From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
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.
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 fabric placements. #2 and #3 in each unit are one chain fabric; #5 is the other.
Use the photos in this tutorial as a guide.
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.
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
Can you tell?
It's in color.
It's got a ton of blocks.
What's not to love?
Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.
This book is no longer in print.
If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020.
However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.
This is terrific news.
Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.
Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.
Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!