Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob's Ladder quilt block

Jacob’s Ladder quilt block is a very popular block. It has many many variations, with different color formations, different sizes, different number of units, but in the end it all comes down to Jacob’s Ladder.

Jacob's Ladder quilt
via Anja's Quilts

A little bit of history

via Womenfolk.com by Judy Anne Breneman

Seldom do we find a quilt pattern with just one name. This pattern has been called many. Just a few are Jacob’s Ladder, Underground Railroad, Road to California, Off to San Francisco, Gone to Chicago, Stepping Stones and Trail of the Covered Wagon. All these names have one commonality; they all speak of going somewhere.

It’s fun to imagine what might have inspired these names. It may be a trip through the garden using stepping stones or it might be the long journey west in a covered wagon. Women might well have dreamed of traveling as they were sewing on this quilt.

When Marie Webster wrote the first known book on quilting in 1915 she referred to the Jacob’s Ladder pattern in this way, “The bold and rather heavy design known as ‘Jacobs Ladder’ is a good example of a pieced quilt.” She showed a black and white picture of this pattern with the caption, “One of the most striking quilts having Biblical names.” Biblical names were often used for quilts in a time when reading the Bible each day was a part of family life.

Finley was the first to mention the same pattern was sometimes called the Underground Railroad. She further romanticized the name Underground Railroad by describing how it brings to mind a picture of, “Eliza of Uncle Tom’s Cabin crossing the ice from Kentucky to Ohio, whence the underground railroad carried runaway slaves to the promised land of Canada.” We know that this pattern was unknown during the pre Civil War days of the Underground Railroad. But considering Finley grew up in Ohio she might well have heard stories of this pattern in connection with Ohio’s part in assisting escaping slaves.

Quilt historian Barbara Brackman puts it so well in an article she wrote, “As a quiltmaker I’ve always loved the pattern and the secrets hidden in the name. But as historian I’ve come to realize that there are no known quilts in this pattern dating back to the days of the Civil War or to the decades before the War when the Underground Railroad flourished.”

Jacob's ladder quilt
via Coriander Quilts

Cutting Instructions for the Jacob’s Ladder quilt block

You should always remember FINISHED SIZE means the size it will be in a completed quilt. The measurements given already have the ¼ inch allowance included.

Finished Block Size Cut 10 squares from Medium & Light fabric Cut 2 squares from Light & Dark fabric
9” 1.5” 3 7/8”
12” 2.5” 4 7/8”
Jacob's Ladder quilt
via annchampion

Names of the block

Wagon tracks, Pacific rail road, Road to Arkansas

#REFERENCE: Maggie Malone “5500 Quilt Blocks Designs”

Jacob's Ladder quilt
via Fons & Porter

Block variations

These are three exact variations of the Jacob’s Ladder quilt block that can be made using the instructions given in the video tutorial. The only thing you will be changing is the placement of the different units of the quilt block. There are more variations of the block, but only these 3 match exactly the tutorial.

Jacob's ladder quilt block variations

Video tutorial of the Jacob’s Ladder quilt block

I hope you will enjoy this video tutorial on how to make the JACOB’S LADDER quilt block and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more quilt blocks!

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