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Improvised Courthouse Steps Quilt Block

Today, we are going to do a mashup.  They seem to be everywhere in food, in music, it seems everytime you turn around someone has mashed two things together that most of us wouldn't have thought to do before.  So I thought why not merge traditional quilting and modern quilting into one block to hopefully bridge the gap.  The improvised courthouse steps quilt block brings the traditional quilt block courthouse steps into the modern world using the very popular improvised style.  I hope it also lets you let go of some hesitation in breaking the rules in quilting.  There's nothing wrong with breaking a rule or two there is no such thing as the quilting police.

improvised courthouse quilt block

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History of the Courthouse Steps Block

There are some who say the courthouse step block is a variation of the log cabin and those who say the log cabin block is a variation of the courthouse steps block.  Both blocks first appeared in the civil war era of quilting.  There's no concrete date for either block.  Like a log cabin block, half the block is dark and the other half is light. Unlike the log cabin block though it's worked left, right, top, bottom.  Traditionally the light would be the left and right side and the dark would be top and bottom.

Improvised Courthouse Steps Block Construction

You'll notice I broke with tradition and didn't keep the darks on the top and bottom and the lights on the left and right.  To add a little more visual interest I alternated the batiks and black strips so I never had two batiks next to each other.

Tips For Piecing Improvised Courthouse Steps

  • The first thing I'm going to say is to have fun. The angle you lay your strip on is up to you.  No two blocks should be the same.  If they are the same then it's not improvised.  
  • The bigger the angles the more you will need to square up
  • When squaring, after adding both colors, square to the largest size possible
  • If you want to make a whole project with it know some blocks may have more rounds in order to reach your desired size.
  • The most important rule is to have fun!
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If you like this block don't forget to pin the image below so you'll always be able to come back to it.

improvised quilt block

I'm sharing this on Oh Scrap! where you can get lots of scrappy ideas.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Todays Quilter (a UK magazine) has a free supplement this month on the log cabin quilt. It makes for fascinating reading! It traces the pattern back quite a few thousand years to Egyptian times, and then forward through it's use in textile and furniture design. Of course it makes mention of Luke Haynes and his work with the block, which I am looking forward to seeing later this year when he comes to NZ. Great post, and fun looking blocks to make.

  2. That's pretty cool. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Clever twist on the Courthouse block, I love it! I just pinned it; I'd really like to make a quilt out of these block. Thank you! Also, thanks for linking up with To-Do Tuesday this week! :)

  4. Looks great, I like the reminder that there is no quilt police too! Thanks for sharing at #HandmadeMonday

  5. What fun to see your improv Courthouse! See???? YOu can do improv - LOL!