Irish Chain Nine-Patch Quilt Tutorial

I recently finished a classic nine-patch (or Irish Chain) quilt for a baby gift. I went with neutral, low-volume colors making it both timeless and on-trend. The best part is that it was a really fun and quick quilt to put together and today I’m sharing a tutorial so you can make one too!

Modern Gray and White Baby Quilt

You may remember me working on this quilt in this post. An update on that below. 

This quilt finishes at 42″ x 54″ for a generous crib size quilt. It is based on 6″ quilt blocks, so it would be very easy to resize smaller or bigger.

It’s also a great quilt for using stash, including leftover 2 1/2″ precut strips. And you definitely can make it a lot more colorful if you like! I personally like how the uniform gray blocks create unity amidst the scrappy low-volume prints, but you can mix and match colors too.

Fabric Requirements:

8 Light Strips 2 1/2″ x WOF (width of fabric) – these can be assorted (like sample) or all cut from 1/2 yard of one fabric

10 Dark Strips 2 1/2″ x WOF – these can be assorted or all cut from 3/4 yard of one fabric (like sample)

31 Light Squares 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ – these can be assorted (like sample) or all cut from 1 1/8 yard of fabric

Make Strip Sets

Quilting Tips for accurate Strip Piecing Short Cuts

Part of the ease and the fast assembly of this quilt is the use of strip-piecing techniques. If you are new to strip piecing, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND reading THIS POST with tips for successful strip-cutting and piecing techniques before you even cut your fabric.

Follow the instructions in the Strip Piecing 101 post to sew your strip sets together. I also highly recommend using a Scant 1/4″ seam allowance, or your pieced blocks will be slightly undersized.

Make 4 Dark-Light-Dark alternating strip sets (press seams toward dark) and 2 Light-Dark-Light strip sets (press seams toward the dark.) This will make it easy to nest the seams, helping square points match up nicely.

Pressing tip: Press strips from the front side, using the tip of the iron to get into the seam and make it nice and open and flat.

Notice pressing in the strips sets above. This step will make it easy to nest the seams when assembling the block, helping square points match up nicely.

Cut 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ units from each strip set. (See Strip Piecing 101 post for tips to help keep your units square.) Cut 64 units from the 4 Dark-Light-Dark stripsets

and 32 units from the 2 Light-Dark-Light stripsets.

Make Nine-Patch Quilt Blocks

How to make a Nine Patch Quilt Block

To assembly Nine-Patch quilt blocks alternate 2 Dark-Light-Dark units with 1 Light-Dark-Light unit and sew them together, nesting the seams. (See photo for pressing guide)

These blocks should finish 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″. Make 32 Nine-Patch blocks.

(If your blocks finish slightly smaller than 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″, it is because your seam allowance was slightly wider than 1/4″. But not to worry if your blocks end up slightly smaller. They’re still useable – you’ll just want to trim your off-setting blocks down to the same uniform size as your nine-patch blocks.)

Short Cut 9-Patch tips

Here is a variation in higher contrast fabrics (in case the gray and white are too difficult to see.)

Irish Chain Nine Patch Quilt Assembly

Layout your quilt blocks into rows of 7 alternating Nine-Patch and solid squares. Odd rows will start and end with a Nine-Patch block. Even rows will start and end with solid square.

Sew rows together, pressing all seams toward the solid square (away from the Nine-Patch blocks).

Irish Chain Nine Patch Quilt Tutorial

Sew 9 rows together, pressing seams one direction.

While I love the subtle color palette of this quilt, I recognize it might be hard for everyone to see the contrast.

Here is a more stark diagram of the block layout. This quilt will finish at 42″ x 54″.

Low Volume Nine Patch Quilt

This quilt was machine quilted by my friend, Monica. I went with an all-over stipple design to give the quilt some texture. If you are looking to quilt the layers yourself, you can find information about Machine Quilting Basics here.

Low Volume Baby Quilt idea

One of my favorite touches on this quilt, was finding this super sweet, subtle pink polkadot in my stash (it’s old!) to use for the binding. You can find more info about How to Finish (or Bind) a Quilt here.

And there you go. A sweet and simple, classic baby quilt that comes together quickly, perfect for gift giving!

You can find a free printable PDF version of this quilt here.

I had fun using all stash to make this quilt – including the backing and the binding. Score! As you can see, my ‘whites’ are a variety of shades. If that bothers you, make sure you use tones that are the same and check them in natural daylight to get the best idea of true color.           

Modern Nine Patch Quilt

The other nice thing about this muted gray and white color scheme is it’s both classic and modern/on-trend at the same time. And an Irish Chain motif is as timeless as it gets. If you’d like to make a larger scale Irish Chain quilt, check out the Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt Along at Gigi’s Thimble – she’ll walk you through a larger version!

