Irish Star Quilt Along Part 3: Triple Irish Chain Block TUTORIAL

Welcome to The Irish Stars Quilt Along Part 3:  Triple Irish Chain Block.  If you are new or nearly new, you might want to check out the IRISH STARS QUILT ALONG tab for more information.  Don’t worry.  You aren’t late.  You got here right on time.  It is THAT kind of quilt along.


The Triple Irish Chain block is just a  lot of squares.  It is the arrangement that makes all the difference.  Remember that this tutorial is for a single block.  Refer to Irish Star Quilt Along Part 2: Size and Scale to decide how many blocks you need to make for your quilt.  The number will vary between 4 and 180.  Yep, really!



21 base squares 1-1/2, 2 or 2-1/2″

4 background squares to match the size above.


  1. The only thing you HAVE to do in making this block is to make sure your background squares (white in my case) are correctly positioned:  in the CENTER position on each side.  DSC00576
  2. Grab 2 squares and sew them together.  You will do this a lot of times.  I keep my stack of squares to the right of my sewing machine in a little space where they are very handy but out of the way of my regular sewing.DSC00574
  3. I get asked how I make the decision of what to sew together.  Basically I try to keep good contrast between colors and not have the same fabric appear twice in a single block.  That is about as far as the “theory” goes.  Trust yourself and keep it lively.
  4. You will make 2 rows in the pattern: color, color, BACKGROUND, color, color. DSC00579
  5. You will make 1 row in the pattern: BACKGROUND, color, color, color, BACKGROUND.DSC00581
  6. You will make 2 rows of  color, color, color, color, color.DSC00585
  7. Lay them out in order as shown and sew together, nesting seam allowances in opposite directions.DSC00588
  8. Cut accurately. Press diligently.  Watch your seam allowance.  That is all that is really needed to be successful in working with small pieces. DSC00590
  9. Ta-dah!  You have completed a block.  Remember that your base square size determines the size of your block:  if 1-1/2″ then a 5-1/2″ block, if 2″ then 8″ block, if 2-1/2″ then a 10-1/2″” block. This is size-as-created including the seam allowance.  They will each be 1/2″ smaller when finished
  10. I am storing mine in a perfect size container.  It is very satisfying to watch them pile up.  The nice thing about scrappy leader-ender quilting is that it is practically FREE!  Other than the time to cut the squares, you are using thread you would have thrown away and fabric you would have thrown away. How worthwhile to make a quilt instead!DSC00592

A Small Herd

My cousin and his wife are expecting, and my mother asked me to make them a special quilt:  COWS!


It is a small herd, but I love it.

If you want to make a special quilt, but not so many fiddly blocks, consider this quilt.  The ideas was inspired by Deedee and her quilt of valor HERE:


The cow block is a pattern from Sew Fresh Quilts and can be purchased HERE:


The rest is 3-1/2″ squares.  The finished top measures 36″x37″.


That makes three baby quilts that are finished tops and need to be quilted.  I really need to get myself together and get that done.  Babies grow fast.

Sampler Top With Borders

YAY!  All of your good advice paid off…I knew I was asking the right people.


Here is my Sort-Of-Splendid-Sampler top finished.  It is amazing to me what a difference the borders made in this case.  It is even more obvious when you look at the “before” and “after” pictures side by side.

Even though the colors and prints aren’t what I normally choose, I really love the finish.  And the size is better, too:  65″ x 77″.


Over the past year many of my quilts have been out of my former comfort zone–either the pattern or the colors or something.  But, you know what, I am feeling more energized and interested in quilting than ever.  Hmmm…maybe they have something to do with each other. 🙂

Irish Stars Quilt Along Part 2: Scale And Size

Welcome to Part Two of the Irish Stars Quilt Along.  If you are new, welcome! Feel free to visit the IRISH STARS QUILT ALONG tab to get previous information.


Today we are talking Scale and Size.  You have probably already chosen your base square size:  1-1/2″, 2″, or 2-1/2″.  If not, please visit Part 1 for more information.

If you have quilted at all you know that somewhat surprising feeling of how much squares and blocks seem to shrink as they are turned into a quilt.  That is because they DO shrink–the power of seam allowances.

The chart below may help you decide on a goal size for your quilt based on the size of your base squares.  (Yes, I know it is a lot of numbers, but it is hopefully helpful numbers. If you find any errors or think of any additional numbers that would be helpful, let me know.)

# of blocks : Size of finished quilt top

Base Square Size Finished block size Mini Quilt Baby-Wall Quilt Throw Twin Queen
1-1/2″ 5″ 9 : 15-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ 49 :  35-1/2 x 35-1/2″ 143 : 55″ x 65″ 221 : 65″ x 85″ 361 : 95″ x 95″
2″ 7-1/2″ n/a 25 : 37-1/2″ x 37-1/2″ 63 : 52-1/2″ x 67-1/2″ 99 : 67-1/2″ x 82-1/2″ 169 : 97-1/2″ x 97-1/2″
2-1/2″ 10″ n/a n/a 25 : 50″ x 50″ 63 : 70″ x 90″ 81 : 90″ x 90″

You will NOTE that all of the quilts are an odd number of blocks wide and long.  This is due to the chain effect with the alternating blocks.  If you use an even number of blocks the chains tend to have an unfinished feeling.  Of course, the sizes and block counts are suggestions only.  You are free to change, modify or ignore as you see fit.  Don’t you love the flexibility of quilting?!

I am using 1-1/2″ base squares and plan to make a queen size quilt.  I do not suggest that you do the same unless you are a real glutton for punishment, or have a lot of 1-1/2″ squares lying around.  🙂

If you wish, leave a comment below letting us all know what size squares you plan to use and, if you have decided, what size quilt you plan to make.  Remember, this is not a race and there is no time limit.  I fully expect to be somewhere around 18 months finishing my quilt top.  The idea is that we will check in with one another occasionally, maybe bi-weekly or monthly, and share our progress.  We will encourage the tired and cheer the accomplishments of whatever size.



Irish Stars Quilt Along Part 1: Basics and Preparation

Welcome to the Irish Stars Quilt Along!


So many of you responded positively to the invitation to leader-ender-along with me that we are going to go ahead with it.  This will NOT be a traditional quilt along where we issue a specific step on a specific date.  Rather, we will all be producing blocks at a rate that suits our sewing style and our goal.  We’ll do it together for a while (time undetermined) until we have completed some quilts and it has served its purpose.

In order to prepare for this quilt along you should:

  1. Study up (or refresh your memory) on what a leader-ender quilt is.  As far as I know, Bonnie Hunter invented the term and still is considered the guru:
  2. Decide on your base square size:  1-1/2″, 2″, 2-1/2″.  How to decide?  Well, what do you have the most of, either already cut or easily cut from your scraps?  That is how you will know.  We will NOT only use squares this size.  You will also need some background fabric (can also be scrappy, but should be in one color family and a good contrast to your base square color–I am using whites).  You will also need some fabric of other sizes for the stars.  Some have asked if the stars can be scrappy also.  Yes, they can, because anything can, but mine will not be.  I believe having the stars each made from a single fabric will help the eye to have a resting place.  You could even make all of your stars a single color–yellow, for example–and NOT use that color in your scrappy squares.  So many decisions.
  3. Gather your fabric and start cutting your scraps.  In the next few days I will post again with tips and suggestions for deciding on a goal size for your quilt.

Thank you for your enthusiasm.  Let’s get scrappy!


ps–My thanks to Susan for the great button–feel free to grab it and share on your blog or to invite others to participate.