Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Classic Stitches--Purple

Hello friends, and welcome to another block in the Classic Stitches row quilt! This month's block is one of the oldest around, dating to before 1895. This is the Delectable Mountains block:

It looks like mountains, doesn't it? A row of mountains is going to give some lovely movement to our row quilt. This block takes its name from the Christian allegory Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, published in the late 17th century.  It is also sometimes known as a Pilgrim's Progress block and is #210 in the Ladies Art Company catalog from 1898. (When I say classic, I mean classic!)

There are a lot of ways to make this block. The method below uses strips that will yield a block that finishes at 6 inches by 12 inches. This is really two blocks, one "uphill" and one "downhill," but I found it much easier (and less confusing) to make them in pairs. This way you don't end up with too many uphills and not enough downhills!

The 6 by 12 finished blocks are shown below. Cutting sizes for other finished block sizes are given at the end of the construction directions.


These blocks are constructed from 2-inch strips. (All of the pieces for a 6 by 12 block pair can be cut from one width-of-fabric strip if you have strips pre-cut or are using yardage.) From the purple, cut 2 inch strips** into the following lengths: 2 each at 2-1/2 inches, 4 inches, 4-3/4 inches, and 6-1/4 inches. You should have 8 strips.

Cut the same sizes from a background fabric (shown here in white).

**If you are very nervous about having your strips turn out perfectly after stitching, go ahead and cut your strips at 2-1/8 inches wide and trim to 2 inches after stitching. This will not affect the slope of the mountains.

That is all the cutting for this block!


Patience and attention to the way the pieces are arranged are the keys to making this block work. First, match up your cut pieces:

Put the shortest purples with the tallest whites, and the shortest whites with the tallest purples. The 4-inch whites should be matched up with the 4-3/4 inch purples, and vice versa. Pay attention to the sizes of the middle pieces as they are easy to confuse. I ended up marking the longer pieces with a pin.

Take two pairs of the same size and designate one "left" and the other "right." Lay both purple pieces on your cutting mat. Here it might help to align the top corners of the purple pieces with lines on the mat so that the corner is obvious. Lay the white pieces across the top of the purple pieces with right sides together, perpendicular to them, with the extra length of the background piece to the left on the left purple piece and the right on the right purple piece.

Draw a diagonal line as shown on each background piece, from the upper corner of the purple strip. Pay careful attention to the direction as you will be cutting away the excess after stitching. A line in the wrong direction will mean a strip cut the wrong way. (Ask me how I know.)

Here's a picture in a different fabric that shows the line a little better:

If you are nervous about locating the corner accurately, measure 2 inches (2-1/8 if you have cut your strips wider) from the end of the strip and make a small mark, then align this mark with the corner of the purple strip. Another option is to press a line in the background piece 2 inches from the end of the strip and then align the pressed edge with the edge of the purple strip.

Stitch on the drawn line.

Unfold the fabric and check the alignment of your strips for accuracy before trimming 1/4-inch from the stitched seam.

The stitched piece should unfold into a straight strip, with edges aligned. You can decide for yourself if you are willing to be off a little bit or not. Press toward the purple.

You should now have one uphill piece (left) and one downhill piece (right). As long as you always keep the purple strips on the bottom, you will end up with the correct pieces for the block.

Repeat for all of the remaining pairs. I had a very hard time getting each strip to turn out at exactly 6-1/2 inches, so the measurements given above may result in a slightly longer strip. Trim these to 6-1/2 inches before stitching them together. I took my 6-1/2 inch measurement from the bottom of each purple strip.

Arrange your pieces as shown and stitch 4 sections together along the long edges.  Press each toward the taller purple piece.

If needed, square up each 4-section piece to 6-1/2 by 6-1/2 inches. Join the two smaller sections together to make a 6-1/2 by 12-1/2 block that will be 6 by 12 in the finished quilt. Be sure to match the center mountain seams.

Five double blocks make a 60-inch row, and 3 will make a 36-inch row. Now would be a good time to check and be sure your rows are measuring 60-1/2 inches before they are put together.

These blocks are easier to make than to describe! Here is my finished row of Delectable Mountains blocks:

Those trees need some leaves!

Very festive, aren't they?  Here are the completed rows so far:

As I've said before, the row arrangement for my quilt will come at the end, and I urge you to wait until the end to arrange yours as well.


Try making graded mountains by using dark purples for the tallest peaks, with lighter ones for each shorter peak.

Mix some greens or browns in with your purple mountains.

You can vary the heights of your mountains by adding or subtracting quarter inches from the purple strips, keeping the finished length at 6-1/2 inches. Try varying your heights from "Himalayas" to "foothills."

The colors for this block can be reversed by simply flipping the blocks upside down:

The sizes of the finished blocks are easily changed by using strips of different widths. One and a half-inch strips will yield a double block 4 inches by 8 inches finished. Use 2-1/2 inch strips for 8 by 16 double blocks, 3 inch strips for 10 by 20 inch double blocks, and 3-1/2 inch strips for 12 by 24 inch finished double blocks. Adjust the lengths accordingly.

For a 12-inch by 12-inch block, make 2 sets of the 6 by 12-inch double blocks and arrange them into a 12 by 12 block. This gives you several design possibilities, such as simple straight rows:

Or straight rows another way:

Or this, which is sometimes called sunlight and shadows:

I chose to use this setting, which is sometimes called a Chinese Lantern block:

I like this arrangement so much that I might want to make a whole quilt from these blocks!

I also made a mini Delectable Mountains block from a different one that I messed up the cutting on. Here it is with some other mini blocks:

Have fun with your progress toward the Delectable Mountains! I will see you back here for the next row on Tuesday, May 5.

Happy sewing!

Linking to Linky Tuesday and soscrappy for RSC15. If you;re reading this on the weekend, there is a giveway on this post, which you might want to check out!


  1. Wow. That's a lot of different blocks. Good work

  2. Great job and wonderful tutorial on making these.

  3. Thanks for showing all the variations. What a versatile block.

  4. I absolutely LOVE the mountains AND your PURPLE Delectable blocks, too!!

  5. An excellent tutorial and thanks for showing all the possibilities for use. Love the outdoor pictures with the trees.

  6. terrific tutorial and post. Love love the rows. LeeAnna

  7. everytime I see a row by row quilt, I tell myself I need to do one! maybe one of these days!

  8. I love row quilt. I'm enjoying watching yours come together.

  9. What a fun row quilt! I love the versatility of Delectable Mountains. I made one with Christmas fabrics long ago. I need to put it back on the list for another in a different layout. Thanks for the tutorial. It's a different method than I used. And thanks for the history of the block. Interesting.

  10. One of these days I'm going to play with Delectable Mountain blocks. Will have to be sure to revisit this page then!


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