Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt-Along - Week 3

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Welcome to week 3 of the Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt-Along!

The Checkerboard Block is made up of two different sections.

Section A is comprised of two color 1 (dark green) squares and three color 2 (white) squares.  
There are three A sections per Checkerboard Block.

Section B is comprised of three color 1 squares and two color 2 squares.
There are two B sections per Checkerboard Block.
All of the squares are cut at 2½”.

This week we will be sewing, pressing and cutting the A sections.
I would give yourself approximately 3-4 hours this week to accomplish this assignment.

TWIN: make 96
QUEEN: make 123

12 strips, 2½” x WOF (color 1)
18 strips, 2½” x WOF (color 2)
16 strips, 2½” x WOF (color 1)
24 strips, 2½” x WOF (color 2)

Chain-piecing is a time-saving quilting technique similar to an assembly line.  
You repeat a single sewing step for all the blocks of a quilt without cutting threads 
between each section until after you are done with that step.  It creates a "chain" of pieces 
and saves time and thread.  Here are some chain-piecing tips to help speed things along...

1. First, using a 1/4" seam allowance sew pairs of color 1 and color 2 strips together.  
For the Twin quilt, sew 12 pairs together.  For the Queen quilt, sew 16 pairs together.

2. Next, sew 2 of those strip sets together (alternating colors) 
to make a larger strip set consisting of 4 strips.  For the Twin quilt, make 6 large strip sets.  
For the Queen quilt, make 8 large strip sets.

3. Finally, sew a color 2 strip to a large strip unit, alternating colors.  
Repeat until you have 6 large strip sets (consisting of 5 strips each) 
for the Twin quilt and 8 for the Queen quilt.

 Press the seam allowances toward the dark fabric.
TIP: When strip piecing, I like to "set the seam" first which means just going over 
each seam with a hot iron while the fabrics are right sides together.  Then open them 
and press the seam allowances toward the dark fabric. I've heard that helps the stitches 
to set into the fabric and I think it helps the strips/seams to stay put and not get wonky.  
Also, I would suggest not using steam here.  You don't want to stretch the fabric; you 
want everything to stay nice and straight. So press carefully. 

Then subcut your strip sets into 2-1/2" sections.

Cut one strip set at a time and you don't need to pay attention to the lines on your 
cutting mat for these cuts.  Just make sure your strips are straight underneath your 
ruler and square off one end of the strip set.

I'm right-handed so then I flip the strip set around so the straight edge is on the left side of my mat.  Cut sections in 2-1/2" increments.  Again, you don't need to pay attention to the lines on your mat.  Just use the lines on your ruler as guides.  Make sure the strips are straight underneath your ruler.  If they start to get really crooked just square off the end of the strips and start again.

TWIN: make 96
QUEEN: make 123

That's it!
Let me know if you have any questions.

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!