The Lure of Linen

The quilt design for Pam Rocco’s Escher’s Stairs is original. The traditional block she used as a starting point was London Stairs, which is a Nine Patch. Each block has nine units, and each is made up of 2 rectangular patches.



Pam wanted a slightly wonky look to her quilt so she stacked two fabrics on top of each other, and as she cut the patches, she cut them somewhat offgrain and made a slightly angled cut across the middle of the unit rather than cutting a perfect rectangle (Fig. 1). Then, she simply switched the top and bottom fabrics on one side of the stack (Fig. 2) before sewing the patches together.



The London Stairs block (Fig. 3), when put together, forms stairs moving in one direction. “I knew that if I fiddled around enough, I could find a way to make the stairs go in all four directions, either branching out from the center like an X or enclosing the center like an O with a series of concentric zigzag rings, which is what I chose for Escher’s Stairs,” says Pam. “It turned out that all I needed to do was create three new variations of London Stairs to use with the original block, and the stairs would go any way I wanted,” explains Pam. The first variation was a mirror image of the original block (Fig. 4). For the other two variations, Pam used a few blank, unpieced squares in the Nine Patches and rearranged the pieced patches (Figs. 5 and 6).

Deliberate color placement adds more interest to this quilt and draws attention to the strong geometric design of the concentric zigzag rings. Pam divided the quilt down the middle and placed the orange fabrics on the left and the yellow-green ones on the right. To achieve maximum contrast, she arranged the values from light to dark on the left and dark to light on the right. Play with the basic block and Pam’s variations– or create variations of your own–to see how many different quilts you can design from London Stairs. Then pick your favorite and follow Pam’s 25 tips for working with linen to make a luxurious linen quilt. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


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