Sunday, March 24, 2024

Project Quilting 15.6 Irish Chain

For whatever reason, maybe a lot going on this past week, this last challenge for Project Quilting gave me pause. We were to work with the Irish Chain quilt block.

I first played around in my graph paper design book, originally planning a quilt for myself, baby size, as another of my take-to-yoga-class quilts, or else a placemat for my good friend John. I knew I would do a triangle in a square in the alternating squares. I made a quilt with this design in a 9-patch exchange about 20 years ago and I just love the effect. It was a busy week and although I plan to do that yoga class quilt or 'Baby Boomer Blankie', a placemat, hopefully two, it had to be. (Baby Boomer Blankie is a term coined by my friend Rose, and since I am born in the last year of the Boomers, I guess it can apply to moi as well), 
I finally got to my sewing machine on Friday and by Saturday around 10 pm (gulp) I had one complete. 

Of course I had to make delicious soft ginger cookies, a recipe Brady shared with me. Brady also gave me that mug. The cream and sugar pottery is now 45+ years old, a pre-marriage gift from Pat, my SIL. It’s all about the photo shoot right?!

One of the pattern ideas Trish gave was a Robert Kaufman quilt called Irish Fade that uses a gradation of Kona cottons. That idea resonated so the idea of doing a fade in the placemat along with triangles was born. I went to EQ after computing a bit on my graph paper design. One of the few ideas I made was the one below, eliminating some of the triangles to emphasize the stars that form, and so that became my base.

John’s favourite colour is green, though he is enamoured of colourful quilts and often has commented on my more colourful designs. I was excited to find the perfect background yardage, a Michael Miller one, I bought several years ago from Craftsy. I have been loving the spring wild crocus popping up in people’s lawns, my own included, and also in the wild areas around me, so as a nod to spring flowers I decided to do the triangles in purple. I found two perfect purples: a Benartex Shadowblush light one and Northcott Toscana for the deeper one. I was originally going to put a light triangle on a dark background where the black is in the EQ design but then I hit upon doing one complete star (or flower😉) in light and one in dark on the same background as the 9-patch blocks. 

Saturday afternoon

By the time I stopped for supper the placemat top was complete. 

I quilted it on my Bernina, no real plan other than following the diagonal lines to emphasize them, as well as dot-to-dot in the stars. I could see/feel that there needed to be some stabilizing though, so I stitched in the ditch, and just beside the seamline where there is no ditch because several of the seams I pressed open to reduce bulk. I am a lover of SITD, so open seams really irritate me for this reason, because the stitching doesn't disappear. Still, with the fine Aurifil thread I used, and once the placemat is washed, I know it will sink in just fine.

I used a Laurel Burch for Clothworks purple paw prints fabric on the back. We first met John when we were in Florida for the winter, as he was, thanks to our dogs, and his: we had a Rottweiler and pitbull when he had a pitbull, and, crazy it was, but his daughter had a Rottweiler and a pittie at that time too! Our dogs and love of dogs in general brought us together.

The mighty three: Brandy, Naala and Rocco

In the end, I was so happy with the quilting, the way the greens flowed, and the way the stars popped. I used Kona Cypress, Bluegrass and Pesto. I debated on Bluegrass or Pesto for the binding, and chose Pesto because I like the frame it provides, and it was the least used in the placemat and I had the most yardage of it!

Here is the back:

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: my own design using the Irish Chain block
Size: 12”x 18"
Fabric: scraps and stash
Batting: Cotton
Backing: Laurel Burch
Quilted: on my Bernina
Threads: pieced with Gütermann on Billie, my Featherweight; quilted on my Bernina with Aurifil 2870 (green) and 1243 (purple)

I can't wait to show you the second one which is going to John's ex, whose favourite colour is red, with whom he is very close; in fact they are neighbours and see each other often. I like to think of them sharing a meal together with their matching but not quite matching placemats.

Thanks so much to Kim and to Trish for once again hosting such a terrific way to begin another year of creativity.

I'll be back soon for an update on the other ongoing projects, but I have to show you the gorgeous Northcott Fabrics yardage that arrived this week which I will be using to make the large throw in my upcoming quilt along.

These are Stonehenge Gradations, and are they ever rich and beautiful. They arrived within less than 24 hours of placing my order! Nice to live just four hours south of the factory...need to investigate whether they are open to the public for tours next time I'm up the Toronto/Vaughn way.


  1. What a delightful placemat for John - it's beautifully two sided in my opinion. And oooh, going on a factory tour of Northcott would be so much fun!!

  2. The placemat worked out well. Love your color combination, definitively says spring. Beautiful color palette you have picked out for your next project. Happy stitching this week.

  3. This is such a great placemat - so bright and colorful. I love purple and green together! I love Stonehenge fabrics. These are making me drool!! LOL Have a great week, Sandra!

  4. Such a beautiful placemat. Love the colors and the quilting. John will certainly enjoy it and the memories of the good times he's had with you and your dogs. I'm drooling over the Stonehenge fabrics. I passed them up when I saw them on sale a few weeks ago. But, I'm sure I can find something equally wonderful in my stash. If I don't use it when will it get used??

  5. I love your Irish chain. The addition of the stars is perfect, as is your quilting. The Northcott fabrics are droolworthy!