The Irish Chain–A Lucky Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Well you’re in for some good luck today!  We have a lovely pattern to stitch and whether you are Irish or not, this motif looks great on any quilt.  Stitched on green fabric, like this Kona cotton, it looks like a shamrock.  Stitched on pink fabric, it will look like a flower.


Begin by drawing two lines 1-1/2 inch apart.  These are our “rails” -drawn lines that help us keep our lines straight and will be erased when we are done stitching.  Next draw a little “tick mark” every 1-1/2 inch along the bottom rail.  This tick mark will help us center each of our shamrock leaves.

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Begin stitching 3/4 inch ahead of the first tick mark.  Stitch a sweeping upward curve.  Stop. Stitch a side ways heart, leaving a small opening and Stop again.

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Now stitch a sideways teardrop shape and head out of the small opening.  Stop here.

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Next, stitch a right-side-up heart, again leaving a small opening.

NOTE-try to avoid stitching over any previous line of stitching as you stitch the upright heart.

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Stitch a teardrop within this heart.

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Now stitch a sideways heart on the right side of the shamrock.  Followed by another teardrop.

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Sweep a curving line back to the bottom rail and up at your  tick mark to begin the next shamrock.

This chain looks great all by itself…but if you want to do a little more…

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Echo quilt the entire chain and add another mirror image row of shamrocks.  Gorgeous!

The Irish Chain, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

NOTE-The above tutorial was stitched on Kona cotton with Aurifil 50 wt cotton thread in the bobbin and Sulky Rayon in the top with a Schmetz 80 Topstitch needle on my domestic sewing machine–a Bernina 820 without a BSR.

Now the Irish haven’t always been lucky, but once in awhile they found a Pot-of-Gold–or lucky clover…or an Irish chain!

More good luck–another Shamrock tutorial from 2013–The Spiral Shamrock–It’s lucky, too!

I’m off to chase a rainbow,

Leprechaun Lori

PS…All tutorials, photos and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  I’d consider myself lucky if you’d re-blog and Pin, but please do it with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other uses, please contact me at

The Quilt Notebook: The Skills Inventory


Folk Art Quilt


Over the last several weeks of our Quilt Notebook series, we have concentrated on organization.  We started a Quilt Notebook  HERE to hold all of the information about our quilts.  We made a complete list of all our ongoing projects HERE, and then we established priorities HERE.  We are currently working on our Big Three quilts HERE and many of you have made great headway already–Congratulations!


Today, we are going to change directions a bit and look at skill development. Over the next few weeks we are going to establish a system for continual improvement.  In order to improve our quilting skills we must first make an honest assessment of where we are today and then decide what techniques are important for us to acquire.

Your assignment for this week:  Look back at your last three to five completed quilts and ask yourself these things:

  • What new techniques did I use in this quilt?  If you are a beginner quilter, the new techniques may include accurate cutting and straight line piecing.  If you are more advanced, the skills might include hand dyeing fabric and pattern design.
  • Are there any techniques employed in this quilt that still require more practice?
  • Does this quilt demonstrate mastery in any aspect of quilting? You might want to grade this on a scale of 1-5.
  • Was there a technique that was difficult in the execution of this quilt–needs improvement?
  • Was there some aspect of quilting I avoided in this quilt because I wasn’t sure how it was done?  For example, did you use corner blocks because you don’t know how to miter a corner?

When you are doing this exercise, consider every step of the process, from pattern and fabric selection to binding and labeling.

Folk Art Quilt


In your quilt notebook, create two lists:  Mastered Skills and Techniques to Try.

On the Mastered Skills page, make a list of all the skills that you have acquired (A grade of 4 out of 5 or better).  Include skills with which you are comfortable and look great in your quilt.   (It doesn’t have to rise to the level of perfection, just quite good).  Include the name of the quilt that demonstrates your mastery, and the date.  It will be interesting to watch this list grow over months and years!

On the Techniques to Try page,  create a list of skills that you are interested in learning.  As you see new techniques, add to your list.    Whenever you find a great example or tutorial of any of these skills, make notes on this page.  Include websites, articles, books, etc for further reference.  (You might consider a “Techniques to Try” board on Pinterest.)  I’m going to add one today…

Now go back to your Big Three Works in Progress and write down the techniques and skills required in each of these quilts.  If you are an advanced quilter, you don’t need to include the basic skills like accurate piecing- just include the skills that are somewhat challenging for you.  The skill may be as simple as improved efficiency at chain piecing.


In order to constantly improve and develop our skills, we must try new techniques and be methodical in our efforts.  The Techniques to Try page in your Quilt Notebook will help you think about and organize your skill development.   It will also help you establish goals.  To advance those goals:

  • Try at least one new technique in every quilt.
  • Try to improve your skill at one “old”  technique in every quilt-better execution or improved efficiency.
  • Choose quilts that challenge you a little.
  • Use your quilting “free time” (when you aren’t working on The Big Three) to practice and experiment.
  • Use your web-browsing and Pinterest time to research the techniques.


On Open Line Friday this week, I would like to have a discussion about The Essential Ten–skills every quilter must master and I would like YOUR input on choosing the most important basic quilt skills…

Tomorrow:  It’s time for another Tuesday Tutorial and we’re going to rock a little green leaf..

Till next time…


NOTE-The Folk Art Quilt featured today is one of my very first quilts, circa 1998.  Techniques used:  Hand applique, Machine piecing, Hand quilting…

PS…All information, tutorials and images are property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog and Pin with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other uses, please contact me at  Muchas Gracias!