Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt Along - Week 2

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Welcome to week 2 of the Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt-Along!
I hope you've decided on your two colors and that you 
had a chance to wash, dry and press your fabrics.

Before we get started with this week's assignment, there are two things I want to draw 
your attention to.  First, there are two blocks in this Irish Chain pattern, 
the Checkerboard Block and the Alternate Block.

Checkerboard Block                         Alternate Block

You may notice that this Alternate Block image differs ever so slightly from those in the original quilt images shown in previous weeks, the QAL Week 1, 2, 3, etc. images and the image below.  I have opted to go with the style above, which eliminates two seams, which will save time and allow for more strip piecing and fewer seams.  Hopefully, that doesn't throw anyone off (specifically anyone that has worked ahead of schedule!  I hate having unnecessary seams when adjacent pieces are the same fabric.  But if you are one of those people that did work ahead of schedule and did the original style featured below - don't panic.  You can definitely make then Alternate Block with 4 small squares, 4 rectangles and 1 large square in the center like so:

  Second, each of the two blocks requires two colors.  
I will be referring to the colors as “color 1” (which is the dark green shown here) 
and “color 2” (which is the white shown here).  

The assignment for this week is to do all the cutting for your quilt.
Please note: yardage requirements are based on 40” of useable fabric width and
“WOF” stands for width of fabric.  The finished block size = 10"

Here are the cutting instructions for the two different size quilt options.

From color 1 fabric, cut:
              24 strips, 2½” x WOF (Checkerboard Blocks)
              8 strips, 2½” x WOF (Alternate Blocks)
              9 strips, 2½” x WOF (Binding)

From color 2 fabric, cut:
              26 strips, 2½” x WOF (Checkerboard Blocks)
              4 strips, 6½” x WOF (Alternate Blocks), these will be used for strip piecing later.
              6 strips, 10½” x WOF (Alternate Blocks), subcut into:
                             31 rectangles, 6½” x 10½”

From color 1 fabric, cut:
              34 strips, 2½” x WOF (Checkerboard Blocks)
              10 strips, 2½” x WOF (Alternate Blocks)
              10 strips, 2½” x WOF (Binding)

From color 2 fabric, cut:
              36 strips, 2½” x WOF (Checkerboard Blocks)
              5 strips, 6½” x WOF (Alternate Blocks), these will be used for strip piecing later.
              7 strips, 10½” x WOF (Alternate Blocks), subcut into:
                             40 rectangles, 6½” x 10½”

If you're new to the quilting scene, here are some time-saving tips that I like to use:

 1. Fabric comes off the bolt folded.  Opposite the folded edge is two selvage edges.  Refold the pre-washed fabric so the selvage edges align again.  This will allow you to cut through two layers of fabric at a time.  I actually like to cut through 4 layers at a time though so I fold the length of my folded fabric in half.  Then align the 2 folded edges (the ones opposite the selvage edges) along the bottom line of your sewing mat.

2. Make sure your fabric is straight and flat and then square off the raw edges of fabric on the first line of your mat.  I'm right-handed so I squared off my fabric on the first line of the right side of my mat (the 36" mark).  

3. Proceed to cut strips every 2 -1/2" (or whatever strip width you're instructed to cut).

Adjust your fabric and square up again as needed.

Follow steps 1-3 for all cuts/colors of fabric.
4. When cutting rectangles, cut strips first and then trim off the selvages 
(use one of the lines on your mat as a guide).

5.  Then "subcut" the rectangles according to the size listed in the pattern directions.  Again, use the lines on your mat as cutting guides.  (I have separated the stacks of rectangles in the picture below so you could see them cut).  I probably have 4 rectangles in each stack.  This is a great way to cut several (24) rectangles with just a few quick cuts.

When you're finished cutting you can group your strips and rectangles together according 
to the blocks they'll be used for if you'd like.

I tied up my binding strips with a piece of twine so they wouldn't get mixed in with the block strips.

That's it for this week!

If you'd like to share a picture on Instagram of your cute cutting pile,
please use the hashtag #irishchainqal and tag me @gigis_thimble.
I'd love to see your progress!  No pressure either way though! 

Have a great day!

Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt-Along - Week 1

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Just over 1000 of you signed up for the Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt Along 
and I couldn't be more thrilled!  Thank you for coming along on this ride with me!  
Quilting is always more fun with friends and I can't wait to see all the different versions come alive!

As I've said before, this is going to be a low-key Quilt-Along.  No prizes (so you don't have to post pictures on Instagram each week if you don't want to.)  The only thing I recommend is just checking in each Wednesday for the assignment and trying your best to stay caught up.  We are doing this the simplest way possible - strip piecing!  So if you stay on track, you'll have an awesome, classic quilt top in 8-weeks that you're sure to love for many years to come!

This week, the assignment is quite simple.  
1. Get your light and dark fabric for the quilt top and binding.
2. Wash it on warm with detergent.  We don't want any bleeding now, do we?  
3. Press it.

