Modern Quilts, Home Decor, and Handcrafted Clothing

Summer Sampler Series : Star

I am excited/wee-bit-nervous to be posting today’s tutorial for our fifth block in the Summer Sampler Series. Why a bit nervous? This will be our first paper pieced block. And I know for many of you, your first paper pieced block ever.

This block, simply called Star in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns can be found on Page 295, Block 2331. Given the vague name of the block, I had a hard time finding too much on it’s history, but it was featured in the book The Perfect Patchwork Primer by Beth Gutcheon in 1973. This quilt block is a Four X block – it is made by taking a quilt block and dividing it in the shape of an “X” into four sections.

I have a bit of advice before starting this block. First, I recommend reading through this tutorial and even making the sample block. It will really give you a basic understanding of paper piecing. And hopefully put your mind at ease. Second, I recommend reading through the entire tutorial for today’s block before starting. And finally, take your time making this one. We will be paper piecing 8 small blocks and then piecing those together. Ready? Let’s get started!


Star 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 1.5 stitch length.

Paper Piecing Templates
Print 4 of each of the Paper Piecing Templates 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 triangle templates around the seam allowance line.

Step 1. Cut your fabric. When cutting fabric for paper piecing, you will be cutting rectangles that will be larger than needed. (You can save your scraps for later quilt squares.)

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 Color
1A Cut 4 3.5″ x 7” Pink
2A Cut 4 4” x 4” Yellow
3A Cut 4 4” x 10″ White
1B Cut 4 3.5″ x 7” Pink
2B Cut 4 4” x 4” Yellow
3B Cut 4 4” x 10″ Orange

Tip: I like to write the fabric color name on the template pieces so I don’t get confused as I’m sewing. Yes, I’m easily confused.

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 sew a bit into the seam allowance. I also like to backstitch at the beginning and end. Remove your pins.

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: Turn your block over and trim the excess fabric from around the template. Before trim:

After trim:

Looking better already, right?

Step 7: Take your fabric cut for Piece 3A. Place it right side together to Piece 1A and 2A which you 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 remembering again to sew a bit into the seam allowance.

Step 9: Trim seam allowance.

Before:

After:

And press.

Step 10: Turn your block over and trim the excess fabric from around the template again.

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

Step 11: Now repeat these steps for Template B. On my block, the star point on Template B is orange rather than white.

Step 12: Once you have Template A and Template B pieced, remove the paper from the back. This should perforate easily as long as you remembered to shorten your stitch length before sewing.

Step 13: Sew the 2 pieces together as you would a half square triangle.

Step 14: Repeat these steps to create your other 3 Template A’s and Template B’s.

Step 15: Once you have your 4 star point squares, sew them together to create your quilt block.

You’re done!

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64 Responses to “Summer Sampler Series : Star”

  1. 1
    Jan May says:

    Yes – this will be a first for me. However, if I fail after such impressively detailed instructions, it is surely my fault.

  2. 2
    Leila says:

    Wow! GREAT tutorial. I am going to take a deep breath and do it. Thank you!

  3. 3

    Great tutorial. I think I will join in and make this one. I like it.
    I have paper pieced before it really is soooo easy. Love to do it.

    thanks
    cathy

  4. 4
    sher says:

    I always love the look of paper pieced squares, but I’ve been afraid of them… I think it’s the lack of geometry in my brain, but your tutorial is wonderful and the end result is SO COOL! Thanks.

  5. 5
    Deb says:

    Wow – I am so excited to try this! I’ve never done paper piecing and, frankly, wasn’t too thrilled about it until I read your tutorial. I have to catch up from Monday, but I hope to at least choose and cut fabrics tonight. Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

  6. 6
    Andrea says:

    After that really perfect and detailed tutorial no one will have problems with that paper pieced block – thanks!

  7. 8
    Kate says:

    I am impressed–your tutorial makes this seem totally manageable!

  8. 9
    Debbie says:

    Paper piecing DOES a require a different mindset, but the precision results are usually amazing. Anxious to try the block!

  9. 10
    Mitzi says:

    GORGEOUS! Excited to try it, your directions make it seem very easy. I’ve never paper pieced before but I think you’ve made it clear enough! Thanks.

  10. 11
    Meg says:

    I love this block! I have never paper pieced, but you make this look quite doable!

  11. 12
    molly says:

    I am not joining in on this sampler, but thank you for these great instructions. I would love to try this!

  12. 13
    Laura says:

    I’ve never paper-pieced either, but we’ll give ‘er a shot since your directions even look Laura-proof!

  13. 14
    Charlotte says:

    And so it is here, the time in the quilt along that I have not been looking forward to! Not so much due to the actual technique, but because I don’t own a printer! How many of the blocks use paper piecing? I might have to put all of them on hold until I have templates for all of them & go on a big printing spree somewhere.

    • 16
      Faith says:

      Charlotte – my block for next week is also paper pieced (but actually easier than this one). Do you have a library near you? I know mine has a little computer area with printers.

      • 24
        Charlotte says:

        Yes, I will probably go to the library to print.
        You have to pay to use the computer as well as for the paper, so I might still do one big printfest to make it more worthwhile.
        A good friend actually offered to print these ones out for me, so I’m good for now :)

  14. 15
    Charlotte says:

    I should say, it is a compliment to you that I am only thinking about how to print the templates & not worried about actually sewing the block! It seems easy enough, from this computer chair anyway. Things can sometimes seem different from my sewing chair though ;)

  15. 18

    Faith, I did it! Gosh, it wasn’t very hard or very tedious. Thanks so much for your very clear instructions!

  16. 20
    Kelly says:

    Great Tutorial! And I wanted to add, Faith, I LOVE the wood on your deck/whereever you take photos, it always makes your blocks pop!

    • 22
      Faith says:

      Ha, thanks Kelly! I’ll tell my husband. The wood on the deck is that gray color because he failed to stain the deck for the first 2 years after it was built. LOL

  17. 21
    Angela says:

    Nice tutorial and I love that block!

    A tip – as I’ve done a lot of paper piecing. It seems to help if you crease along all of the seam lines before starting. You can see where the next piece goes easily and makes it quick to flip up the edge and rotary trim your fabric to 1/4″.

    Anybody doing the 4×5 swap? This would be an awesome block for it!

  18. 25
    Renee says:

    I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… :)

  19. 26
    Lalobe says:

    First of all I want to thank the three of you for hosting this great quilt along and sharing your knowledge. I appreciate this so much, since there are no quilting courses (or quilt shops) where I am from. My Mum taught me how to sew but all I know about quilting is self taught from books and magazines, there are no fifth generation quilters around to ask. ;-) I´m learning sooo much from this QAL!
    I have never done paper piecing before but with your tutorial it worked out great. I love the accuracy of the blocks. (The only thing I don´t like is that I´m producing so many scraps…) You can tell that I am having so much fun doing all of your blocks, because even though I worked late today, I just came home, made dinner, we ate and right after I finished my flower garden path (1st version) and all the A-blocks for the paper piecing star. :-) Now it´s almost 11p.m. already (Central European time) and I should stop for today.

  20. 27
    Carol T says:

    Wow, your block is awesome. I love how it turned out. I am itching to start this quilt along but I don’t have time to yet.

  21. 28
    Lindsay says:

    Oh…so that is paper piecing. Looks kind of fun. Thanks for the tutorial! I’ll have to try this block.

  22. 29
    Rachel says:

    What awesome instructions! Oh and I get to play my sister card so thanks for letting me call you…twice ;) Somehow mine is 1/2 too small all the way around. Exactly. I’ll just embellish it with more red or something before I put the whole quilt together. I love how it turned out!! Couldn’t have done it without you!

