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Plaid Star

February 12, 2012

Well, let me just say that geometry can be a real jerk.  I started out yesterday confident that I would have this baby whipped up in a matter of minutes.  But that confidence was completely unfounded.  I wasn’t far into my block construction when I realized that I had made a rather obvious (in hindsight) false assumption.  So…back to the drawing board, or graph paper, as it were.  I cut everything out, sewed all my parts together (taking many pictures along the way) and…  Ugh.  Geometry got the better of me a second time.

I got to work recutting all the pieces for the star points, grabbed my camera and…  Grrr.  Out of batteries.  I guess I can’t blame geometry for that one, can I?!  So I decided to go to bed.  Sometimes walking away is the best solution, don’t you think?

I’ve heard a number of comments through this whole process about how people are challenging themselves to construct blocks that are out of their comfort zone, which I think is really exciting.  Well, the same is true for me.  My promise to provide 15 different variations was a bit of a leap of faith on my part.  I had lots of options on paper and trusted that I would be able to work out how to make them when the time came, something that has turned out to be easy in some cases and more challenging in others.  I’ve really pushed my understanding of block design, and I might not have done so, had there not been an audience ready and waiting for the next tutorial.  So I owe you all a THANK YOU for motivating me to take some chances and work through some frustrating moments!  (And also a thanks for your patience with me this week!)

There are many pieces in this block, but it has the potential to be a great way to use up scraps.  The two sets of eight (8) that are used to make the star points end up having so much trimmed away that you can use scraps that have chunks missing from one corner.  (Scroll down to see what I mean.)

Plaid Star Tutorial

To start, we’ll put together the centre.  To keep from needing to be wordy, I put all the pieces for the centre of the block in the bottom row of the diagram above.

Take the two strips of fabric #2 (blue) and attach them to each side of the square of fabric #1 (yellow).  Press and set aside.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Attach the two stripes of fabric #3 (purple) to the rectangle of fabric #2.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Press, and then cut the resulting rectangle in half along the long dimension.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Now take the three (3) parts you’ve assembled thus far and sew them together as is shown in the following photos.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Press and set the centre block aside.

Now onto the points.  First we have to create the stripes by sewing our blue and yellow bits together.  Four (4) sets need to be “L” shaped, and the other four (4) need to be mirrored “L”s.  Also, since it’s not entirely clear from the photos, you are sewing the short dimension of the yellow blocks to the blue blocks.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

When the “L”s are sewn and pressed, trim them to 3-7/8″ (2-7/8″ | 1-7/8″) in both directions.  Take care that the blue fabric remains 1-3/4″ wide (1-1/4″ | 0-3/4″) while you trim.

Finally, create the triangles by cutting from the upper corner on the blue fabric to the lower corner of the yellow fabric.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Now we can assemble the flying geese.  When you sew the points you just made to the QSTs (cut from the large square of background fabric…), line the edges up along the “tail” of the goose, so that there is a bit of fabric overhanging at the “beak.”

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Trim up your four geese to 6-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ and then assemble your pieces using the strategy from the basic star.  And you’ve gone plaid!!!  (Anyone else watch Spaceballs FAR TOO OFTEN  as a kid?!)

Plaid Star Tutorial

I have to say, even though I spent more time with my seam ripper and my graph paper than my sewing machine on this one, I think it might be my favourite so far.  I hope you like it, too!

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)


Checkerboard Star

February 10, 2012

My supreme apologies for my disappearance this week.  I had an unexpected opportunity to visit my sister, something that we had been trying to make work for ages, so I jumped at the chance.  We spent our days chatting, walking the pups, eating yummy food (Rachel is a great cook…I keep trying to get her start up a food blog) and generally enjoying each other’s company.  I wish we weren’t four hours apart!

But I’m back, and I have the first of this week’s tutorials ready to go.  The other will come later today.

Now, you may be coming down to just scraps of the fabrics you picked for this project, so the remaining four stars are designed to accommodate that possibility.  While I decided to make this star using strips of fabric, you could just as easily cut squares from your scraps and achieve the same effect.  Similarly, while I used only two fabrics in my star, you could use scraps of warm and cool fabrics, or light and dark fabrics…you get the idea!

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Begin by sewing the two strips of fabric together along the long dimension, and then press. (Now you might notice that my strips aren’t a precise 15-3/4″ long.  That’s because I wanted to try to avoid the green flower centres since I found them a bit visually distracting in an earlier block.  So I left myself a little room to fussy-cut the pairs.)

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Next, cut six (6) sets of paired fabrics 2-5/8″ wide (2″ and 1-1/4″ for the other two sizes).

