Our tutorial continues with traditional piecing methods
If paperpiecing isn't your thing, you can always use traditional techniques for your Morning Star quilt block.
Both paper piecing and traditional piecing techniques are provided—choose whichever suits you better.
On the page 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.
When instructed to press, first press the patches in the closed position just as they came off your sewing machine.
This sets the seam, melding the fibers of the threads into the fibers of the fabric.
Pressing instructions are highlighted in yellow throughout this tutorial.
For instructions to print this whole tutorial page, click here.
Sample Block Size:
You'll need a light, a medium, a dark and a background. Our pale green dot batik is our light, with white as the background.
The green chart below is for a traditionally pieced Morning Star block.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing Only ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub|
|1||Light||4||1½" x 1½"||2" x 2"||2½" x 2½"||---|
|2, 3||Bac||4||1⅞" x 1⅞"||2⅜" x 2⅜"||2⅞" x 2⅞"|
|4||Med||2||2⅞" x 2⅞"||3⅞" x 3⅞"||4⅞" x 4⅞"|
|5**||Dark||2||3¼" x 3¼"||4¼" x 4¼"||5¼" x 5¼"||---|
|6**||Light||1||3¼" x 3¼"||4¼" x 4¼"||5¼" x 5¼"||---|
|7**||Bac||1||3¼" x 3¼"||4¼" x 4¼"||5¼" x 5¼"||---|
|8||Light||1||2½" x 2½"||3½" x 3½"||4½" x 4½"||---|
|Unfinished Block Size||6½"||9½"||12½"||---|
| **I prefer to cut my patches extra large for QST, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for Patches #5, #6 and #7 above (I added 1/2" to each dimension for the sample block). |
There is a chart further down in these instructions where you need it for trimming them to size.
If you have a perfectly reliable 1/4" seam allowance use the dimensions in the cutting charts for this patches.
My go-to thread for all my piecing is...
The same numbering system is used for both the paperpieced and this traditionally pieced unit.
Starching your quilt fabric before cutting, in my humble opinion, making both the cutting and piecing more accurate.
My preference is a 50/50 mix of StaFlo Liquid Starch concentrate and water.
With RST, align the short side of a #2 with #1 and stitch with a 1/4" SA.
Press with the SA toward #2.
If your #2 triangle extends past the bottom of #1, you've done it right. This bit of excess disappears after adding #3.
Align the short side of #3 with the adjacent side of #1. You might want to flip open the patches before stitching to check that the edges of #2 and #3 form a long straight edge.
After pressing the SA towards away from #1, you can see that we, indeed have a nice long, non-jaggedy edge. Perfect!
With RST match all the edges of #4 with #1/#2/#3. If your cutting and SA are accurate, they should match exactly.
Here's the view from the #4 side.
And here's the view from the #1/#2/#3 perspective. A very good match!
After this last seam, it's a good idea to check that the finished BW unit is the correct size.
Use the table below to check for accuracy and find the center of the unit.
BW Dimensions for a Morning Star Block
Morning Star Block Size
| Center of|
|6"||2-1/2" x 2-1/2"||1-1/4"|
|9"||3-1/2" x 3 1/2"||1-3/4"|
|12"||4-1/2" x 4-1/2"||2-1/4"|
For our 9" finished sample, our BW units should measure 3-1/2" x 3-1/2". The center is at 1-3/4".
At your cutting mat, position the 1-3/4" line of your rule on the seam between #1 and #2, and then #1 and #3. The diagonal line is directly on top of the diagonal seam (blue arrow).
Trim the top and right sides and then flip the block, repeat the ruler positioning and trim the remaining two sides.
Here is our finished unit after just a wee bit of a haircut.
Repeat for a total of 4.
On the back of the #6 and #7 draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.
With RST, layer a marked #6 or #7 with a dark #5.
With your favorite quarter inch foot installed, stitch 1/4" away from both sides of each line. Repeat for each pair.
Cut the HSTs in half on the lines. Press the HSTs open with SA to the darker #5s.
Position a line on your ruler (colored in red to help you see it) with the stitched seam and the top and bottom corners of one of your patches. (This ensures patches that have perfect 90° angles in the center.)
If you started with over-sized patches like I do, you'll have a bit of wiggle room so don't worry is the ruler isn't exactly in the corners.
Draw a diagonal line with your favorite marking tool.
Here you can see just a bit better that the ruler is aligned with stitching (red arrow).
With RST, layer a #5/#6 and a #5/#7 HST, nudging the seams together with your fingers in the center. I pin to help hold these seams together during sewing.
Here, before sewing, I've pulled back the top HST to check that the seams are matching up and that the dark fabrics alternate.
Stitch 1/4" away from both sides of each marking.
After sewing, check for a good match at the center of the QSTs.
Press the units flat to set the seam.
Cut in half along the markings.
Press the QSTs open with the SA in either direction.
Refer to the table below and find the Center/Midpoint Measurement that corresponds to your chosen Finished Block Size.
|Trim QST to…|
|6"||1 1/4"||2 1/2"|
|9"||1 3/4"||3 1/2"|
|12"||2 1/4"||4 1/2"|
You need a square ruler with a 90° diagonal line that runs through the corners for trimming. My very favorite ruler for this job is the new one by Quilters Select.
Position the diagonal line of the ruler right on top of the the diagonal seam line (red arrow) and the Center/Midpoint Measurement marks directly over the center of the QST where all the seams come together.
For our 9" sample Morning Star that measurement is 1-3/4".
If you cut your patches exactly as in the chart, you'll be using this measurement to check that your patches are the correct size. Make adjustments as needed.
Rotate the QST so that the two cut edges are now under your ruler.
Align the diagonal ruler line as before (red arrow). Find the Trim QSTs to... measurement in the chart above. These marks on your ruler should be directly over the two trimmed edges.
For our 9" sample, that's 3-1/2", and it's right over those cut edges.
Trim away the excess.
Repeat these steps until you've completed four perfect QSTs.
Lay out all your patches to create the Morning Star design. The light fabric patch in each unit is towards the center of the block. It forms a square behind the Ohio star design.
With RST, stitch the units in each row together. The seams of the large triangles in the BWs (green dot) and QSTs (dark blue) nest to make matching the points at the outside edge virtually foolproof.
SA are pressed toward the BW units and the center square in the middle row.
Sew the rows together, pinning when needed to help keep everything lined up and points matching.
This is our finished Morning Star quilt block.
To help you understand how all the SAs fit together, here is our Morning Star block from the backside.
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!