August 2009

Row Seven - Friendship Chain

Above is a multicolored sample of the chain, for people who want to do it scrappy. This idea would make a great quilt border too, wouldn't it? The row will finish at 4 inches wide. I'm planning on adding sashing the same color as my background, to make the chain 'float' so mine will finish at 6 inches wide.
The one I do for my row quilt will look more like the three-color brown, green, and cream version shown above. I'm changing the colors, though, to have a medium brown background instead, and cream and green chain fabrics.

The rail fence blocks can be any length, between the X blocks. The pink and blue one above has 8 inches between the first X and second X, 12 inches between the next two, only 4 inches between the last two X's. So it's really up to you how far apart you want to space them. In the top two color samples, the X blocks and the rail fence blocks are both finishing at 4 inches square. Do you want to start your row with a rail block or an X?

When you look at the list below, for how many blocks to make, think first ... do you want your colors flipping every 4 inches, more, or less often? It'll make a difference in how many blocks you need to make. The chart below is for both the X and the rail fence being 4 inches square.

  • If you're making a 36 inch wide quilt, you'll need only 9 blocks.
  • If you're making a 60 inch wide quilt, you'll need 15 blocks.
  • If you're making the 72 inch wide quilt, you'll need 18 blocks.

For your rail fence blocks, you want your inner fabric strips (where I have orange) to be cut wide. Both strips for the rail fence blocks need to be cut wide.


On the bottom of the picture, you'll see the pieces needed for the X block. Cut your squares (where I have orange) square.

Your strips need to be 1 and seven-eighths by 7 ish long. Yeah, persnickety, I know, but in order for your seams to match, you've GOT to have them slightly smaller than 2 inches wide.

If you cut them 2 inches wide, the eighth extra for the top one, plus the eighth extra for the bottom one = two eighths, or ¼, and your seams would be that much off.

Cut your squares in half, once, to make triangles. Now look at the examples at the top of the page, and the picture below.

Note that the X blocks have one color on 'top' sometimes, and the other color on 'top' the other times. You need to sew HALF your triangles with each color strip.

Example on the top of the picture to the right ... I sewed the strip of purple between the two triangles. I'll cut it in half, corner to corner, and insert the blue strip that's waiting.

On the bottom, I sewed the blue strip first, then sliced the blue/orange one in half, corner to corner, and will insert the purple strip there.

It helps to mark the middle of the triangles before you sew, and match it to the middle of your strip, so your triangles end up exactly across from each other on the strip.

Press the seams on the rail fence blocks to the OUTSIDE, away from the center strip. Cut your rail fence blocks to 4½ inches square, or wider, if you wanted more space between your X blocks.

Press, then trim your X blocks to 4½ inches square.

Now sew your blocks together into a row, and you're done!

I'm going to save enough of the backing fabric where I can cut a 1½ inch sashing strip, to add across the top and bottom of my Friendship Chain row, like in the pink/blue row above, to make it look like it's floating.

What will your friendship chain look like? I'm going to use this sample row on the side of a tote bag, where the main body of the bag will be that orange batik fabric.

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