Monday, March 21, 2011

The Irish Chain in me.... went to Lancaster!

I spent St. Patrick's Day at the AQS Quilt Show in Lancaster PA - and I wore a deelibopper headband with little sparkly shamrocks and feathers.  Almost everyone who looked at me smiled - it was a wonderful day!
Beautiful quilts on display, marvelous vendors with lovely new tools, books and fabrics.  I also ran into some old friends that I hadn't seen in a long time, and met some new friends that I hope to meet again.

a sampling of the  AQS wallhanging quilts
 - every one deserved a prize!!!
  and an overview of the first floor - the show altogether is about 6 TIMES this size... for starters!
AQS Lancaster - 1/4th of first floor exhibit hall....
The talents of machine quilters continues to amaze me.... watch for these winners in future magazines!  Of course, pictures never do them justice - you really need to see these in person to fully appreciate the talent and skill involved!

One of the tools I brought home is a finger guard for my rotary ruler.... no more finger cutting for me!  It goes onto the ruler with little suction cups and is easy to move to all kinds of rulers.  I'll have to share that in a future post, because now, I have to move on to a little quilting!


The Block of the Month for QCE this month is Irish Chain.  This is a simple pattern that alternates two blocks.  I like to make the simplest one first to give myself a sense of accomplishment, then I proceed to the more difficult block.  Here is the simple one:
Irish Chain Block 1
This has a 6 1/2" CENTER square surrounded by 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" strips and 2 1/2" squares.  It finishes to a 10" block; 10 1/2" unfinished.
This quilt has 12 of these blocks.

First, sew a square to each end of 2 of the strips, then sew the remaining two strips to opposite sides of the large center square.  Press the seams toward the green corner squares on the outside pieces, and toward the center of the block on the center square unit.  Then sew the three sections together to complete the block.

The second block is a bit more complicated, being a 5x5 layout of 2 1/2" squares there are 13 of these in the quilt:

Irish Chain Block 2
This block will have 9 of the dark squares, 12 of the medium and 4 of the light (25 total).
I lay out the squares to the left of my sewing machine so I keep the pieces in order as I sew.  I pick up the pieces in the second column from the left and turn them over like the pages of a book and lay them on the pieces of the first column, then turn the pieces in the fourth column and lay them on the pieces of the third colum.  Then I pin them... pick them up in order and sew them, column by column, chain piecing so there is a continuous bit of thread holding them in their proper order.  when I get to the bottom of one column, I insert a little scrap of a bright color to remind me that I've reached the bottom of a column, then proceed to sew the next column.  When I've finished the first/second and third/fourth columns, I join the two columns together (leaving the little joining threads intact) then open that set of rows, lay this out on the table where it all started to make sure I have the orientation correct, and join the pieces of column 5 to the rest of the rows.

NOW it's time to press!  The top, middle and bottom rows are pressed in one direction, and the other two rows are pressed in the opposite direction.  Now it is easy to match up those rows and complete the block!

The block should look like this from the wrong side when finished:
wrong side of Irish Chain Block 2 showing pressing

These blocks can then be assembled to make a quilt that will be 56" square with the addition of a 3" border:

Irish Chain Quilt

This is an excellent design for small redwork (or greenwork) patches and works up very quickly.  The size is a generous proportion for a baby quilt or a comfy lap quilt for that tall guy in your life!

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