Castle Stairs Quilt


Hi!  I’m Kelly from kelbysews and today I’m going to share my TWO projects from one jelly roll!  When I was experimenting with this design, my four year old said it looked like castle stairs.  Since I couldn’t come up with anything better, I used his description in my title!  :)  This project is a hexagon-shaped log cabin and is easy peasy!  Ready? Set? Sew!!!


* 1 Ruby Jelly Roll
* 1/2 yard 55037-11 for binding:  this can be optional if you do not want to make the pillow. You may use the leftover jelly roll strips to bind the quilt.
* 4 yards 55030-13F for backing:  this is flannel Ruby fabric and it’s fantastic!
* Hexagon template included in Printer Friendly Version


* Embroidery thread
* Pearl Cotton
* Scrap of Moda Bella Solid in white–or you can use a little of your backing fabric instead.
* mini Post-It notes

Gather your supplies!  You don’t have to embroider anything in the center hexagon.  Feel free to use a corner of your backing fabric to fill this area, you’ll have plenty to spare.  I think this center hexagon would be perfect to embroider a child’s name or new baby’s birthdate, weight, etc, or even use it as your quilt label!  You can really get creative with the center!

Trace hexagon (included in Printer Friendly version) and desired design with a removable ink pen.  I traced my design on paper with black marker so I didn’t even have to use a light box to see it through the white fabric.  If you’re using a darker fabric, simply tape the design to a window then tape the fabric over it.  If you’re only using the hexagon as a template, you can cut it out and trace it onto your hexagon fabric.
Embroider to your heart’s content then cut out your hexagon!  I later decided the center French knots were too much and removed them, so you’ll notice their absence in later pictures.

Choose 6 jelly roll strips to set aside.  This will be the outer 6 sides of the hexagon.  DO NOT USE THESE UNTIL THE END!  I went for a variety of color and patterns here. I would avoid choosing a strip that is the same as your binding fabric since these will be the edges of your quilt.

From the remaining 34 strips, select one and match the edges with one side of the hexagon.  Try and line up the corner of the hexagon with the first usable bit of the strip.  You will be using the left over pieces of the strips for the pillow so you want as much as possible to work with.

Are we noticing the pins?  Do NOT under ANY circumstance think you can do this project without pinning every single time!  Want proof?  Here is my first attempt at this project (when I was stupid and didn’t pin):
Yeah, this is my quilt top lying FLAT–or as close as I could get it to flat!  Don’t let this happen to you!  Now this lovely Verna quilt is keeping my Labrador’s crate nice and comfy.  Pin people!  

After setting the seam, press away from the center hexagon.

Trim the excess by lining your ruler up with the edge of the hexagon sides.

The piece remaining should measure 2.25″ if your 1/4″ seam allowance is correct.  It is very important to maintain an accurate seam allowance throughout this project since later on you will be using the width of sewn strips to determine your cutting angle for newly added strips.  You’ll see what I mean soon!

Another important step!  Label each strip as you use it with a number.  You can do this any way that’s convenient for you, I chose to use baby Post-It notes.
Line up your next strip, working clockwise around the hexagon.  Please keep in mind that it is more important that the new strip is laying flat than to have the edges of the hexagon and the new strip line up perfectly.  If you bend the new strip to fit the edges of the hexagon exactly, your final product may not lay flat.  Match the edges as close as you can while making sure the entire project is flat.  

Again, trim the excess.

Now can you see why accurate seam allowances are necessary?  Line up the edge of your ruler with the edge of the 1st piece.  The 2.25″ mark should be straight along the seam line where the first piece attaches to the hexagon.  Trim your second piece.

Label every single strip!  You can “fly by the seat of your pants” with this, but if you want to ensure your quilt is as large as my sample, you’ll need to label.

After adding six strips, your hexagon should look like this.  I added a pin through my first strip to keep track of where I started.  Don’t laugh at this step!  I didn’t follow my own advice throughout the making of this quilt and, as a result, I accidentally added an extra strip!  Luckily, it didn’t throw me off too much in the dimensions!  If you count the number of strips on each side, there should be 12, but one of my sides has 13.  I’m human, what can say?  It’s my humility piece!

Start your next round of six strips on the side to the right (or clockwise) from where your first strip started.  This will give you the staggered, castle steps look.

This is what it should look like after your next 6 strips.

