Thursday, March 26, 2015

Irish Chain Twist Quilt-A-Long - Piecing Top and Grand Prize Linky!!!!

**  NOTE  - This post is part of a series of posts for the Irish Chain Twist Quilt-A-Long.  If you would like to join (and have a chance to win $100.00 or $75.00 Gift Certificate grand prizes sponsored by The Intrepid Thread and Fat Quarter Shop ) you can find a list of the post links here :)  Here is the schedule:

Piecing Top and Grand Prize Linky - Mar 26th
Parade and Grand Prizes - April 23th

Okay, So I am so totally excited for this week!!  But before we get into it, first lets pick a winner of last weeks Stitching assignment.   And great job to everyone that finished up their Blocks!!!  I am so impressed with how many of you were trying Applique for your first time!!!
The Stitching Appliqued Chain Blocks winner who gets 2 PDF Happy Quilting patterns is . . .
# 11-  Cheryl!!!! - Congrats :)


So here we are!!  My, My that sure went fast!!!  Who is ready to see all of their blocks come together!!!  I know I can't wait ;)  


Yippee!!!!!  I am so very excited.   So let's get right to it.   We will start with the Layout.  


To start off, find the size quilt you are making in the below layouts.   Lay out your blocks on a design wall or the floor according to the layout below.  I left in the lines of the piecing so it makes it a little easier to tell which way the square blocks go ;)  If you are working on a larger quilt, you might find it easier to save the layout below and print it out for easier reference ;)







Feel free to play with the placement of the blocks until you get a look that is pleasing to the eye.   This won't be as needful for people doing the 4 Color or Mulit 4 color Layout as you won't have a lot of variation in your blocks, but for those doing the scrappy layout, you might find yourself rearranging your blocks a bit to get an even color distribution :)  I find the easiest way to see if my layout is balanced is to take a picture of it and look at it on the computer or tablet.  This allows your eye to see all of the blocks at once and makes it easier to spot those places that aren't quite balanced ;)

And please excuse that my picture doesn't quite have all the blocks in it.  I am mashed up against the ceiling trying to get them all in view, but I just can't get back quite enough ;)  


Once your blocks are all laid out you are ready to start sewing them together.   I like to sew my blocks one row at a time.  You can chain stitch them, but I find it can easily get confusing and I often end of messing up my rows.   So I just like to place the first block onto the second and sew a 1/4" seam (shown in row 1) , then add the second block to the now sewn together first and second block (shown in row 2), and continue adding blocks (shown in row 3).  That's a quick overview so let me go into a bit of detail on how I like to sew my rows together.

First, I stack all of my blocks in each row on top of one another so that they are manageable.  The first block in the row is on top of the stack and the last row is at the bottom.  I like to slightly stagger my blocks rather than make a standard pile because it just makes it easier for me to keep everything in place, I think because it gives you a small visual of the row.

Then I take the first stacked row and move it over to my sewing machine.  I leave the other rows where I have stacked them up from the original layout ;)  Once again, my first block in the row is at the top of the stack, and the last block in the row is at the bottom of the stack.

Then I take the first two blocks from the stack and place block 2 onto block 1 with right sides together.  You can pin these if you like, but where you aren't aligning any seams, it is fairly easy to just align the blocks as you go.  Sew a 1/4" seam along the edge.   Now cut your threads.

Open your now sewn together first and second blocks and grab the next block on the top of your pile.  Place block 3 onto the edge of block 2 with right sides together.  Once again, stitch a 1/4" seam along the edge.   Clip your threads, open your now sewn blocks and add the next block at the top of the pile.  Continue in this fashion, until you have sewn all of the blocks in the row.

And I know what your thinking, isn't that going to leave tons of threads hanging all over the quilt.  This is where Leaders and Enders come into play ;)  See my tutorial on Leaders and Enders here.  You will get a ton of "extra" piecing done while sewing your rows together and there won't be any thread waste or extra threads getting in the way ;)

With your row sewn together, place it back in your original layout.  Then you are ready to start Row 2.  Pick up your stack and take it to your sewing machine.  And once again, add one block at a time until the row is sewn together.

