Tips for piecing your Stepwell Quilt

The Stepwell quilt pattern is my new modern quilt pattern inspired by a beautiful stepwell in Jaipur India. This simple, yet elegant design mimics the ancient gathering spot, where women would come together to collect water for their families. The Stepwell pattern uses two contrasting fabrics to create the famous step design. The result is an elegant, modern yet classic quilt design.

I have been able to visit a couple different stepwells while traveling. Each one is different. Many of them are extremely ornate and some were even used as temples. This one is more functional. The beauty and symmetry of the design is even more stunning in person. It was hard to feel like I could do this beautiful stepwell justice with a quilt pattern.

My other blogpost talks a bit more about stepwells. You can find it here.

About the Pattern:

I'm not one for tedious things. I'm definitely not one for tedious crafts. Now that I think about it maybe that's why I never wanted to take up sewing like my mom. She just finished a quilt after something like 14 years of working on it. There is no way that would fly in my house. If I don't use something for 1 month my husband will get rid of it. Since we travel and move frequently we try to keep our things to a minimum, which seems to always be a problem. Half done projects would not be something which would move around with us.

There is no way I would enjoy sewing, let alone, designing and writing a tedious quilt pattern. When I knew I wanted to create this quilt I also knew it couldn't be one tiny rectangle at a time. I do not have time for that. I have four kids that I homeschool. That takes up a significant portion of each day. So any quilts I make have to relatively quick or efficient.

When I wrote this pattern I designed it using strip piecing. That means the fabric gets cut into different length strips then sewn together. The strips then gets cut into smaller pieces for the blocks. That's kind of a confusing explanation. But it saves a lot of time because you are basically sewing several pieces at once. It also makes it much easier to keep track of the progress you are making and how many more strips you need to sew until you have all the pieces.

But here is the rub, and the reason why I listed the quilt pattern difficulty as intermediate, unless you have a consistent 1/4 inch seam down, this pattern will be super frustrating. Because the blocks for this quilt fit together almost like a puzzle, each seams needs to be consistent all the way across the strips. I highly, highly suggest using a seam guide when sewing the Stepwell quilt pattern. I used one, but if I wasn't paying attention and my seams weren't exactly 1/4 inch my seams wouldn't line up. This can be super frustrating.

Tips for strip piecing the Stepwell quilt:

  • as said before, use a seam guide (measure to double check where 1/4 inch is, some people think it's the edge of their sewing foot and it might not be)
  • make sure your fabric is cut exact
  • slow and steady makes a consistent 1/4 inch seam
  • press open well, but don't pull or stretch the fabric

The blocks do get trimmed in this quilt. It helps clean up the edges and makes for easier piecing when all the blocks are ready to be sewn together. However, all you need is a straight edge ruler. Nothing special. I hate buying a pattern then realizing later you need a whole different ruler which is three times the price of the pattern.

The Stepwell modern quilt pattern comes in four sizes (baby, throw, twin and queen. If you want to make a king then I suggest making two twin quilts and sewing them together. I have had someone do that with one of my patterns before.

Even though it may seem like a lot of piecing in the quilt, only half of the blocks are pieced. the rest are not! So after cutting your fabric just remember half your blocks are already finished.


About this quilt:

The first version I made of the Stepwell quilt used a dark background color and light colors for the small rectangles. You can read all about that here.  My 13 year old son told me it was off brand and made him slightly depressed to look at. Alrighty then... So for the second version I decided to try to cheer him up by using a light background color and a coral for the small rectangles. He approved of my choice and is doing much better now (eye roll).

I used Bound Treasures in Sky from the Picturesque collection by Katrina Roccella as the background fabric for this quilt. The small rectangles of the quilt are Decostitch Elements in Coral Rose by Art Gallery Fabrics. Coral is my favorite color and this fabric is as beautiful as it looks. The two together create the cheerful, almost childish look I was going for and are completely different from the first quilt.


You can see in the image above I did not trim down this version of the Stepwell quilt.  The version on the right shows the alternate trimming/finishing directions which give the quilt a different look and slightly smaller size. I personally like the look of the trimmed version. I think it looks more finished and shows off the stepwell design better. However, the pattern has both options so if you want a slightly larger quilt then I suggest not trimming the edges.

One of my favorite things about this quilt is the backing. Open Heart by Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery Fabrics had just released when I finished this quilt top. I love this fabric with all the women's silhouettes on it. The coral and pinks also fit perfectly with the front of the quilt. This particular fabric is Open Heart Unique Beauty Vivid. The line also has this print in cooler tones which is just as beautiful.

Kaitlyn from Knot and Thread Design quilted this for me. I used the same Decostitch Coral Rose fabric for the binding that I used in the small rectangles in the quilt.

This is a nice larger throw size modern quilt. If you want a pattern that looks detailed but isn't too much trouble this might be the pattern for you. Just make sure you keep that 1/4 inch seam consistent.

Happy quilting!



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