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.
The sort-of-Splendid Sampler is assembled.
Fifty pieced blocks–2 each of 25 different designs–and 49 alternating blocks.
How can I choose a favorite?
Right now it is 54″ x 66″, but all of your input on borders has been very helpful and that is next. Hopefully a finished top some time next week.
Since finishing the Sweet Sixteen top, I have been contemplating my next leader-ender idea. To qualify (for me) it needs to use small squares (mostly), use a lot of pieces, and be mostly repetitive.
Well, I believe I have found the idea. I call it Irish Stars.
It is a triple Irish chain alternating with a sort of floating star block. You can’t see the pattern very well yet, but with a few more blocks the “chain” effect should show up more strongly.
Maybe I have found two ideas. Is anyone interested in leader-ender-ing along with me? I don’t mean a specific number of blocks in a specific period of time. For some of you it might be your first leader-ender. Some will make many blocks and a large quilt. Some will make smaller blocks. We could do it using either 1-1/2″, 2″, or 2-1/2″ squares.
Mine uses 1-1/2″ squares, but I might not be right in the head.
Anyway, think about it, let me know, and maybe we’ll start officially sometime next week or so. I’ll need to write block tutorials and such and you’ll need to start gathering (and maybe cutting) scraps.
What do you think?
Records indicate that I started the Sweet Sixteen quilt in February 2016.
This has been my primary leader-ender project ever since.
One hundred sixty eight blocks later, it is ready for assembly. I hope it looks as interesting in real life as it has in my imagination.
While a finished top is generally good news, unfortunately, the wedding is this weekend.
Maybe if I had a longarm, it could happen. But, I don’t. And that is OK.
Even the prospect of a late quilt cannot make me too unhappy, though. I really like the way this quilt has turned out. Still scrappy, for sure, but a very tight, and a bit more subdued, color scheme than my typical work.
I really hope she likes it!
Nearly three years ago I got the notion that I could take my standard Hundred Patch quilt and change the scale. Instead of basing it on 2″ squares, why not 1-1/2″?
It turns out that there are probably several reasons why not, but I forged ahead anyway. I knew I would need A LOT of 1-1/2″ squares, so I made a point of cutting scrap nearly daily for a year. That way I had a good supply built up. Many of the pieces of fabric were very small, but they were enough and over time the box was looking good.
February 2015 was my start date for piecing. As some of you know, last year was the year of baby quilts around here, but this got a lot of sewing time anyway as my leader-ender. Just put some squares next to my machine and rarely leave a needle empty.
April 2016 saw a finished top, only 14 months in the making.
It look a while to find the perfect back, get it to the quilter and get it home again. Waiting was hard. I felt like a piece of myself (or, rather, 5700+ pieces of myself) was missing. We have been together for a long time.
But now it is finished and I am so pleased.
It is hard to photograph due to size and sun and dirt and all the things that are reality in our lives. But, here it is. Thank you to all who have followed and supported this journey. Scrappy happy!