Figure 1: Construction diagram and complete block
Figure 1: Construction diagram and complete block

Kentucky Chain

This is another lovely repeating pattern, which creates depth across the quilt top. It is a four-patch design divided into quarters. You can however draw out the block with the crossing bars any width you like. Draw a square a quarter of the size of your finished block and draw a line across one diagonal. Draw in the sides of this piece the width you want your cross to be. Repeat for the other small cross bars. The areas left are the triangles. Repeat this on a few trial squares, with the width of the strips to see which gives you a good balance. You could even have one strip thicker than the other if you wanted. To make life easy for you we have provided a template for one version to make a 12in block.

Choose your colours carefully if you want to create the illusion of depth, the blue side of the colour wheel will tend to recede and the red side will tend to come forward. Draw a small repeat of the blocks and either stick your chosen fabric in place, or colour with pencils or pens to check the effect. If your background fabrics are jumping forward too much, try using the reverse of the fabric which is often softer and more muted.

The block is easily pieced following Figure 1. It is easiest to piece the triangles matching the right angle corner with the straight edge of the cross piece and sew from that direction.

When the blocks are laid edge to edge the crossing chain clearly stands out as shown in Figure 2.

If you wanted to use many colours, as long as the lightness or darkness of the colours was consistent, it would still give you the 3D impact. Changing the colours of the background triangles can add another area of interest as shown in Figure 3.

The yellow and orange triangles create a glowing centre behind the chain. Although you would expect the yellow to jump forward, in this case it is as if a bright light is being shone behind the grid.

Figure 4 shows a similar, but more subtle illusion. The triangles change colour across the grid to create a gentle floating effect. We have shown them here from black to white but you could use any colour where you had a number of shades of the same colour. Time for a bit of graded dyeing perhaps?

Figure 2: 3 blocks shows crossover effect
Figure 2: 3 blocks shows crossover effect
Figure 3: A Scrappy look
Figure 3: A Scrappy look
Figure 4: Floating grid effect
Figure 4: Floating grid effect