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
diagonal
Print/Color
6A Cut 1 4" x 4”,
then cut
diagonal
Print/Color
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.

Before:

After:

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!