Solstice Stars Series : Whirling Star

Welcome to week 2 of the Solstice Stars Series! Today we will be making the Whirling Star. This star is from Barbara Brackman’s book The Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns,page 310 and the original source of the design is attributed to Nancy Cabot.

This block will be our first paper pieced block of the series. Some of you may now need to take a few deep calming breaths. I promise you, YOU can do it! I have taken lots of photos for the tutorial and we will be going through every step.

If you are completely new to paper piecing, I recommend reading through this tutorial and even making the sample block. It will really give you a basic understanding. 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 6 small blocks and then piecing those together.

Whirling 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 1.4 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:

Note: I updated the templates a bit after taking the photos. Your templates specify “A” and “B” on them, which will help you out during the directions.

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 4.5″ x 5.5” Print/Color
2A Cut 2 4.5” x 5.5” White/Background
3A Cut 2 4.5″ x 5.5” Print/Color
4A Cut 2 4.5” x 5.5” White/Background
5A Cut 1 4” x 4″,
then cut
6A Cut 1 4″ x 4”,
then cut
1B Cut 4 4.5” x 5.5” Print/Color
2B Cut 4 3.5” x 7″ White/Background
3B Cut 4 3.5” x 7″ White/Background

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 also sew into the grey seam allowance. 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: 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 7: Sew along the seam line on the template.

Step 8: Trim along seam allowance:

And press:

Step 9: Using the same technique, continue and sew on pieces 4A, 5A, 6A, in that order. Your paper piecing template should now look like this:

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



You can see that some of my fabric was a bit too short. Ideally your fabric will cover the entire template. 🙂

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

Step 11: Now repeat these steps for the second Template A.

Step 12: 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 13: 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 14: 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 15: Press your fabric open. Continue paper piecing piece 3B.

Step 16: Press your fabric open. Trim your template, just as you did with Template A.

Step 17: Repeat and create the other 3 Template B’s.

Step 18: 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 19: 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 20: Now we will sew the 4 Template B’s to the corners to finish the block. Line up your seams again.

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



  1. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Just a teensy bit more complicated than last week then 😉 OK, wish me luck!

  2. Reply


    January 25, 2012


  3. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    PRETTY!!!!!! On my today’s to list!!!!!

  4. Reply

    Lori C.

    January 25, 2012

    Thank you Faith. You’re a good teacher!

  5. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Everything you make is so beautiful. 🙂 One of these days I’ll learn to do this…

  6. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Thank you Faith! Great and clear tutorial! I go to read your link for paper piecing, too because haven’t tried before. Oops – I haven’t done yet that last week’s star – I hope I will catch you up at the weekend!
    Sunny wishes from Greece! x Teje

  7. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Wow! Kinda can’t wait to get to it!!

  8. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Hoo beautiful

  9. Reply


    January 25, 2012


    Your stars are so beautiful! I can hardly wait to start on them this winter. I have never paper pieced, but with your tutorials, I think I can handle it. Thanks for all your inspiration!


  10. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    This is a gorgeous block Faith. I’m dreaming of a quilt full of these!

  11. Reply

    Jennifer @ Ellison Lane Quitls

    January 25, 2012

    Great tutorial Faith! 🙂

  12. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Looks fantastic! I cannot wait to try it myself….well as soon as I get the closet organized and i can see all my fabric. Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  13. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Thanks so much for the tutorial! I have already made some practice blocks from last week and am going to my sewing room to get started on these! I’m really excited to see how paper piecing will come out for a first timer. Can’t Wait!

    • Reply


      January 27, 2012

      I can’t begin to tell you how much this project has boosted my confidence in piecing and I absolutely love paper piecing. LOVE IT!

  14. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    It’s fabulous! I’m so excited to get started – I have my block from last week done, and if the weather here ever cooperates I’ll be able to take pictures 🙂

  15. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Love it!! Can’t wait to try it – thanks Faith!

  16. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    I like this block and I really admire the way you showed an opp’s. We sure learn from each other and your opp’s gives me the know how of what to watch out for. Thank you Grace

  17. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    wow! pinned!

  18. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    oh my goodness, my head is spinning! I have never tried paper piecing and this looks a bit harder then I thought it would be. I just printed the templates but am going to reread this a few times and go to the other link you gave. I am excited as if I can pull this off, well heck – I think I can do just about anything. 🙂 No, honestly I will most likely try this tomorrow night. Thanks Faith! I love being pushed way out of my comfort zone, it is refreshing!!

  19. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    I tried it twice and I can’t get it to work. Will I get the same results if I put the fabric right side up on the top on the template? Sorry. It’s my first time.

    • Reply


      January 25, 2012

      Hi Emily! I will email you as well, but what are you running in to? You wouldn’t want to put the on the top of the template because you would cover the lines you need to sew on.

      One alternative…you could cut out the pieces in the paper piecing template and then use those as templates to for the pieces of your block. Trace the pieces on your fabric, adding a 1/4″ border on each side of the pieces and sew those together to assemble your block.

  20. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Looks like I will need some time to work on this one! Have not done paper piecing before!! Just the challange I was looking for 🙂
    Thanks Sandra Australia

  21. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Lovely block. Thanks for showing the paper piecing process. I’ve never tried this method of quilting. Have bookmarked your post for future reference.

  22. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    I love these stars you’re making. SUper cute!

  23. Reply

    Anna Avery

    January 25, 2012

    Terrified, but excited to try this square!

  24. Reply


    January 25, 2012

    Whee! That was fun. Thanks for walking me through paper piecing for the very first time. I can’t wait for next week’s block….and for more paper piecing. I’m a convert.

