Fat Quarter Stars and Irish Chain: Free Quilt Pattern

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Sew an easy Variable Star Quilt using fat quarters with this free quilt pattern! The Variable Star is a traditional quilt block that is popular again in quilts of all sizes. This Stars and Irish Chain Quilt Pattern has 13 star blocks and 12 Irish chain blocks for a classic looking quilt that’s new again with 9 of your favorite fat quarters (pre-cut 18” x 21” pieces of fabric) and 4 1/2 yards of background fabric. The finished quilt is a 76” x 76” throw size quilt.

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The free Fat Quarter Stars and Irish Chain Quilt Pattern is included in the blog post below and is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $3 is totally optional. Did you know you can get ALL the Optimized for Printing PDF files organized in a library for you to access anytime you want? Check it out.

You can see all my free quilt patterns here.

I was inspired to sew this quilt after viewing some beautiful blue and white Amish quilts.

If you love fat quarter quilt patterns, you’ll love these too:

Or see all my fat quarter friendly quilt patterns.

Another variation that works well with this pattern is a quilt with 2 main colors. The star block fabrics are cut from 5 fat quarters and the Irish chain block fabrics are cut from the remaining 4 fat quarters. That means you can easily use 2 different main colors for a navy and red patriotic quilt (see above) a pink and black quilt (I adore that color combo), or a totally scrappy quilt with any 9 fat quarters that you love!

This Variable Star and Irish Chain Quilt tutorial:

  • Uses easy patchwork piecing
  • Would make a great housewarming or birthday gift
  • Is the perfect size to snuggle with on the couch.

If you love to use your AccuQuilt fabric cutter like I do, I’ll share the optional cutting die numbers to make this pattern Accuquilt-friendly. Using an Accuquilt is optional, but I love it! See all my Accuquilt-friendly quilts. Look under the cutting dimensions below for a list of fabric-cutting dies you may use instead.

All nine of the fat quarters that I used are various shades of blue and came in a Starlight Gatherings FQ bundle from Moda. You could recreate the look with the same fabrics, or with any 9 blue and navy fat quarters from your stash.

Or try red fabrics for a beautiful Christmas quilt! I used EQ8 quilt design software to show you how that might turn out.

What is a Variable Star Block?

Let’s break it down! This Variable Star block is an uneven 9-patch quilt block made up of 4 corner squares, 4 flying geese units, and 1 center square in a square unit,.

After cutting all of the star fabric pieces, we’ll make flying geese units with some of the pieces and square in a square units with the others. After that, it’s easy to finish the Variable Star block.

What is an Irish Chain Block?

This Irish Chain block is easy to sew as a simple nine patch. You’ll need just 2 1/2” squares and 4 1/2” squares. First you’ll make four patch units for the centers of the blocks and different ones for the corners. Then sew them together with some background fabric squares.

After all 25 of your blocks are sewn, we’ll put them together with some sashing, add a border, and finish the quilt.

So let’s get started!

Stars & Irish Chain Quilt Pattern

Finished quilt dimensions: 76’’ x 76’’. Finished block size: 12” x 12”.

You will need:

  • 9 coordinating fat quarters (18” x 21” pieces of fabric)
    • Your fat quarters may be all in the same color family, 5 of one color family and 4 of another, or all different colors and prints for a scrappy look.
  • 4 1/2 yards background fabric
  • 1/2-5/8 yard binding fabric
  • 5 yards backing fabric, or enough to piece together an 81” x 81” square
  • an 81” x 81” piece of quilt batting
  • a rotary cutter, acrylic ruler, and mat
  • sewing machine
  • thread (I suggest thread matching the background fabric)

Cutting:

Pick 5 fat quarters to use in the star blocks.

From 3 of these fat quarters, cut:

  • 3 squares 4 3/4” x 4 3/4” (for the square in a square centers)
  • 16 squares 4” x 4” (for the corners of the square in a square units and for the flying geese units)

From 2 of these fat quarters, cut:

  • 2 squares 4 3/4” x 4 3/4” (for the square in a square centers)
  • 16 squares 4” x 4” (for the corners of the square in a square units and for the flying geese units)

You will have 2 leftover 4” squares.

From the remaining 4 fat quarters you will cut squares for the chain blocks and sashing:

  • 45 squares 2 1/2” x 2 1/2”

From the background fabric, cut:

  • 13 squares 7 1/4” x 7 1/4” (for the flying geese units in the star blocks)
  • 52 squares 3 1/2” x 3 1/2” (for the star block corners)
  • 96 squares 2 1/2” x 2 1/2” (for the chain blocks)
  • 48 squares 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” (for the chain blocks)
  • 60 rectangles 2 1/2” x 12 1/2” (for the sashing strips)

For the borders, cut and piece together:

  • 2 strips 2 1/2” x 72 1/2”*
  • 2 strips 2 1/2” x 76 1/2”*

* Border tips:

  • You will need to piece strips together to make the border.
  • I highly recommend that you do not cut your border strips now. Instead, wait until the center of the quilt top is finished so you can measure it and sew accurate borders. See how to measure and cut accurate quilt borders.

If you have an Accuquilt cutter, you can quickly sew the flying geese units together without using the shortcut method below. The following dies will work with this quilt pattern. Please note that more fabric may be required if you are using the AccuQuilt system.

  • Instead of cutting the 80 4” squares (split among 5 FQ), cut 156 half square triangles using 3” finished HST die 55703 (also found in the 12” Qube Mix and Match Set)
  • Instead of cutting the thirteen 4 3/4” squares (split among 5 FQ), cut 13 squares using the 6” square on point die 55725 (also found in the 12” Qube Mix and Match Set)
  • Instead of cutting the thirteen 7 1/4” squares (in background fabric), cut 52 quarter square triangles using 6” finished QST die 55726 (also found in the 12” Qube Mix and Match Set)
  • The 2 1/2” squares may be cut using die 55709 (also found in the 8” Qube Mix and Match Set)
  • The 2 1/2” strip die 55017 is great for cutting the sashing strips and border pieces

instructions:

Use a 1/4” seam allowance unless otherwise noted.

