Anvil Steps Quilt – Free Pattern

Anvil steps quilt

Anvil steps quilt

I’ve made the Anvil Steps quilt using three different blocks within the quilt and a different block for the border.  It’s the border that I’m most pleased with – something completely different for you to try.  The quilt measures 58″ square and I’ve used 1.3/4 yards of white, 1.1/4 yards of red, 1 yard of light blue and 1//2 yard of dark blue fabrics.   The blocks within the quilt are 12″ square finished size while the border blocks are 9″ square finished size.

You can buy the fabrics for this quilt at a discount in this week’s special offer.

Completed quilt blocks

Completed quilt blocks

Cutting requirements for the anvil steps quilt

3.1/2″ squares:  twenty dark blue, thirty six white, sixteen light blue

3.7/8″ squares:  twenty dark blue, thirty six white, sixteen light blue

2.3/4″ squares:  eight light blue, eighty white – these can be made with strip piecing

5.3/8″ squares:  twenty red, twenty white

For the border you will need to cut six 2.1/2″ red strips across the width of fabric.

Create half square triangle units

Create half square triangle units

Make the half square triangle units

Use both the 3.7/8″ squares and the 5.3/8″ squares to make half square triangle units in two different sizes.  Place a coloured square right sides together with a white square and mark a line along the diagonal.

Sew a 1/4″ seam either side of the marked line and cut along the line.  This will produce two half square triangles.  Press the seam allowances away from the white and clip the two corners where fabric sticks out.

The blue and white squares are now 3.1/2″ square while the red and white squares are now 5″ square.

Anvil quilt block layout

Anvil quilt block layout

Make the anvil quilt block

I began this quilt with the idea of the anvil quilt block because it’s a simple four patch block that goes together really quickly.  Lay the blocks out in four rows of four.  There’s a white square in each corner and four dark blue squares in the middle.  On each edge of the central four patch place a pair of dark blue/white half square triangles.  Place these so that so that the dark blue triangles form a butterfly shape across two corners.  On the other two corners, the white triangles together with the white corner square form a larger white triangle.

Sew the squares together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.  The block measures 12.1/2″ square at this stage and you need to make four of these.

Alternate block layout

Alternate block layout

Make the alternate block

For the alternate block I wanted a block that was similar to the anvil block but had more of a vertical shape rather than a diagonal shape.  So I played around with the same squares that make up the anvil block and came up with this alternate block.

Lay the squares out in four rows of four.  You still have the white squares in the corners and the four blue squares in the middle.  This time the half square triangles on the edges are placed differently.  On two edges the light blue triangles together form a larger light blue triangle pointing away from the middle.  For the other two edges, the white triangles together form a larger white triangle pointing towards the middle.

Sew the squares together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.  The block now measures 12.1/2″ square and you need to make four in light blue and one in dark blue.

Row one

Row one

Assemble the anvil steps quilt

Lay the blocks out in three rows of three.  Make row one with an anvil block at each end and a light blue alternate block in the middle.  Place the anvil blocks so that the diagonal lines point towards the middle.  Place the alternate block so that the pointy bits point to either side.

Second row

Second row

Make row two with a light blue alternate block at each end and a dark blue alternate block in the middle.  Place all three blocks so that the pointy bits point up and down.

Row three

Row three

Row three is similar to row one with an anvil block at each end and an alternate block in the middle.  This time the diagonal shape of the anvil block is pointing outwards.

Sew the blocks together across each row and then sew the rows to each other to complete this section of the anvil steps quilt.

Strip piecing

Strip piecing

Make the border blocks

I’ve used a smaller block for the border. In order to make the four patch units in this block you need to sew together 2.3/4″ strips of light blue and white.  Cut these panels at 2.3/4″ intervals to make rectangles 2.3/4″ by 5″.

Border block layout

Border block layout

Lay four of the rectangles out as shown with the red/white half square triangles.  The red triangles form two corners of the block.  Place four of the light blue/white rectangles so that the light blue squares run along the diagonal.

Sew the rectangles together in pairs to make four patch units.  Then sew one four patch unit to each half square triangle.  Finally sew the two halves of the block together.  The border block measures 9.1/2″ square at this stage and you need to make twenty of them.

Stepped quilt border

Stepped quilt border

Add the first quilt border

You need to make two strips of four blocks for the top and bottom of the quilt.  Rotate these so that the light blue squares form two peaks across the row.  The red triangles will then form one larger red triangle in the middle pointing down and one larger red triangles each side pointing up.  The strip for the bottom is the same but with the blue squares forming two V shapes.

Add the sides

Add the sides

That leaves twelve border blocks for the sides – two strips of six blocks each.  Lay the first two blocks so that the blue squares follow the same diagonal as the last block in the top row.  That means that around the top right hand corner you have three blocks with the blue squares running from top left to bottom right.  Then add two blocks where they form a V against the side of the quilt top.  Finally place the last two blocks so that the blue squares follow the same diagonal as the last block in the bottom row.

