Double Irish Chain Quilt Pattern

Easy Quilt Blocks = Easy Quilt Pattern

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The Double Irish Chain Quilt Pattern is a two-block pattern, traditionally based on a 5x5 grid and made with three fabrics.

The first block is defined by the strong 'X' created by two diagonal rows of squares running from corner to corner. The alternate block completes the design.

In its most basic layout the Double Irish Chain quilt design contains just rectangles and squares—a wonderful quilt for a beginning quilter to practice her new skills.

Play with color placement and/or put the blocks on point and the complexity of this quilt pattern 'appears' to have increased. But this will be no problem for the confident beginner.

Let's get to the quilt blocks and settings!

My Favorite Quilt Design Software

All the free patterns and block/quilt illustrations on this site were created in either EQ7 or EQ8—my favorite quilt design software.

This program makes it so easy to audition different colors and values with just a few mouse clicks.

Rotate and flip the blocks with another series of clicks.

I can't imagine going back to graph paper and colored pencils.

Or worse yet—simply keeping my fingers crossed. Fabric is much too expensive!

The box contains a software download license—License ID and Password—and a booklet to get you through installation and get you started. There is no disk as in the past. 

Download the software onto your computer from the EQ website using the ID and password as directed. At the time of download you can choose either PC or MAC. 

I LOVE Electric Quilt!

I hope you do to.

The Building Blocks

The Double Irish Chain quilt pattern is traditionally stitched with three fabrics: a light for the background and two medium to dark fabrics, that's where the 'double' comes from.

Remember that color value is relative. You need enough contrast for the 'chains' to stand out from the background fabric.

To maintain the symmetry of the design, when the Double Irish Chain blocks are arranged in straight sets you must use odd numbers in both the rows and columns.

For diagonal layouts it doesn't matter.

Double Irish Chain Quilt Block

AKA: Checkerboard

Grid: 5x5

Double Irish Chain quilt block 1#1
Double Irish Chain quilt block 2#2

Both straight or horizontal layouts of these blocks are below.

Just like it's single and triple chain 'cousins' odd numbers of rows and columns are required to create a symmetrical quilt.

Double Irish Chain Quilt Pattern - straight set7 x 9 blocks

The open space for quilting or applique is smaller. Part of the alternate block now has some of the chain in it (unlike the single irish chain). To have more space in this #2, increase the size of your grid units.

Reduce the contrast between the 'chains' and the background fabrics to focus the viewer's attention on your quilting or applique in these open spaces.

With the addition of setting triangles to create the on-point layout the design is transformed.

Double Irish Chain Quilt Pattern - diagonal set6 x 8 blocks

The chains now form horizontal and vertical rows. I think this layout 'hides' the blocks, don't you?

Checkerboard Quilt Block

AKA: Double Irish Chain

Grid: 5x5

Double Irish Chain quilt block 1#1
Double Irish Chain quilt block 2#2

This stunning variation uses only two fabrics to create a very graphic quilt. The background fabric substituted in as one of the two chain fabrics.

In the original design, the lights and darks are reversed from how it is displayed here.

When laid out in straight sets it looks like this.

Double Irish Chain Quilt Pattern - straight set7 x 9 blocks

And then a diagonal layout.

Double Irish Chain Quilt Pattern - on-point or diagonal layout6 x 8 blocks

Again, this on-point setting really blurs the construction lines, kind of a trompe l'oeil in fabric or fool-the-eye patchwork.

Federal Chain Quilt Blocks

Grid: 5x5

This two fabric quilt is a variation on the previous quilt, with the changes occurring in Block #2. Instead of just a single square in each corner, two half square triangle halves have been added, creating a modified Snowball design.

#2 looks very much like a cousin to the Art Square block—close but not quite.

Federal Chain quilt block 1#1
Federal Chain quilt block 2#2

The open spaces in this version of the Double Irish Chain quilt pattern have a more 'rounded' look to them with the addition of the triangles.

The cutting and piecing will take a bit longer due to this additional shape. Be gentle handling the bias edges in #2 so you don't inadvertently stretch them. Starch quilt fabric before cutting helps to stabilize these edges.

