Thursday, October 18, 2012


One of my favorite blocks is the simple log cabin...
there are many reasons I love this block.
There are so many design possibilities with this one simple block.

Perhaps my most loved design is the Courthouse Steps...

It is just the same simple log cabin...just tweaked a bit to create a color block of sorts...

I begin with a very small template...
each of my logs are 3/8 wide...
my center square is 3/8 inch square...

I trace my template onto freezer paper. For this project I will be using paper foundation piecing.  And I like to use freezer paper because, with heat, it will temporarily adhere to the fabric.

you can easily make up your own template ...begin with a center square and add logs of the same width on each of the four sides of your center square.  Continue adding logs of the same width until you have added enough logs for your cabin!  Make it any size you wish!

Once I cut out my template, I score it with the backside of my seam ripper...
use your acrylic ruler to keep the lines straight...

the reason I score the lines is so I can more easily fold back on the line.  I do not sew through my paper...I fold it.  That way I can reuse my freezer paper!  And since I am hand drafting each template...I want to reuse it!

Now I pick my fabrics...
for this version of courthouse steps I pick 4 different fabrics.
And a center fabric for the center square...

I cut my strips 1 inch wide and my center square - 1 inch square...

with paper foundation piecing it is important to have strips larger than the actual finished piece {3/8 inch} because it will be trimmed to leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance...

Center the square on the center of the template. The wrong side of the 1 inch fabric square should be facing the waxy side of the template...

I press on the right side of the template {the non-waxy side} with a hot dry iron to stick the fabric to the template...
If you are not using freezer paper or if your freezer paper doesn't hold the fabric well can anchor your square with a dot of basting glue...

 turn the template with fabric over and carefully fold back to expose the first line for the first log...
I carefully trim away the excess fabric, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance....

I forgot to snap a picture of trimming the center square...but it is the same idea....
The fabrics for the steps will be wider than the finished size and least a quarter inch on each side.  It doesn't have to be a specific size just a quarter inch larger on each side.  So for the length of my step strips, I just cut my 1 inch strip longer than the size of the step.
place your first step right sides facing with the center square - raw edges together and sew along the side of the folded freezer paper...begin 1/4 inch before the beginning of the first step and ending 1/4 inch after the end of the step...
finger press the step open...

the next step to be added will be on the opposite side of the center the same manner...
then the third step will be on the right or left side of the center square.  It is very important to always keep the same order as you build your courthouse steps...


so proceed in the same manner - fold back the paper to expose the next step to be added, cut a step longer than the piece you will need, add it with right sides facing {these will always be the same fabrics}, stitch along the fold of the paper and trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch.

once you have added all the steps and filled up your template...simply trim leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side...
peel away the freezer paper...
and you have one courthouse step block...


the next block will contain one of the fabrics used in the first block.  You want to repeat this color as a mirror image in the next block...I did not have time to do a second block...but I hope to keep walking you through this process.

 happy stitching



  1. Thanks so much for explaining this. I love courthouse steps, especially tiny ones. I hope I have the patience to try this, a pillow might just be the ticket. I love all your quilting, just beautiful! Thanks again.

  2. Thanks for your enspiring tut. Love those socks!

  3. Love love love!
    Please peek over at my blog.
    I found a court house step template
    that reminded me so much of you
    but I used multiple scraps. :0)

  4. love the socks! oh and the quilt of course :) good instructions.

  5. Lovely version! This is definitely on my to-do list.

  6. I love this! It is such a beautiful pillow.

    Amanda Rose

  7. Thank you for your freezer paper version of foundation piecing! How timely, as I was going to try this method on a new project this weekend! And I love those socks...I am glad it is getting cooler in Ohio, so we get to see your fantastic sock wardrobe again!

  8. Beautiful! Those tiny strips are really intriguing. Thanks for the instructions.

  9. So beautiful! I love the colours you used. Thanks for the great tutorial, too. I am not a quilter, but I like knowing that I could try to make this quilt pattern if I hauled out my fabric and machine. :)

  10. There is so much work in this cushion and it has paid off by producing something beautiful

  11. Ha your socks are killing me! Lol!

    Must try this as when I foundation piece my stitching becomes looser when I rip the paper off - your method avoids that and saves a few trees!

    Thanks Mary! I adore your courthouse mini steps! It has been in every inspiration mosaic I have done for swaps! Still hoping!

  12. Wow, that's amazing and so beautiful pillow! I have to look better how you connect your blocks! Great colours! x Teje

  13. I love log cabins too, the courtyard steps are brilliant. Although paper piecing could be my leased favoured way of piecing. I am just going to have to persevere!

  14. I love how you throw in, ever so casually, 'simple log cabin'! If only these things were simple, to me anyway!!! Really good explanation, I shall study this, might take me a while, but I shall study it! Have a great weekend, oh Queen of the Quilts! Ada :(

  15. I love this block.Your pillow is just awesome!!

  16. Love your beautiful courthouse steps. I'm going to try that piecing method. Thankyou!

  17. So beautiful!! Thank you for sharing your method :)

  18. My favorite pieced block is the log cabin -- in all its forms. Last week at my Bee meeting one of the members presented a tutorial on the Pineapple block. I made the block and it will be a pillow for Christmas. Actually I used scraps from a quilt made several years ago. I am going to make a Courthouse steps using your method as soon as I can gather the fabrics. Thanks for this. I love your blog.

  19. thanks for this fantastic tutorial, Mary. I tried this block before but I was sewing through the paper, this looks like a much better way to make these tiny courthouse steps.

  20. Brill socks, Mary! I love your cushion - I bet the texture is wonderful! Thanks for showing us your FP technique - I'm going to convert to that as it'll be much easier on my hands than tearing out tiny bits of paper...thanks again, you're a doll!

  21. WOW. JW easy was this. I know I will b using this technique soon. I am in need of new throw pillows n this is perfect. Thank you for demo.

  22. Your explanation of your process is very clear; thanks! The big stitch is very effective, adds a wonderful touch.

    I love the little sockies!

  23. Your Courthouse steps are beautiful!!! Thanks for such a clear tutorial. Isn't freezer paper the best thing ever!!! I wonder who thought of using it in quilting. They deserve a medal!

  24. Thank you for sharing this tutorial, Mary! It will be another beauty. Love your choice of fabric!
    Now, I only need more patience, and then have a go at it...

  25. If I didn't tell you already I just love you!! This is so beautiful and a great tutorial, thank you :) You always provide me with so much inspiration!

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  27. Thanks for sharing! I actually have a question that I hope you can answer. I've been looking in to quilting classes in my area and they're only offered in one place. From what I was told, each class is around $150 (not including fabric) and meets 3 or 4 times for 2 hours each. I've taken some other classes (non quilting) around town and they were all much more affordable than that. Is this an average price for a sewing/quilting class or am I right in feeling like it's high? Thanks for the help!

  28. This is great Mary - I do all the same for paper piecing except I run the freezer paper (after I trim it to 8 1/2 X 11) through the printer a few times, rather than drawing the paper pattern again. I have never done courthouse steps though...I need to try these.

  29. I really want to try the freezer paper technique. I despise pulling off the paper after paper piecing...

  30. hehe!! Sorry I am so m.i.a
    Normal service will resume after Christmas.

    I noticed your quilting stitches match your socks!


  31. ps. I have FREEZER paper now, so I can give this ago soon!!

  32. Thanks for the tutorial... your little blocks are gorgeous. I'm in total love with the Wedding Quilt.. it's stunning.