Single Irish Chain Quilt Patterns

An Easy Quilt Pattern for the Beginning Quilter

by Julie Baird

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.

The Single Irish Chain Quilt pattern is an easy beginner quilt. Set in horizontal rows it's all rectangles and squares, ideal for a new quilter to practice rotary cutting skills and to perfect that scant quarter inch seam allowance.

But set it on point, add setting triangles and the design is completely transformed.

All of the images on this page are designed and drawn in Electric Quilt 7 (EQ 7), a quilt design software. I use it to design all my quilts. It is easy to learn, easy to use and makes auditioning colors and fabrics a snap.

The Building Blocks

This two unit quilt pattern is characterized by a single chain of squares that form a grid around an open area. Pieced units alternate with solid ones to form the pattern. The open spaces are ideal for showcasing your applique, hand or machine quilting or new set of machine embroidery designs.

You can choose from one of several pieced designs to create this pattern. These different block(s) provide a way to increase or decrease the amount open space to suit your needs.

The Basic Nine Patch

Nine Patch Quilt Block

This nine-patch is simple to construct from individual squares. But if you need exact multiples of it, strip piecing is even faster and easier.

This unit creates the smallest possible open space, probably too small from machine quilting or applique, and is based on a 3x3 grid.

Click here for several ways to make a Nine Patch.

Set in straight rows with an alternating solid square...

Single Irish Chain Quilt - straight set

11 x 15 blocks

Or in an on-point setting...

Single Irish Chain Quilt - On-point setting

9 x 11 blocks

Country Lanes Quilt Block

Country Lanes Quilt Block

Other common name: Cross in the Square, Pennsylvania

Just like it's cousin, the Double Irish Chain, this block is based on a 5x5 grid and creates an open space 2/3's larger than the previous ninepatch block.

Click here to learn how to make this block.

First a horizontal layout...

Country Lanes Quilt Block in a single Irish Chain

7 x 9 blocks

And now an on-point layout...

Country Lanes Quilt Block in a single Irish Chain

6 x 8 blocks

The Double Nine Patch

Other common names include: Single Irish Chain, Golden Steps, Puss in the Corner

Double Nine Patch

Simply a nine patch made from nine patches. It creates an open space equal to its 9x9 grid.

It can be set in one of two ways: 1) with a solid alternate square or 2) with a plain sashing strip and a nine patch for the cornerstone. The sashing is cut a width equal to the unfinished nine-patch square.

Our examples use a solid alternating square.

Set in horizontal rows...

Double Nine Patch Quilt Block in a single Irish Chain

7 x 9 blocks

Set on point...

Double Nine Patch in a single Irish Chain

6 x 8 blocks

To jazz things up a bit, why not add two extra fabrics.

Choose a light fabric for the small nine patches, another fabric (pink) for the alternate squares in the double nine patch, and a third color (blue) for the alternating squares.

Double Nine Patch in a single Irish Chain

6 x 7 blocks

Make the Single Irish Chain design your own

The pieced units used to create a Single Irish Chain Quilt all have a single row of squares that forms an 'X' and runs from corner to corner. These squares needn't be all the same size. Two more that work to create a single Irish Chain are:

Single Irish Chain - Simple Cross

Common names:
Pennsylvania, Criss Cross Quilt,
Simple Cross, Single Irish Chain
Single Irish Chain - Nine Patch variation

Common Names:
Nine Patch, A Plain Block,
Sheepfold Quilt, Irish Chain

Remember that to maintain the quilt design's symmetry in a straight set, both rows and columns need an odd number of blocks. There is no limitation for an on-point layout.

Finally, though a single Irish Chain quilt pattern is traditionally constructed with just two fabrics, there is no reason not to use up your scraps. Just be sure that there is enough contrast in value between the background fabric and chain fabrics so that the design is prominent.

For more information on Irish Chain Quilt Patterns see:

For even more blocks to make...

These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas. 

Can you see the library sticker on the spine of Jinny Beyer's book? Yep. I check this copy out of our local library every few months for research.

Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs is my all-time favorite quilt block resource!

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

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!

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