Variable Star Quilt Block Tutorial

Make 52 Flying Geese Units

1. Use the pencil or fabric marking pen to draw a diagonal line across the wrong side of 52 of the 4” print fabric squares. This is a cutting line.

2. Place two of the 4” squares right sides together on a 7 1/4’’ background fabric square,  aligned with opposite corners. The squares will overlap and the drawn lines (from Step 1 above) should make a single diagonal line across the larger square.

3. Sew 1/4’’ away from the drawn line on either side. Cut the piece apart along the line.

4. Fold back the smaller triangles and press. Place another 4” square right side down on each piece, aligned with the remaining corner as shown. Stitch 1/4’’ away from the drawn line on either side.

5. Cut apart the pieces along the line. Fold back the triangles and press to make 4 flying geese units. Trim the flying geese units to 3 1/2’’ x 6 1/2’’.

Make 52 flying geese units.

If you are using AccuQuilt-cut fabric pieces, sew 2 print 3” HST pieces together with a background 6” QST piece to make a 3 1/2” x 6 1/2” flying geese unit. Repeat to make 52 flying geese units.

Make 13 Square in a Square Units

1. Cut 26 4” squares in half diagonally to make 52 half square triangle pieces.

2. Place the long edge of a half square triangle piece right sides together along the side of a 4 3/4” square, the long edge centered with the square. The triangle corners will overlap. Sew with a 1/4” seam allowance. Sew another triangle to the opposite side of the square. Open the triangles and press outward. Trim away the dog ear points of the triangles.

3. Sew two more half square triangle pieces to the remaining sides of the square. Open the triangles and press outward. Trim the square to 6 1/2” x 6 1/2”. Repeat to make 13.

Sew the Variable Star Blocks Together

1. Arrange 4 flying units together with a center square unit and four 3 1/2’’ x 3 1/2’’ background fabric squares as shown. Sew together in 3 rows. Sew the rows together to make the Variable Star Block.

Repeat to make 13 blocks.

2. Trim the blocks to 12 1/2’’ square, if desired.

Tip: I love my 12 1/2” square ruler for squaring up blocks this size.

Interesting note: I decided to make the triangles in my square in a square unit match, and the 4 flying geese in a block match. You can choose to follow that idea, or mix and match even more than I did!

Irish Chain Quilt Block Tutorial

Make 12 four patch Units with all print fabrics

1. Select 4 different 2 1/2” print squares (1 from each FQ that you used to cut 2 1/2” squares).

2. Sew the squares in sets of 2, press. Then sew each set of 2 together to make a 4-patch.

Repeat to make 12 four patch units for the centers of your chain blocks.

Make 48 four patch Units with half print and half background fabrics

1. Select 2 different 2 1/2” print squares and 2 background fabric 2 1/2” squares.

2. Sew the squares in sets of 2, press. Then sew each set of 2 together to make a 4-patch.

Repeat to make 48 four patch units for the corners of your chain blocks.

Sew the Irish Chain Star Blocks Together

1. Arrange an all-print 4-patch unit in the center with four half print/half background fabric 4-patch units and four 4 1/2” background fabric squares as shown. Sew together in 3 rows. Sew the rows together to make the Irish Chain Block.

2. Trim the block to 12 1/2’’ square, if desired.

Tip: I love my 12 1/2” square ruler for squaring up blocks this size.

Tip: I love my 12 1/2” square ruler for squaring up blocks this size.

Assemble the Quilt Top

1. Sew 3 star blocks and 2 chain blocks into a row with a 2 1/2” x 12 1/2” sashing strip in between each block and sashing strips at the ends. Press the seams toward the sashing strips. Make 3 rows like this.

2. Sew 3 chain blocks and 2 star blocks into a row with a 2 1/2” x 12 1/2” sashing strip in between each block and sashing strips at the ends. Press the seams toward the sashing strips. Make 2 rows like this.

3. Sew five 2 1/2” x 12 1/2” sashing strips with 2 1/2” x 2 1/2” print squares in between. Press the seams toward the sashing strips.

This is a sashing row. Repeat to make 6 sashing rows.

4. Sew the quilt block rows together with the sashing rows in between. Sew sashing rows at the top and bottom of the quilt top as well.

4. Attach the borders. Sew the 2 1/2” x 72 1/2” border strips to the sides of the quilt. Sew the 2 1/2” x 76 1/2” border strips to the top and bottom edges of the quilt.

Tip: Instead of using the specified lengths for the border strips, I recommend measuring your quilt and using the actual measurements as I show in this blog post. This helps to prevent wavy quilt borders or puckering where the borders are attached.

Finishing the Fat Quarter Stars and Irish Chain Star Quilt Pattern

1. Cut or piece together a 81” x 81” piece of backing fabric and make a quilt sandwich with the backing, batting, and top.

2. Baste together with fusible batting, pins or basting spray.

3. Quilt as desired. Straight line quilting or cross hatch quilting with your walking foot would be fast and easy.

4. Cut 7-8 binding strips and bind using your favorite method. This is my favorite quilt binding method.

xoxo,

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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3 Comments

  1. Kathie Graves says:

    If I wanted to make this to fit a full size bed, would it just be as simple as adding an extra row to the top and bottom and the sides? Thanks!

  2. Dorothy Rainbow says:

    Thanks 🙏 for sharing the nine patch chain quilt Caroline. Cheers.

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