New Irish Chain Quilt Block

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

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Skill Level: Beginner

Our New Irish Chain quilt block is a variation on the Double Irish Chain.But instead of being drawn on a typical 5x5 grid, here we use a 9x9.

The block is assembled using traditional nine patch techniques...

..which greatly simplifies the process because there's only two units to construct.

You won't need any luck to make this New Irish Chain!

Let's get started.

New Irish Chain quilt block tutorial

Not quite the 'chain' block you were looking for?

 Click here to find more blocks that form chain designs.

General Instructions

These abbreviations are used on this page:

  • SA - seam allowance
  • RST - right sides together
  • Bac - Background fabric 

SA are 1/4" and pressed towards the darker fabric unless otherwise instructed.

Pressing instructions are highlighted in yellow throughout the tutorial to make them easy for you to find. Nested SAs make matching seams so much easier!

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Click the images below to see the full collection. We share any commercial and/or free patterns that showcase them, too. (For inspiration, of course!)

Step 1: Cutting patches for a New Irish Chain

New Irish Chain patchwork designNew Irish Chain

Sample Size: 9" finished / 9½" unfinished

Grid: 9x9

Design Type: Irish Chain, Blocks that form Chains

Attributed to: American Woman

AKA: On the Square - Hearth & Home

The strips for Patches #1, #2 and #3 are cut a bit longer than needed so that you've got enough to straighten the edges.

As you play with the patchwork design, you might consider using a single dark fabric for #1 and then a variety of like-value, though different colors, for #2.

Have some fun scrapping it up!

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Cutting Chart for a
New Irish Chain Quilt Block

~ Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
4½'' 9'' 13½''
1 Dark 2 1'' x 9'' 1½'' x 13'' 2'' x 17''
2 Med 3 1'' x 9'' 1½'' x 13'' 2'' x 17''
3 Bac 1 1'' x 9'' 1½'' x 13'' 2'' x 17''
4 Bac 4 1½'' x 2'' 2½'' x 3½'' 3½'' x 5''
5 Bac 1 2'' x 2'' 3½'' x 3½'' 5'' x 5''
Unfinished Block Size 5 '' 9½'' 14''
Grid Size ½" 1'' 1½''


Step 2: Creating the units for a New Irish Chain

Strip Sets

Make 1 each: #2/#1/#2 and #1/#2/#3

Since the same groups of patches are used in both the sides and 9-patches, we'll start with our strip sets.

With right sides together (RST), sew a #1 to a #2 strip. Repeat for a total of two pairs.

Sew a #1 to a #2 strip.A 1/4" foot with a guide is perfect for sewing stripsets together. A perfect seam allowance every time!

Press with the SA toward the medium, #2 fabric to avoid shadowing later on. The medium for this sample block is the orange dotty fabric.

With RST, add a #2 to one pair so that the fabrics alternate—medium-dark-medium or #2/#1/#2.

With RST, add a #3 to the medium (#2) side of the remaining strip set so that you have a #1/#2/#3 or dark-medium-background fabric arrangement.

SA are again pressed toward the medium (#2) fabric.

Use the chart below to check that your sewn stripsets are the correct width. Make any adjustments now, if needed.

StripSet Widths

Block Size
Stripset Width after stitching SubCut Width
4½'' 2" 1"
9" 3½" 1½"
13½'' 5" 2"

Straighten one short edge of each stripset with your rotary cutter as shown below.

Straighten one short edge of each strip setPosition a straight line on your ruler directly over a seamline and trim away only enought to create a straight, even edge.

From the chart above, find your finished block size and corresponding 'Subcut Width'. Cut each into 8 segments.

For our 9" finished sample, the Strip Sets measure 3½" wide and are subcut into eight 1½" segments.

The units after subcutting the stripsets.Remember, the SA are all pressed toward the medium (orange dot) fabric.

We're now ready to stitch the units for our New Irish Chain quilt block.

Nine Patches

New Irish Chain quilt block - nine patch units

Make 4

Arrange and stitch the subcuts as shown below, first joining one pair and then adding the third to it.

Arrange the subcuts for stitching into a nine patch.

The two SAs that join the subcuts are pressed toward the center so that they will nest with other SA.

The back of the finished nine patch after pressing the SA.From the back you can see that all the seams are pressed toward the #2 or medium orange dot fabric.


Make 4

With RST, sew a #2/#1/#2 unit to #4 rectangle, repeating for a total of 4.

SA are pressed away from #4 to prevent shadowing.

Stitch a #2/#1/#2 to a #4 to create a side unitPress the SA in the direction of the arrow, toward the #2 patches

Step 3: Assemble the New Irish Chain

Arrange your units into the Irish Chain design. The dark #1 patches all point in towards the center.

Lay out the units to form the block design

With RST, stitch the units in each rows together.

Press the SA toward the side units.

Stitch the rows together

Sew the rows together. The SA in the nine-patches and sides nest. Pin if it helps you to keep them aligned—I do :D !!!

The finished New Irish Chain quilt blockOur New Irish Chain quilt block is finished!

More blocks that form chain designs

There are many patterns on this website that form chain designs just like this New Irish Chain. Each of them has either a four- or nine-patch in the corner to create the design.

Note, too, that sometimes it's all four corners. Other times it's only two diagonal corners. Then the chains run in only one direction through your quilt design.

Click any image below to go directly to instructions to make that block.

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What about a different quilt block?

For a list of all the 220+ quilt block patterns on this site, start here.

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Click here if you're looking for the basic building blocks of quilting, i.e., Flying Geese, half square triangles, quarter square triangles, etc., along with several techniques to make each.

And finally, use these links to find blocks in these finished sizes:

For even more blocks to make...

Click here to learn about my favorite quilt book resources that inspire my patchwork designs.

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