Add the final border

Add the final border

Add the final border

Finally I have used 2.1/2″ strips of red fabric for the outer border.  You’ll need two lengths of 54.1/2″ for the top and bottom and two lengths of 58.1/2″ for the sides.  That completes the Anvil Steps quilt top.  It is now ready for layering, quilting and binding.  Full details of these steps can be found in the beginner quilting section.

Here’s the video:

What are these used for?

What are these used for?

I have a favour to ask – can you identify what these scissors are used for?  They were in a box of scissors that my cousin gave me a few weeks ago and I’m curious to know what they are.  The top one only has one circle for a finger and the bottom one has a square in the middle – most odd.

Since writing this, I have had many suggestions that the top pair are thread snips and the bottom pair are buttonhole scissors.  I have also been sent this wonderfull informing link on how to use buttonhole scissors:

Back view of Coughton Court

Back view of Coughton Court

My travels this week took me to Coughton Court – another National Trust property that is a delight to visit.  You can see more photos by clicking here or you can click on the photo.

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  1. elizacross2003 says:

    Love the quilt Rose. I have a pair of the bottom scissors I believe they were my grandmothers and often wondered why someone had cut a hole in them lol. I also enjoy your Photo, We in Canada don’t have the history and stories of such Grand Old Buildings, But you might be interested to learn that the area around my town of Alexandria(also called Glengarry)is very Scottish with names like Glen Robinson, Glen Norman, Glen Walter, Dalkeith, We also have the cities of Cornwall and Lancaster and every August The Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville attract dancers& pipers etc from miles away.

    • Hi Elizacross. Thanks so much for that fascinating information. Your area must have been first settled by Scottish people. How lovely to have Highland Games to visit every year.

  2. Lynda Kent says:

    Thanks for the lovely pattern Rose. I have no ideas what the scissors are but Coughton Court is one of my favourite National Trust properties so it was lovely to see the photos. I imagine the bluebell wood will soon be in full bloom which is something to look forward to!

    • Hi Lynda. I think that it will definitely be worth visiting Coughton Court again throughout the year – I’m looking forward to the bluebells.

  3. Meredith Royds says:

    Good morning, Rose. Another lovely use of half-square triangle blocks in your quilt. I find them so versatile!

    I have a modern pair of the thread snips (with no finger hole; you hold them mostly in the palm of your hand, ring or little finger can but doesn’t have to go in the hole, and use thumb and forefinger to snip), but had never seen buttonhole scissors before. (So, you aren’t alone!) So already today, I have learned two new things! 🙂

    Thanks for your continued inspiration.

  4. Irena Mangone says:

    Thank you Rose another lovely quilt. Love the border. Which no doubt could be used on other quilts too have a lovely weekend.

    • Thanks, Irena. Yes, I think that border could be used on any quilt. You wouldn’t even have to reduce the size of the border blocks if you had enough blocks in the main quilt top.

  5. Love your pattern.I couldn’t find any information on your scissors but you surely found out about them from your other viewers. Another baby girl born 5 days ago. No quilt this time. I’ll give her a gift of money so she can buy lots of nappies – (1920’s abbreviation of napkin.)

    • Hi Claire. Yes, I think I’m now clear on how to use these scissors. Congratulations on the new baby – I also call them nappies, but thought that all Americans called them diapers.

  6. Sandra Barnett says:

    Oh Rose,
    I have an orange pair like the top scissors I use them for snipping threads. The bottom I have never seen but as I was reading some others it makes sense that they could be used for buttonholes or for tiny little places.
    Our weather today has been quite unbelievable, it is 81 right now. We went from 29 to 81. I have been so cold and today I hear myself saying I am hot.
    Love the pattern and will put it on my to do list. Love the border It would work on any other quilt also.
    Have a great weekend and Happy Quilting

    • Hi Sandra. I think that our weather is set to follow the same pattern as yours. I’ve been really cold all week, leaving the heating on all day, but we are told that we’re having a mini heatwave next week. I think that our weather tends to follow yours a few days later.

  7. The bottom scissors are definitely used for making buttonholes. The screw is used to set the length of the cut. I had a pair that were my mother’s, probably from 60 years ago. Over the years I misplaced them and many times I wished I still had them.

    • Hi Liz. I’m sure my scissors are also about 60 years old. I shall be able to use them now that I know what they’re for.

  8. Rose, a really lovely quilt set off beautifully by the border.
    A few years ago I was looking at a documentary about the textile industry
    in Ireland and your top scissors was the same as the ones being used
    to snip threads and level the tufts on wool carpets.
    Is the manufactures name on any of the scissors?
    Have a sew happy week-end Rose.
    It has definitely been a long winter.

    • Hi Mary. That’s interesting to know how the scissors were used. I haven’t noticed any manufacturer names on them, but I’ll have a closer look. My cousin will be interested to know what they are.

  9. Carlene Parker says:

    The top ones are thread snips and you don’t put your finger or thumb in the hole, just pick up and snip threads. Easier than sissors.

  10. Thank you for all your lovely patterns. I have a pair of the top scissors and use them for snipping the edges on rag quilts…work great and get even cuts with them.

