Irish Chain Quilt – A Long Story

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Here is the Irish Chain quilt that I started on 18 years ago in 1996.  I started quilting in 1995 after I moved to West Virginia.  This is the first large quilt that I started.  I had made 2 small wall hangings and 2 toddler sized quilts.  I started this when all 5 of us lived in a small 2 bedroom apartment.  We gave the kids the master bedroom while Dennis & I took the small bedroom.  It barely had room for a full-size bed and dresser.  I somehow squeezed my Singer 401 (with cabinet) in there.

The pattern is from Scrap Quilts by Judy Martin.  The book was printed in 1985 and the library still has it on the shelf.  I bought the red, white, and blue fabric.  Everything else is from stash.  (I had a stash back then from sewing.)  There is fabric left over from one of the toddler quilts, maternity tops and 2 little shirts that I sewed for Joe when he was a baby.  One fabric came from a lady that I had shortened a nightgown for.  2/3 of a yard of fabric.  I told her that she couldn’t have the leftover fabric back because it was in my quilt.

It took a year to piece the top and I basted it in 1997 when we moved to a 3 bedroom townhouse.  From there, it sat because I didn’t have enough money to have it quilted by a longarmer, or the courage to try it myself on my Singer.  I could not imagine wrestling it through the small harp on the machine.  I did not have a floor frame and was not sure about hand quilting on a lap hoop.  It always got pushed to the bottom of the list as I was making afghans and other quilts for everyone else.

I got a Q-Snap floor frame around 2000.  I worked on a quilt for Joe with it.  That one took 5 years.  Another story.

I started to hand quilt the Irish Chain on the floor frame.  Slow going. I was even using the “Big Stitch”.  Still slow going. Other projects came & went.

Fast forward to 2011.  I had finally saved enough money to buy a Viking Sapphire with a 10″ harp.  I machine quilted some other quilts on it. (Talk about those at a later date.)  I decided to machine quilt the Irish Chain.  I took out all of the hand quilting that I had done.  Ack!  I straight line quilted the red chains with red thread.  I then straight line quilted through the other diagonal chains with a variegated thread.  The problem came with the big white squares.  The original pattern called for flowers.  I had originally decided to quilt sailboats because my husband is ex-Navy and he was not sure in 1996 that he wanted a quilt. I used a cookie cutter to trace the pattern in the white squares.  My free motion quilting leaves a lot to be desired.  I decided to hand quilt the boats with navy blue perle cotton using the “Big Stitch” method.  I also used some white to frame the white squares.  The hand quilting was done during the winter months over the last 3 years in between other projects.  After the boats were done, it was time to decide on the borders.  I used a chain stencil and hand stitched that with navy blue perle cotton.  There are some small puckers on the back.  Not too bad.

Then it was time for the binding.  I had cut it out in 1996.  I still had it.  It was only 1 1/2″ wide. Huh?  I wondered why I would cut my binding so skinny.  I found the book at the library.  Yep. I had followed the cutting directions.  It was not double binding.  I found a perfect match for it at Jo-Ann.  I recut the binding at 2 1/2″ wide.  I machine sewed on the binding. I hand stitched the binding on over the last 4 days during our lovely unseasonably cool summer weather.  I washed the quilt. It is now DONE!!!



One thought on “Irish Chain Quilt – A Long Story

  1. teresa snider

    It looks very nice in the picture, and I am sure the picture doesn’t do it justice if I was to see it in real person. I am happy that you were able to finish the quilt even between life events.


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