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Now we will start to assemble the sub-units for the star.  The very centre of the star is made of two of the pairs sewn together:

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Next, we’ll move on to the star points.  Take the 3″ squares and cut them in half diagonally to create eight (8) half-square triangles (HSTs).  Now take two (2) HSTs from each fabric and sew them to the 3-1/2″ squares of background fabric.

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Press and then repeat with the remaining four (4) HSTs, making sure that each square of background fabric has an HST of both fabrics sewn to it – two (2) with fabric #1 on the right, and two (2) with fabric #1 on the left.

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Trim up the little “envelopes” to 4-3/4″ wide (3-3/8″ | 1-7/8″).  Now attach the remaining six (6) fabric pairs that you created earlier in the process to each of the star points units.

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

At this point it would be helpful to lay everything out to make sure that you have everything in the right place to create the checkerboard effect.

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Assemble the star in three rows, as we did with the Woven Star and the Radiant Star.  (The large triangles of background fabric are QSTs cut from the 7-3/8″ | 5-3/8″ | 3-1/4″ square.)

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Now put the three rows together and voila!  I’m really excited to see how everyone interprets this block!

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

I’ll be back in a bit. ;)

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

Radiant Star

February 2, 2012

I want to start this post with a quick review of where we should be right now…provided that we’ve been making the suggested number of stars each week.  Which I haven’t been, so please don’t let these numbers discourage you.  I was taking stock of my own progress and thought it would be a good idea for everyone to get a sense of the numbers.

Not including this post, we have now done 10 star variations.  So if you’ve been working at the rate suggested at the beginning of this whole thing, that means that you should have 10 large stars, 20 medium stars and 50 small stars.  That means that you have 5 large, 8 medium and 18 small stars left to go.  Now, you might notice that if you followed the current schedule, you would end up with 5 large, 10 medium and 25 small stars, which is too many!  But isn’t it nice that you can slow down a bit and coast towards the finish line?!  So just keep this in mind as we work through the last 5 variations.

This star is quite similar in construction to the Woven Star, so there are places here where I’ve been brief with the photographs.  If something is confusing then hopefully you can pop over to that post for some clarity.  This star requires three (3) foreground fabrics cut into the following shapes:

Radient Star Tutorial

The 3″ squares of fabric #3 (yellow) will each be cut into 2 half-square triangles, and the large 7-3/8″ square of background fabric will be cut into 4 quarter-square triangles.

To begin, we’re going to make 4 flying geese, using the method outlined for the Basic Star.  But in this case, rather than using both foreground and background fabrics, we’re just going to use foreground fabrics.  Use the 5-1/2″ square of fabric #3 (yellow) and the 3″ squares of fabric #2 (orange).

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

The finished geese units should be trimmed to 4-3/4″ x 2-5/8″  (3-3/8″ x 2″  |  1-7/8″ x 1-1/4″   …in both these cases I’ve rounded the short dimension up by 1/16″.  Because I don’t think that anyone will be cutting to that accuracy, anyway!)

Next, we’re going to assemble four (4) “envelope” units to make the star points.  Begin by cutting the 3″ squares of fabric #3 (yellow) into HSTs, and then attach them to the 3-1/2″ squares of background fabric.  The edges should align, and the point of the triangle should be in the centre of the square.  Unfortunately, there are no seams to tell us where that is, so you can use a ruler, or mark the square with a water-soluable marking pen.  When adding the second triangle, make sure to measure to the centre from the outside edge, since the edge attached to triangle #1 now has the seam allowance involved, and is therefore closer to the finished centre.  Clear as mud?!

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

The finished envelope units need to be trimmed to 4-3/4″ wide.  When you have both the geese and the envelopes finished, sew them together so that fabric #3 creates a chevron shape.

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

From this point forward, the construction is the same as the Woven Star.  Use the QSTs of background fabric to create two larger triangles with two of the envelope units in the centre of each one.  Then attach the remaining two envelope units to either side of the 4-3/4″ square of fabric #1 to create the centre strip.

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

Then sew the three large components together to complete the star!

Radient Star Tutorial

Only four more to go…are you getting excited to put it all together?  I know I am!

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

Quattro Stagioni Star

January 31, 2012

A few years ago I spent a term studying in Rome.  It was a fabulous experience, filled with art and architecture…and food.  Lots of yummy food.  Thankfully I walked everywhere or I would have put on some serious pounds.  To be honest, I didn’t eat that much pizza, since there were so many other things to try, but when I did I often ordered the quattro stagioni, or “four seasons.”  Why settle for one pizza when you can sample four, right?!  When I was playing around with this block today I kept thinking about Rome and the pizza…and the cheese, and the bread, and the gelati, and the espresso, and the suppli, and the cheap wine…suffice it to say that Southern Ontario was feeling a little mundane.