  11. Love the quilt Rose. One to add to the bank I think! Regarding the scissors, the top one looks like a pair of snips, like we have today but with a ring to put one finger through. The others, I have a pair like those from my mother in laws needlework box. Never knew what they were, but see another comment about making button holes with them. Great. I will give that a try.?Nicola

    • Thanks for the information, Nicola. I’m glad it wasn’t only me that didn’t know what buttonhole scissors are! I’ve just added a link in the section above to an article about how to use buttonhole scissors.

  12. Rose, I have a pair that look much like the top scissors. The fourth finger goes through the hole and the thumb and index fingers grip the blades. I use and have seen them used to snip threads, for example, after chain piecing.

  13. Just a guess regarding the first scissors… I think that possibly only one half (top half) of the scissors would move. Could they be used on furnishings such as couch/settee where the bottom blade would need not to move? Good luck and best wishes,, Josia

  14. The bottom pair are for cutting button holes. My mother had an identical pair and used them for that on clothes she made for me as a girl over 60 years ago !!!

    • Hi Beryl. These ones used to belong to my cousin’s mother so they are probably just as old as the ones that your mother used.

    • Hi Beryl. These scissors used to belong to my cousin’s mother so they are probably just as old as the ones your mother used.

  15. Judith Hunt says:

    I agree with Rita; the lower pair are buttonhole scissors.

  16. Lindy du Toit says:

    Dear Rose

    I have never seen such a galumpy scissors as that top brown one. Since it only has one hole for the thumb, I would surmise it is used to cut heavy fabrics, maybe for ship sails, upholstery, mats etc. Having only one thumb hole… Seems that it would be easier to accurately cut heavy fabric laid flat on the floor or on a large table… The weight of the fabric would open the blades when the thumb lifts the top blade to open up, ready for the next cut. Maybe even used for cutting large pieces of leatherleather.

    The smaller scissors I would think is for cutting fur fabric, the screw would keep the scissors from cutting too deep and cutting the fur, instead of just the backing. I wish I had a pair like that, it would make cutting out my bear making fabrics so much easier.
    Big hugs. Thanks for a lovely pattern today.

    • Hi Lindy. Those are both great ideas. I’ll have to try them out and see how they work with either heavy fabrics or fur fabrics.

  17. Trish Tarbuck says:

    Hi Rose,
    The top set of scissors is for clipping thread ends, very useful.The second set are for cutting buttonholes are you have stitched the buttonhole.I used to use them a lot years ago when I was dressmaking.
    Loving your weekly blog of your visits to various different establishments, nearly as much as the sewing.

    • Thanks, Trish. That’s really helpful. I’ve been astonished at how popular the travel articles are. I love visiting places and it gives me a break from the sewing machine as well.

  18. Moira Hewitt says:

    Hi Rose,
    I really love this design, another winner.
    The scissors look like snips for something industrial like carpets, and the bottom ones are button hole scissors, my sister gave me some last year.
    Have a good weekend.

    • Many thanks, Moira. Glad you like the quilt pattern. It seems that everyone but me has come across buttonhole scissors before.

  19. The bottom pair are definitely for cutting buttonholes. I have an identical pair and do remember using them many, many years ago and also remember that they were very difficult to use !
    Thanks Rose for all your lovely patterns.

  20. Margaret says:

    Hi Rose. The top pair are for snipping threads – I have a pair and find them very useful. I’ve also got a snipping pair which are modern and look nothing like this. The smaller ones I think are for buttonholes – the screw adjusts the depth of cut. Hope this helps – will be interesting to read other comments. Margaret

    • Many thanks, Margaret. I can’t remember ever using buttonhole scissors. When I made buttonholes many years ago I used to use a sharp thing that looked like a wide screwdriver. Mind you, the scissors would give you more flexibility in the length of the buttonhole.

  21. I think the top pair are snips, too.
    Also think the lady who inherited a pair like the bottom ones agreed with my hubby’s opinion!

    • Thanks, Jan. Most people seem to be going for buttonhole scissors for the bottom ones. I’ve never come across snips before.

  22. Brenda Oak says:

    Sorry Rose, can’t help with the scissor question – but am also intrigued, will check back and see if someone can identify them!
    Another lovely pattern this week – especially the border – I feel another purchase coming on!
    Thank you.

    • Hi Brenda. Thanks for looking at the scissors anyway. Glad you like the pattern – the border is proving to be very popular.

  23. First thought on the top pair of scissors is that they are used for clipping small threads. No idea for the bottom one.

    Love this pattern! Really love the border! Yes, it goes on my bucket list!!

    Thank you so much for your dedication to this site. You are amazing!


    • Hi Linda. They could well be used for clipping small threads. Thanks for the idea. Glad you like the quilt border – I’m not usually very adventurous on my borders. Lack of time as much as anything.

  24. Rita D. Rhind says:

    The bottom pair are I think buttonhole scissors I have the identical pair given to me over 50 years ago by an aunt who was a French room millener (did I spell that correctly) anyway she made hats she also made beautiful dresses.

  25. Julie Springett says:

    I think the top pair of scissors is snips ..perhaps for heavier textiles ..but the bottom pair look like medical or podiatry nail scissors where the screw could be turned in to stop the scissors opening or closing up to far …maybe possibly..not sure but they do look familiar to me ..good luck !!!