  23. 30
    Jana says:

    Your block is beautiful. Your tutorial is amazingly easy to follow along. This was my first time paper piecing and I really enjoyed it. I have only made the first two of eight blocks. I am no longer intimidated by paper piecing. Thanks for challenging us with this one.

  24. 31

    awesome tutorial!! i usually use another way to paper piece but i will try your way exactly and am sure it will work out wonderfully!

    one question though: seeing the beautiful done block, what will happen to the 8 pointy star “ends” (sorry, don´t know how to put it any other way) once it is sewn? shouldn´t there be a seam allowance all around? if you sew this block together in a top all the points in the corners and on each of the 4 sides will be gone, aren´t they?

    maybe i am overthinking this..
    anyway, thanks again for the very good, lucid tutorial!!
    claudia

    • 33
      Lalobe says:

      Hi Claudia!
      That was my concern as well, but by sewing all the 8 triangles together with a 1/4 inch my block got seamallowances also around the corners. (But it ended up being 11x11inches, hm…. ;-))
      Es blieb bei mir zumindest ein kleiner Rand um die Ecken. Mal sehen, ob ich die Spitzen beim Zusammennähen erhalten kann.

  25. 32
    Heather says:

    Here I was ready to tackle my first paper piecing and I can’t get my printer to print the template at the right scale…so frustrating!

    I guess I have to go fiddle with the printer some more instead of sewing tonight! Hope everyone else’s block are working out!

  26. 34
    Heather says:

    Much better luck this morning! I’ve got them printed and I’ve picked out my colors!

  27. 35
    Sarah@PingsAndNeedles says:

    Lovely tutorial … I’m with Angela !! I think I’m gonna do this for my 4×5 bee block! Yay!

    A quick tip for anyone who can’t print …. if you are on a laptop use Ctrl + or – to enlarge your screen size until it measures correctly. Then use your screen like a light box and trace!

    Works a treat … :)

  28. 36
    Nancy D. says:

    I’m excited to try this. I haven’t done very many paper piecing blocks and usually end up having to use the seam ripper. Great instructions with the pictures that will hopefully help me use the seam ripper less. ;0)

  29. 37
    Tif says:

    Great tutorial! I was petrified to try paper piecing but it is super easy and extremely accurate! Ilike to leave the paper on all the way to the end and then I starch it. I helps to keep the fabric from stretching on the bias of the big triangle.

  30. 38
    Georgia says:

    Woot! I did it! I still have no idea how it works, but it did! :-) Thankyou.

  31. 39
    cliodana says:

    thank’s that was very easy with your explanation! My first piecing paper and i’m very proud. thank’s a lot
    MERCI

  32. 41
    Kelli says:

    Whew…finally done! It wasn’t that it was hard, your directions were great! I was just trying to do too many things at once so it was do a step, go do something else and come back. I made 2 and the second one came out much better. I misread the directions for piecing each section together on the first one and it came out a little too small…I’m going to take it apart and see if that was my problem.
    Thanks again for all the tutorials, especially for this one in helping people realize that we can do paper piecing!!

  33. 42
    Florence says:

    I tried this last night – thank you so much for a wonderful tutorial. It was so easy to follow.

    Florence x

  34. 43
    gelfling9 says:

    I think this is the most wonderfully presented, paper-piecing tutorial I have seen (and I’ve searched many) – lovely and bright, crisp-clear pictures and straight forward instructions, I can’t wait to try it out! Thank you for this :-)

  35. 44
    Beth says:

    What a wonderful tutorial. I am in the middle of my first paper piecing project (hexagons) and loving it so I’m looking forward to using your tutorial to do my next!

  36. 45
    ANN DANKS says:

    Hi Faith This is another complicated star I made with fabric only. Before I sew any more tricky stars (and I am addicted to them,) I will check in with you to see if you have an easier way! Thanks again.