Continue this process until all of your rows have been sewn together ;)  

Now press the seam allowances in all of your rows towards the X Blocks.   This is going to allow you to nest your seams down the line.


And before we get to far ahead, I wanted to share a few helpful hints that might help your rows come together a little more accurately.   First off, when you are sewing the petal blocks, be sure to sew right along the stitched edge.  You can easily see your secure stitching, so use it as a guide to where the petal is.

I always want to use that stitching as a guide, so even when I am adding an X block to a petal block, I will turn over the whole row, and add the new block placed under the row so that I can see that stitching as use it as a guide ;)

And because the Patchwork Block has more seams than the other blocks, you might find that they are sometimes just a little bit smaller than the X Blocks.   No worries.  

First, place the blocks with right sides together and center the seam of the X block in the middle of the sashing strip in the Patchwork block.   This is going to put the slight shortness evenly distributed on either end.

Then, while pinned the center or holding it in place, give your Patchwork Block a little tug when starting it so that the edges line up as you start stitching your 1/4" seam.  Then, as you pass the center of the block, give the patchwork block another little tug so it stretches just slightly to line up along with the bottom edge ;)

Overall, don't stress to much when piecing your blocks.  There are no seams and this quilt is wonky in it's nature, so just have fun with it ;)


An with your rows all stitched together and pressed, you are ready to finish your quilt top!!!  All you have to do is sew the rows to each other.  This is just like making the rows only on a larger scale.   So start by placing Row 1 onto Row 2 with right sides together.  Nest each of the seams and pin them in place.  Then I like to place another set of pins at the center of each block just to keep them from shifting.  Sew a 1/4" seam along the pinned edge.

I find it helpful, when sewing these long rows, to backstitch a few stitches at the beginning and end of the row.  It isn't necessary, but sometimes when I put the quilt top on the longarm and tighten it up, these rows want to pull apart a stitch or 2.    This just keeps everything nice and snug ;)

Once you have finished the row, lay it back out with your other rows.  Now place Row 3 onto the now sewn together Row 1 and 2 with right sides together.  Once again, nest and pin each of the seams and then add another set of pins along the center of each block.   Sew a 1/4" seam along the pinned edge, backstitching at the beginning and end of each row.

You can continue in this fashion sewing all of the rows together.  It works great for the smaller size quilts to just keep adding rows.  But, I find it helpful, if you are making a larger size quilt, to sew half of the rows together, and then stop and start a new half of the row.  As shown below.   Then, with both halfs sewn, place on half onto the other with right sides together, pin the seams, and sew a 1/4" seam.  This just makes it so you are dealing with less bulk at the machine  ;)

Whether you sew all your rows one after another or do half and half, keep stitching until all your rows are sewn together.  Then press the seam allowances open ;)

And now you can stand back and enjoy your beautiful Irish Chain Twist Quilt-A-Long Top!!!  Your finished with your top!!!  Yippee!!!!!!   And while you are enjoying it, don't forget to add your Quilt Top to the  Happy Quilting Quilt-A-Long Flickr group and to post it on social media with using #irishchaintwistqal.    We all want to see your finished Quilt Top and enjoy along with you!!!

And with your Quilt Top complete, you are ready to link up to the Grand Prize Linky!!!!  Oh, I am so very excited!!!!  I can't wait to see all of your Quilt Tops!!!!


There are 4 Grand Prizes that you are hoping to be picked for is   . .

The first 2 winners will each receive a $100.00 Gift Certificates to Fat Quarter Shop and the next 2 winners will receive a  $75.00 Gift Certificate to The Intrepid Thread !!!     Yippee for some total Shopping Sprees!!!


