Free 3 Yard Quilt Pattern: Jacob’s Ladder

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Learn how to sew a traditional Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Pattern with just 3 yards of fabric! 3 yard quilt patterns are super popular because of how fast and easy they are to sew. If you have 3 one yard cuts of fabric in your stash and are feeling creative, let’s sew a quilt.

This Jacob’s Ladder design from SewCanShe is a 54” x 54” throw quilt pattern. There is only one block to learn, and I’ll show you shortcut quilting methods to help you get done even faster.

Don’t miss these other 3 Yard Quilt Patterns:

Or see all my 3 Yard Quilt Patterns!

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The free Jacob’s Ladder 3 Yard Quilt Pattern is included in the blog post below and is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $3 is totally optional. Did you know you can get ALL the Optimized for Printing PDF files organized in a library for you to access anytime you want? Check it out.

Why should I sew this 3 yard quilt?

Since they don’t require a lot of fabric, most 3 yard quilts are lap quilts or throw quilts. You’ll be able to finish this quilt quickly and give it as a gift or use it in your home. Because of the smaller size, throw quilts like this one are easy to quilt on a domestic sewing machine. This Jacob’s Ladder quilt pattern is great for beginners.

You’ll have enough fabric to finish the quilt top including the 9 blocks, 2” inner border, and a 2 1/2” outer border. More fabric is required for the backing and binding.

If you love to use your AccuQuilt fabric cutter like I do, I’ll share the optional cutting die numbers to make this pattern Accuquilt-friendly. Using an Accuquilt is optional, but I love it! See all my Accuquilt-friendly quilts. Look under the cutting dimensions below for a list of fabric-cutting dies you may use instead.

Except for the strips, all of the dies I used for this quilt were in the GO! Qube Mix & Match 10″ Block set.

How to Choose the Right 3 Yards of Fabric

The Jacob’s Ladder 3 Yard Quilt Pattern makes it easy to pick your fabrics. First find a beautiful ‘focus fabric’ in your stash or at your local quilt shop. This should be a fabric that really sings to you – or that makes you think of the intended recipient of the quilt.

In the example above, I wanted a very traditional looking quilt, so my focus fabric is a blue and green floral by Morris & Co for Free Spirit Fabrics.

After you have chosen your focus fabric, choose one coordinating fabric that is lighter and one coordinating fabric that is darker. Both of my coordinating fabrics are near solid blenders.

Wouldn’t a more modern Jacob’s Ladder quilt look fabulous? I used EQ8 quilt design software to see what it would look like using Anna Maria Horner fabrics. Stunning!

If you follow these instructions for choosing your fabrics, you can’t go wrong, and you probably already have 3 fabrics in your stash that will work great.

Jacob’s Ladder Free Three Yard Quilt Pattern

This free quilt pattern includes instructions sewing 2 different color variations of the Jacob’s Ladder quilt block. When you alternate the two versions, a gorgeous design appears. There are a total of 9 blocks in the quilt and each block finishes at 15”.

The finished throw quilt is 54” x 54”. It’s perfect for snuggling on the couch or donating to Project Linus or another worthy organization.

Important note: This pattern squeezes as much as possible out of each yard of fabric. The width of each piece must have 42” of usable fabric. Most fabric printed in the last 5-10 years will work great because it’s 44” wide, including the selvages. That makes the fabric 42-43” wide after you cut off the selvage. Please measure the height and width of your fabric pieces before getting started to make sure and follow the cutting charts below carefully.

You will need:

  • 3 one yard cuts of fabric (a main focus fabric, one darker fabric, and one lighter fabric)
  • a rotary cutter acrylic ruler, and mat
  • sewing machine
  • thread (I suggest thread matching the lighter fabric)
  • ironing board and iron
  • pencil or fabric marking pen

To sew the quilt top into a finished quilt, you will also need:

  • 3 1/2 yards of backing fabric (or enough to piece together a 59” x 59” or larger quilt back)
  • a piece of quilt batting at least 59” x 59”
  • 1/2 yard of binding fabric

Cutting:

Fabric layout for 1 yard of focus fabric.

