SMS Block-Along Week 2

on February 8 | in Quilt Block Sew-Along, Sew-Alongs | by | with 79 Comments

Welcome to Week 2 of the Sew,Mama,Sew! Block-Along! Last week week we encouraged you to try one of three 9-patch variations (including two with a modern twist), but we’re not done with 9-patch yet.   This week we’d like you to consider a few traditional 9-patch blocks.  Perhaps you’d like to take the 9-patch squares a step further and try a double Irish Chain.  Or maybe you’re ready to try triangles?  Shoo Fly is a great beginner’s quilt block and the Variable Star is a classic block that would look fantastic with modern fabrics.  If you’re sewing along with us, you can choose to make one or all of these blocks. For more information about our sew-along, see this post.

Irish Chain

Irish Chain is a quilt pattern using 9-patch blocks.  We wanted to feature it this week to point out how it is the arrangement of multiple simple blocks that can really make a fantastic quilt. Even if you’re just learning to sew, you can make a lovely finished quilt by alternating 9-patches and large single-patch squares. 
You can take the Irish Chain a step or two further by making blocks with more squares to create Double and Triple Irish Chain Quilts.  Follow this tutorial to make your own single, double, or triple Irish Chain block.
Lauri made this single Irish Chain quilt using 9-patches from a block swap.  The solid blocks in between the 9-patches are a great canvas for some interesting quilting work, like Lauri’s quilted stars.  You can see more of Lauri’s photos in her Flickr set and read about her crafts on her blog, Artsmith.
Once again, Wendy’s work caught our eye on Flickr.  This Double Irish Chain quilt top is simple, yet lovely.  Read more about Wendy’s work on her Wee Toes and Noggins blog.
Ally made this beautiful Double Irish Chain quilt for her mum.  We love all the blue in this room and the way the quilt adds so much interest with solid fabrics.  You can see more of Ally’s work in her Flickr set or on her blog, I Heart That Dance

Shoo Fly

Shoo Fly is a classic, simple quilt block.  It is fantastic with reproduction and vintage fabrics, but also looks great with bold, modern prints. 
If you’re new to patchwork, this would be the perfect block on which to try your hand at triangles.  Follow this tutorial carefully and remember, the squares from which you cut your triangles have to be bigger than the rest of the squares in your block.
Teresa made this beautiful Shoo Fly quilt, which is for sale in her Etsy shop, Bungalow Stiches.  We love the variety of colors and subtle patterns.  You can see how Shoo Fly lends itself so nicely to simple symmetrical quilting. 

Variable Star or Ohio Star

The Variable Star is one of the oldest pieced quilt patterns.  Depending on your choice of fabrics, you can get a very simple, vintage-like look, or a striking, high-contast attention-getter. 
The Variable Star and Ohio Star are the same block pattern.  I’ve searched for a definitive difference, but I’ve found the names used interchangeably.  I suspect that the Variable Star is the name used pre-Ohio (the state) and outside the US.  In this tutorial the difference is the fabric that you use for the center square.  Whatever you call it, we hope you’ll try it!
Alesia has made many gorgeous color-on-white quilts, including this beautiful Ohio Star.  (Here’s a close-up so you can see how it is heavily-quilted.) Her work is truly inspiring, so do pay a visit to her photo set or her blog, Small Hands.

If you’re sewing along with us, you can share a photo of your block(s) with our Quilting Month Photo Pool. We’ll be featuring blocks  from Week 2 of the Block-Along on our blog on Monday, February 18.  Blocks from last week will be featured Monday, February 11, so if you have them completed, please share!  If you are posting a photo, please include any relevant information (fabric, patterns, technique) in the photo description. If you’ve blogged about it, please include a link.

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79 Responses to SMS Block-Along Week 2

  1. Mary says:

    The blue Double Irish Chain is simply lovely…I am inspired!

  2. Andrea Elizabeth Johnson says:

    I love Irish Chain, it is so easy and looks so old-fashioned and yet elegant!

  3. Olga says:

    The idea is great, i like the Irish Chain – simple and pretty!

  4. erin says:

    I love the double Irish Chain!

  5. kim says:

    oh the churn dash- one of my favorite blocks 🙂

  6. Suzanne says:

    I love how a simple blocks can make such beautiful quilts! Quilting has changed a lot but I am still partial to the traditional patterns

  7. danna osen says:

    am feeling inspiration seeping in….love the nine patch, any ninepatch

  8. Katie says:

    Looks like a good challenge.

  9. Judy says:

    Use your left over fabric and make 9 patch blocks you can work them into a quilt. Sampler quilts are always nice to make just keep making blocks with your extra fabric. I like to make blocks of different patterns to see if I want to make a whole quilt using the block.

    Happy quilting to you

  10. Amber says:

    I need to get a move on – I still haven’t made any squares from last week’s 9-patch pattern!