  25. Reply


    January 26, 2012

    Great tutorial, can’t wait to try! Thanks Faith 😉

  26. Reply

    Michelle @ the quilted tortoise

    January 26, 2012

    It’s gorgeous! Love it!

  27. Reply


    January 26, 2012

    Heh, I think I’m the only person I know that actually sees paper piecing and thinks ‘joy, no seams to screw up!’ 😀 Love this!

    • Reply


      January 29, 2012

      No, I’m with you Katy. I love foundation piecing too! First quilt I ever made I used a great out of print book from the library called ‘Quilting Made Easy (Foundation Piecing Library) by Jodie Davis & Linda Hampton Schiffer. It has the clearest instructions you could ever wish for and a great selection of blocks too.

  28. Reply


    January 26, 2012

    This is so beautiful! I love your color choices for this block.

  29. Reply


    January 26, 2012

    I can’t WAIT to start my stars quilt. I’m waiting for my fabric to arrive, then I’m gonna sew like a madwoman!

  30. Reply


    January 26, 2012

    I can’t wait to get home from my mini-vacation so I can do my block. I haven’t paper pieced in years!

  31. Reply


    January 26, 2012

    This is a great block, can’t wait to try it.

  32. Reply

    Jill of Apple Avenue Quilts

    January 27, 2012

    Thank you for the wonderful tutorial and foundation patterns. I love this block!

  33. Reply

    Amy Gibson

    January 28, 2012

    Ooooh, I’m just seeing this series, Faith, and it looks YUMMY! Hope I have time to jump in and get caught up!

  34. Reply


    January 30, 2012

    Love!! I haven’t started yet, but I do plan to make this sampler (and I still want to make the Summer Sampler, too).

  35. Reply


    February 3, 2012

    Beautiful! It’s definitely on my list. 🙂

  36. Reply

    Lori Smanski

    February 15, 2012

    Ohh this is a really neat block, thanks

  37. Reply


    February 19, 2012

    I just made your block for our Birthday Block exchange at our guild..templates and directions were great..thank you and I look forward to more stars 🙂

  38. Reply


    March 19, 2012

    Absolutely breathtaking! Love, love, love it! Plan to make this. Thank you for a great tute!

  39. Reply


    April 9, 2012

    Hi Faith Beautiful star block and you have an interesting choice of fabrics. I have made this one before, in a nerve wracking fabric only method. Thank you for showing me an easier way with paper piecing.

  40. Reply


    May 14, 2012

    Hi Faith,

    I started with the Mystery Star first. But this is so neat. I LOVE how you lay it all out, this is the first time PP hasn’t scared me out of doing it. I’m halfway done with the Star and then I’m going to start on this one. I am working them with the black, white and red colors. Always wanted blocks like that. 🙂

  41. Reply

    Sarah Jones

    October 15, 2012

    Hi Faith,

    I followed favequilts to your website. Soo new to quilting, would i have to make a new pattern template for each square i sew?

    • Reply


      October 16, 2012

      Yes, each template is used once.

  42. Reply


    August 9, 2013

    Beautiful job. However, I couldn’t get the template to print with the exact sizes that I’ll need to make it a 12″ block. How can I get the full-size template for paper piecing?

    • Reply


      August 9, 2013

      Hi MayDell – That’s odd! When you view and print, make sure the page scaling is set to “100%” or Page Scaling “None”. That should print it at the right size.

  43. Reply

    Sharon M

    September 22, 2013

    This is my first visit to your website and all I can say is, “Well done!” The site is gorgeous with so much to explore. I just finished a queen-sized quilt for a wedding gift and thought I would take a little break, but you have inspired me to start stitching away! Now I can’t wait to start my next project, which will, in all likelihhood, feature star blocks. Thank you!

  44. Reply

    Ruth Wildermuth

    January 24, 2014

    Can’t wait to get started on this one. Thanks

  45. Reply

    Velma Cotter

    February 14, 2014

    I want to learn to paper piece. This pattern looks like one that would be a good start. How can I get the above pattern with the instructions shown on this page?

    • Reply


      February 14, 2014

      Hi Velma – The instructions are right here on the blog post. If you’d like a paper copy, you are welcome to print the page through your browser. Thanks and happy sewing!

  46. Reply


    February 19, 2014

    You should go pro! Your tutorial is the most precise one I’ve seen. What an excellent gift you have for teaching quilting. And, of course, the quilt pattern is great. Can’t wait to make this! Thank you so much.

  47. Reply


    February 24, 2014

    Hi, I thought I would share what I made with your pattern: here is a link to my blog post about it:

    thanks for the great pattern!

  48. Reply

    Jackie S

    May 9, 2014

    Hi Faith I have just discovered your blog! Love this block! Did you use charm pack for this block?

    • Reply


      May 9, 2014

      Hi Jackie – I didn’t but looking at the cut sizes, you definitely could! Have fun!

  49. Reply


    August 16, 2014

    I LOVE your stars, but could you make the download for the instructions in pdf, please???????????????????????????
    Thats a lot easier to print and keep, thanks millions

    • Reply


      August 17, 2014

      Hi Edith – thanks so much! I’m glad you love the stars! The reason the instructions are here on my website and not as a downloadable PDF pattern is that my website is funded through visitors and pageviews. Without people coming on over and following my patterns here, I would sadly not be able to afford to host my blog, send out email blasts and purchase supplies that are needed to offer these tutorials.

      I do offer some patterns as PDF downloads for purchase. Check out my Pattern Shop here for those –