Fabric A is your focus fabric. From this fabric, cut:

  • 3 strips 3” x width of fabric (for strip piecing the 4 patch units)
  • 8 squares 6” x 6” (for making half square triangles)
  • 1 strip 3” x 7” (for strip piecing 4 patch units)
  • 1 strip 3” x 29” (for the outer border)
  • 1 strip 3” x 36” (for the outer border)
  • 4 strips 3” x 42” (for the outer border)

Tip: Leave the selvages on the strips that are cut the width of fabric. You will trim the selvages off later when you sub-cut strip sets.

Optional Accuquilt cutting instructions:
  • Instead of cutting 6” squares, cut 16 5” finished HST triangles with die 55805 (in the 10” Qube set)
  • The strips may be cut with the 3” strip cutter die 55084

Note: To ensure that I had enough fabric, I only used my AccuQuilt cutter to cut the HST triangles.

Fabric layout for 1 yard of darker fabric.

Fabric B is the darker fabric. From this fabric, cut:

  • 3 strips 3” x width of fabric (for strip piecing the 4 patch units)
  • 10 squares 6” x 6” (for making half square triangles)
  • 1 strip 3” x 13” (for strip piecing 4 patch units)
  • 5 strips 2 1/2” x 42” (for the inner border)
Optional Accuquilt cutting instructions:
  • Instead of cutting 6” squares, cut 20 5” finished HST triangles with die 55805 (in the 10” Qube set)
  • The 3” strips may be cut with the 3” strip cutter die 55084
  • The 2 1/2” strips may be cut with the 2 1/2” strip cutter die 55017

Note: To ensure that I had enough fabric, I only used my AccuQuilt cutter to cut the HST triangles.

Fabric layout for 1 yard of lighter fabric.

Fabric C is the lighter fabric. From this fabric, cut:

  • 6 strips 3” x width of fabric
  • 18 squares 6” x 6”
  • 1 strip 3” x 7”
  • 1 strip 3” x 13”
Optional Accuquilt cutting instructions:
  • Instead of cutting 6” squares, cut 20 5” finished HST triangles with die 55805 (in the 10” Qube set)

Note: To ensure that I had enough fabric, I used my AccuQuilt cutter to cut the HST triangles using 6” wide fabric strips. It was very close. Measure the die shape first. Only attempt this if you have practice using the AccuQuilt dies with very tight margins or if you have extra fabric. If you cut Fabric A and Fabric B triangles using die 55805, you may cut 6″ or 5 7/8” Fabric C squares, and then sub cut them diagonally for sewing half square triangles. Trim the HST units to 5 1/2” x 5 1/2” after sewing.

Quilt Piecing

Use a 1/4’’ seam allowance and a short stitch length such as 1.5-2.

Use a Strip Piecing Technique to Make 4-Patch Blocks

1. Place a Fabric A 3” x width-of-fabric strip right sides together with Fabric C 3” x width-of-fabric strip and sew along the long edge.

Repeat to sew three Fabric A 3” by width-of fabric strips to three Fabric C 3” x width-of-fabric strips.

Sew the 3” x 7” Fabric A strip to the 3” x 7” Fabric C strip.

Open and press the seams toward the darker fabric.

Tips:

  • Pressing your seams toward the darker fabrics enables you to nest the seams in step 5.
  • Sewing with a scant quarter inch seam allowance will ensure your blocks are the right size, plus you’ll have enough fabric to square them up at the end.

2. Sub-cut each strip set into pieces that are 3” wide. You should be able to cut 14 pieces from each width-of-fabric strip. Cut 2 pieces from the shorter strip set as well for a total of 44 Fabric A/C pieces.

3. Place a Fabric B 3” x width-of-fabric strip right sides together with Fabric C 3” x width-of-fabric strip and sew along the long edge.

Repeat to sew three Fabric B 3” by width-of fabric strips to three Fabric C 3” x width-of-fabric strips.

Sew the 3” x 13” Fabric B strip to the 3” x 13” Fabric C strip.

Open and press the seams toward the darker fabric.

4. Sub-cut each strip set into pieces that are 3” wide. You should be able to cut 14 pieces from each width-of-fabric strip. Cut 4 pieces from the shorter strip set as well for a total of 46 Fabric B/C pieces.

