

  25. Oh Bonnie, so delightful.
    Thanks for the tutorial.
    That quilt brings a smile to my face.

  26. My heart is singing and my fabric calling after reading about this beauty! Thank you!

  27. I've made many quilts, but a scrappy is still my favorite to do. Enjoy your tutorials so so so very much. Thanks for all the patterns.

  28. Did last night's quilt cam get put on you tube with CC ???

    you make this look so doable......

  29. Thank you for taking the time to post the directions for this quilt. It's right up my alley! My strips are overflowing! You are amazing! Gretchen

  30. I hadn't seen this post until Jo Kramer posted her finish! Love it! I've been trying to work on string projects all year but have stalled on them so far but this one seems like an easy one to throw in the mix!

  31. Just finished quilting a 12 x 12 crooked courthouse and I LOVE IT. Not to brag, but I can close the scrap bin now!!


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