Why do blog hops always make me think of rabbits hopping along to I-don’t-know-where?
It seems like an odd association since I don’t have rabbits, and I’ve never had the balance or inclination to “hop” myself – pogo-sticks notwithstanding. But I do like blog hops – I’ve always enjoyed them. I like reading them and I’m always flattered to be asked to participate. (Truth be told, given some of what I’ve written for past hops, I’m also a little surprised that anyone thinks having me along is a good idea. Just ask Miss Canada.)
But Melissa seemed to think it was a good idea.
She wrote a book. She? Melissa Corry. Happy Quilting Melissa Corry – Cut, Sew, Quilt, Repeat. That Melissa.
I’m not sure when Melissa and I actually met, it might be one of those online things. Except that when we see each other face-to-face at Market or elsewhere, it’s like we’ve known each other for years and years. We were part of an online quilting bee a few years ago, and her name is one that I have seen several times over the years in magazines or on quilts at quilt shows.
As I was reading the write-up for this quilt I thought “Wait!… Melissa Corry. Utah. I know her!” This was Melissa’s quilt at QuiltCon in Austin this past February – Back to Basics.
Now back to her terrific book… Irish Chain quilts. Have you ever made one? My second – or maybe it was third – quilt was an Irish Chain. It was supposed to be a Double Irish Chain, at least that’s the name put on it in the home decorating magazine. I didn’t know about quilt magazines yet, I just had a rotary cutter, some fabric and a rather misplaced belief that I could figure it out. Long story short – my Double Irish Chain is technically a Compressed Triple Irish Chain. Meaning, there isn’t quite as much “open” space in the alternating block as there should be, the result of wanting to machine-piece it and not wanting to have to applique that little square in the corner… so I improvised.
Blue and white. Two fabrics. I machine-quilted it myself. It was a long time ago.
Since then, I’ve used a few Irish Chain variations in patterns but it had been awhile since I’d made a real – as in, traditional – Irish Chain quilt. So I was looking forward to Melissa’s book. Even the “Contemporary Twists on a Classic Design” didn’t worry me, I like that sort of thing and from the bee-days, I knew that Melissa was doing wonderful things with improv-piecing and contemporary design.
Then the book arrived.
I liked it – a lot. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it… I’d love to make just about every quilt in the book!
This is An Irish Braid. Melissa made it with Basic Grey’s Fresh Cut but I can see this in a blue-and-white color scheme – totally scrapped up, of course – or red-and-white.
This is Bitty Bits. I love this version but reversing it so the background was dark – like maybe charcoal? – and using low-volume prints or reds for the chain would be very cool.
Charm Bracelet. It’s a baby quilt so you’d think this one wouldn’t be on my list but (1) – I can make it bigger! And (2) – there’s something about the wonkiness of the blocks that I immediately fell in love with.
Be. Still. My. Beating. Heart. That’s not the name of the quilt – it’s End of the Rainbow. I love this quilt and while I like the rainbow-part of it, I am already thinking about the scrappy medium and dark prints I’d mix for the chains and a scrappy background. And reversing the values… I’ve been mentally thinking about what I’ve got and what I’d need.
So what did I get to make? Or rather, what block did Melissa ask me to make…
Fractured. At first, I was a teeny, tiny bit disappointed… this was very pretty but it didn’t “wow” me like the others had. And then I pieced a “test block”. I love this quilt and it’s now on the “I need to make this quilt” list. Whether you used a Layer Cake – all the cutting will fit – or all your leftover strips and scraps, this quilt will work. Single background or scrappy? Done.
This is my block – Melissa asked me to make it with yellow prints and low-volume backgrounds…
Uh… oops. Yeah, I kind of improvised a bit on those long rectangles. It is an “improv” kind of block, isn’t it?
As Melissa writes in the book, piecing the “fractured” corners takes a little trial-and-error to get the hang of. The best part is that there really isn’t any way to “mess it up” since seam allowance will off-set seams that look like they match, and simply turning a piece to the other side will also change the amount of “fracture”.
These are the same four pieces, they’re just turned around to make four different block possibilities.
After making my test-block, I did try one thing that worked pretty well for me to make sure my triangle flipped-over far enough to the corner. I took a few minutes to press the 1/4″ seam allowance on the triangles. Like so…
Is it necessary? No. Did it help me? Yes.
When I was describing the block to a friend, she asked about bias edges. Because of the way the pieces are trimmed off-center, there will be some bias-y edges, but certainly not enough to cause any problems. Even if you don’t like any kind of bias, these were still straight enough that I wasn’t aware of any stretching.
So yes, I think you need this book! It has fifteen great quilts, it’s full of terrific tips from Melissa and they’re Irish Chains! As Melissa writes in the Intro, it’s probably a safe bet that many of us can count an Irish Chain quilt as one of the first designs we tackled.
If you landed here without making the trip to Happy Quilting first, here’s what’s left for this week: