Courthouse Steps Quilt Block Tutorial: Using 1", 1½", 2", or 2½" wide strips

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The Courthouse Steps quilt block takes the traditional and elevates it to a whole new level.

The Courthouse Steps block pattern is an absolute treasure. Each block provides a perfect canvas for an endless array of color, fabric, and design combinations. Plus it's faster than a traditional Log Cabin block—you can add two sides before having to press after the block is big enough.

And the best part?

Our step-by-step guide includes everything you need to get started, from a downloadable coloring or fabric planning page, and cutting chart, to simple tips to ensure your quilt blocks turn out accurate and stunning.

Let your endless creativity take flight, and dive into this tutorial with enthusiasm. In no time, you'll have heaps of beautiful Courthouse Steps blocks ready to be stitched into the quilt of your dreams.

Let's get started, shall we?

In this tutorial, you'll find plenty of goodies to download to help you with your block:

General Instructions

Several abbreviations are used on this page. They are:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together

1/4" SA are used through this tutorial. 

Pressing instructions are highlighted in yellow throughout this tutorial to make them easy to spot.

When instructed to press, first press the patches in the closed position just as they came off your sewing machine. This sets the seam, melding the fibers of the threads into the fibers of the fabric.

The newest quilt fabrics to tickle your fancy...

Click the images below to see the full collection. We share any commercial and/or free patterns that showcase them, too. (For inspiration, of course!)

Secrets to sewing an accurate Courthouse Steps

There are two.

The first is to take a Sewing Test before starting to test the accuracy of your seam allowance. Use scraps from your block for the test.

The other biggie, is to cut your strips on the lengthwise grain of your fabric. That way the lengthwise, sturdiest, least-stretchy grain is on the length of your logs. The block has very little give when you're finished. 

To learn more about these techniques, read my article, "Perfect Log Cabin Quilt Blocks: Secrets Nobody Spills".

Step 1: Cutting logs for a Courthouse Steps quilt block

Courthouse Steps quilt block designCourthouse Steps design

Sample Block Size:  11" finished / 11½" unfinished

Grid:   11x11

Design Type:  Log Cabin

To print a copy of the block design and cutting chart to use at your cutting table, click here.

Please label all your patches. We use their numbers throughout this tutorial.

If you're a lover of Jelly Rolls, you're in luck. The 22" finished version of this block uses 2-1/2" wide strips—perfect for using up some of those rounds of quilty-goodness!

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Cutting Chart for a
Courthouse Steps Quilt Block

~ Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
5½'' 11'' 16½'' 22''
1 A 1 1'' x 1'' 1½'' x 1½'' 2'' x 2'' 2½'' x 2½''
2 B 2 1'' x 1'' 1½'' x 1½'' 2'' x 2'' 2½'' x 2½''
3 A 2 1'' x 2'' 1½'' x 3½'' 2'' x 5'' 2½'' x 6½''
4 B 2 1'' x 2'' 1½'' x 3½'' 2'' x 5'' 2½'' x 6½''
5 A 2 1'' x 3'' 1½'' x 5½'' 2'' x 8'' 2½'' x 10½''
6 B 2 1'' x 3'' 1½'' x 5½'' 2'' x 8'' 2½'' x 10½''
7 A 2 1'' x 4'' 1½'' x 7½'' 2'' x 11'' 2½'' x 14½''
8 B 2 1'' x 4'' 1½'' x 7½'' 2'' x 11'' 2½'' x 14½''
9 A 2 1'' x 5'' 1½'' x 9½'' 2'' x 14'' 2½'' x 18½''
10 B 2 1'' x 5'' 1½'' x 9½'' 2'' x 14'' 2½'' x 18½''
11 A 2 1'' x 6'' 1½'' x 11½'' 2'' x 17'' 2½'' x 22½''
Unfinished Block Size 6'' 11½'' 17'' 22½''
Grid Size 1/2'' 1'' 1½'' 2''


Step 2: Stitching your Courthouse Steps block

When pressing the SAs for this block you have two choices.

  • Press every SA away from the center #1 square. You may want to check that your darker fabrics aren't showing through the lighter ones from the top side of the quilt. If they do, you'll want to trim away just a smidge of the darker patch (aka grading a seam allowance) to prevent this from happening.
  • Press all the SAs open. Since the dark fabrics are pressed underneath themselves, you have no worries about them shadowing through the top of your block or quilt.

For the 11" sample block, I'll be pressing those SAs open to reduce bulk.

