Thursday, May 28, 2015

Spangled Stars QAL Star Block Unit A

Time for the next installment of the Spangled Stars QAL!

Those of you who have been quilting along with me, I hope you're have fun! If you're just joining in - Welcome! Here's the schedule, with the links to previous blocks in pink.

Star Block, part 1 - May 28, 2015    
Star Block, part 2 - June 4, 2015
Quilt assembly - June 11, 2015
Completed Top Linky - June 18, 2015
Completed Quilt, Grand Parade - July 2, 2015

The next two weeks feature the last block, the Star Block. 

I'm breaking it into two sections, mainly because a) the instructions for each part are intensive, and b) there's a lot of parts to assemble just to make one block, and precision is going to count here. The other blocks have been pretty easy, but this one needs more attention. So spreading it out causes less confusion.

I'm starting with the units in the corners,

which EQ calls 'checkerboard'. Not quite what I'd call it, and if you know a different name, let me know. For now, I'm calling it Unit A!

Below is the chart for cutting WOF strips for each size, and each color, following the coloring in the diagram above. If your coloring is different, be sure to note that for yourself.

# Star Blocks
# Unit A
Red square
(40” WOF)
White bkgrnd,
(40” WOF)
Light Blue HST,
(40” WOF)
2” x 1 WOF
3” x 1 WOF
3 7/8” x  1 WOF
2” x 2 WOF
3” x 2 WOF
3 7/8” x  2 WOF
2” x 3 WOF
3” x 3 WOF
3 7/8” x  3 WOF
2” x 4 WOF
3” x 4 WOF
3 7/8” x  4 WOF
2” x 4 WOF
3” x 4 WOF
3 7/8” x  4 WOF
2” x 5 WOF
3” x 5 WOF
3 7/8” x  4 WOF

I'm making a twin size, which has 15 Star Blocks,

and each Star Block has 4 Unit A's, which means I'm making 60 Unit A's ( 15 x 4=60). If you're making a different size, I've already figured out how many Unit A's you need, just refer to the chart above.

Unit A is made up using strip piecing. Yes, that's right, strip piecing. There is no cutting and piecing of little squares and triangles. And no waste - that's the best part, because I don't need more little waste pieces to figure out what to do with!

So, let's get started! Cut the number of 2" red strips (for the squares) and 3" white strips (for the background) needed for each size. Sew one red strip to one background strip, and press to the red (dark).

Just as in the making of the other blocks, the strip sets get stacked for subcutting, right sides together, with the red strips on opposite sides.

They must be positioned this way for sewing in the next step, so be sure the red strips oppose each other.

Subcut the strip sets at 2", keeping the pairs together. 

Each pair will make two Unit A's. Use the chart below to find how many subcut pairs to cut.

# of subcut pairs

Head to the sewing machine and chain stitch all the pairs together along the long edge.

Clip them apart, but before pressing, place each long seam against a ruler, aligning the background edge with the 1 1/2" mark.

Make a small clip to the seam line at the 3/4" mark. Do this on all units. This step makes final assembly so much easier!

Now press each side of the long seam away from the red (dark). The clip in the middle allows for that easily.

Now for the tricky part, the step that needs close attention.
Using a 6" square ruler, line the rulers' center diagonal line along the right side of the unit, with the cutting edge going through the center clip (arrows in the center of the picture).

The ruler needs to align along the blocks' outer edge, near the corners, the same amount on each side, somewhere between 3/8" and 1/2", depending on how the center seam was sewn and pressed. Here are closeups of each corner.

If these measurements aren't equal, the angle of the cut is off, making for a smaller seam allowance. So pay attention to this step - it's not hard, just time consuming. And yes, I measured each one, all 60 corners.

Once the measurements are equal, cut along the diagonal, to yield to HST pieces. The picture below shows the front and back of the units.

But wait! One corner is missing on each unit! Don't worry - it works just fine without it!

Once those are all ready, cut the 3 7/8" light blue strip, subcutting it to make 3 7/8" squares.

Lay one light blue 3 7/8" square right side up, and place a red square unit from before right side down, matching two edges.

Lay another red square unit on the other corner, right side down, matching up edges. The corners are hard to see, so go by the edges. Pin both pieces in place, preferably with flat head pins. The diagonal edges will overlap slightly.

Using the 6" square ruler again, align the rulers' center diagonal line with the left edge of the block.

The corners are hard to see for alignment, but do the best as possible. Draw a pencil line along the diagonal, being careful of fabric shifting.

Sew a scant 1/4" from the pencil line on each side, aligning the start with the cut off corner (see the bit of blue peeking through?)

and stitching just at the edge of the cross seams for the red square. Notice in the next picture how the needle is headed straight to that seam intersection? 

This is why the fabric was clipped and pressed away from the red square - to improve visibility so the red square point doesn't get cut off or that seam doesn't land close enough. Oh, so smart! 

Sew down one side of the center line, turn the block around, and sew the other side. Then chain stitch to the next block. I don't recommend chain stitching down one side on every block, then going back and doing the other side, as this unit needs to stay positioned correctly. 

Using the 6" square ruler, cut on the center pencil line.

Tiny bits from each side are the only waste. Press the seam towards the light blue. Trim off the little dog ears, and do a measurement check - 3 1/2" square. If there is any trimming to do, do it on the blue piece, not the red/white, as that shouldn't be any smaller. And notice that the missing corner was no big deal - just fewer dog ears to trim! Aren't they pretty both front and back?

Have fun, enjoy the process, and link up those blocks!


  1. Way behind on this but will get there. Your instructions are wonderful.

  2. Looks like I'd better not leave these blocks until the last minute this week!!

  3. Creative Grids just came out with a ruler to do this block. It's called Cat's Cradle ruler. Same technique--just easier trimming. There is a you tube video of it.

    1. Thanks for the info! I knew someone would know the block name, and it's great that there's a ruler for it now.

  4. Interesting block. Thanks for linking up with TGIFF.

  5. 8 entries this week! Great tutorial. Thanks!


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