Irish Chain (9-patch) Quilt Finished – Tutorial Part 5
This is the last part of our tutorial on how we make an Irish Chain or nine-patch quilt. If you are just joining us now, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 may be found by clicking on the links. We have made several Irish Chain quilts and shared them with you in earlier posts. Here are a few examples: Gray Polka Dot Quilt Finished, Light Green Baby Quilt Finished and An Aqua Story – Finding Nemo Finished. I hope you enjoy them.
Irish Chain Rows
In the last post we sewed the blocks into rows and the rows into the quilt top. We took 63 blocks and made a ‘flimsy’ comprised of nine rows of seven blocks. Some people call the quilt top a flimsy. We are not quite done yet though! We need to add borders.
Irish Chain Borders
In Part 1 we cut 4.75″ borders out of the patterned fabric as pictured above. To determine the length we measure each LONG side of the quilt top, or the length of nine rows sewn together. Ideally both lengths measure the same (ours did). Sue trims the two pieces of the border to that length, and I sew it on. Put right sides together and sew a scant 1/4′ seam:
I still pin the border to the quilt top just to avoid any surprises. If your two sides have different measurements, cut the fabric using the longer one. You can always ease or slightly stretch the shorter side to match the longer border fabric. In that case, pin the border at each end and in the center. Then work toward each end slightly stretching the top a bit. If you have over an inch difference, something is wrong and you need to fix it before continuing. Sew just the two borders on lengthwise, then we press.
Place your quilt top on the ironing board with the border on top. The seam will then be pressed toward the border which allows for less bulk. As before, set the seam by running the iron over the stitching. Then press the border open. Repeat for the other side.
It is time to measure the width of the quilt top now that the side borders are on. Ideally, both will measure the same (our were 1/4″ different). Again, use the longer length, and Sue cut the last two strips to the correct length. As above, I pin the border piece on (right sides together) and sew with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. The side that is slightly shorter has to be stretched just a bit, and I do that when pinning. Sew with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, press them open as before and it is complete. The quilt top is finished!
Irish Chain Layering
It is now time to layer your quilt for quilting. We use our kitchen island because it is perfect for this job! We open the batting package, and it always seems to be terribly wrinkled. We lay the backing fabric over the batting. I iron the backing with no steam on the island until I am happy with no wrinkles. We flip it over and continue to work out the batting wrinkles. I don’t press down really hard – just enough to convince it that I mean business. Steam may help this process but I don’t want either piece to be damp.
Now it is time to lay the quilt top over the two layers. Smooth it with you hands – feel for any wrinkles or bumps and get rid of them. The more time you take on this, the better it will be when you go to quilt. We use many quilting pins to baste the layers together. We also may do a running stitch around the edge of the quilt, depending on how the borders are to be quilted. The running stitch is removed after quilting is complete; the pins removed as it is quilted. One other option is to use basting spray. Test on a piece of each fabric to ensure it doesn’t do any harm – follow directions on the can.
Irish Chain Quilting
We have hand quilted and machine quilted our Irish Chain quilts. Here are two examples:
The gray shows hand quilted stars over the entire quilt. The turquoise shows machine quilting waves, and a different pattern in the border. This was an example of when we used the basting running stitch because I was sewing close to the edge on the sewing machine.
Other options include spiral and straight line machine quilting. I have chosen to stitch an “X” pattern with the lines radiating outward to the edge. Rather like a ripple. Here is a photo of the first line of the “X” marked from corner to corner with masking tape, along with the issue that arose:
The bobbin was not in correctly. I spent an entire day trying to get the basic X shape started, and eventually got a few lines in:
Here is a shot of the walking foot and one quadrant complete:
What pattern would you chose for quilting this Irish Chain quilt? I am trying to challenge myself to different quilting techniques. I would love to hear your thoughts.
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