From our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library
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Show your quilting prowess with the dazzling Dolly Madison's Star quilt block.
Constructed using basic quarter square triangles and a single 9-patch,you'll be amazed at how quickly it all comes together using traditional piecing techniques.
An oversized unit here, a trim there, just watch the magic happen. You'll be beaming at your results.
Let's get started on some starry stitching magic—you've got this!
In this tutorial, you'll find:
Ready. Set. SEW!
Several abbreviations are used on this page. They are:
1/4" SA are used through this tutorial.
Highlighted in yellow, pressing instructions are easy to spot.
First press the patches in the closed position as they came off your sewing machine. This sets the seam, melding the fibers of the threads into the fibers of the fabric.
Then press the SA to the dark unless otherwise noted.
Click the images below to see the full collection. We share any commercial and/or free patterns that showcase them, too. (For inspiration, of course!)
Sample Block Size: 9" finished / 9½" unfinished
Design Type: Star | Even 9-patch
Please label all your patches. We use their numbers throughout this tutorial.
To print a copy of the block design and cutting chart to use at your cutting table, click here.
The green hexagon print is from Tula Pink's True Colors line—one of the most usable lines I've come across in a long time. In fact, if you're a bright-scrappy quilter like I am, this is one of those collections that truly BELONGS in your stash.
The turquoise is from Kimberbell's Winter Basics from a couple of years ago. The neutral background is Grunge.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||Bac||1||3'' x 3''||4½'' x 4½''||6'' x 6''||7½'' x 7½''|
|2||Med||1||3'' x 3''||4½'' x 4½''||6'' x 6''||7½'' x 7½''|
|3||Dark||2||3'' x 3''||4½'' x 4½''||6'' x 6''||7½'' x 7½''|
|4||Bac||4||2'' x 2''||3½'' x 3½''||5'' x 5''||6½'' x 6½''|
|5||Bac||5||1'' x 1''||1½'' x 1½''||2'' x 2''||2½'' x 2½''|
|6||Dark||4||1'' x 1''||1½'' x 1½''||2'' x 2''||2½'' x 2½''|
|Unfinished Block Size||5''||9½''||14''||18½''|
On the backside of two of the easiest-to-see-your-markings, mark a diagonal line from corner to corner. A mechanical pencil is a good choice for this because the line is always the same width. Make the mark only as dark as you need to be able to see it as you stitch.
With RST, layer a #1 and #3 and a #2 and #3. Pin together if it helps you keep the edges even.
With your favorite 1/4" presser foot installed, stitch a 1/4" away from both sides of the line.
On the left below is a stitched pair, and on the right, it's been cut in half between the lines of stitching.
Do this for both pairs.
After cutting, press the SA of these HSTs towards the #3 patch.
On the two lightest, easiest-to-see-your-markings HSTs, draw a line from corner to corner through the seam allowance.
For the best results (meaning true 90° angles at the center, so the block lays flat), line up a straight line on your ruler with the seam line (red arrow).
Pair a marked HST with an unmarked one. It will contain two #3s, a #1 and a#2 patch.
Nest the seam allowance (this is why the SAs were pressed towards the #3s) and pin to hold everything in place.
If you can pin so you don't have to remove them while stitching, all the better.
Stitch 1/4" away from both sides of both pairs.
After they are stitched, open up each side of the pair to check the match at the center. Now's the time to fix anything.
When you are satisfied with the match, cut each pair in half between the last two lines of stitches.
At this time, I like to twirl the SAs on these QSTs. It reduces the bulk in the center where all the seams meet.
Undo—do not cut or remove—the threads in the seam so that you can fan or twirl the SAs around the center.
This is what it looks like from the backside.
Now, here's the magic.
We're going to trim these QSTs to the exact size.
Find the Center measurement that corresponds to your finished block size. Because our sample finishes at 9" the Center is at 1-3/4".
|Trim QST to…|
|4½"||1"||2" x 2"|
|9"||1¾"||3½" x 3½"|
|13½''||2½"||5" x 5"|
|18"||3¼"||6½" x 6½"|
At our cutting mat, position the 1-3/4" mark over the center of the QST (red arrow) where all the points meet. (red arrow). The dashed 45° line sits directly over the seam line that extends from upper right to lower left.
The 3-1/2" mark (the 'Trim QST to...' measurement for our 9" finished block) is directly over the seam in the upper left and lower right corners. (blue arrows)
With your rotary cutter, trim away the excess on the right and top edges.
Flip your QST 180° and reposition your ruler.
The 45° line is still over the seam from upper right to lower left. The freshly trimmed edges are along the 3-1/2" line on the left and bottom edges (red arrows).
Trim away the excess once again.
The size is precise, the seams cut each corner exactly in half, and the unit lays flat.
These will be a breeze to piece into our block.
With RST, sew a #5 to a #6 for a total of 3 pairs.
With RST, sew a #5 to the #6 side for 2 pairs, and a #6 to the light #5 for one.
After stitching, you have three pieced strips like this. The light squares will be in the outside corners.
Since the SAs are pressed towards the darker #6s, all the seams nest, helping you to match the SAs.
Use pins to hold the strips in place as you stitch.
You can press these final two SAs either towards or away from the center. It does not make any difference to the block construction.
This is the finished 9-patch.
Use the chart below to check the accuracy of your stitching.
After sewing , the 9-patch measures...
|9"||3½" x 3½"|
|13½''||5" x 5"|
|18"||6½" x 6½"|
Arrange your patches into the Dolly Madison design—solid square in the outside corners, 9-patch in the center, and the Bac side of the QST on the outside edges.
With RST, stitch the units in each row together.
These seams are pressed away from the QSTs to minimize bulk.
With RST, stitch the rows together. Pinning is my preference. Try it if you encounter any problems getting a good match at the seams.
For more detailed instructions, take a look at my article, 'Pinning for Perfection'.
These last two seams are also pressed away from the QSTs.
Let's take a peek at the backside.
The twirled or fanned SAs at the center of each QST form tiny 4-patches. It really is worth the couple of seconds it takes to undo (not cut) the stitches to free the SAs so they can fan around the center.
Some much nicer not to run THUNK! into that lump when you're quilting on your domestic sewing machine.
You've finished your star quilt block, and you're ready for more!
Browse our collection of 40+ stellar star quilt block patterns. All have instructions and cutting charts in multiple sizes. If templates or paper piecing is used in the tutorial, there's a free download for you of those materials.
Eeny. Meenie. Miney. Mo.
Which star quilt block will you sew?
For a star-studded quilting experience, choose from almost 70 bedazzling star quilt patterns—for beginners and beyond—click here.
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Free downloads are included in all sizes for any blocks require paper piecing patterns or templates.