“Single Irish Chain”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


As detailed in my previous blog post, I visited with the Hayfield Country Quilters on March 5. If I’m not mistaken, Mary Ellen was in charge of setting up the refreshment table. The spice-nut cake was certainly delicious, but my eyes feasted on the “Single Irish Chain” table covering. The quiltmaker used just two fabrics: a fresh, soft green tone-on-tone and solid cream.

Nothing says “spring” like green! I used the guild’s table covering as inspiration for my own “Single Irish Chain” table quilt, though mine is just a small 23″ square centerpiece. To change things up a bit, I decided to use many green tonals and prints instead of just one green fabric.


I found 6 or 8 lime green fat quarters or fat eighths in my stash. I cut one or two 2″ strips from each and strip-pieced them with 2″ white strips, pressing the seam allowances toward the green fabrics.

Irish Strip piecing

Then I cut the strip sets in 2″ increments.

Irish rotary cut

I generally strip-piece Nine Patches for all three rows: 1 – green, white, green; 2 – white, green, white; 3 – green, white, green. But this time I decided to strip piece for “twosies,” hoping for a greater variety of green prints in the Nine Patches.

I sewed three rows of “twosies” together. An extra green square was sewn to the fourth “twosie” to make a column on the far right.

Irish Nine patch from twosies   Irish assembly

Next, I sewed the column to the 3 sets of “twosies.” This picture shows the pressing directions of the seam allowances.

Irish pressing

In a little over an hour, I made 13 Nine Patches which measured 5″ square, unfinished. From the white fabric, I cut twelve 5″ squares to alternate with the Nine Patches in a 5 x 5 grid.

Irish rows

I assembled the blocks in 5 rows, pressing seams toward the 5″ white squares, then joined the rows together. I pressed the seams to one side after adding each row. Deciding on a cross-hatch quilting design, I marked through the white squares with a water soluble blue marker and used chalk-o-liner to mark through the green squares.

I recommend using a thin, predominantly cotton batting for a small project like this. I pin basted with long, quilting pins. Using white thread on my Pfaff sewing machine (with a built-in walking foot), I quilted the table topper easily by following the marked lines. I stabilized the project by first quilting diagonal lines through the green squares marked with chalk. Then I filled in the lines drawn with blue marker.

I love the simplicity of this time-honored quilting design; it perfectly compliments the diagonal chains of green squares.


Amended March 2016:  Using the same measurements for the small and large squares, I made another Green and White table topper. But this time I used only two fabrics and reversed the colors (“figure ground reversal”). Both quilts were quilted with white thread in a diagonal grid design.


Amended March 2017:  Blog reader, Karla, strip-pieced her table topper from two batik fabrics. Click here to read more.

17 thoughts on ““Single Irish Chain”

  1. Pingback: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! | abyquilts

  2. This could have been so much easier if you had created two different strips using color/white/color for one strip and white/color/white for the second strip. The simply cut 2″ strips and sew them together to form the block. Quicker/Easier

    • If you read her explanation at the beginning, she say she did it that way to incorporate more different green fabrics. Either way is fine, depending on your intended effect.

  3. Pingback: Leprechaun Sighting | abyquilts

  4. Thank you for not only the step by step pattern, but for the great pics each step! Great and beautiful!!! ❤️❤️ Can’t wait to make one!

  5. Can you help me please, if your small squares are all 2″ and you sew with a 1/4″ seam, how is it the that three rows making up the block in each direction measure 5″. It would be 5 1/4″ wouldn’t it?

    • The unfinished size of the Nine Patch blocks is 5.” You can think of the math this way: 3 squares x 2″ = 6″, but subtract 1″ for the four 1/4″ seam allowances between the squares. 6″ – 1″ = 5.” Once the Nine Patches are joined with the plain alternate background squares, the finished size will be 4 1/2″ square. Try it!

  6. Pingback: Saturday Scrap Strategy #4 | abyquilts

  7. Pingback: Best Wishes for St. Patrick’s Day 2020! | abyquilts

  8. Pingback: Happy St. Pat’s Day! | abyquilts

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