Designer Amanda Brown’s quilt, Irish Blessings, is a tribute to her great grandmother who came to Canada as a teenager. The message on her quilt is timeless, the story behind it priceless.
Hi! This is Amanda of Fabric Heart and I want to share with you a fun St. Patrick’s Day themed quilt called “Irish Blessings”. The best part about St. Patrick’s Day is everyone gets to pretend they are Irish!
At the age of 18, my Great Grandmother, Mary Jane Lappin, got on a boat in Ireland and sailed across the ocean to start a new life in Canada. Her friend had move to Canada a year before and said there were lots of jobs compared to what was available in Ireland. So, my Great Grandma packed her bags and set off, ending up in the town of Aurora, Ontario. There she took a job working for a doctor and where she met my Great Grandpa. Shortly after, they got married and lived in a tent before they bought a cottage on a lake. My Great Grandma was an epic adventurer!
This is a picture of my Great Grandparents and my Grandma on the family homestead on a trip back to Ireland.
I’m a lot like my Great Grandma, I have an affinity for adventure and never shy away from jumping into a new experience. When I was 23, I set off on my own adventure to Ireland. Landing in Ireland I was met by my Irish family I had never met before, and I immediately felt at home. I found cousins who looked like me and a whole crew of family who were so full of joy and hospitality! I spent three wonderful weeks travelling Ireland, discovering my heritage and creating lifetime memories. From then on, I found myself loving St. Parick’s Day even more. It reminds me that there is a whole part of my heritage that I may be removed from by distance but is still very much a part of who I am.
This a picture of me on the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland.
In 2020 I’m setting off on an adventure of creating quilts for every major holiday my family celebrates. I don’t tend to go over the top decorating for most holidays but if I had themed quilts, then I could just pull it out and instantly be festive.
So here I bring to you my St. Patrick’s Day Quilt, “Irish Blessings”.
The oversized Celtic Twist background represents my family, all these individual pieces twist together to make their own units. The large size of the twist represents how we may have distance between us but we are still linked. The twists are open at the edges waiting for the future family to add their own unit in.
There are many Irish Blessings but “May the road rise up to meet you” has always spoken to my heart. It’s not so much that the road will rise up literally to meet you but that on your travels you will find good luck. Even though I don’t always feel it, I for sure am blessed with the luck of the Irish. Quite often I find things going awry, and as long as I keep pushing forward the outcome is often better than I imagined.
I had to add some extra whimsy into this quilt and when I think of Ireland I think of Leprechauns. I may have spent a lot of time exploring the Irish countryside looking for Leprechauns and pots of gold! When I think of Leprechauns I naturally think of Lucky Charms. I just can’t get enough of those crunchy marshmallows and neither can my kids. I just couldn’t resist adding some my favourite lucky charms to my quilt making sure the horseshoe was pointed in the right direction to catch all the luck!
Irish Blessings Quilt
The quilt is broken down the quilt into 2 sections:
Part 1: The Celtic Twist background quilt
Part 2: Fusible Applique lettering and Lucky Charms
Celtic Twist Quilt:
White: 3.5 yards
Light Green: 3/4 yard
Dark Green: 3/4 yard
Binding: 5/8 Yard
Backing: 4 1/4 Yards
Batting: approx 70”x 85”
- 1/3 yard each of Pink, Purple, Green, Blue and Yellow
- Fusible Web
Celtic Twist Background:
- (10) 15.5” x 15.5”
- (10) 10.5”x10.5”
- (9) 3”x13”
- (17) 3”x13”
- (12) 3”x3”
- (14) 3”x13”
- (12) 3”x3”
Two different block types:
- Partial Seam Around the Block
- 4 patch Snowball block
Partial Seam Around the Block Directions:
- Take a 13”x3” Dark Green unit and line up a 10.5”x10.5” white square along one side with tops matching.
- Now sew a 1/4” seam along the right side ending approx. 3” before the end of the white block. Press green away from white. This is your partial seam.
- Now attach the remaining 13”x3” strips to the block as shown below.
- Once all 4 strips have been added to the block you can now go back and finish the seam you created in step 2.
4 Patch Snowball Block Directions:
- Draw a diagonal line, corner to corner on each of the 3”x3” blocks
- Take a 15.5”x15.5” white square and line up one 3”x3” block in the corner. Sew along drawn line.
- Trim 1/4” away from sewn line and press open.
- Repeat on other 3 corners as needed.
Using the methods above, make the following blocks. (Note you do not need to add white corner pieces as the background fabric is white)
Following the layout below, piece these blocks together. Pay close attention to the orientation of each block.
Unless you are using wide back fabric, you will now need to piece a back for this quilt. As you can see, I had fun piecing this quilt back and made a little rainbow scene.
Sandwich your quilt with batting, baste and quilt it as desired. We are quilting the quilt before applying appliqué so that the appliqué can stand out on the quilt. Do not square up the quilt and add binding yet. Leave that for after the appliqué.
My favourite part about this quilt is it is so customizable. Once you have picked your favourite Irish Blessing, use a word processing software on your computer to type it out. Then find a font that speaks to you. There are plenty of free fonts available online with a quick google search. I used “Arial Rounded MT Bold” which came with my software. Then change the font size so the letters are a good size for your quilt. Most word processing software have rulers that you can have displayed so you can tell how big your letters will print out. This part may take a bit of playing with depending on your phrase size. I set my font to 500pt which made each letter about 5” tall. Then print out one copy of each letter in your phrase. There is no need to print out your entire phrase because you are just going to trace these letters
*** For the next part you need the mirror image of each of your letters. Many letters will look the same if you flip them. Some may require you to trace them backwards. *****
- Trace each letter in mirror image onto the paper side of your fusible web.
- Cut each letter out. It doesn’t need to be exact at this point, 1/4” or so outside each letter.
- Iron the fusible web onto the fabric in the selected colour following the directions on the package.
- Cut each letter out along the traced lines. You should now have letters with fusible web on the back.
- Lay your letters out on your quilt to find the perfect spacing.
- Once satisfied with the layout remove the paper backing and iron the letters on to your quilt following package directions. I found the easiest way to do this and keep the letters in the right place was lower my ironing board to lay flat on the ground and carefully move my quilt over top of the board as I went.
- Using your favourite edging stitch now sew your letters onto your quilt. I used a blanket stitch but the options here are endless. Satin stitch, straight stitch close to the edge or even a fun decorative stitch. During this part a few of my letters came loose with moving the quilt around so much. I simply ironed them back down and continued on.
- Print out the templates at 100% or draw your own! I tried to have each charm fill an 8.5”x11” size of printer paper.
- For all charms except the rainbow follow the directions above to apply the charm to the quilt. You will notice I the picture below that I cut away the middle part of the fusible web, this keeps the charms from feeling too stiff. DOWNLOAD Templates here.
Rainbow Lucky Charm
- The rainbow has three separate parts and they overlap. You will be attaching them to the quilt from the inside of the rainbow out. Trace the sections onto the fusible web, attach them to the fabric and cut out.
- Once you have each section prepared lay them out on your block to get an idea of how they will overlap and the position you will want them on the block.
- Starting with the pink, inner section of the rainbow, peel the paper off and iron it onto the block in the predetermined position.
- Next do the same with the yellow section making sure to line up the bottom of the rainbow and overlap by approximately 1/4”.
- Repeat step 4 with the blue section. Then secure the sections on with your favourite appliqué stitch.
Now square up your quilt and bind it. Tadaaa you’re all done!
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