This block is essentially just a basic star with a four-patch centre, but some careful attention to the fabric placement produces a star which appears divided into quadrants.  So pick four different fabrics and then cut the pieces according to the following sizes:

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

The star points are created using the same method as in the basic star, but be sure that you begin with two fabrics that you wish to have opposite one another in the final star.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

Then add the other two fabrics to complete the flying geese.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

When you press and square up the four flying geese, you should end up with four geese that each have a different combination of your four fabrics.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

Next, lay out your 3-1/2″  squares of foreground fabric in a grid that will work with the star points that you’ve created.  It helps to do this step second just in case you don’t end up with the fabrics in the locations you expected in the star points.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

When you sew up the four-patch and press it, it should square up at 6-1/2″.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

Attach all the parts according to the process used for the basic star, and you’ll have a lovely, yummy, star!

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

And I think I’ll be making pizza for dinner tonight…

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

Nested Star

January 26, 2012

To be honest, I really wanted to call this block “Kapow Star,” or something like that, because it kinda reminds me of the stars in vintage Batman fight scenes.  But perhaps the rest of you didn’t spend as many afternoons watching it as I did… :)

Basically, this is a sawtooth star within a sawtooth star, so there aren’t really any new construction techniques here.  Just many more pieces!  The top row in the diagram represents the outer (larger) star points, while the lower row represents the inner star:

Nested Star Tutorial

Since we’ve done all this before, I’ll just direct you to the Basic Sawtooth Star tutorial for the order of operations.  I found it was most effiecient to work on both sets of points at the same time.  In the larger set the “geese” in the flying geese units are the background fabric, while in the smaller set the “geese” are the foreground fabric.

Nested Star Tutorial

Nested Star Tutorial

Nested Star Tutorial

When you’ve finished up the flying geese units, and squared them up to 3-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ (larger) and 2″ x 3-1/2″ (smaller), put together the inner star first.

Nested Star Tutorial

Square up the inner star to 6-1/2″, and then put together the outer star.

Nested Star Tutorial

ZONK!  KAPOW!

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

Chevron Star

January 26, 2012

Well, it seems that my trouble with the Woven Star last week, combined with the fact that I thought Tuesday was Monday for most of the day (two Mondays in one week did seem a bit unfair!), has knocked me a bit off track.  My apologies.  But I’ll be posting the tutotial scheduled for today…today.  So everything will be caught up by this evening, in plenty of time for some weekend sewing. :)

And since this is the eighth star, we’re over halfway!  Woohoo!  Regardless of whether you’re making the variations, or just sticking to the basic stars, you should have 8 of the 12″ stars, 16 of the 8″ stars and 40 of the 4″ stars.  Or at least something in the neighbourhood of those amounts!  Things are looking really great over in the Flickr group, so be sure to pop by if you haven’t done so in a while.

So, on with the tutorial!  You’ll need eighteen (18) pieces for this star, according to the following dimensions:

Chevron Star Tutorial

This star doesn’t have many pieces, but because the vertical star points are made of a different fabric than the horizontal star points, the method that we’ve been using thus far for making the flying geese won’t work.  If waste is a concern for you, then you can use the HST squares that both Tong and Jeni used in their tutorials.  However, I prefer to avoid unnecessary seams (just a matter of personal preference), and the method that I’m going to use in this tutorial does so, but at the expense of a few leftover HST squares.  The choice is yours.

Begin by marking the centre line on the 3-1/2″ squares cut from your two foreground fabrics, as well as 1/2″ to one side of centre.  Start with two (2) squares from each of the two foreground fabrics and pin them, right sides together, to the 3-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ rectangles of background fabric, making sure that the extra line is in the corner of the rectangle, comme ça:

Chevron Star Tutorial

Sew just inside both marked lines (to create scant 1/4″ seams), and then cut in between them, and press both pieces, so that you have an HST square and one half of a geese unit.

Chevron Star Tutorial

Pin the remaining 3-1/2″ squares to the other sides of the rectangles and repeat the process.

Chevron Star Tutorial

Chevron Star Tutorial

When you’re finished you should have four (4) flying geese units, two each with your two foreground fabrics, as well as eight (8) leftover HST squares which you can save to use elsewhere in this quilt.  Trim up the flying geese to 3-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ and set them aside.

Chevron Star Tutorial

Next we’ll move on to the centre portion of the block.  Take the two 5-1/4″ squares of foreground fabric and cut them in half diagonally, and use them as QSTs to form a larger square, as below:

Chevron Star Tutorial

Begin by sewing them together as pairs, making sure that both pairs have the same fabric on the right when oriented in the same direction, so that they’ll be opposite one another when the pairs are oriented in opposite directions.  (Ok, I’ve tried to rewrite that sentence a few times with little success at clarity…I hope this makes sense!)

