Jacob's Ladder Quilt Pattern

Fun and Easy Beginner Quilt Patterns!

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The Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern is a wonderfully graphic quilt.

Constructed from four patch and half square triangle units, it's a perfect choice for the beginning quilter who's ready to add triangle squares to their repertoire.

You can create your Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern designs from one of two related blocks. (You'll find instructions for both on this website with links further down the page.)

Both are made from the same units, only their grids differ. Neither block is easier or harder than the other, though the larger, 3x3 grid block creates more intricate quilt designs.

All of the designs below are in straight sets with the exception of one quilt.

With the strong diagonal movement through the block, an on-point setting doesn't add the drama it usually would for many other blocks.

My Favorite Quilt Design Software

All the free patterns and block/quilt illustrations on this site were created in either EQ7 or EQ8—my favorite quilt design software.

This program makes it so easy to audition different colors and values with just a few mouse clicks.

Rotate and flip the blocks with another series of clicks.

I can't imagine going back to graph paper and colored pencils.

Or worse yet—simply keeping my fingers crossed. Fabric is much too expensive!

The box contains a software download license—License ID and Password—and a booklet to get you through installation and get you started. There is no disk as in the past. 

Download the software onto your computer from the EQ website using the ID and password as directed. At the time of download you can choose either PC or MAC. 

I LOVE Electric Quilt!

I hope you do to.

Jacob's Ladder Quilt Pattern
2x2 Grid

This block, based on a 2x2 grid, is created from two four patch units and two half square triangle units.

Jacob's Ladder quilt block

Other common names include:

Buckeye Beauty
Double Four Patch
Gay Scrap Quilt
Going to Chicago
Hour Glass
New Four Patch
Railroad
Railroad Crossing
World's Fair

Use a palette of blues and grays with group of low-contrast shirtings, orient the blocks in the same direction and you'll create this (Buckeye) beauty...

Jacob's Ladder quilt using a 2x2 grid block

...which would make a great block exchange for your quilting bee.

Make a simple change...

Jacob's Ladder quilt block variation

This next Jacob's Ladder variation uses our 2x2 grid block and adds a simple variation.

Take our pattern from above and flip the half square triangle units so that the darks are towards the outside (see right).

Alternate the two blocks and strong, parallel, diagonal stripes emerge.

Jacob's Ladder quilt design, 2 block variation

I've seen this layout in several antique quilts. Almost always two color. Almost always blue and white.

Try a grouping of Jacob's Ladder...

New Double Four Patch quilt block in two fabrics

Put four of our original blocks together.

Orient them in the same direction to create a Jacob's Ladder quilt block variation called "New Double Four Patch".

Add a stripped sashing and a nine patch quilt block for the cornerstones and you have this quilt design.

New Double Four Patch quilt pattern in two fabrics

Stunning. Graphic. The perfect quilt for the men and boys in your life.

Jacob's Ladder Quilt Pattern
3x3 Grid

Some Jacob's Ladder designs are based on a 3x3 grid.

Again, the color placement in the four patch units creates strong diagonal movement through the quilt.

Jacob's Ladder block design variation 1Fig. 1
Jacob's Ladder block design, variation 2Fig. 2
Jacob's Ladder block design, variation 3Fig.3

This 3x3 version of our Jacob's Ladder is known by these other common names:

Double Hour Glass
Going to Chicago
Golden Stairs
Off to San Francisco
Pacific Rail Road
Railroad
Road to Arkansas
Road to California

Road to the White House
Stepping Stones
Susie's Fancy
Tail of Benjamin's Kite
Trail of the Covered Wagon
Underground Railroad
Wagon Tracks

Two color Jacob's Ladder

Two color quilts make a strong statement and this red and white version of the block (Figure 1) is no different.

Patch outlines are omitted so as not to distract from the overall impression.

Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern- 2 color traditional

Traditional Block, On-Point Layout

Use the same 2-color block design (Figure 1), but in an on-point setting. Add a solid alternate block for open spaces for quilting stitches.

Patch outlines are omitted so as not to distract from the overall impression.

Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern- 2 color traditional with alternate block

Two color block, rotate alternate blocks

Use the same traditional, 2-color block from Figure 1.

Now make a multitude of different two color blocks with one color common to all blocks. Rotate each alternate block by 90 degrees. This is the result:

Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern-multi-fabric

Two color block, rotate patches

Two-color Jacob's Ladder block

Use the same basic two color block, but reverse the orientation of the half square triangles. This block is also know as "Road to Arkansas".

Choose a color palette and make many two-color blocks. Use the same fabric (in our case black) for the strong diagonal.

Set all the blocks in the same direction and you'll have:

Jacob's Ladder quilt made with two color blocks, one black, the other ???

Four fabric block

Jacob's ladder quilt block variation

Using four fabrics/colors completely changes the design. The strong diagonal element is still there.

However, an equally strong pattern is created when the blocks are set together.

To maintain the symmetry of this layout, you'll need even numbers of blocks in both the rows and columns.

A great quilt to use up stash fabrics!

Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern-four fabrics

Woven Blocks

In this next example, we've taken the basic 3x3 grid block from Figure 1 and positioned the fabrics in two different ways. The result is a patchwork pattern where the blocks appear to weave through each other.

Below left, the four patches create a light chain with a dark background. Below right, the four patches create a dark chain with a white background.

Jacob's Ladder quilt block variation
a second Jacob's Ladder quilt block variation

Take a closer look. The only difference is that the half square triangle units are rotated 90 degrees.

Alternate the blocks and rows to create this scrappy, woven effect.

Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern - woven look

Tweak it!

Jacob's Ladder block variation

In our final design suggestion for a Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern, we've changed the block just a bit.

There are now six half square triangle units and just three four-patch units.

All the four patches are the same black and white patches for the whole quilt. The half square triangle units are white and another color.

Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern-many fabrics

Now it's up to you...

Link to Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

Which Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern will you choose for your next quilt?

To make a four patch version of the block (also known as a Buckeye Beauty) click here.

To make a nine patch Jacob' Ladder quilt block, click here.

Or go to our Quilt Design 101 Series and find another quilt design that sparks your creativity!

Not ready for the Jacob's Ladder quilt pattern but love the strong diagonal lines and movement?

Then take look at our Irish Chain quilt pattern designs.

For more Jacob's Ladder ideas...

There's also a Jacob's Ladder children's toy in the list below. It'd be fun to include it with their new quilt, don't you think?!

Try your hand at your own Jacob's Ladder block

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