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!
MATERIALS–FOR ONE BLOCK:
21 base squares 1-1/2, 2 or 2-1/2″
4 background squares to match the size above.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- You will make 2 rows in the pattern: color, color, BACKGROUND, color, color.
- You will make 1 row in the pattern: BACKGROUND, color, color, color, BACKGROUND.
- You will make 2 rows of color, color, color, color, color.
- Lay them out in order as shown and sew together, nesting seam allowances in opposite directions.
- Cut accurately. Press diligently. Watch your seam allowance. That is all that is really needed to be successful in working with small pieces.
- 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
- 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!
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:
- 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: http://quiltville.blogspot.com/2005/06/leaders-enders-whys-and-hows.html
- 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.
- 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.
No, you are not seeing double. After more than nine months of leader-ender piecing, with a hard push at the end, I had 140 scrappy blocks ready.
Originally, I thought to make a queen size quilt, which would have used 132 blocks. But, I noticed a guest bedroom that had two twin beds in it that looked like they needed quilts. That would only take 140 blocks, and after so many, what are a few more?
So, I pushed on.
And, here are the assembled tops. It seemed that having the cornerstones all a single color might help to bring some order to the chaos. I chose red because that was the color I had the most of. As good a reason as any. And the truth.
Special thanks to all of you that have shared your scraps with me at various times. Look close and you might recognize a few old friends.
Now, I just need to choose a back and get them to the quilter. The big final decision will be a binding color. I had thought about using red there, too, but that will just bleed into the cornerstones. Blue? Brown? Black? Suggestions?
The quilts are smallish twin quilts at 57″ x 81″. But the beds are low and I think they will look OK. They are entirely scrappy. Of course, the 1-1/2″ squares were hit the hardest, with 13 in each block plus the sashing. But, the triangles and the light sashing rectangles were all cut out of scrap, too. In all the two quilts have around 14 yards of fabric in the tops. At whatever-you-pay-per-yard, that is quite a bit of fabric for “free.” Plus, how else do you get such a cheerful, homey look in a guest room. Wouldn’t you feel welcome in a room with these on the bed?
OK, time to cut more scrap. If you don’t already have enough. Get those 2-inch squares ready if you are interested in trying out a leader/ender scrap quilt.
When the 100-Patch Quilt Tutorial (see TUTORIALS, above) was posted, Belinda suggested, ” a little color control on the 2 inch squares.” It seemed like a good idea, so this time I am sorting and cutting rainbow colors. A lot of them. About 250 of each: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. Either solids or tone-on-tone. Hmmmm…I guess I need to get more fabric as I am definitely short on red. Is it unethical to buy scrap?