Just a reminder; the fabric requirements are:

70” X 90”
90” X 90”
78” X 98”
98” X 98”
* The finished block size = 10"

Now, a note on pre-washing fabric...
I am using solid green and white fabric for my Irish Chain quilt.  I obviously don't want my green to bleed onto my white at any point so I pre-washed that.  I did not wash my white because it obviously won't bleed.  But someone asked me if they should also pre-wash their white so it shrinks at the same rate as their dark color when they wash their quilt down the road.  My answer to that is, sure, you are welcome to, but I personally think it's unnecessary.  I don't think you will notice a difference in the pre-washed versus the unwashed fabric once the whole quilt is washed.  The whole quilt will get wrinkly because the batting shrinks once it goes through the dryer and I don't think you will notice one fabric to be more wrinkly than the other.  It just takes more time to wash and press it but if it makes you feel better to do it - go for it.  I personally think it won't make a big enough difference to warrant the time you'll put into that step so I choose not to.

This was my ironing station set up...
My mom made me this large ironing board several years ago using a scrap piece of plywood from my garage, a piece of batting and a scrap piece of fabric from my stash.  It's kind of heavy but comes in handy for big pressing jobs.  I also pulled my ironing board over so I could rest my iron on it when I wasn't using it.  Plus, having my Iron EZ spray bottle nearby was very handy!

Me trying to keep my fabric off the floor since I have a dog...

I love this shade of green and am excited to see this quilt come together!

Post a picture on Instagram of your colors (only if you want to)!
Use the hashtag "#irishchainqal" and tag me @gigis_thimble, if you do.
And/or leave a comment below telling what colors you're doing.
I can't wait to hear/see what everyone's plan is!

So that's it!  The assignment is easy peasy this week!

Two-Color Irish Chain QAL

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

You guys asked and I am delivering!  The other day on Instagram, I posted my plans for making a two-color Irish Chain quilt.  I had so many of you say you've always wanted to make one and a handful of you asked if I was going to do a quilt-along so here we are!  Let's do this!

Let me warn you though, this is going to be very informal.  No prizes and no pattern you have to buy.  Just a beautiful, classic quilt at the end of this!  Here are the details:


Register: Sign-ups now are closed.  But you can still participate!  You won't get the weekly reminder emails but you can check the blog each Wednesday for each weeks assignment and info!
Duration: 8 weeks
Dates: January 8th - March 4th
Pattern: No specific pattern but I will post instructions each Wednesday here on my blog.
Quilt Size: Twin (70" x 90") or Queen (90" x 90").  You choose!
Skill Level: All

Fabric Requirements:

70” X 90”
90” X 90”
78” X 98”
98” X 98”

- Register (above).
- Follow me @gigis_thimble on Instagram and use the hashtag #irishchainqal on Instagram to post pictures of your quilt.  I encourage you to follow and encourage other quilters in the hashtag group.  It's a great opportunity to make new quilty friends and receive inspiration on Instagram!  Plus, these are going to be gorgeous!  I can't wait to see all the different colorways!
- Check your email each Wednesday for that week's assignment and then get to sewing!
- If you stay caught up, in 8 weeks you'll have a quilt top ready for quilting.

I'm so excited to have you join me as I make my own queen-size green and white Irish Chain quilt!  These were the two colors I was deciding between but I finally chose the lighter green! 

Everyone is welcome to join this Quilt-Along so feel free to spread the word.  There's no cost to sign up and this Irish Chain pattern is beginner-friendly and timeless.  

I'll be in touch next Wednesday, friends!

Wisconsin Cranberry Pie

Monday, December 9, 2019

Well, I'm no food blogger but a few of you asked for this recipe after Thanksgiving so here it is!

I got this recipe from my sister many years ago but have been unable to find the 
original source so if anyone recognizes it please let me know!

Wisconsin Cranberry Pie

1 unbaked 9” pie shell
3 c. halved cranberries
½ c. water
1 ¾ c. sugar
5 Tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

¹∕3 c. unsalted butter, melted
¾ c. flour
¾ c. sugar

1. In a medium saucepan add cranberries and water and bring to a boil.  Mix the dry ingredients and slowly add to the cranberry mixture.  Cook on low heat until thick.  Remove from heat and add extract.

2. Cool completely.  Pour into the unbaked pie shell.  Dot with butter.

3.  Mix topping ingredients together with a fork and sprinkle over the filling.

4. Bake at 425° for 35-40 minutes or until light golden brown.

5. Serve at room temperature or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Click HERE for the printable version of this recipe.
You can also check out some of my other favorite recipes HERE
There's some oldies but goodies there!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Fresh Fat-Quarter Quilts Book Tour

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The day is finally here!  It's my stop on the Fresh Fat-Quarter Quilts book tour and I am so excited!
Mostly, I am just so excited for my friend, Andy Knowlton and her beautiful new book, Fresh Fat-Quarter Quilts which is full of 12 fabulous projects!  Andy and I have been friends for many years now.  We roomed together at the International Quilt Market a few years ago, we've retreated together, lunched together, and cheered each other on over the years.  I'm just so proud of Andy, my talented friend.

