How to Make a Single Irish Chain Block

This year, for the quilt guild I am apart of, I am providing instructions for how to make a different quilt block each month. For the month of January, we learned about the Single Irish Chain. This block is also known as the Pennsylvania, the Criss Cross, and the Simple Cross. 

Single Irish Chain Block

For a 12 inch finished block (12.5 inch unfinished), you will need to cut the following:

4 of 4.5 inch squares in white

1 of 4.5 inch squares in blue 

1 of 2.5 x 20 inch strip in white

1 of 2.5 x 20 inch strip in blue

Start by doing some strip piecing. What is strip piecing you ask? It is sewing some strips of fabric together, then cutting them apart to make lots of parts of a block. 

First, line up the strips.  (Pictured are shorter strips, so don't worry if your strips look longer.)

Strip piecing for Single Irish Chain Block

Stitch them together using a 1/4 inch seam. Press to the dark side.

Strip piecing for Single Irish Chain Block

Then cut across them at 2.5 inch intervals. You should end up with 8 of these rectangles. 

Strip piecing for Single Irish Chain Block

Take two rectangles and sewing them together, matching seams to make a four-patch block. 

Strip piecing for Single Irish Chain Block

You should have 4 four patch blocks.

Strip piecing for Single Irish Chain Block

Using these blocks and the 4.5 inch blocks, sew the squares together to create the 3 rows and stitch the 3 rows together. Again, press to the dark side.

Creating an Single Irish Chain Block

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below! 

Check back each month for a new How-To of quilt blocks! To see the other block, just search my blog for Quilt Guild Block of the Month.

If you would like a PDF version of these instructions, please check out Group #1 of the How-To Block of the Month Downloads.

(Although this block is a classic and can go by many names, as I have mentioned before, these block designs come from the book 5500 Quilt Block Designs by Maggie Malone. (c) 2003.)

Have fun quilting!


  • Thanks for asking Dayle! I think that would totally work as long as the values are about the same for the lights and white. Try putting together a sample and look at it through the monochromatic mode on your phone’s camera. Give that a try!

  • I have a jelly roll of blue and yellow prints from which I’d like to make a single Irish Chain quilt. Using strip piecing, would it work to use light prints and darker prints for each 6 1/2” 9 patch block with a 6 1/2”solid white as my plain block? Must the nine patch prints be assembled all the same for a chain effect? My thanks for your help.

    Dayle Peterson
  • Hey Donna, Thanks for asking!
    It really depends on the panel. If it is a big panel, the best thing is just to make some quilt squares, like this one, to go around the panel. If its just little squares, you can use them in place of the 4.5 inch blue square in this block.
    You can also look into the Irish Chain Quilt Pattern that I sell . It is a double Irish Chain with plain squares that you can substitute in your panel squares.
    Good luck!

  • I’m new to quilting,I’d really love to learn the Irish Chain however how can I use panels for the centers.
    Thanks for your help and time.
    Donna H

  • Thank you for the pattern, I needed some free quilt therapy. I’m going to make a pink and white throw for my room.


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