Delectable Mountains Quilt Block- Sampler Quilt


In 1678, John Bunyan published the “Pilgrim’s Progress.”  It was an allegory based on the scriptures.  This book was the most widely read book for about 200 years besides the bible.  In fact it and the bible were probably the only two books in most homes. Many children was taught to read from this book.   Delectable Mountains quilt pattern gets it’s name from a passage in the book.  In the book Christian and Hopeful journey from the City of Destruction (earth) to the Delectable Mountains in order to reach the Celestial City (heaven).


Illustration from the 1678 publication that shows the map of the journey that they took.  In the bottom right corner is the Delectable Mountains.


Both pictures from Wikiapedia  Click on picture for larger picture.

Because this was such an important book in the homes of American families it is only natural that they named a quilt after it.  In fact this was one of the few quilt blocks that had a universal name until the end of the 19th century.   Ladies Art Co.  included it in their catalog as pattern #210 in 1898.

Quilt Index has a picture of a simple designed Delectable Mountains from the last quarter of the 19th century.

The pattern in this tutorial was a common pattern that was used for utility scrap quilts.  It was simple to draft and make. There were more elaborate versions that were done for good quilts.  Like the Log Cabin pattern, the Delectable Mountains had many different ways to lay out the blocks.

I searched for a pattern that I remember helping with as a child but ended up drafting one myself from memory.  It is was easy to remember how to lay it out but I had to do the math to make it fit in a 12 inch block.  Most patterns was usually just a picture and it was up to the quilter to draw it out to make a pattern.  We used brown paper bags for this one instead of cereal boxes for the template because you could pin the half square on to the fabric and cut them out. It can be confusing also because you have to make blocks that are mirrors to each other.  So marking the paper pattern as to what side it was and weather it was light or dark keeps things straight as you make them.  Also i was only making one block so I only wanted one side of each for one mountain.


This is the pattern for the right side of the mountain.  The dark fabric is on the bottom and the light fabric is on the top.  The angle of the pattern is the opposite of the angle of the block.

DSCN0905This is the left side of the mountain pattern.  The angle of the half square line goes in the opposite direction and corners from the right side.

To make this pattern you will need to cut two sheets of paper 7 inches by 8 1/2 inches.  You will then need to draw your line from the corners like the two pictures above.  Then label them for right side and left side.  Also you will need to label the side that is going to be on the right side of the fabric.  You will also need to label if it is the dark fabric which is the bottom half and the light fabric which is the top half.   Now you cut on the angle line to make the templates.


To use the pattern lay it on the fabric and line up your ruler to cut.  I make sure a leave the ruler just far enough away from the template so I don’t cut the paper.  Don’t worry because the block with be squared up after the half squares are sewn together.


Now you will want to square up the right angle.  I just lay the template on the square up ruler to line up before I cut.   This is something you can do with odd shaped diamonds and other odd shapes for blocks.  Having rulers for all the triangles can be expensive so you can use a paper template like this to guide you.


Line the two pieces like this with the right sides facing.  They should look like the picture above.  If you labeled all your pieces correctly, you will be able to pair them up correctly.


Square up your half square to 6 1/2 inches by 8 inches.  Make sure your seam line falls in to the corner on each side.  This can be hard to see so I put tape on the square up ruler at the correct measurements so I can line up the seam at the correct angle into the corner it needs to be.  There should not be much but a sliver to cut off all around to square it up.


Cut strips 2 inches wide.  I fold mine in half and figure press to help me double check my line up of the ruler.  Check twice and cut once.


Line the pieces up this way to sew.  Check you quarter inch seam allowance on each one so that your block will be 6 1/2 inches square.  You will not have to do a square but just check.  I check to make sure each section in the center is 1 1/2 inches wide and the outside pieces is 1 3/4 inches.


Sew the four mountain pieces together.  It will measure 12 1/2 inches square.

You can now see why this was an popular pattern to use in the 19th century.  It was not difficult to draft.  Before there was sewing machines the light and darks was sewn together individually after the strips were cut, but after sewing machines became available the piecing was quickly done on the machine. The light and dark was sewn together before cut into strips.  The strips were folded in half and pressed to form a line for scissor cutting.   Paper and cardboard templates kept everything in correct sizes.  Machine piecing was normal in patterns like this one.  Hand piecing was done on more complicated patterns.

I chose to mix the red and blue to give the block more interest.  Also I chose the red and blue because I needed another read and blue block.  My flag block is bright and will require a couple of other blocks with red to balance the color in the sampler quilt.   I am now laying the blocks out on the bed to see how they will work together and what colors I need to add to make it pleasing to look at.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. quiltykanuck says:

    Ooooooooh! You just totally struck a chord on my heart strings right now. LOVE historical quilts! I’m so trying this the moment I’m done with my current project! Thank you for the nice tutorial!


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      Thank you. All the block I have posted except for one has been from the 19th century. I give the history that I know about them. This is one of the patterns you see in all the museums because it was so popular and it has a great story.

      Thanks for your comment.


      1. quiltykanuck says:

        When I make it, I’ll post it on my blog and link back here. Can’t wait to try it! But I promised myself I was going to finish my March BOM first.


  2. Wanda Dotson says:

    I love this simple block!


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      Yes it is a simple block and goes together fast. I think that is why is was used so often in utility quilts. I have seen pictures of some really scrappy ones that was done years ago.

      Thanks for your comment.


  3. Thank you – great instructions!!


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      I try to think it out so any one can give it a try. I have been disappointed a few times with pattern books and classes that were poorly done.

      Thanks for your comment. I like knowing how I am doing with my tutorials.


  4. quilt32 says:

    This has always been a favorite block but I’ve never made one. This is next on my to-do list.


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      This is the easy one to do. There is another one that is done with little half triangles to make the saw tooth edge. This one goes faster and was the most common one.

      Thanks for your comment.


  5. pgv1 says:

    Nice tutorial. I love the history lesson as well.


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      Thank you. I will be posting more history on quilting blocks. Please stop in again.


  6. Angelia Carlyle says:

    So this is a 12″ block,
    How can I make a 10″ or even 8″ block?


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      I know this is late. How I converted this to a 12 inch block was to draw it out on a 12 inch square of graft paper. You can do this with a 10 and 8 inch square of graft paper. You can measure them and add a 1/4 inch seam to the measurements.


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