A straight set looks like this...

Federal Chain Quilt Pattern - straight set7 x 9 blocks

The chains line up in horizontal and vertical rows in this diagonal setting.

Federal Chain Quilt Pattern - on-point or diagonal set6 x 8 blocks

Double Irish Chain Variation

Grid: 6x6

Double Irish Chain Quilt Block variation

Double Irish Chain is the only name I've found for this hybrid quilt design that is both a double chain on one diagonal and a single chain on the other.

It is also a one-block quilt as opposed to the majority of these Double Irish Chain quilt patterns that need two different ones to complete the chain.

Without the alternate block it creates a much busier quilt than the previous blocks in both the straight block layout.

And, of course, there is no room for applique or special quilting—which is a good thing, of course, if neither of those techniques floats your boat.

Double Irish Chain Quilt Pattern Variation - straight set5 x 7 blocks

...and the diagonal block layout...

Double Irish Chain Quilt Pattern Variation - diagonal set4 x 5 blocks

For some reason the diagonal set looks like there's a lot more blocks in it.

Do you agree?

Make the Design Your Own

A big part of quilting is making a design your own. With these suggestions for blocks, why not try your hand at designing your next Double Irish Chain quilt?

This first set of blocks was introduced in "Simple Changes = Knockout Quilt". You can see the block's laid out at Irish Chain Quilt Pattern: Part 2.

Blocks 1 and 2 are our Checkerboard block with four, instead of the usual 3 fabrics. Block 3 contains three of the fabrics.

Woven Irish Chain quilt block 1

Block 1
Woven Irish Chain quilt block 2

Block 2
Woven Irish Chain quilt block 3

Block 3

As we saw, not all Irish Chains are two block quilt patterns.

The following 3 blocks are all called "Double Irish Chain". All create the Double Irish chain quilt pattern with or without a second block.

I've removed the outlines of the patches and blocks so that you get a better feel for how the quilt pattern looks when finished.

These blocks are drawn on larger grids which means more piecing.  More piecing allows for more opportunity to play with color placement.

On the Square<br>9x9 gridAKA: On the Square
9x9 grid

It'll take a bit more organization to keep track of all the pieces.

This first one is called New Irish Chain. A tutorial is available on the website to make it using 9-patches and strip piecing techniques.

It's also known as On the Square. In its tutorial we use 'rounds' of patches to piece the design.

Which is correct?

The one that works best for YOU!

Regardless of the piecing technique you use, you end up the same design-wise.

On the Square quilt pattern5x6 blocks
Steps to the Lighthouse or White House quilt block pattern11x11 grid

Next up is an 11x11 grid design sometimes called Steps to the Lighthouse. Sometimes called Steps to the White House. 

In this two-fabric rendition the light background is used for the center chain patches.

Again, these blocks are set edge-to-edge—no alternate block needed.

Steps to the Lighthouse quilt5x6 blocks

I like the alternating larger turquoise and white squares. It make it a more airy quilt that way.

Double Irish Chain quilt block using gradations in the chain11x11 grid

In this final Double Irish Chain quilt pattern, the inner chain is created from a gradation of 6 fabrics changing from dark blue to lavendar.

When you look at the block, does it seem to bulge out a bit in the center to you?

That's because of the gradation in the chain.

Set edge-to-edge we create this design.

Double Irish Chain quilt with gradations5x6

Where the outer dark, dark blue squares meet it forms a larger dark square that draws the eye.

Simple alternate block11x11 grid

To lighten the design and provide large open spaces for some fancy-schmancy machine quilting or applique, it takes an alternate block with a single black square in each corner.

Do you think the alternate block gives the design a more 'complete' feeling?

The addition of this alternate cuts your piecing time roughly in half.

5x6Design in a 5x6 layout, which demonstrates you need to have odd numbers of blocks in the rows and columns for a symmetrical design.

You can see that with a little imagination and a willingness to play with fabric placement, you can really switch up your Double Irish Chain quilt pattern—and the piecing is still easy enough for a confident beginner quilter.

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