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Exploding Star

February 21, 2012

We’ve reached the end!  Woohoo!  One final option and then we can get to work piecing together the top.

I was really pushing to have this posted last Friday, before the long weekend, and since I was driving north to my parents for a few days with my brother and sister-in-law, I couldn’t just leave when it was finished.  I had a deadline.  Now, the room with the best natural sunlight is two stories down from where my machine is, so I was running up and down the stairs trying to get it finished.  Stella was also running up and down the stairs, wondering what all the fuss was about and trying to trip me with each flight.  Who knew that quilting could be such an extreme sport?!  Well, I came really close to having it finished, but right before the “finish it up” step I really did have to go.  I threw all the pieces in a box and today I hauled out my mum’s machine to finish it up.  (I’m so jealous of her machine and can’t believe she doesn’t use it more often!)

Just like the last few blocks, this one is a serious scrap-buster.  And while there are lots of pieces, it’s very straight-forward.  The centre is essentially just a Courthouse Steps block, but we’re going to throw some striped star points onto it.

Exploding Star Tutorial

Starting with the centre 2″ square, work your way out, adding two strips to opposite sides with each step.  I cut my strips longer then necessary so that I could square up after each step, ensuring the accuracy of the block.

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

When the centre is finished it should be 6-1/2″ square.  If you are worried about the accuracy of your 1/4″ seam allowances, you could cut the final two steps of the block a bit wide (maybe 2″ instead?) and then trim down the centre when you’re finished.

Next we need to piece the star points.  Again, I cut the pieces longer than necessary so that I had the freedom to square things up later.  Sew the strips to each other in the order you’d like, ensuring that you have four (4) left-leaning blocks and four (4) right-leaning blocks.

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Then trim the two sides with make the right-angle to 3-7/8″ (2-7/8″ | 1-7/8″) in length, and cut from corner to corner to create a triangle.

Exploding Star Tutorial

When you’ve sewn the striped triangles to the QSTs cut from the large square of background fabric (such as with the Plaid Star), you should have four (4) flying geese which are 6-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ each.

Exploding Star Tutorial

Now sew everything together (a 3-hour car ride is NOT necessary for this step to be successful…) and guess what?  You’ve completed your final star variation!

Exploding Star Tutorial

Now then, I think we all need a bit of time to get all our stars completed (I have a pile of 4-inch stars that need finishing up!), so how’s about we meet back later next week for a strategy for putting all these lovelies together?  Sound like a plan?  As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)


Shimmering Star

February 16, 2012

Are you seeing the starry quilt at the end of the tunnel?  I know I am!  I’m really looking forward to putting this sucker together!

This star is pretty straightforward, with lots of repetition, but because there are so many pieces there is also lots of opportunity for little inaccuracies to add up.  So a little extra diligence is required with both the cutting and the seam allowances in order to end up with a finished block that is 12-1/2″ unfinished.  Also, while I have provided the dimensions for the 4″ star because it’s tradition at this point, I’ll be really impressed if any of you succeed in making one!

Shimmering Star Tutorial

There are many ways to arrange the pieces to achieve a number of effects, including the following three (although there are many more if you play around) :

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

The last option is the one that I picked, since I thought it was the most “shimmery.”

First, use twelve (12) squares from each of the two fabrics to make HST square units.  (Save 4 of each to cut in half diagonally for the star points.)

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Forgive me for not walking you through each step, but I figure that we’ve done this before, so you probably know what to do, right?!  When the HST squares are sewn and pressed, trim them to 2″ (1-1/2″ | 1″) before continuing.

Again, I didn’t take pictures of putting the centre together, since it’s essentially a 16-patch.  Just make sure that it’s 6-1/2″ (4-1/2″ | 2-1/2″) square when you’re finished.  And you should have eight (8) of the HST squares left over for the points.

Speaking of the points…  Which pieces go where will be a bit different depending on the layout you decide upon, but the method is the same no matter what.  You’re going to sew two (2) of the HSTs you cut earlier to each of the remaining HST squares, following the steps below:

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

(I didn’t notice that I had forgotten to clip the overhanging seam allowance until after I had documented this step, but you clipping it will help keep the bulk down, so I recommend it.)

Shimmering Star Tutorial

When you have the points sewn and pressed, trim them to 3-7/8″ (2-7/8″ | 1-7/8″) on both sides that create the right angle, and then trim the diagonal to the new “corners.”  You should be trimming off an amount about 1/8″ wide.

From here, you can sew up your star point flying geese following the directions we used last time for the Plaid Star, and then put the whole thing together!

Shimmering Star Tutorial

One more to go!!!!

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

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)

 

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