Another 6 down!  Keep going like this.  Once you hit strip 34, you will begin to repeat strips.  There is some wiggle room in the order you repeat the strips, but you must keep in mind that you do not want to wait too long to use higher number strips.  The higher numbers are not as long and if you wait until the end to use them again, they may not be long enough to fit the side.  You may omit two strips from being repeated.  I omitted 21 and 22.  I chose to omit strips that had duplicates–meaning there were two jelly roll strips of the same print.  
This is a sample order:
Round A: 1-6
Round B: 7-12
Round C: 13-18
Round D: 19-24
Round E: 25-30
Round F: 31-34, 13, 24
Round G: 34, 25, 28, 15, 23, 30
Round H: 26, 33, 17, 31, 27, 19
Round I: 32, 29, 18, 16, 20, 14
Round J: 11, 7, 12, 8, 9, 10
Round K: 1, 2, 6, 5, 3, 4
Round L: 6 strips you set aside at the beginning
Now it’s time to pull out the six strips we set aside in the beginning!  These will be the outer most edges of the quilt.  In total, you will have 12 rings around the hexagon. 

I pre-washed my backing fabric since it’s flannel and has a tendency to shrink a bit more than quilting cotton.  I don’t usually prewash, but I thought it was necessary this time.  I cut my backing fabric into two 2-yard pieces (approximately, since it had been washed).  Then I sewed them along the 72″ side.  I laid out the quilt slightly to one side so I would have a long rectangular strip of backing fabric leftover.  You will need this to complete the pillow project.

I basted the heck out of this thing!  Because it’s an unusual shape, I wanted to be sure it wouldn’t get distorted in the quilting process.  Cut (8) 2.25″ strips for binding.  You will only need 5 for the quilt, but you will need extra for the pillow and it’s more expedient to make it all at once.  I was a bit worried when I sat down to bind this since the angles aren’t 90 degrees, but I simply folded back at the corners using the quilt as my guide for the correct angle, and it worked the same as binding a square quilt.  
***Note, if you prefer to use 2.5″ binding, you should still have enough for both projects, but barely.
After quilting and binding, this is the result!  Isn’t it cute?!?!?  Sweet and fun on the front, snugly warm on the back!  What kiddo wouldn’t love it?  If you’re feeling adventurous, you could cut from one corner to the middle, bind the cut edges and have a Christmas tree skirt!!!!  Or you could stop adding strips a bit sooner and have an adorable table topper!
Now we aren’t going to waste all those leftover jelly roll pieces!  Pair each left over strip with another piece of about the same length and sew them together.

Next, stack them and cut as many 2.5″ squares as you can.  You should be able to get more than enough to make a 20″ pillow.  The pillow takes 100 2.5″ squares (or 50 pairs of two) and I had over 120 squares (60 pairs of two) when I finished cutting the remaining strips.

Randomly sew those little pairs of squares together until you get a 20″ square pillow front.

Next, cut a slightly larger than 20″x20″ piece of the leftover flannel backing and place the pillow top on it, wrong sides together.  Baste and quilt.  The flannel acts like batting here.  I’m doing my best to use up your extra backing fabric!    

All quilted up!  Trim off the excess backing fabric leaving you with a 20.5″ unfinished patchwork pillow front.

Now, to make the back of the pillow, cut (2) 13.5″ x 20.5″ pieces from your leftover backing.  You should have plenty of backing to do this so long as you laid your quilt out like I pictured above.  

Now pull out the leftover binding from your quilt and cut (2) pieces 21″ in length. 

Fold the ends toward the middle, original crease line.

Press in half again along the original crease line.

Tuck the 20.5″ edge into the tape you created.

Pin like crazy.

Sew 1/4″ from the top edge, securing the tape to the edge of the pillow back.

Ta-da!  Now repeat these steps for the other 13.5″ x 20.5″ piece.  Trim off any excess tape.

Lay the pieces out in the following order:
1.  Quilted pillow top, right side face down
2.  One piece of the pillow back with the edge closer to the bottom, right side face up
3.  The second piece of the pillow back with the edge closer to the top of the pillow, right side up.
Basically, lay everything out how you want it to look when it’s finished.  We won’t be turning this inside out so what you see is what you get.  It’s a lot less confusing that way! 
Pin heavily around the entire pillow!

Baste 1/8″ from the edge of the pillow using your longest stitch length.  The basting holds everything together so you don’t have to worry about layers shifting around on you when you attach the binding.  Now bind as usual, using the left over binding from your quilt! 

A hexagon quilt measuring approximately 30.5″ on each side (60″ from corner to opposite corner, 52″ from the middle of one side to the opposite side) and one 20″ pillow!

The snugly, warm back of the quilt and pillow.
My original example of the project was in solids.  It gives you a totally different look!

I eventually made it into a 12″x16″ pillow with some adventurous quilting–though really, for me, anything that isn’t free motion is adventurous! Ha ha!
Hope you all enjoyed my second MBS project!  
Kelly Bowser

Kelly Bowser

Kelly Bowser

Pattern Designer at Hearts & Bees
Kelly Bowser

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