5. Sew the pieces into 4-Patch units:

Sew 2 A/C pieces together as shown (one flipped upside down) to make a 2 color 4-patch. Repeat to make 22.

Sew 2 B/C pieces together to make a 2 color 4-patch. Repeat to make 23.

Set the 4-Patch units aside while you make half square triangle (HST) units.

Make 36 Half Square Triangle Units

Note: If you are an AccuQuilt user, you may have cut half square triangle pieces instead of 6” squares. In that case, skip the HST shortcut method below. Simply sew the triangles together to make 16 Fabric A/C HST units and 20 Fabric B/C HST units.

1. Use the pencil or fabric marking pen to draw a diagonal line across the wrong side of all the 6” Fabric C squares. This is a cutting line.

Place a 6” Fabric C square right sides together with a 6” Fabric A square. Pin the squares together.

2. Sew 1/4’’ away from the cutting line on on both sides of the line.

3. Cut each piece in half diagonally along the line. Open and press to make 2 half square triangles (HST units). Trim and square to 5 1/2” x 5 1/2”. Repeat to make 16 Fabric A/C HST units.

4. Use the same HST shortcut method and the remaining 6” squares to make 20 Fabric B/C HST units. Trim and square to 5 1/2” x 5 1/2”.

Assemble the Jacob’s Ladder Blocks

1. Arrange the following 9 pieces to make a Fabric A Jacob’s Ladder block:

  • 3 four patch units with Fabrics A/C
  • 2 four patch units with Fabrics B/C
  • 4 Fabric A/C HST units

Sew together in 3 rows. Sew the rows together to make the block. Make 4.

2. Arrange the following 9 pieces to make a Fabric B Jacob’s Ladder block:

  • 3 four patch units with Fabrics B/C
  • 2 four patch units with Fabrics A/C
  • 4 Fabric B/C HST units

Sew together in 3 rows. Sew the rows together to make the block. Make 5.

3. Square the blocks to 15 1/2” x 15 1/2”, if desired.

Assemble the Jacob’s Ladder 3 Yard Quilt Top

1. Arrange the 9 quilt blocks in an alternating pattern on a large table, a quilt design wall, or the floor. Pay close attention to the orientation of each block.

2. Sew the blocks together to make 3 rows.

3. Sew the rows together.

Measure and Sew the Inner Border

1. Piece together the five 2 1/2” strips of the darker fabric (Fabric B) to make one long inner border piece.

The expected length of the side border pieces is 45 1/2”. I highly recommend measuring the quilt top and cutting all border pieces the correct size. See how to cut the correct size quilt borders. Attach the side borders.

2. The expected length of the top and bottom border pieces is 49 1/2”. Measure your quilt top and cut 2 strips for the top and bottom border. Attach the top and bottom border pieces.

Measure and Sew the Outer Border

1. Piece together the 4 Fabric A 3” x 42” strips and the remaining 3” x 36” strip and 3” x 29” strip to make one long outer border piece.

The expected length of the outer side border pieces is 49 1/2”. Measure your quilt top and cut the strips the required length. Attach the side border pieces.

2. The expected length of the top and bottom border pieces is 54 1/2”. Measure your quilt top and cut 2 strips for the top and bottom border. Attach the top and bottom outer border pieces.

Finishing the Jacob’s Ladder Three Yard Quilt Pattern

1. Cut or piece together a 59” x 59” or larger piece of quilt backing fabric and make a quilt sandwich with the backing, batting, and top.

2. Baste together with fusible batting, pins or basting spray.

This is my Splendor 3 Yard Quilt, but I used the same quilting techniques and Sashiko machine.

3. Quilt as desired. Straight line quilting or cross hatch quilting with your walking foot would be fast and easy.

I used quilting rulers to stitch in the ditch around all of the motifs in my blocks. Then I used my Babylock Sashiko 2 machine to add cross hatch quilting that looks like hand quilting. It’s so easy and the stitching is beautiful!

4. Cut 5 binding strips and bind using your favorite method. This is my favorite quilt binding method.

xoxo,

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