In order to be eligible to win the Grand Prize you need to Link Up your completed project top (not quilted yet, just the project top) at the end of this post!!!  And I have some good news. I am giving everyone more time!!!!  So if you got a little held up somewhere or a little behind, no worries, you have lots of time to still get done!!!

Originally, the QAL was going to end of April 13th to coincide with the releasing of my new book, Irish Chain Quilts.  But since that date has been pushed back, I decided, why not push the finish of the QAL back a bit too to give everyone a little more time to finish up ;)  So you have an extra 10 days!!!!  The Quilt-A-Long Parade will now be on APRIL 23RD and you have until the early, early morning of April 23rd to get your project top sewn together and linked to be entered :)    But remember, adding your picture to flickr or instagram doesn't link you up, You have to have a link at the end of this post to be entered to win one of the Grand Prizes.  


Now, as just mentioned, you only have to have your project top done to enter into the grand prize link up . . . However,  I wanted to encourage you to finish these projects and not set them in a pile of "to be quilted" so I am planning a Parade for the 23rd of April :)   Now I just gave everyone an extra 10 days, so it should be lots of time to finish your quilts up!!!   The parade will show off all of the quilted and bound Irish Chain Twist Quilts!!  

So, how do you finish up those quilts??? 

Baste It, Quilt It, and Bind It!!  I know, I make it sound all so simple.  If you are new to quilting, and need some help with these last few steps, you can see my Video Tutorials that go over the basics of how to do this ;)  Also, there are some helpful free motion quilting tutorials if you are stuck on how you want to quilt your project ;) 

Once you have your quilt Basted, Quilted, and Bound it is ready to be showcased it in the Parade.  In order to have it in the parade, I need you to please send me an email  (  with your favorite finished Irish Chain Twist Quilt picture attached as well as the name (your name) you would like your photo listed with, where you are from, and a blog or flickr photostream link if applicable.  You can email me anytime from now until the evening of April 22nd and I will get you added to the Parade!!!  

I am so looking forward to seeing everyone's finishes!!!  You can decide if you would like to add your finish picture to the Flickr group  and Social Media with  #irishchaintwistqal now or wait until after the parade to keep it a secret :)  Grand Prize winners will be announced on April 23rd along with the amazing parade filled with all of your beautiful quilts!!!  I can't wait!!!  I know this is just going to be an awesome parade!!

So, in summary, Link up your finished project top (not quilted) at the end of this post by early morning April 23rd to be entered for the grand prize linky :)  Email me a picture of your finished project (quilted and bound)  with your name, where you are from, and a place to link your picture by April 22nd to be part of the parade :)  

Alright, I know that was a lot.  If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to email me at, I don't want any one to miss out on the grand prizes or parades because of confusion ;)

I can't wait to see your finished projects!!!  Thank you so much for quilting-a-long with me!!!!  Now, off you go to finish up :)  Have a Happy Quilting Day!!!

Pin It!


  1. I love this! And the colors you picked are so pretty. I'm working on your Star surround quilt now and I love your clear easy to follow directions. I just may have to do this Irish Chain next!

  2. I can't wait to retire so I can use all of the wonderful hints from your site. Your colors are beautiful. I haven't tried anything from your site but next year will be my year.

  3. Good Luck to all the Finishers! I sadly got too far behind and now have other more important projects to finish by May. Thanks again Melissa for all your hard work putting this together!

  4. This has been so fun, Melissa. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you have put into this for us.

  5. Trying to pick an easy quilting design, any suggestions⁉

  6. Thanks so much, Melissa! This has been a really fun QAL! I stepped out of my comfort zone using a dark background and I LOVE it! Can't wait to get it all quilted!

  7. I just came across these beauties! I would love to do one myself! This is such a great variation of this traditional design! Thanks so much Melissa, for sharing this!!


Thank you so much for your sweet comments. I just love hearing from you!!
Have a Happy Quilting Day :)