/ / Christmas Irish Chain Quilt – free quilt pattern!

Christmas Irish Chain Quilt – free quilt pattern!

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Sew up a beautiful Irish Chain Quilt with a Christmas theme! This free pattern is for a generous 77’’ x 77’’ size throw quilt, but you could easily make it larger or smaller. There are two different 13’’ blocks (finished size) that I use in an alternating pattern – plus red and cream colored sashing.

With all the crazy things going on right now, I have managed to make it through the past month by thinking about Christmas and working on this quilt. How about you?

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The free quilt pattern in the blog post below is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $2 is totally optional.


I hung it up in our living room to take some pictures, but I think I’ll leave it up. It makes me happy to see it every time I walk by!


If you are short on time or prefer a simpler look, you can skip the Poinsettia Blocks and still make a gorgeous Christmas themed quilt where holly and berries make up the Irish chain.

All of the fabrics in my Christmas Irish Chain Quilt were from the Very Merry collection from Andover, except the light red fabric (Cotton and Steel Spark in Roadster Red) and the background, which is Kona Snow.

You probably already have a nice collection of Christmas fabrics and can make this work with 2 greens, 2 reds, a light background, and a pretty gold for the poinsettia centers. 🙂


So let’s make a beautiful modern traditional Christmas quilt!

Free pattern for a Christmas Irish Chain Quilt

Cutting instructions are provided for:

  • 1 Holly Block (13’’ finished)

  • 1 Poinsetta Block (13’’ finished)

and in case you’d like to make my large 77’’ x 77’’ quilt:

  • 13 Holly Blocks

  • 12 Poinsetta Blocks

  • cream and light red sashing for the large quilt

If you are making the 77’’ x 77’’ quilt, you will need:

  • 1 yard of dark green fabric

  • 1 yard of light green fabric

  • 1 yard of dark red fabric

  • 1 yard of light red fabric

  • 1/4 yard more of light red fabric for the sashing and Holly Block centers (1 1/4 yds light red total if you are using the same fabric like I did)

  • 1/4 yard yellow/gold fabric

  • 3 1/2 yards of cream or white background fabric

  • 5 yards of backing fabric

  • 3/4 yards for the binding

  • a piece of batting at least 81’’ x 81’’

Tip: I chose to use Quilter’s Dream wool batting for this quilt because the natural loft and texture of wool (when quilted) is amazing. Hobbs Premium is another great wool batting.

Cutting Instructions for Single Blocks

For one Holly Block (13’’ finished), cut:

  • 4 dark green strips 2 1/2’’ x 4 1/2’’

  • 4 light green strips 2 1/2’’ x 4 1/2’’

  • 2 dark green strips 2 1/2’’ x 6 1/2’’

  • 2 light green strips 2 1/2’’ x 6 1/2’’

  • 8 background fabric squares 2 1/2’’ x 2 1/2’’

  • 4 background fabric strips 2 1/2’’ x 6’’

  • 1 light red square 2 1/2’’ x 2 1/2’’

For one Poinsettia Block (13’’ finished), cut:

  • 2 dark red squares 6’’ x 6’’

  • 2 light red squares 6’’ x 6’’

  • 8 background fabric squares 2’’ x 2’’

  • 4 yellow/gold squares 2’’ x 2’’

  • 2 background color strips 2’’ x 10 1/2’’

  • 2 background color strips 2’’ x 13 1/2’’

Cutting Instructions for a 77’’ x 77’’ Quilt

The 77’’ x 77’’ quilt includes 13 Holly Blocks, 12 Poinsettia Blocks, plus sashing.