  11. Shelly says:

    Nine patch is one of my favorites. I love these variations!

  12. Lisa says:

    Having a great time following along…

  13. Kimberly says:

    Those are all so pretty! I think I am going to start a 9 patch and maybe even help my daughter start a small one too. She got some fat quarters for Christmas and was wondering what to do with them. She is just learning to sew.

  14. Rae says:

    I like the irish chain blocks, too. Seeing these pictures and reading the tutorial makes me want to start another project!! I think this goes on the list of “future projects”. So simple yet so very beautiful! 🙂

  15. upstatelisa says:

    beautiful! I have made an irish chain with frog fabric and quilted spider webs. Love the pattern.

  16. skmparis says:

    I like the irish chains best!

  17. beautiful!

  18. Gina says:

    Thanks, I’m looking forward to trying this!

  19. Courtney says:

    Teresa’s Shoo Fly and Alesia’s Ohio Star are beautiful! I have a new appreciation for these after seeing the basic block you show.

  20. Cassie Ogle says:

    I recently learned how to machine piece and the Ohio Star was my first block. I think I’ll give the Shoo Fly a try next 😀

  21. Lia says:

    I’ve never seen a ‘simple’ Irish Chain pattern before; it’s so gorgeous! That just might have to be my next quilt…

  22. Lisa C says:

    I grew up in a house where white was only allowed on walls. I love white quilts but have been afraid because, you know, they get dirty. But getting dirty means getting used and I have feeling very inspired by all the quilts made with white. The colours look so much better! Thanks for the ideas.

  23. Kathryn says:

    It’s really neat how just by using squares such a lot of variety of design can be created. Endless possibilities.

  24. Lil' d says:

    These all look so beautiful

  25. Carol says:

    I love the shoo-fly quilt!

  26. Tonya says:

    I’m a quilter, but on crutches for quite awhile. My fabrics (and my good sewing machine) are up two flights of stairs. What I have available to me are papers (I craft) and the good, basic sewing machine that Santa broght my 9-year-old for Christmas. So, I decided to make a paper Irish Chain. I uploaded it to the Flickr group. Thanks for the inspiration!

  27. Cocoa says:

    Teresa’s Shoo Fly quilt is one of the most beautiful quilts I’ve ever seen! Inspires my to try my own!

  28. Red says:

    I’ve always loved the traditional quilts. The tops go together so quickly and yet they always look so beautiful.

  29. Sue says:

    Amazing what you can put together with a block made of just squares or triangles and squares, these quilts are so lovely.

  30. Julia D says:

    OH man!! I haven’t even started my crazy nine patch blech for last week yet. I love quilt month!

  31. Cara says:

    I’m not usually an ‘along’ kinda girl, but this one I couldn’t resist. Only, I’ve never particularly been inspired by sampler quilts and I’m not sure what I want to do with my blocks. I did read the suggestions when we started, but I’d love to hear what people are planning with their blocks. I haven’t had that ‘ah ha’ moment yet…

  32. Jill says:

    I really like the secondary pattern the shoe fly block makes. It would be a lot of fun to play with that with 3 colours . . . unfortunately I don’t think I have time to do it this week. Still, thanks for the inspiration for the future.

  33. Alisha says:

    They all look great, but I especially love Ally’s Double Irish Chain quilt.

  34. Lissa says:

    Love all the quilts, fantastic work.. I didn’t think to submit a pic of my irish chain quilt.. what a dodo???


  35. Shoo Fly was the first block I learned and I still like it so much. Love the Double Irish Chain quilt!

  36. Lola says:

    I love the irish chain! It was the first quilt I made on my own! Ohio star is another great! Thanks!

  37. MdG says:

    I’m definetly giving this one a try. I love Quilt Along Month!!

  38. Amy W says:

    The first quilt I ever made was a traditional 9 patch with a white patch in between. If I think about it every quilt I’ve ever done was a 9 patch! I love these!

  39. Ally says:

    Yay! I’m so happy to see my Mum’s quilt up there (the blue double Irish chain). That was the third quilt I ever made so I highly recommend it to those of you just starting out. For those of you who are maybe a little more advanced a fun block is the Rocky Road to Dublin — not an Irish chain variation but has the same kind of feel 🙂 Thanks Sew Mama Sew!!

  40. Judy says:

    I have been in suspense over what the block would be. I am glad you gave several for this week. The scissors, rotary cutter, needles and thread will be united with that fabric “stash” to make up something grand.
    Thanks for the ideas!

  41. heather w. says:

    i love that double Irish chain! so pretty

  42. Adelle says:

    Thank you so much for doing this! I have just started to quilt, and I am having a wonderful time with all of the quilting information this month 🙂

  43. Nada says:

    yay! more blocks to try!

  44. Tabitha says:

    I think I’m going to make a sampler with my squares. I really like being able to give the variations a try. Having lots of fun! Thanks!

