From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
The Christmas Star quilt block isn't as tricky as it might look.
A dash of paperpiecing. A pinch of strip piecing.
That's all there is to the point-a-licious design.
In this tutorial you'll find:
It's time to cut up and sew!
Several abbreviations are used on this page. They are:
1/4" SA are used through this tutorial.
Pressing instructions are highlighted in yellow so they're easy to find.
SAs in the paperpieced units are always pressed towards the last added patch.
If you prefer to use all traditional piecing methods, skip this step and go straight to Step 1: Cutting and use the green cutting chart.
Otherwise, you need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download the pattern.
On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.
Choose your finished block dimension from the chart below and print the corresponding number of pages for a total of four units.
Print the Birds in the Air Variation Units for your Christmas Star Block
| # of copies of|
BITA to Print
Use the blue cutting chart in Step 1 if you printed these patterns.
After printing, use the 1" square graphic on the printed page(s) the pattern printed correctly.
Not sure which paper to use?
Check out my review of several of the most popular brands available to us quilters on the market.
Which one will you choose?
Sample Block Size:
Okay, okay. I know this is called the 'Christmas Star', but I just couldn't resist these yummy fabrics.
You get to choose three fabrics that you like.
As with any blocks with lots of points, good contrast between the fabrics means you'll be able to see all your piecing.
Click here to download the block design and cutting chart—this download includes cutting charts for both paperpieced and traditionally pieced blocks.
Label your patches. We refer to their numbers throughout this tutorial.
Choose the green chart if you prefer to use traditional piecing methods instead of paperpiecing.
Cutting Chart for a~Traditional Piecing PLUS Paperpiecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|1||Dark||2||1⅞" x 1⅞"||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"|
|2, 3, 4, 6||Light||8||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"||3⅜" x 3⅜"|
|5||Dark||2||3⅜" x 3⅜"||4⅜" x 4⅜"||5⅜" x 5⅜"|
|7||Light||1||1½" x 7"||2" x 9"||2½" x 11"||---|
|8||Med||1||1½" x 7"||2" x 9"||2½" x 11"||---|
|9||Med||1||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"||---|
|Unfinished Block Size||5½"||8"||10½"||---|
Cutting Chart for a~Traditional Piecing ONLY ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|1||Dark||2||1⅞" x 1⅞"||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"|
|2, 3, 4||Light||6||1⅞" x 1⅞"||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"|
|5||Dark||2||2⅞" x 2⅞"||3⅞" x 3⅞"||4⅞" x 4⅞"|
|6||Light||4||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"||---|
|7||Light||0||1½" x 7"||2" x 9"||2½" x 11"||---|
|8||Med||0||1½" x 7"||2" x 9"||2½" x 11"||---|
|9||Med||0||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"||---|
|Unfinished Block Size||5 1/2"||8"||10 1/2"||---|
|Grid Size||1"||1 1/2"||2"||---|
My go-to thread for all my piecing is...
Birds in the Air (Modified)
For the sample Christmas Star, I foundation pieced the unit.
If you cut your patches from the green chart, click here for the instructions to piece this unit traditionally. After you've completed the four units, skip down to 'Sides' and continue.
If you cut from the blue chart, start here.
Trim the paper away just past the dashed lines that encompass each unit.
No points for neatness here, a rough cut will do.
Everything gets trimmed at the end.
General Sewing Machine Setup for Paperpiecing
After adding each patch, press the unit as it was sewn to set the seam. Then press it open. The SA is automatically pressed towards the last patch added.
Steam is optional and usually curls the pattern.
If that bothers you, don't use steam. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.
It really just depends on my mood.
Remember as you follow this paper piecing tutorial, the printed and the fabric sides of this block are mirror-images of each other.
It's time to sew!
With a dab of Elmer's washable glue stick, position the #1 patch wrong sides together with the unprinted side of the paperpiecing pattern. Use the dashed placements guides for quick, easy and accurate positioning.
With RST match the long edge of a #2 with the long edges of the #1. Notice that the two patches—though they fill the same size space—are cut different sizes.
This is because the first patch can be placed exactly. The #2, #3, #4 and #6 all extend past the edges of the unit and are trimmed to perfection at the end.
The point of the #2 patch is opposite the corner of the paperpiecing pattern. (white arrow)
Stitch on the solid line between #1 and #2. Start and stop a generous 1/4" past the beginning and ending of these solid lines.
You'll use this technique for every single seam you stitch in this unit.
With RST, match a SHORT edge of a #3 to the short edge of #1 as shown below.
You'll notice I don't bother to trim thread tails at the outside edges of the unit as I work. These will be trimmed at the end. I DO trim thread tails at any other place as I go for neater patchwork.
Otherwise I'd have to go back and trim them individually with a scissor after the units are complete. A total time suck.
Stitch as before on the line between #1 and #3.
Position the short side of a #4 to the third side of #1 and stitch.
Next we trim to find the exact position for adding #5.
At your cutting mat, fold the pattern back on itself on the solid line between #3, #4 and #5. I lay my ruler on the line and use my thumbnail to crease the paper. Then fold the it back on that crease.
Position your 1/4" mark on your ruler on this fold (red arrow below). Trim the excess away with your rotary cutter.
Before adding the #5s this is how your units look. Rough on the outside edges. Neat on the inside ones.
With RST, align the long edge of a #5 with the freshly trimmed edges.
Since the seam extends the full width of the block, you can chain piece this Birds in the Air variation in this step to speed things up a bit.
After stitching, press.
Time to trim again. This time, fold the paper back on the line between #5 and #6. Position the 1/4" on the fold and trim away the excess.
With RST, align the long edge of a #6 with the cut edge of #5.
Stitch on the line between #5 and #6. Chain piece this step for efficiency.
Trim the units to perfection by positioning the 1/4" marking on your ruler on a solid line at the edge of the block. Repeat for the three remaining sides for each unit.
I find it much more accurate to line up this mark instead of trying to align the ruler's edge right on the outside dashes. Dont' you?
With RST, stitch the long edges of #7 and #8 together. For the sample, #8 is the orange fabric.
After stitching, press with the SA towards either the #7 or #8. In the sample I pressed towards #8.
Using the chart below, take a second to double check the width of your stripset after stitching, make any adjustments as needed.
Then find the SubCut Width that goes with your finished block size.
|Stripset Width after stitching||SubCut Width|
|5"||2 1/2"||1 1/2"|
|7 1/2"||3 1/2"||2"|
|10"||4 1/2"||2 1/2"|
Straighten one of the short edges of your strip set and then subcut four units the required width.
Arrange the modified Birds in the Air and side units and cut center square into the Christmas Star design.
With RST, stitch the units into rows.
SA are pressed toward the #7/#8 side units to reduce bulk.
With RST, stitch the rows together to finish the block
Pin the rows if it helps you. For a refresher, brush up on your pinning technique here.
After a final pressing, your Christmas Star quilt block looks like this.
Here's a view of our Christmas Star sample from the back so that you can see how all the SAs fit together.
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
Can you tell?
It's in color.
It's got a ton of blocks.
What's not to love?
Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.
This book is no longer in print.
If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020.
However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.
This is terrific news.
Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.
Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.
Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!