Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sparkling Star Quilt - Part One - Block Tutorial

This is part one of two tutorials for our Sparkling Star Quilt.  I will be showing you how to construct the block and giving you tips as we go along. 

First some specifics about the finished quilt:  

Fabric Requirements:

For the colored portion of the HST's you will need a total of 2 yards, you can mix this up anyway you want.  You can use scraps or Fat Quarters like I did.   For Fat Quarters you will need 8.

Background color (I used White Kona Cotton, but you can use whatever you wish, could even be a print!) you will need 5 3/4 yards.
* * *
Block Components -  You will need:

240 Half Square Triangles (HST)
From 4" strips cut 120 pieces to 4" x 7.5"  (You can usually get 6 pieces from a 4 x 44" strip.  Check the width of your fabric and remember to cut off the selvage, you don't want that in your quilt.)

* * *

The blocks are 14.5 inches square and finish to 14" in the quilt.
The finished quilt size will be 82" wide by 98" high, 5 blocks across and 6 blocks down.  
Sashing is 2.5" wide which finishes in the quilt at 2".
Corner Stones are 2.5" square and finish in the quilt at 2" square.
Borders are 2.5"  or your option.

Here is what your finished quilt will look like:

Colors are your choice, you can go scrappy or if you want to whip this quilt out quickly... you can select several fat quarters, as I have done and use the HST stencil from Sunday Best Quiltworks to make up your HST's fast, easy and accurately.

For this quilt, I used their 3.5" HST stencil and a selection of fat quarters from the Technicolor line designed by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller.  These were purchased at a "Flash Sale" at .  You have to check out their website, great fabric selection, good prices and their sales are amazing!  

To use the stencil, place your focus fabric and your background fabric right sides together like so: 

Place your stencil on top and mark as instructed on the stencil.  I used a Marks-a-Lot with blue on one side and purple on the other. Marking the cutting lines in blue and the stitching lines in purple.  

Stitch as instructed on the stencil, press and then cut apart.  You will cut on all the solid lines, trimming the outside edges first, then cutting the squares apart, then the diagonals...all without moving any of it.  Here is a quick video from Sunday Best Quiltworks to show you how easy it is.  Took me 14 minutes from start to finish to have 18 PERFECT HST units completed and pressed.  No re-trimming necessary.

The 3.5" stencil makes 18 HST's and you will need 240 to complete the top as shown.  8 HST's for each completed block.

Tips for pressing:  Stack your HST's on your ironing board with just enough offset to see the stitching, as shown below, and give them a quick press to set all the seams.

Then, starting with the one closest to you, lift up the fabric and press open.  This is the time to make sure you are pressing properly. If you cannot open the seam completely with your iron, finger press it open first and then press, don't scrub.  You will have more accurate piecing by opening your pieces completely and pressing them properly.  Once it is pressed open, move it to the side and repeat the process for the remaining HST's.

In no time at all you will have a nice stack of HST's to work from. DO NOT TRIM OFF YOUR "EARS".  We will use these to match things up and will trim them later.  

Now we are going to construct our block. For each block you will need: 

8 HST's 
4 strips of background fabric measuring 4" x 7.5"

Starting with your HST's, place them in a stack side by side as shown below, make sure your fabric stacks look exactly as shown below and then take the right one and flip it over the left, you are ready to stitch using a 1/4" seam allowance.  If you have them lined up right, you will have a "tip" pointing right at both the top and the bottom of your piece (look at the picture of them going into the machine and you will see how they should look):

Okay, here is where you can really bust a move if you want to crank this quilt out quickly.  Chain piece your sets, until you have all of your HST's pieced together.  You can layout colors later, right now, just get your HST's chained.  Chain piecing lets you construct the same component over and over again, without breaking thread, you just feed the next one in and continue. Once you get the hang of this, you will look for ways to do this in all of your quilting.  Efficiency = Time Savings = More Quilting Time!

This is what will be hanging out of the back of your machine, lovely piles of chained HST's!  Now take your rotary cutter and carefully just cut them apart from each other.  Stack them and you are ready for the next step.

Is that about yummy or what?  Lookie how fast those went together!

Okay, now we are going to trim off ONLY those two little tips that are hanging off the seam that you just stitched, leave the other tips alone, you will need them later.  Stack them up and crank them out, using your rotary cutter, you will be done in minutes.

Take your stack to the iron and press open the seam as shown.  Oh, I know, it's freaking you out not to press one direction or the other. Just press this seam open, it will help eliminate bulk in this block and will help you seam correctly for your points later.  

When you flip it over to the right side it should look just like this below.  Yes, you should have a natural little offset on each side, this will be in the seam later on.  You did good!

Okay, now, just like before, do the same thing to all of your sets, press them all open and you'll have a nice stack just like this!  See how fast this goes?

Now if you are smart you will have a stack of your 4" x 7.5" strips ready and we will set them up next to our machine with a stack of our completed HST components as shown below:

Flip the right piece over top of the left piece, right sides together so that it looks like the photo below and then stitch along the right edge using a 1/4" seam allowance.  You will chain piece these until you have all of your HST components stitched to a strip. Remember the offset part on the HST set?  Now you will see it disappear in the seam.  As you stitch close to it, make sure that you stitch 1 thread to the right of that intersection for a perfect outcome.  See below:

Get that chain piecing going again, you can replicate the same thing over and over until you have them all pieced.  Then go to the next step and do the same.  

Press your seams to set them and then press away from your HST component toward the strip.  You will need four of these components for each would be the time to put your colors together the way you want them to be in your final block:

Lay your components out next to your sewing machine as shown below.  If you want to chain piece all your blocks, just lay out the next one right on top of this one and so forth until you have them all stacked, then just work off your stack as instructed below, till you reach the bottom.

Make sure you like your color arrangement.  Then flip the right side over the left side and stitch each one using a 1/4" seam along the right edge.  

Now we will trim off ONLY that little tip that is sticking out on the right side, the side that we have stitched.  Leave the other two in place.

Press to set your stitches and then press open with seams in opposite directions.  Your remaining tips should look like this if you did it right:

This will let us "nest" our seams when we put the two halves together.  So flip the top of the block onto the bottom half and nest your seams.  Use a pin through the intersection where your seams meet and then put it through the other seam that is nested behind it.  Keep this pin perpendicular and carefully place a pin to the right and the left of that perpendicular pin before you remove it.  See Below:

Now remove the perpendicular pin only and stitch your seam from end to end using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, making sure that when you get to the pinned part, you stitch just a thread or two to the right of the intersection.  That will give you a perfect point in the center.    Now trim off the two remaining tips and press your seam to set your stitches.  I personally like to press this seam open from the back rather than pressing it to one side, to eliminate bulk.  

Our block is finished and should measure 14.5" square.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Part two will be sashing and assembling our quilt top.

If you found this tutorial valuable, please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you!  


  1. Such a pretty block and a great tutorial ... thanks!
    Jane @

  2. this is very good information i am just learning to make quilts other than 9 patches 12 patches and jut s pain squares sewed together i now can do pinwheels, Dresden plates, exploding blocks and a few others along the way i am waiting for part 2 thank you you are awesome

  3. Thank you so much for making this tutorial! I am new in trying to learn how to make quilts. This pattern is very pretty and your tutorial explains how to make the block not look so intimidating as I have found in others. I look forward to part 2!

  4. great tutorial, will be trying other blocks and patterns as i am learning

  5. Great stuff. Thanks for taking such time and care.