  45. Stacey says:

    I love these ideas! I am just getting into quilting and am excited to try out some of these patterns. Thanks for the pictures and tutorials!

  46. Carrie says:

    These are all such beautiful quilts, but I have to say the double irish chains are my absolute favorite. I love the simple yet elegant look they create. I think that would be the perfect quilt pattern for a beginner like myself!

  47. tammie says:

    I love those! I want to try the Shoo Fly.

  48. rachel says:

    One of my partly started ones is an Ohio Star. But I love the Double Irish Chain one! I wish I knew more of the reasoning behind the names . . . as in, did the Irish Chain originate from Ireland or Irish immigrants or does it have nothing to do with that at all? I’d just be curious.

  49. Rose L says:

    I am enjoying the beautiful quilts you have been sharing with us… and after your quilt history post, I can’t help but consider the educational angle. I love looking at these patters with an eye for math that I might be able to use with my students in the future… The incredible variation you can get with the same basic starting pieces is amazing.

  50. The Irish Chain is so simple and elegant at the same time. I am enjoying your Quilting Month and log on each morning in anticipation of your new posts.

  51. Ellen says:

    I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow! Thanks for the inspiration!

  52. Sara says:

    I am behind on the quilt along because of working on some other lovely projects but I think I will try my hand and the shoo fly this week, I don’t quilt but I love to take quilting patterns and designs and use them in clothing or pillows, etc. Thanks for the beautiful pictures!

  53. Sarah says:

    I love the Irish chain! All the blocks are gorgeous…

  54. Stephanie says:

    This is beautiful. Definitely something I would love to try.

  55. Dawn says:

    I especially am drawn to the double Irish chain. It was my grandmother’s favorite…and I have several of hers…
    Nice post.
    Happy Weekend!

  56. Anna Luna says:

    I think I will certainly be trying the shoo fly. I also love the other variation called the Churn Dash block. I’ve been anticipating your next block post for an entire week! Thanks for sew much inspiration!

    P.S. Lauri’s quilt is beautiful!

  57. Kristi Van Os says:

    I haven’t even started on last weeks block. I guess I’ll have to make two this weekend.

  58. Mrs. H. says:

    I love the Irish Chain the best. If I had time for one more craft, this would be it. Perhaps I’ll save this info. for when my life slows down, lol.

  59. Suzanne says:

    I am really enjoying these posts, it’s great to see so much information on quilting being preserved for future generations to learn from. Handmade!!!

  60. Jennifer G says:

    I can’t decide! You are giving me WAY too many options!

  61. mj says:

    I love that middle double Irish chain!

  62. renee says:

    i really like the star one but think i’ll try the shoo fly one next.

  63. marisa says:

    Can’t wait to give shoo fly a try!

  64. Sandy says:

    I’m hoping to spend most of Saturday doing nothing but making all of the 9-patch squares featured for weeks 1 and 2.

  65. alison says:

    More quilt blocks to add to my of “To Try”! Thank so much!

  66. Jacquie says:

    Really enjoyed last week’s blocks. Looking forward to giving these a try. I’m in love with quilting month!!!

  67. Wendy says:

    Teresa’s Shoo Fly quilt is beautiful. Haven’t done that block before, so that would be the one for me.

  68. Sequana says:

    These are perfect examples of how a simple block can be so impressive.

  69. Sam VanDerPuy says:

    Thanks for these, I can’t wait to get started. I’ve always loved the Irish Chain, and shoo fly. Honestly, the ohio star has always TERRIFIED me, but it’s a new year, and quilting month is opening me to new things! thanks again

  70. love the Irish Chain!!!

    With friendship,

  71. sharon says:

    this is so much fun!

  72. Michele says:

    Thanks for the Irish Chain examples…it’s simple enough for a newbie like me!

  73. nikkapotamus says:

    I simply love the Irish Chain. I have one that has been sitting around for close to a year now because I don’t want to ruin it with my amateur quilting skills. Perhaps I’ll just start with straight lines and move on from there.
    Thanks for the beautiful pictures once again.

  74. Kristin says:

    My favorite technique right now is to do liberated versions of these blocks. I especially love my liberated shoo fly blocks and the stars as well. I’ll post some photos in the Flickr group.

  75. ERIN DENNIS says:


  76. Melissa says:

    Lots of inspiration!

  77. Karen says:

    I love that such easy patterns lead to such beautiful quilts! I’m just now getting into quilting again, but I was being a little overwhelmed by all the crazy patterns out there. This has inspired me to take a deep breath and start simple. Thanks!

  78. Alissa says:

    I was just thinking that I needed to sort out what today’s sewing would be. Now I know!!

  79. Regina says:

    Not quilting along – yet – but this is great inspiration! Love the Irish Chains – they are so simple, yet so elegant! Wow!

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