As you finish a 'round of logs' i.e., after adding the second #3, #5, #7, #9, and the final #11 patches, it's a good idea to check the accuracy of your stitching. Use the table below to do this.

To print this "Check the accuracy of your stitching chart", click here.

Check the accuracy of your stitching

Block Size
Measurement after adding the second patch...
#3 #5 #7 #9 #11
5½'' 2" x 2" 3" x 3" 4" x 4" 5" x 5" 6" x 6"
11" 3½" x 3½" 5½" x 5½" 7½" x 7½" 9½" x 9½" 11½" x 11½"
16½'' 5" x 5" 8" x 8" 11" x 11" 14" x 14" 17" x 17"
22" 6½" x 6½" 10½" x 10½" 14½" x 14½" 18½" x 18½" 22½" x 22½"

It occurred to you, didn't it?

You can add as many rounds of logs as you want. You don't have to go up to 5 or stop at 5 either.  The finished size is 1/2" less than the measurements in the chart (to account for the SA).

Ready to start sewing?

With RST, stitch a #2 to opposite sides of your center #1 patch. 

Add a #2 to opposite sides of #1

Press as you have chosen—either open or away from #1.

Since this first patch is pretty small, add one and then the other, pressing in between. You'll get a much flatter SA that way.

#2/#1/#2 from the back to see how the seams are pressedFor the sample, I've chosen to press my SAs open.

With RST, add a #3 to each long edge. My preference is to stitch from the side with the seams on top. It's easier to AVOID flipping seams over as you sew.

I do pin to keep the edges aligned.

Again, add one #3 at a time, pressing in between for this first round.

The first round of logs is finished

The first round on our Courthouse Steps quilt block is complete. Use the chart above to check your accuracy.

Here it is from the back.

The first round of logs with their SAs pressed open

You can see how the dark fabric is behind the dark and the light behind the light. No worries about dark fabric shadowing through the lighter one. 

A very simple solution.

With RST, add a #4 to both shorter sides of the sewn unit. Only this time, you may be able to comfortably work your iron into the center to get a good press. 

The #4s are pinned in place.This is shown from the backside so you can see which patches are being added

As soon as you can, add your patches one to each side and then press. 

This is the beauty of the Courthouse Steps, being able to add two patches between trips to the ironing board.

For a big quilt, this one thing is a HUGE time saver.

Add a dark #5 to each side of the growing Courthouse Steps, and press.

After sewing both #5s, the second round is complete

Again, use the chart above to check the accuracy of your seam allowance. Make any adjustments you need.

2 rounds from the back2 rounds finished from the back

Add the #6 and #7 patches in the same manner as all the previous ones.

Pinning the logsIf your favorite 1/4" foot has a flange on the right like mine, just make sure the pins don't hang over the edge. If you happen to sew over them, the presser foot won't get hung up on the pin.

Here is our block after stitching the #7s. The third round of logs is finished. Our Courthouse Steps is starting to look like something now.

3rd round complete

Use the chart to check the accuracy of the block. Adjust as needed.

Here it is after sewing the second #9.

Round 4 is done

Finish off your block with the #10 and #11 rectangles. Give your block a final press—you're going to LOVE-LOVE-LOVE how flat this block is after pressing all the SAs open.

And our finished Courthouse Steps quilt block is complete.

The 5th round of logs is stitched

One final peek at the backside. 

Super neat.

Super flat.

This will be a pleasure to stitch into a quilt.

The back of the finished Courthouse Steps quilt block

Consistency in how you press helps you do a better machine quilting job, too.

If all the blocks have SAs in the same direction, you're never guessing which side of a seam has the ditch, or where you'll run into a big lump that'll cause your stitches to go off kilter. 

Try your hand at other related Log Cabin quilt blocks

Log Cabin quilt blocks are built around a single shape either in the center of the block, or sometimes on the side like Heart or in a corner like Rainbow Flower. 

The blocks below are ones where at least a part of the block uses the Log Cabin piecing technique.

Still have a Log Cabin itch that you can't scratch?

Browse through our curated collection of free or paid Log Cabin quilt patterns. These include traditional and modern blocks, Pineapple and Courthouse Steps designs.

Click here for the inspiration.

There's more quilt blocks to make

For EVEN MORE blocks to make, visit our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library, with over 220+ blocks to choose from in multiple sizes.

Free downloads are included in all sizes for any blocks require paper piecing patterns or templates.

Click here to skip to the Virginia block assembly

For EVEN MORE blocks to make, visit our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library with over 200 blocks to choose from in multiple sizes.

Free download are included for any that use paper piecing patterns or templates.

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