Sunday, March 4, 2012

Make a quilt top in an afternoon or Irish Chain quickly

First pick a quilt pattern, an easy one if you want it done in an afternoon.   In honor of St. Pat we are doing Irish chain, pictured above.  This is an old well used lap size quilt, but it shows the pattern well and because I made this one opposite to the usual color placement (light for dark, dark for light) it gives you something to think about.

Next go to your stash...or fabric store and pick out some fabric you like.  For this Irish Chain (IC) I keep to one color and I made sure to pick fabric in the light and dark categories for good contrast. You can pick just 2 fabrics as I did in the blue one above, or since I wanted to use up some scraps and small cuts of fabric I picked a variety of prints.
I picked a number of prints and then thinned them down to the few light and dark ones I wanted to use.

I cut a number of strips of light and dark at exactly 3 inches.  Be very careful your cutting is straight and 3 inches.  If not your block will not end up square and corners won't match.

Next cut 8 inch strips, from only your light fabric, then sub-cut them into 8 inch squares.  You will need 18 plain light squares for the lap size quilt.

Now start sewing your 3 inch strips together along the long edges, light to dark.

Make sure your seems are just 2 or 3 threads less than a 1/4 inch.  This is important again so that your blocks come out the right size and fit together easily.

Add another dark strip on the opposite side of two of these original strip sets.

And add a light strip on the opposite side of two of the original strips.

Press all seems to the dark side ( I had a quilt instructor once called it Darth Vader ironing).
Cut the long sets into smaller strips exactly 3 inches wide.

You will need 34 of these:

You will need 17 of these:

Now sew them together so they look like this:
You should have 17 of these. They are called 9 patch blocks.

Now you will begin to sew the solid squares to the nine patch blocks so you have 4 long strips that look like this:
Note this strip begins and ends with a solid block.

Next sew 3 long strips that look like this:

This strip begins and ends with a 9 patch block.

Next sew your long strips together so they look like this:

You can see that I started and ended with the strip that has the solid square first.

You have made a quilt top, and all in one afternoon.

Some notes to consider...
I will be adding a border to my top to make it look more finished and to be a little bigger.  I am going to use a medium green for this.  Also you can switch the light and dark values in your quilt as I did in the blue one shown at first.  It is very nice as well.  You may also note that in the blue quilt, my light color was a very large print.  Don't be afraid to use large prints in quilts, especially simple ones such as Irish Chain or trip around the world.  Large prints can give a nice lacy effect to the blocks.  I think the important thing in picking out fabrics for an Irish Chain is that you have good contrast between your fabrics no matter from what part of the color wheel you pick.  Happy quilting.


  1. After reading your directions, I was able to make a quilt blindfolded. My next project is to drive to the market in a like manner, sans blindfold.