Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Tutorial: Stars and Scrappy Stripes

This tutorial makes a 45" by 54" finished quilt. It uses 30 blocks in a 5 blocks across by 6 blocks down layout. The finished block size is 9" by 9" square.

You will need:

  • 1 yard of star fabric (this is the black in my quilt) 
  • (720) 1.5" by 3.5" scrap rectangles. 

I cut my scraps 1.5" by 3.75" because I often have difficulty with strips lining up once sewn. This adds an extra step to the process and wastes a little bit of fabric, but increases my accuracy. You cut your pieces however you want. Another option would be to cut longer 1.5" strips and sew these together into threes then cut your strip set units from this. Most of my scraps were not long enough to do this and I wanted the freedom to get more variety so I just cut the rectangles.

From the star fabric cut (3) 3.5" by WOF (width of fabric) strips; then subcut these into (30) 3.5" by 3.5" squares. For reference, you should be able to get (11) 3.5" squares from one WOF strip.

From the star fabric cut (12) 2" by WOF strips; then subcut these into (240) 2" by 2" squares. For reference, you should be able to get (20) 2" squares from one WOF strip.

I'm giving you the number of squares you can get from the WOF strips so that you can adjust the pattern to make more or fewer blocks if you desire. The (1) yard of star fabric required is sufficient for a 30 block (45" by 54" finished size) quilt. If you want to resize the quilt, adjust the star fabric required accordingly.

Step 1: Pick three scrap rectangles and layout them out in a pleasing arrangement. Don't agonize over this!

Three scrap rectangles
Step 2: Sew them together. Really, just pick up two strips and sew them together! When it comes time to add the third, just make sure it isn't the same fabric as either of the first two. Agonizing over whether or not the three fabrics "go" together just wastes time and doesn't make a bit of difference in the finished quilt.

One scrap unit
Press this unit however you want. It won't matter in the end. I pressed all the seams in the same direction.

Step 3: Trim the above unit into a 3.5" by 3.5" square. I looked through my units to find one that would photograph nicely for this step.

Scrap unit needs squaring up
Notice that my three rectangles are not all the same length. Remember I cut these at about 3.75" long, but obviously one of these was closer to 4" long. It doesn't matter. Trim off each of the pieced edges so that you end up with a 3.5" by 3.5" square. Note that the unit does measure 3.5" tall because my strips were accurately cut to 1.5" wide.

Squaring up the scrap unit
You will need (240) of these units to make a 30 block quilt. 

To make one block you will need (8) three strip scrap units (this unit is often called a Rail Fence Block), (1) 3.5" by 3.5" square of star fabric and (8) 2" by 2" squares of star fabric. Again, my star fabric is the black in these photographs.

Pieces for one block
Step 4: You will be sewing on the diagonal of the (8) 2" squares of star fabric. Since my star fabric is black, a drawn line is hard to see. I could use a white pencil to mark the diagonal. I could also press the square in half along the diagonal either by finger pressing or using an iron. However, I prefer to use my Clearly Perfect Angles tool instead. There are other similar products available that do the same thing. You can also just use a piece of masking or painters tape. I like the Clearly Perfect Angles tool because it is a vinyl cling. It is easy to remove when I'm not using it and it stays in place nicely on it's own when I need it.

Clearly Perfect Angle
Notice the gray bar and the green bar coming toward you (away from the needle) in the photo above. The line between these two bars is centered on the needle. (If you want to use tape, use a ruler to get a straight line coming from the needle. Place the tape right along the edge of the ruler. Use the edge of the tape the same way as the line between the two bars.)

Place your 2" square in the corner of one of the scrap units. Then put the far corner of the 2" square right at the needle and run the opposite corner right along the line between the two bars as you sew, this gives you a perfectly sewn diagonal line with no marking.

Sewing on the diagonal
Choose four of your scrap units and attach one 2" square in this way to each of them. Notice that on two of the scrap units the 2" square is sewn with the strips laying horizontal (top row in photo below) and on the other two scrap units the strips are vertical (bottom row in photo below). This is very important!

One star point attached
At this point you need to decide if you want to cut off both layers 1/4" away from the sewn line, or just one layer or none. I'm living dangerously and cut them both off.

Cut off corners
Then press the star point over to complete the 3.5" square unit again.

One star point completed
Step 5: Attach the other star point. Be sure to attach it to the proper side. In the photograph above, the next star point will get added to the bottom right corner of each unit.

Second star point attached.
Again, cut off the excess (or not) then press the star point fabric over to complete the point.

Star points completed
Now layout your block units. You have (4) star point units, (4) scrap units without points, and (1) star center. All of your units should measure 3.5" by 3.5". They should be laid out as shown in the photograph below.

Block units layout with pressing arrows
You will sew the units together into rows and press the seams according the arrows on the photograph above.

Once you have the rows together, you will have two more seams left to complete the block. The photograph below shows this layout with arrows indicating how these seams should be pressed.

Sew block rows together with pressing arrows
Your finished block should look similar to the one below. 

Completed block, 9.5" unfinished size
I recommend that you construct all of your blocks with the same layout and press as directed so that all of the seams will be opposing when it comes time to put the blocks together. Below is what the back of the block looks like for you to use as a pressing reference.

Back of the block
The quilt layout is shown below.

Quilt layout
At this time the above are the only three blocks I have completed! For the quilt layout, look at the top left corner of each block. Notice that in the first block the strips are vertical in the corner unit. In the middle block, the strips in the top left corner unit are horizontal. In the third block, the strips in the top left corner are vertical. If you just alternate the blocks by turning them so that the strip orientation alternates in the top left corner all your seams will be opposing and all of your strips will alternate.

When I get the top completed I will edit this post to add a photograph of the completed top.

Edited to add a photo of the finished top (April 21, 2014)

If you use this tutorial to make something, please send a picture. I'd love to see your work!

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments but please be sure that I have a way to contact you to answer your question. If you are a "no-reply" blogger, leave your email address in your comment. If you don't know whether or not you are "no-reply" then google "no reply blogger." There are lots of tutorials explaining how to tell whether or not you are "no-reply" and how to fix this if you want to.

Edited to add: A .pdf version of this pattern can be found by clicking this link.


West Michigan Quilter said...

Wonderful tutorial! I've been waiting for it. I'm taking it to my Happy Scrappers next month. This will make a lovely quilt and all from scraps! Thanks for doing this.

lindamid said...

Thanks for this tutorial. I am thinking of using all my scraps from my civil war quilt. It won't be bright and cheery but with the stars would make a historical looking quilt. lol Thinking of using black also for the stars.

Unknown said...

Was looking for something to use up my scraps of Christmas fabric. So it will be red and green for me

Quilty Constance said...

Just finished my version!

compusword said...

Love how all of the seams along the edge of the block do not butt up against the next block. Score! Sewing the scraps into three-strip units will make a great mindless-sewing-in-spurts project. Thank you for sharing! Liz in Houston

purplefiend said...

My Pfaff treadle machine needs a new project. I use the treadle when I'm in the living room watching television.