From the dark green fabric, cut:

  • 52 strips 2 1/2’’ x 4 1/2’’

  • 26 strips 2 1/2’’ x 6 1/2’’

From the light green fabric, cut:

  • 52 strips 2 1/2’’ x 4 1/2’’

  • 26 strips 2 1/2’’ x 6 1/2’’

From the dark red fabric, cut:

  • 24 squares 6’’ x 6’’

From the light red fabric, cut:

  • 24 squares 6’’ x 6’’

  • 49 squares 2 1/2’’ x 2 1/2’’

From the background fabric, cut:

  • 24 strips 2’’ x 10 1/2’’*

  • 24 strips 2’’ x 13 1/2’’*

  • 60 strips 2 1/2’’ x 13 1/2’’ (sashing strips)*

  • 96 squares 2’’ x 2’’

  • 104 squares 2 1/2’’ x 2 1/2’’

  • 52 strips 2 1/2’’ x 6’’

*Tip: Cut the 10 1/2’’ and 13 1/2’’ background fabric strips first because you can use some of the leftover pieces to cut the small 2’’ and 2 1/2’’ squares.

From the binding fabric cut:

  • 8 strips 2 1/2’’ x width of fabric (or your desired binding size)


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How to Sew the Holly Blocks

Make 13 for the entire quilt. Use a scant 1/4’’ seam allowance for best results.

1. Sew a 2 1/2’’ background fabric square to each 2 1/2’’ x 4 1/2’’ light green and dark green strip.

Repeat to make 4 units of each color for 1 block or 52 of each color for 13 blocks. Press the seams toward the dark fabrics.


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2. Sew two dark green + background fabric units to a 2 1/2’’ x 6 1/2’’ light green fabric strip.

Note the placement of the background squares carefully – at the top right and lower left corners.

Repeat to make 2 dark/light/dark units for 1 quilt block or 26 for 13 blocks. Press the seams toward the dark green fabric.


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3. Sew two light green + background fabric units to a 2 1/2’’ x 6 1/2’’ dark green fabric strip.

Note the placement of the background squares carefully – at the top left and lower right corners.

Repeat to make 2 light/dark/light units for 1 quilt block or 26 for 13 blocks. Press the seams toward the dark green fabric.


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4. Cut each unit in half diagonally, cutting through the strips only, not the background fabric squares. Because the background colored squares are in different positions, the sets will be cut in opposite directions.


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5. Sew one dark/light/dark triangle to one light/dark/light triangle as seen above to make a holly unit.

Repeat to make 4 holly units for 1 quilt block or 52 for 13 blocks. Press the seam in either direction.

Trim each holly unit to 6’’ square.


6. Sew two holly units to either side of a 2 1/2’’ x 6’’ background fabric strip as seen above. Take care that the holly units are turned in the correct direction

Repeat to make 2 pieces for one quilt block or 26 for 13 blocks. Press the seams toward the background fabric strips.


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7. Sew two 2 1/2’’ x 6’’ background fabric strips to either side of a 2 1/2’’ x 2 1/2’’ light red square as seen above.

Repeat to make 13 if you are making 13 blocks. Press the seams toward the background fabric strips.


8. Sew two holly pieces to either side of a red and cream piece as seen above. Take care that all of the holly units are turned in the correct direction. Press the seams toward the background fabric strips.

Repeat to make 13 blocks for the large quilt.


How to Sew the Poinsettia Blocks

Make 12 for the entire quilt. Use a scant 1/4’’ seam allowance for best results.

Make light and dark red half square triangle (HST) units:

1. Use a fabric pen or pencil to draw a diagonal line across the wrong side of all of the light red 6’’ x 6’’ squares. Place each light red square right sides together with a dark red 6’’ x 6’’ square and pin together.

2. Sew diagonally across each piece twice, a scant 1/4’’ on either side of the drawn line.

3. Cut each piece in half diagonally along the drawn line. Open and press the seam toward the darker fabric. Trim each HST unit to 5 1/2’’ square.

Repeat to make 4 HST units for 1 quilt block or 48 for 12 quilt blocks.


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Add ‘snowball corners’:

4. Draw a diagonal line across the wrong side of each 2’’ background fabric square, if desired. Place a 2’’ square against the two plain fabric corners of a HST unit (not the corners with a diagonal seam) as seen above. The pieces should be right sides together. Pin in place.

2. Stitch across each 2’’ square diagonally as seen above (right on top of the line, if you drew one). Trim away the extra fabric 1/4’’ past the stitching.

3. Open the corner and press. Press one seam toward the dark red fabric and the other (light red) seam toward the corner.


