Skill Level: Beginner
The Chain Link quilt block is deceptively simple.
No bias edges.
Just square and rectangles.
To complete the block you'll use a technique called 'partial seam' or 'puzzle piecing'—which means nothing more than the first seam partially sewn at the beginning and finally completed with the last one.
There are pictures to help you every step through the process.
To set these blocks into a quilt there's a suggestion for a sashing design (at the bottom of this page) that completes the illusion of interlocked chain links.
Let's get started!
These abbreviations are used in this Chain Link tutorial:
1/4" seam allowances (SA) are used throughout.
Pressing instructions are highlighted in yellow to make them easy to find.
When pressing, first press the units flat to meddle the fibers of the thread into the fabric, then a second time as instructed. You'll end up with flatter seams with this two step process.
Sample Size: 10½" finished / 11" unfinished
Design Type: Partial Seams/Puzzle Piecing
It looks complicated in the design drawing (right), though it's really all the same unit, just colored two different ways and then rotated around a center.
The same piecing order is used for all four units.
There are two sets each of two different chain fabric placements—the chain fabrics are A and B.
In the first pair of units, #2 and #3 are one chain fabric; #5 is the other. For the second pair, A and B are reversed in the patches.
This will make more sense as you move thru the photos in the tutorial.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1, 6||BAC||5||1-1/2” x 1-1/2”||2” x 2”||2-1/2” x 2-1/2”|
|2||A, B||2ea||1-1/2” x 1-1/2”||2” x 2”||2-1/2” x 2-1/2”|
|3||A, B||2ea||1-1/2” x 2-1/2”||2” x 3-1/2”||2-1/2” x 4-1/2”|
|4||BAC||4||2-1/2” x 2-1/2”||3-1/2” x 3-1/2”||4-1/2” x 4-1/2”|
|5||A, B||2ea||1-1/2” x 4-1/2”||2” x 6-1/2”||2-1/2” x 8-1/2”|
|Unfinished Block Size||7-1/2”||11”||14-1/2”|
All the SA in this block are pressed AWAY from the chain link fabrics (A, B) and towards the background. Press after the addition of each patch.
With right sides together (RST) stitch #1 to #2. Two sets use A fabric and two use B.
Press SA toward the #2 patch.
With RST, add the #3 patch.
Press in the direction of the arrows.
With RST, add #4.
SA are pressed toward #4.
And finally add #5 with RST. The #5 is the color of the other link. Use the photo below as a reference.
SA are pressed toward #5.
Arrange the pieced Chain Link units around the center #6 square. As you move clockwise around the block, alternate the #5 A and B fabrics to form a link.
For the remaining steps all the seams are pressed toward the #5 rectangle and away from the center, #6 square.
Press after adding each pieced unit.
Flip the #6 center square, RST with the Chain Link unit in the upper left corner. Stitch the seam between the #5 (long rectangle patch) and #6 center a little more than halfway as shown below.
You can backstitch at the end of the seam or not. (Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.)
Fingerpress the SA toward the #5 rectangle.
With RST, add the second stitched unit.
This is a complete seam. I use pins to keep the edges neatly together.
Add the third pieced group of patches, stitching the length of the patches.
With RST, add the fourth pieced group. Again, this is a complete seam.
This last seam is a partial one—remember we stitched a bit of it at the beginning of assembling the block. I stitched from the #5 side because it is easier to see the previous stitching.
The pins are used to keep the edges straight AND to hold the SAs on the other side in place so that they don't flip during stitching.
Give your Chain Link quilt block one final press and here it is!
If you choose to make a quilt out of this block, you might want to consider using a sashing that links the chain like the one to the right.
Add it into a straight set quilt layout and it looks like this.
Use the chart below to cut fabric for the sashing strips. The amount of sashing you'll need depends on the number of blocks in the quilt and whether or not the it's used in the border (as shown above).
Press the SA toward the center patch so that they nest with the seams in the block.
Chain Link Quilt Block
|Finished Block Size|
|1||Background||2ea||1-1/2” x 3-1/2”||2” x 5”||2-1/2” x 6-1/2”|
|2||A or B||1||1-1/2” x 1-1/2”||2” x 2”||2-1/2” x 2-1/2”|
|Unfinished Sashing Size||1-1/2” x 7-1/2”||2” x 11”||2-1/2” x 14-1/2”|
Now add a bit more drama by setting the blocks in an on-point layout. The sashing remains the same.
A fun little quilt that any beginning quilter (or an experienced one for that matter!) would be proud of.