  37. 46
    Janice says:

    I had never paper pieced before and was very nervous to try it. Your tutorial is wonderful. I was so pleased with how the block turned out. I found with your directions it was actually very easy. Thank you so much.

  38. 47
  39. 48
    Karthika says:

    Wow.This is very useful.i tried.and it turned out nice.thank u

  40. 49
    Alexandra says:

    Holy Moly that’s an awesome tutorial! Is it normal to want to abandon the quilt you are currently working on to start another? You make paper piecing look soooo easy that I want to start this quilt now! :)

    Alexandra

  41. 50
    Nikki says:

    You motivate me, I need to get back to the paper piecing quilt I have started, so I can start a quilt with some of these Star patterns. I probably should finish a couple of other quilts too. lol

  42. 51
    Penelope says:

    Hi Faith,

    I just wanted to thank you for putting such fantastic tutorials up. I am in the middle of making my first ever quilt for a baby-to-be and have been able to make a perfect star with your paper-piecing technique… quite a feat given I went into this with absolutely no idea what I was doing! I love your modern shapes and great colour combos… not a beige in sight! keep up the good work :)

  43. 52

    I did this block in Kona Modern and its gorgeous.. so so so so easy

  44. 53

    Faith, I just found this paper pieced star tutorial you posted a year and a half ago. Perfect for the Advent table runner I want to make! Quick question: Do you use regular copy paper to print this stuff, or those special foundation papers that they sell in quilt shops? Any advantage one way or another? Would a lighter-weight copy paper be easier to work with than the heavier stuff that my husband buys for printing his work stuff?

    Off to the LQS for some ROYAL BLUES, yellows, and golds for Advent! :-)

  45. 54
    Kathryn Knox says:

    Great tutorial!!! I think this is the one for me to start learning how to paper piece. Thanks and thanks for the chance.

  46. 55
    Marsha says:

    Great tutorial! I have done one paper pieced star and hope to do more — usually “wing it”, SOoooo, plz tell me: How do I make the star “point” come out even with so many seams coming together. Most patterns show a circle to hide this (as I’m sure you know, and I used a dragonfly appliqué on my center), but I still want to learn how to make my center point perfect (glutton for self-injury?). Please help, anyone, if you can follow this note — ha — Again, thanks for super tutorial. Blessings to all from this granny ;)

  47. 56
    Julie Thomsen says:

    Hi,
    Just a short note, I usually don’t write things on blogs and tut’s. If this was your first, then you have a great talent for giving clear and concise instructions. I wish you had done a couple of tut’s I tried to follow. Nice job.
    Julie

  48. 57
    Kathy says:

    I am a little confused on which side of the material to turn and trim.

    • 58
      Faith says:

      Hi Kathy – You will also trim on the side of the block with the printed paper, so you can see the edge lines that you use as a trimming guide.

  49. 59
    Lois says:

    Great tutorial especially for newbies to paper piecing

  50. 60
    Monique says:

    I think you solved a mystery for me. I purchased a quilt at an antique store in Maine. I suspected it was made in the 70’s and finding this Star block with the background information seems to fit. The only difference is the size of your block is larger than the ones on my quilt.
    Thanks!

  51. 62
    Karen says:

    I just found this! I LOVE IT!! I wanted to make a lighthouse quilt for a friend in SC….and not do lighthouse applique, unless it looked more like a painted piece….so this is wonderful!!…busy now with Job Tears and I still see a Spool quilt coming and 2 grandgals quilts…but I CAN see the Light now!…thanks again!

  52. 63
    Kathleen says:

    Just found this tutorial, what a wonderful tutorial. Thank you.
    I have never paper pieced before so I do have a question. What do you mean by sewing a bit into the seam allowance? You do sew right on the line on the template, right?
    I do want to try this

    • 64
      Faith says:

      Hi Kathleen – Yes, sew right on the line. By “sewing a bit into the seam allowance” I mean to sew a bit past where the line begin and ends when you are starting and stopping your line.

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