4. Draw a diagonal line across the wrong side of each 2’’ yellow/gold fabric square, if desired. Place a 2’’ square against the lower right corner of the HST unit as seen above (right sides together). Take care that each HST unit is oriented properly with the dark red fabric at the top of the piece.

5. Stitch across each 2’’ square diagonally as seen above (right on top of the line, if you drew one). Trim away the extra fabric 1/4’’ past the stitching.

6. Open the corner and press. Press the seam open or to one side.


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7. Sew two HST units together as seen above left. Press the seam toward the darker fabric. Repeat to make 2 units for one block or 24 units for 12 blocks.

8. Sew 2 units together to make a flower. Repeat to make 12 flowers if you are making a large quilt.



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9. Sew two 2’’ x 10 1/2’’ background fabric strips to the sides of each flower. Press the seams as desired.

10. Sew the two 2’’ x 13 1/2’’ background fabric strips to the top and bottom edges of each flower. Press the seams as desired.

Repeat to make 12 Poinsettia Blocks if you are making the large quilt.


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How to Assemble the Large Quilt

1. Sew 3 Holly Blocks and 2 Poinsettia Blocks in a row with a 2 1/2’’ x 13 1/2’’ sashing strip in between each block.

Sew 2 more sashing strips to either end of the row. Press the seams toward the sashing strips.

Repeat to make 3 rows.


2. Sew 2 Holly Blocks and 3 Poinsettia Blocks in a row with a 2 1/2’’ x 13 1/2’’ sashing strip in between each block.

Sew 2 more sashing strips to either end of the row. Press the seams toward the sashing strips.

Repeat to make 2 rows.


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3. Sew 5 sashing strips in a row with 2 1/2’’ x 2 1/2’’ light red squares in between.

Sew 2 more light red squares to either end of the sashing row. Press the seams toward the sashing strips.

Repeat to make 6 sashing rows.


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4. Sew the rows of quilt blocks and the sashing rows together in an alternating pattern as seen above. Press the seams toward the sashing.

Finishing the Christmas Irish Chain Quilt

1. Cut the backing fabric in half and sew it together to make a piece big enough for the back of the quilt (at least 81 1/2’’ x 81 1/2’’).

2. Sandwich the quilt top, batting, and backing together and baste. My favorite basting methods to hold my quilt sandwich layers together are fusible batting or pin basting.

3. Quilt the quilt top as desired. I marked and quilted diagonal lines 1.25’’ apart in a cross hatch pattern (see how I did it).

4. Cut 8 strips of binding 2 1/2’’ x width-of-fabric (or as desired) and sew them together using diagonal seams. Bind the quilt using your preferred method. See how I bind my quilts by machine here.

Happy Quiltmaking!


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12 Comments

  1. Oh what an absolutely stunning quilt. Thank for for sharing the free pattern with us.

  2. hej caroline,
    what a phantastic quilt! thank you for sharing the pattern…my to do list is sooo long :0) best wishes from denmark, Ulrike :0)

  3. Donna Cannon says:

    I love this pattern! What a stunning quilt! Donna

  4. Debby Patz says:

    Caroline, this quilt is stunning! I LOVE the technique for the leaves, so much easier than they look. You are so generous with your time and patterns, thank you very much.

  5. Absolutely stunning!

  6. Beautiful pattern! Thank you!

  7. Just Beautiful, Thanks! I might actually make this one!

  8. I think these blocks would make a great table runner, using 3 or 5 blocks depending on the size of your table, or 4 blocks for a table square.

  9. Thank you for the fantastic tutorial. This quilt would also be a great spring themed coloration. Perfect!

  10. Debbie Becht says:

    Dear Caroline, I have a problem with my green holly block. The opposing small blocks of green leaves do not match up. Specifically, the light green points are off by 1/2". It seems that the seam allowance of each half square is missing. Can I send you a picture by email? Thank you so much, I love this pattern immensely.

    1. Thank you so much for your quick reply and assistance! After I corrected my mistake (I had switched the white background blocks around), the block is now perfect! Thank you!!

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