Modern neutrals quilt - gray and white

If you think about it, making a two-tone gray and white quilt using any traditional quilt design can give a quilt a really clean, modern feel. If you’re intrigued by the simplicity of gray and white, here are a couple of other two-tone quilt patterns and example.

Modern Gray and White Half Square Triangle Quilt

Modern Two-tone Star Quilt by Amanda Woodruff

Nine Patch quilt tutorial, crib quilt size

As I mentioned, this is the quilt I was working on in this post. A million thanks for all of the kind encouragement and well wishes to our family regarding our son’s health. Unfortunately, the new status quo is the same and we’re still looking for answers. I’m praying we figure this out soon. Thank you again! xoxo

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  • Reply
    February 27, 2020 at 7:26 am

    These are both absolutely beautiful quilts. I have been looking into making an Irish Chain quit for some time. This one is very inspiring. Love the star quilt too. Now, I will have to make up my mind, but in the meantime I can enjoy your two creations!

  • Reply
    Sally King
    February 27, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Thank you for the lovely calming quilt. How is your son? Hope things are better.

  • Reply
    Sandra B
    February 27, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks, Amy!
    Our niece is having her first child this summer and I need to make a quilt for her little one on his way (yes! It is a boy) …. the nursery will be grey and white with navy accents. I am thinking I will do the nine patch Irish chain in greys and whites with a binding in navy… thanks for sharing this quilt… your timing was perfect!!
    I am keeping your son in my thoughts and prayers… hope he is improving daily!
    Sandra B

  • Reply
    February 28, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Absolutely beautiful! Love the Irish chain design. I made the one with half square triangle. It turnout lovely thanks to you! You always inspire me with great ideas!
    Have a wonderful weekend 🤗💕👏👏

  • Reply
    Emma Somero
    February 28, 2020 at 9:34 am

    I love this; so soft and sweet!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Great quilt, love the neutral shades!

  • Reply
    February 29, 2020 at 7:37 am

    I love to shop my stash for baby quilts! Thank you for taking the time to post. Best wishes and prayers for answers to your son’s health.

  • Reply
    Sharon Shergold
    February 29, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you very much for this lovely Crib Quilt pattern. It is great for new parents who don’t want the traditional “baby look” I am sure this will be one of those heirloom pieces that will have stories connected to it for years to come. Sending super positive thoughts and wishes for your son, take care

  • Reply
    February 29, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    I love the calm elegance of this quilt. And the pop of subtle color in the binding.

  • Reply
    Jayne Hunt
    February 29, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you for such a great tutorial and the inspiration!

  • Reply
    Sharon Shergold
    February 29, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you for such a lovely quilt pattern AND instructions, this is a great quilt for parents who don’t want the traditional “baby look”. This is a quilt that will be an heirloom with a ton of stories and memories to go along with it.
    Sending a ton of positive thoughts to your family, take care

  • Reply
    February 29, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    I also appreciate along with Cindy, the calming feeling the quilt in these tones exudes.

  • Reply
    Kathleen McCarthy
    March 1, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Absolutely beautiful Irish Chain quilt. I can’t find how to download it. It is free….hope…..right??

  • Reply
    Sheila Friday
    March 4, 2020 at 7:12 am

    I really want to do this. It is beautiful, so calming and sweet. I’ve been stashing low volume fabrics for awhile and this is a perfect project for that. I might do two—one in grays and one in taupe/beiges. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2020 at 11:36 am

    Your binding seems to be wider that a traditional binding. Is that right? How do you do that?

  • Reply
    Deb Jones
    July 29, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Ran short on light fabric strips. Made 4 dark-light-dark strips, then only had 2 light strips left to make 2 light-dark-light strips. Was able to get additional fabric for 2 more light strips, Still kind of new at this, but couldn’t figure how to do it with 6 strips.

  • Reply
    September 15, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Hi Amy. I was so happy to find the baby/crib size pattern you posted! Yours is ADORABLE! I just went to sew my strips together and I didn’t have enough light fabric! I went back and checked the pattern. Can you confirm that there really should be 8 light strips rather than 6 light strips? Thanks and thanks again for the wonderful pattern!!!!

    • Reply
      September 15, 2021 at 11:53 am

      You are totally right!! Thank you so much for pointing that out. Pattern and post are fixed. Thanks again for looking out for me!

  • Reply
    September 15, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    Whew! I was nervous to ask since no one had before me! I thought I was missing something, which isn’t unusual! 🙂 Thank you again and again for this awesome pattern and looking out for ME! <3

  • Reply
    September 16, 2021 at 4:37 am

    Hi again Amy, You missed the change under “Fabric Requirements”. Oops!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2021 at 11:14 am

      Doh – and that was the easiest spot to fix! lol. Thanks, Lynn!

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