Chevron Star Tutorial

Then sew the two pairs together, paying attention to the alignment of the centre seams.  Press, and trim the square to 6-1/2″ before continuing.  (A little tip:  when squaring up at this point, align the 45° guide on your ruler with the diagonal, making sure that the dot at 3-1/8″ is in the centre where the 4 points meet.)

Chevron Star Tutorial

Put the star together in three rows.  Make sure that you match the flying geese units to the correct fabric in the QST unit.

Chevron Star Tutorial

Chevron Star Tutorial

Press and finish!

Chevron Star Tutorial

See you back here later today. ;)

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

Woven Star

January 22, 2012

Whew…this block kinda kicked my butt.  I thought I had it all figured out on Thursday when I sewed up the test block.  But when I tried to sew up the final version on Friday, things suddenly refused to line up.  Grrr…  There was much cursing and seam-picking and pulling out the calculator, again, to figure out where things were going wrong.

In light of that, I’m going to begin with a bit of advice.  First, be sure that you are cutting as accurately as possible, and squaring up your components before you move on to the next step.  Second, and I know that I’ve said this before, be sure that you are sewing with scant 1/4″ seam.  Because this block is constructed on the bias, any little inaccuracies seem to multiply pretty quickly.  And speaking of bias, because this is the first time during this quilt-along we’ve come across using pieces cut on the bias, it feels like a good time to mention spray starch.  I discovered the joy of spray starch last fall and I’m a complete convert.  It helps so much with accuracy and, especially with bias-cut pieces, holds shapes stable as you sew.  You can buy starch or make your own (Google will provide lots of information), but either way I would really recommend it, both in general and especually for this block.  Finally, be really careful not to stretch the triangles along the bias edge.

Alright, so let’s get on with it, eh?!  The dimensions for the triangular pieces given below represent the size of the square from which the half-square triangle (HST) is cut.  If you don’t want any waste then use two fabrics, otherwise save the leftover HSTs because they will come into play in some of the blocks which are coming up in the next few weeks.  Also, the large square of background fabric will be used to make four (4) quarter-square triangles (QSTs) by cutting it in half diagonally, and then in half again.

Woven Star Tutorial

We’re going to begin in the centre and work outward.  I really recommend laying all your pieces out somewhere so that you don’t get confused, or do a little drawing which you colour in so that you know where all the pieces go.  First take the four (4) 2″ squares and join them into a 4-patch.

Woven Star Tutorial

Square up the centre to 3-1/2″ (or 2-1/2″ | 1-1/2″ for the other block sizes), and then add the 3″ HSTs.  Because I wanted my fabrics to look woven together, I placed this layer of triangles opposite their corresponding squares.  However, if you rotated the centre 4-patch so that the squares and triangles of the same fabric touch, then your final block will look more “swirled” than “woven.”  The choice is yours!

Woven Star Tutorial

When adding the HSTs, line up the edges and make sure that the point on the triangle goes through the centre of the 4-patch. Once you’ve added two opposite HSTs, trim off the little wings before proceeding to keep the bulk in the seam allowances to a minimum.

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

Once again, square up the centre to 4-3/4″ (3-3/8″ | 1-7/8″) before continuing.  At this stage return to your complete layout to make sure that you still know where things are going!

Woven Star Tutorial

Now we’ll start to put together the points.  Take the 3-1/2″ corner blocks and sew them to the adjacent 4″ HSTs, lining up the right angles as shown below:

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

Now add the 5-1/8″ HSTs, lining up the long side to the unit you just completed.  I found that I had the best accuracy when I made sure that the tip of the triangle went through the seam between the corner square and the smaller HST.

Woven Star Tutorial

Once these components are finished and pressed, they should look like little envelopes.  Before moving forward, trim off the wings and make sure that the “envelope” is 4-3/4″ wide, (3-3/8″ | 1-7/8″), the same as the centre unit.

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

Now we’re going to add the large QSTs of background fabric. Pick two of the “envelopes” from opposite sides of the block and sew the QSTs to each side.  (At this point you can add the remaining two “envelopes” to the centre unit…I forgot to take a picture of that.)

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

Finally, sew the three large components together and breath a sigh of relief.  You did it!

Woven Star Tutorial

Woven Star Tutorial

If you have any trouble (I hope you don’t…but I have a feeling that some of you might) please post any questions under the thread I’ve started on the Flickr group.

Good luck, and happy sewing!

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

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