Like Andy, one of my favorite cuts of fabric is the fat-quarter.  That's what I usually buy when I'm fabric shopping just for fun.  So I love the concept of Fresh Fat-Quarter Quilts.  Andy gives 12 project ideas that use different amounts of fat-quarters, ranging from 6 to 14 fat-quarters.   

One of the patterns that really caught my eye in Fresh Fat-Quarter Quilts is called Sunny Day.  Mine is quite different than Andy's version which uses sweet pinks, yellows, and greens.  I decided to use some of the Christmas fabrics that I recently inherited after my grandmother (the one who taught me how to quilt) past away.  It was such a sweet experience to be able to work with many of her fabrics.

I purchased the black print by Sweetwater and also threw in a white with green 
polka dot fabric that I had in my stash.

The greens in this quilt were quite different than anything I had in my stash though.  They are more blue-green as opposed to the yellow-greens that I have in my stash and that are more popular today.  So I was surprised to find green Minky that worked with them.  Minky was definitely the way to go; this Christmas quilt is so soft and cuddly and will definitely get used for many years to come.

The fun scalloped border "had me at hello" 
and was one of the main things I loved about this quilt.

Have you ever made a scalloped border?
I've done it one other time on my Friendship Heart Quilt.
I guess I'm a sucker for scallops!

I was going to bind it in the black print but at the last minute, I decided
red would be a better note to end things on since there was so much black 
near the edge of the quilt.  So I ended up using a red grunge fabric I had in my stash and 
I'm happy I went that route.

I love the blocks in this pattern!  
They really showcase my grandma's vintagy Christmas fabrics.

I believe she used many of them to make stockings, but I could be wrong.

The quilting design is a fairly new-to-me designed called Gemma #3 by Karlee Porter.
My quilter, Cathy Barney did a fantastic job, as always!

And finally, I have to tell you about the labels I got!  They're really simple but I love them!
I feel so professional with them, haha!  I got them from Border City Quilts on Etsy.  
You can customize them to whatever you want and the owner from the shop was really great 
to work with!  I got 20 labels for about $20 so I think they were very reasonably priced too!

This is just one of the quilt patterns I would love to make from Fresh Fat-Quarter Quilts!
It's a great book with beautiful patterns, easy to understand instructions, great photography, 
and lots of helpful tips throughout!  I hope you'll get yourself a copy!

Be sure to stop by the other blogs that are helping with the tour!
So much eye candy!!!

Nov 18:   Jen Van Orman - Heritage Threads
Nov 19:   Holly Lesue - Maker Valley
Nov 20:   Amy Chappell - Ameroonie Designs
Nov 21:   Nadra Ridgeway - Ellis and Higgs
Nov 22:   Kristina Brinkerhoff - Center Street Quilts
Nov 23:   Amy Sinibaldi - @AmySinibaldi 
Nov 25:   Jessica Dayon - Jessica Dayon
Nov 26:   Amy Smart - Diary of a Quilter
Nov 27:   Amanda Niederhauser - Jedi Craft Girl
Nov 28:   Andy Knowlton - A Bright Corner
Nov 29:   Sharon Burgess - Lilabelle Lane Creations
Nov 30:   Samantha Dorn - Aqua Paisley Studio
Dec 2:   Lindsey Weight - Primrose Cottage Quilts
Dec 3:   Bev McCullough - Flamingo Toes
Dec 4:   Christopher Thompson - The Tattooed Quilter
Dec 5:   Amber Johnson - Gigi's Thimble
Dec 6:   Melissa Corry - Happy Quilting Melissa
Dec 7:  Amanda Castor - Material Girl Quilts

A big thanks to Andy for asking me to be a part of the tour!
I'm honored and truly enjoyed making Sunny Day!

Amazon Gift Card Winners + IronEZ Discount Code

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Thanks to everyone who made my mouth water by sharing their favorite Thanksgiving dishes on my giveaway post last week!  Seriously, I think I gained 5 pounds just reading your comments!  Speaking of which, a few of you asked for the Wisconsin Cranberry Pie recipe so come back Monday for that!

I also want to thank my friends at Iron EZ who reached out to me offering such a great giveaway to my followers!  I mean, who doesn't love free money to spend at Amazon (my cart is always loaded there!)?  And their generosity with the 15% off Iron EZ discount code was the cherry on top.  The good news is, I just found out the discount code "AJ15" will be good for a few more weeks (plus there is free shipping on all US orders!).  Visit their site to get yourself an Iron EZ.  And just imagine...a lifetime of not having your spray bottle fall off your ironing board!  Ha!  It's pure bliss...

So without further ado, the winners of the two Amazon $25 gift cards are...

Babiesdoc (comment #52) and Teresa S. (comment #75).  
I will get in touch with you and get those gift cards sent right off to you!

Edit: the first two winners were chosen and contacted twice but did not respond within a week.  I believe their email addresses were not connected to their blogger account and they did not leave their email address in their comments either so I had no way to get in touch with them.  So I picked two new winners today, 12/11/19 (which are reflected above).

Have a great day everyone!
Thanks for stopping by!