Irish Chain quilts and Celtic knot designs are both associated with the Irish quilting tradition.
Soon we will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day and National Quilting Day on Saturday, March 17. Where St. Paddy’s Day is always celebrated on the 17th, NQD falls on the third Saturday of March: the 17th.

When one thinks of St. Patrick’s Day, people think of the color green, leprechauns, four leaf clovers and eating corned beef and cabbage. So, let’s combine the two holidays and explore Irish quilts and designs. The most popular Irish quilt design is the Irish chain that can be created in single, double or triple chains. It is basically made of squares with plenty of solid color space for intricate quilting. Now quilt historians have begun to debate whether this block originated in Ireland or in the United States. Barbara Brackman my favorite quilt historian and author of The Clues in the Calico writes that the oldest dated Irish Chain quilt is 1814 and made in America. This book was published in 1989, so it would be interesting to research whether any earlier dated samples have been documented from Ireland. It would also be interesting to know whether the creator of the 1814 quilt was an immigrant from Ireland.

Celtic knot designs make for striking quilts: Whether pieced, appliquéd or quilted into alternating blocks. The knots are interlaced and were often used as decoration on cemetery monuments and manuscripts. The knot patterns first appeared a few hundred years after the birth of Christ and can be found in Roman floor mosaics. It wasn’t until the 7th century that the intricate knot work motifs found their way to Ireland. A search of the Internet for Celtic knot templates reveals many designs from very simple to very complicated ones for the long-arm quilter.

So, on March 17th plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Born Again Quilts from 10AM-5PM where we plan to hold demonstrations to encourage people to “take up the needle” and learn a basic needlecraft skill. At the same time, you will be able to save a bit O’ Green as certain items will be on sale to help you get started. There will be a sample of an Irish Chain quilt at the studio for you to view and appreciate.

Erin Go Bragh!

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer