Let’s Talk Quilt Top Layouts

When I decided to make *just* five stars for the Solstice Stars Series, I know a lot of people were thinking “what the heck am I going to do with five blocks?”. Some of you used this as a skill builder, some made pillows, those are both great options! But I had a quilt in mind.

I think that it is easy to fall into the mindset that you have to have 12 blocks, or 20 blocks, or some bigger number, to make a quilt. I wanted to challenge myself, and you, to think about your quilt layout in a nontraditional way.

 

A lot of times, I hear people say they really love the minimalistic piecing of quilt backs that you see on blogs and Flickr. Why not take that sort of design and make it the quilt front?

 

If you do want your entire quilt to be stars however, you can always repeat the blocks in an interesting fashion, or combine with other stars and make a star sampler. These additional stars happen to have tutorials available as part of the Summer Sampler Series.

 

You can even take just one block and repeat it for an entire top. And by changing the shade of the fabrics, create a very interesting effect.

 

I hope this helps get those creative juices flowing! I can’t wait to see what everyone makes.

Solstice Stars Series : Two Colors Star

Welcome to week 5 of the Solstice Stars Series! This is our last star and I really hope everyone has enjoyed the series. Don’t forget you can catch up on all the previous tutorials by clicking on the Solstice Stars Series tab at the top of the page. Later this week I plan on posting some ideas for quilt tops, just to get those creative juices flowing.

Today we will be making the Two Colors Star. This star is from Barbara Brackman’s book The Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns,page 454 and the original source of the design is Comfort, a periodical from Augusta, Maine that was published from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s.

I had several thoughts when deciding how to make this star. In the end, I wanted this block to be accessible to all skill levels of quilter, so I opted for half square triangles (HSTs) and squares. I know this adds more seams, but again, I think this was the best method to reach everyone out there, including beginners. Let’s get started!


Two Colors Star Quilt Block Tutorial

Please note, all seams are 1/4″; Final block size 12.5″ unfinished

Step 1. Cut your fabric. When cutting fabric for paper piecing, you will be cutting rectangles that will be larger than needed.

Pattern Piece Fabric
Corners Cut 4 4.5” x 4.5″ White/Background
Background Cut 6 3” x 3”, cut
diagonal
White/Background
Star Color 1 Cut 4 2.5” x 2.5” Color/Print 1
Star Color 1 Cut 4 3” x 3”, cut
diagonal
Color/Print 1
Star Color 2 Cut 4 2.5” x 2.5” Color/Print 2
Star Color 2 Cut 2 3” x 3”, cut
diagonal
Color/Print 2

Step 2. Take your white/background half square triangles (HSTs) and your print HSTs and sew them together into squares.

Step 3. Trim your HSTs to 2.5″ squares. Tip: Use the diagonal line on your quilting ruler as a guide down your seam. This ensures an equal trim on all sides of your square.

Trim first two sides:

Turn and trim other two sides:

Step 4. Layout your star as below:

Step 5. We will now assemble the tiny squares into larger squares, creating a nine patch square. Sew the sets of four, 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares together. This will create 4.5″ x 4.5″ squares as seen below.

Step 6. Sew your blocks together into rows.

Step 7. Sew your rows together. You’re done!

Be sure to post your block photos as well as any questions in the Flickr group.

Solstice Star Series : Star of Mystery

Welcome to week 4 of the Solstice Stars Series! Today we will be making the Star of Mystery. Isn’t that a great name? This star is from Barbara Brackman’s book The Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns,page 349 and the original source of the design is Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine (10/74).

This block will be our second paper pieced block of the series. For those of you that were too intimidated to try our first paper pieced star, the Whirling Star, I hope you will join us this time. I have taken nearly 40 photos to document the steps and make you comfortable with paper piecing.

Once again, if you are completely new to paper piecing, I recommend reading through this tutorial and even making the sample block. It will give you a basic understanding of the process. I also recommend reading through the entire tutorial for today’s block before starting. And finally, take your time. We will be paper piecing 6 small blocks and then piecing those together.


Star of Mystery Quilt Block Tutorial

Please note, all seams are 1/4″; Final block size 12.5″ unfinished
Reduce your stitch length so that the paper template will perforate easily. I used 1.4 stitch length.

Paper Piecing Templates
Print 2 of Template A below and print 4 of Template B below. Be sure to print them at 100% and check the scale icon with a ruler before starting.

Template A Template B

Prepare the templates. Cut out the templates around the seam allowance line. Here is a visual of what we are going to make with our templates:


We will be filling in the missing notches with half square triangles (HSTs).

For those that are wondering why I didn’t work those HSTs into the templates, I like to make the templates of a size that will print on a home printer without having to visit a copy shop for enlargement. (I figure no one will make the star if it requires that much effort! :)) Adding those HSTs made the templates slightly too big to be printed at home, so we will add those at the end.

Step 1. Cut your fabric. When cutting fabric for paper piecing, you will be cutting rectangles that will be larger than needed.

I recommend cutting 1 of each piece below, making a block, and ensuring it is enough fabric for your sewing style. Then you can make adjustments later for the rest of your blocks. These are the fabric sizes I used for my paper piecing.

Pattern Piece Fabric
1A Cut 2 4” x 4.25″ White/Background
2A Cut 2 4” x 5.5” Color/Print
3A Cut 2 4” x 4.25” White/Background
4A Cut 2 4” x 5.5” Color/Print
1B Cut 4 3” x 6” Color/Print
2B Cut 4 3” x 6.5” White/Background
3B, 5B Cut 4 3.5” x 3.5”,
cut diagonal
Color/Print
4B Cut 4 3” x 6.5” White/Background
Notches Cut 2 3.5” x 3.5”,
cut diagonal
White/Background

Step 2: Let’s start with Template A. Take your fabric cut for Piece 1A and place it right side out on the back of your template, making sure to cover the entire template space 1A. Pin into place.

Step 3: Take your fabric cut for Piece 2A. Place it right side together to Piece 1A which you pinned into place in Step 2. Hold your template up to the light and make sure at least 1/4″ of the fabric overlaps into template space 2A. This will probably feel backwards and wrong the first few times you do it. Pin into place.

Step 4: Sew along the seam line on the template between pieces 1A and 2A. Be sure to also sew into the grey seam allowance. Remove your pins.

After sewing:

Step 5: Flip your block over. This is what your seam will look like.

Trim your seam allowance to 1/4″.

Your block should now look like this:

Press your fabric open.

Step 6: Flip your block over to the printed side and trim around the seam allowance.

Your block should now look like this:

Step 7: Take your fabric cut for Piece 3A. Place it right side together to Piece 1A and 2A which you have sewn into place. Hold your template up to the light and make sure at least 1/4″ of the fabric overlaps into template space 3A. Pin into place.

Step 8: Sew along the seam line on the template.

Step 9: Trim the seam allowance.

Step 10: Press open and trim around the template.

Step 11: Repeat these steps for piece 4A.

Congratulations! You’ve made your first paper pieced block!

Step 12: Repeat for your second Template A. You should now have the below 2 pieces.

Step 13: Let’s move on to Template B. I will do a quick walk through to get you started. Take your fabric cut for Piece 1B and place it right side out on the back of your template, making sure to cover the entire template space 1B. Pin into place.

Step 14: Take your fabric cut for Piece 2B. Place it right side together to Piece 1B which you pinned into place in Step 12. Hold your template up to the light and make sure at least 1/4″ of the fabric overlaps into template space 2B. Again, this will probably feel backwards and wrong the first few times you do it. Pin into place.

Step 15: Sew along the seam line on the template between pieces 1B and 2B. Be sure to sew a bit into the seam allowance. Remove your pins.

Step 16: Press your fabric open. Trim around your template.

Step 17: Continue paper piecing piece 3B, 4B and 5B. Your block should look like this:

Step 18: Repeat and create the other 3 Template B’s.

Step 19: You now have all 6 templates pieced you need to create the star! Here’s the layout:

Remove the paper from the back. This should perforate easily as long as you remembered to shorten your stitch length before sewing.

Step 20: Sew your 2 Template A’s together. Align the middle seam to ensure the center points align when you sew the block together.

Resulting block:

Step 21: Now we will sew 2 of your Template B’s to opposite sides of the block. Line up your seams again.

Resulting block:

Step 22: Take your remaining Template B blocks and sew the remaining HSTs to the sides as shown:

Step 23: At this point, I decided to trim my HSTs to be even with my Template B blocks. I kind of wish I had waited to trim everything even at the end when I was squaring up the block. I will leave it up to you as to when you trim these, but at some point you should trim them.

Step 24: Now we will sew the last 2 Template B’s to the corners to finish the block.

Line up your seams again and sew.

After sewing all the corners to the center block, you’re done! You should have a beautiful Star of Mystery!

Be sure to post any questions as well as a photo of your finished block in the Flickr group!

Solstice Stars Series : Another Star

We are now at week 3 of the Solstice Stars Series! Today we will be making a star with a very unassuming name, Another Star. This star is from Barbara Brackman’s book The Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns,page 347 and is attributed to Beth Gutcheon’s Perfect Patchwork Primer.

When I first picked this star, I thought it looked simple enough. I didn’t anticipate any trouble figuring out the pattern. Then I sat down on Saturday and looked a bit closer. Hmmm, look at those pieces around the center, they are all equal length. Which one to sew on first? Looked like a y-seam situation. I weighed the option and decided to allow a bit of cheating for that. (You’ll see in the tutorial, hopefully the quilting purists aren’t too upset with me!)

Then I continued on making the block according to my measurements and at the end, discovered by blocks was 1/4″ to 1/2″ too small. Back to the drawing board. After another failure, I turned to Photoshop to try figuring out the exact sizes that way.

That’s where my “friend”, Mr. 1/8th of an inch came in. Normally when I see a pattern that has measurements down to the 1/8″, my eyes start to glaze over and I begin thinking of happy pursuits…like Downton Abbey. I don’t know why, it’s just another mark on the ruler. But if you want this block to be exact, you will need to use those 1/8″ markings. Once I did, my block did indeed come out to measure 12.5″ and look lovely. So on that note, let’s get started!


Another Star Quilt Block Tutorial

Please note, all seams are 1/4″; Final block size 12.5″ unfinished

Step 1. Cut your fabric:

Pattern Piece Fabric
Center Cut 1 4-1/8” x 4-1/8” Background/White
Strips Cut 3 5-1/8″ x 1-1/2” Print/Color
Short Strip A Cut 1 4-1/8” x 1-1/2” Print/Color
Short Strip B Cut 1 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” Same color as Short Strip A
Block Corners Cut 4 4-1/2” x 4-1/2” Background/White
Star Points Cut 4 3-5/8” x 3-5/8” Print/Color
HST Background Cut 2 3-5/8” x 3-5/8” Background/White

Take all of your 3-5/8” x 3-5/8” squares for star points and the HST background and cut them diagonally into half square triangles.

Step 2. First we will sew the strips around the 4-1/8” x 4-1/8” center square. This is the part where I mentioned we were going to cheat a bit. Hopefully everyone is ok with that. :)

Layout your strips around your center square.

Take your shorter strip (Short Strip A, 4-1/8” x 1-1/2”) and sew to the bottom of the center square.

Continue to sew on the left and top strips, as you would a log cabin block.

For the final side, sew the 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ square to the end of the remaining side strip. Then sew the final side strip to the block, making sure you align the matching fabric seams.

At this point your center square should measure 6-1/8″ x 6-1/8″.

Step 3. Since I am a visual person, I find it helpful now to layout the rest of the block pieces before we continue.

Step 4. Let’s sew together the top left and lower right points. Take your corner square. Gently iron press the block in half and then in half again the other direction, so you can see the center of the block. You could also make a mark using a water soluble pen.

Step 5. Place one of your half square triangles (HSTs) right side together with the corner square. Align your point to the center line you marked. Sew together. Make sure you are sewing along the long side of the HST, and not the short side which you are probably used to doing.

This is what your corner should now look like.

Step 6. Repeat with the other HST.

Repeat for the other corner. Your block layout should now look like this.

Step 7. Now we will make the top right and lower left corners. First repeat the previous steps and sew on your HSTs to the corner squares.

Step 8. Take your background HSTs and sew them to the sides of the star point section.

Your section should now look like this.

Step 9. Repeat for the other side. Your layout should now look like below.

Step 10. Almost done! All that is left is to sew on the corners of the block to the center. First sew the top left and lower right to the center.

Step 11. Next sew the remaining top right and lower left to the block. Square your block to 12.5″ x 12.5″ if necessary.

Congratulations! You are done!