The Irish chain quilt is as much a part of history for any Irish man, woman, or child as Saint Patrick's day and a welcoming pub. The Irish chain quilt generally comes in one of three different patterns, but of course has many, many variations to it's design. Inside the solid blocks of a single Irish chain quilt, for example, you can have anything from pinwheels to applique, hand quilting, and more. The Irish chain quilt pattern's three main variations are the single, double, and triple versions.
The history of quilts in general is quite murky and that is no different for these patterns. There is no hard evidence that can definitively say the Irish chain quilt was actually created in Ireland, although there is evidence that even if it wasn't, the inspiration for the pattern was indeed a product of Ireland. Some believe that the pattern was inspired by a similar weaving pattern. The design first started to appear in the United States around the early 19th century and has been popular ever since. As mentioned above, the empty squares in the design allow quilters to become very creative in personalizing the design each time a blanket is made.
The single Irish quilt chain pattern is a fairly easy design to work with. Horizontally, the blocks alternate between one block of nine mini-squares and a solid block of a contrasting color. The number of horizontal blocks and the number of rows will be determined by how large the quilter wants the final size to be. This is a great project for a beginning quilter or for an experienced quilter who is looking to make a quick top.
Things start to get trickier when you get to the double Irish chain quilt. This pattern no longer has a solid block as the alternate block. The main block that makes up the chain pattern consists of 25 smaller squares. The alternate block now consists of 9 pieces. The corner of the alternate blocks are part of the double chain pattern. To make the pattern really pop out and to show it off, you would want to choose one dark, or anchor, fabric, one light fabric for contrast against the dark fabric, and one fabric that is in the same color family as the dark fabric but lighter. This is a traditional mixing and matching of colors, however, the quilter can create any color combination they like. A baby blanket may be a dark blue, a medium blue, and a very light blue for a nice mono-chromatic effect.
Continuing to expand the complexity and beauty, the triple Irish Chain quilt is quite intricate to make and requires a skilled quilter. First, the fabrics. For this top, you will need four colors of fabric. First choose a light base color fabric that will serve as the background. Next you will choose the colors that make up the pattern. You will need one dark, one medium-dark, and one medium color. All three should contrast against the background color and they should also blend well together but also still have a contrast against each other. Picking colors in the same or similar families will produce a great affect. Each main block will contain 49 square pieces and each alternate block will contain 25 pieces. Needless to say, the triple Irish chain quilt is for the quilter who is looking to invest a significant amount of time in what will surely become a family heirloom for themselves or their customers.