Tutorial: Kentucky Chain Block

The second last block of the Road Trip QAL is Kentucky Chain.  This is a gorgeous block that makes a wonderful tessellating pattern when you put them in a quilt.  It also looks wonderful on its own. Most of the instructions that are around for this block involve paper piecing, but I wanted to just piece it, so I figured out how. This it the simplest, yet very accurate, method that I came up with.  Let me know if you understand, since it’s my first tutorial!

You can check here for a sketch of what a whole quilt would look like. I will just be doing instructions for one block. For this block you will need three fabrics that contrast.  Think light, medium, dark.  Two fabrics will be the strips that weave in and out, and the last will be the background. Cutting instructions:

  • Fabric A – Background: 4 – 5″ squares
  • Fabric B – Chain #1 – 2 rectangles 2.5″ x 8.5″ and 2 rectangles 2.5″ x 9.5″
  • Fabric C – Chain #2 – 2 rectangles 2.5″ x 8.5″ and 2 rectangles 2.5″ x 9.5″

Kentucky Tut 1

Press the background squares in half, on the diagonal.  Then cut them in half, perpendicular to the pressed line, on the diagonal, so you have two triangles.

Kentucky Tut 3

Press each of the strips in half, folding the short sides toward each other.

Kentucky Tut 2

We will be making two sets of identical quadrants to make one complete block.  For each quadrant you will need two triangles of fabric A, one short strip for the first chain, fabric B, and one long strip for the second chain, fabric C. Take one triangle and the shorter strip.  Line up the creases so that you can be sure that the triangle is centered on the strip.

Kentucky Tut 4

Stitch a 1/4″ seam.  Then take the other triangle and sew it to the other side of the strip, matching the creases again.  I pinned these, but I’m a habitual pinner.  If you don’t think you need pins, then don’t.  🙂

Kentucky Tut 5

Press the seams toward the triangles, and then fold the block in half so that the seam is at the fold, and crease it again. Square up the block to 5 3/4″.  You can use the crease to help you square it up if you want.  I did. 🙂 (Note: this is the second of the two blocks, so the centre colour is different than the first picture.)

Kentucky Tut 7

Now slice the block in half so that the first strip is bisected.  This cut will once again be perpendicular to your crease. Now take the longer strip of the second chain fabric. Line up the creases and sew both new triangle halves to the strip, as you did the first time.

Kentucky Tut 8

Press toward the strip.  If you used the crease to help you square it up, then crease the centre of the strip again. Square up the block to 6.5″ .

Kentucky Tut 9

Make a second identical block, and then make two more with the strips in the opposite positions.  Join the four blocks to make the completed Kentucky Chain block.  Your block should measure 12.5″

You can also make this block to finish at 9″.  For that size block, cut your background fabric 4″ square, and the two strips 7″ and 8″.  After you sew the first triangles on the first strip, trim the block to 4.5″.  After the second strip is sewn in, trim the block to 5″.

Anyway, I hope these instructions are clear enough!  Please let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them.  If you make one of these blocks, let me know; I’d love to see it.

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9 thoughts on “Tutorial: Kentucky Chain Block

  1. Pingback: Road Trip Quilt Along: Kentucky Chain | Sewing by Moonlight

  2. Love how you did this. Pressing things in half to make sure the centers line up was a great idea. I liked reading that you are a habitual pin-er. I am a habitual NOT pin-er. Unless the seam is curved, or particularly long or tricky in some way, I am apt to skip the pins.

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    • Thanks. I think my pinning habit comes from my clothing sewing background. I don’t pin everything, but if there’s a seam to match or there’s bias or the seam is longer than like 8 inches, then I pin. I had to laugh, though, because one of the things I don’t really pin is curves.

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  3. Pingback: QAL: Kentucky Chain | Apple Pie Patchwork

  4. Pingback: Let’s Get Acquainted Blog Hop | Apple Pie Patchwork

  5. Great tutorial, I followed your instructions and made this block 6 months ago for a sampler quilt top and am now thinking of making a whole quilt top, although our quilt group’s mantra this year is” to finish more than we start!”

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