Mennonite Irish Chain

By: Jennifer Perkins
Harlan, Iowa

I took pictures of the inspiration quilt several years before the challenge as it hung in the Amish gallery in the Kalona, Iowa Quilt and Textile Museum. The use and arrangement of colors and the tabs along the edges fascinated me and I was very glad when the challenge was announced so I could get the chance to try to replicate it.
When I was drafting this on graph paper, I found that there was a regular pattern to the color placement. I really wondered, how she had come up with the design as there are funny little breaks to the pattern as in the teal blue line of squares that runs down the center of the squares but is broken by the two white squares. Did she use a design wall? Did she lay it all out before she started to keep it straight? I certainly did when I pieced mine, but hers was so big! The original quilt has finished one and one half inch squares and mine were one inch. Trying to get the tabs the correct size was tricky, and it was pretty time consuming to make them.
There are a lot of Irish Chain quilts in the world, but I have never seen anything remotely like this! In appraising, we just consider one-of-a-kind quilts like this to be an individual touch of genius. It is an outlier to the typical and the world is richer for it. As I made my own quilt, I just marveled at the inventiveness of the original quiltmaker and the sheer effort it took to create her quilt in the large size. I felt privileged to share a small part of her vision!