Skill Level: Confident beginner
The Ohio Star quilt block pattern is a stalwart of quilt design with its pointy points and jaunty angles adding dynamic movement to the pattern.
This block frequently makes an appearance in sampler quilts (quilts made from all unique blocks used to teach different techniques to beginning quilters).
In this tutorial you'll learn to make this block using your everyday ruler and rotary cutter and employ the 'sew it bigger and then cut it to perfection' technique.
The Ohio Star goes by a lot of other names, too, including:
Whew! That's a lot of aliases.
We've got patchwork to make, let's get busy!
Several abbreviations are used in this tutorial:
All the seam allowances (SA) are a 1/4".
Starching your fabric before cutting helps control all the bias edges we'll be stitching.
If your QSTs turn out lumpier than you expected, try my favorite pressing technique to flatten them into submission. You won't believe the results you get with such a quick trick.
Sample Block Size: 9" finished / 9½" unfinished
Design Type: Even 9-patch, Ohio Star
I ALWAYS cut my patches for QSTs larger than they need to be, make the block and then trim it to size. This Ohio Star quilt block is no different.
When you cut patches for QSTs, the patch size is computed as...
Finished QST Size + 1-1/4"
That formula assumes that you cut and sew precisely. That your quarter inch SA is always spot on. (You can a quick sewing test to check your accuracy.)
And not once, but twice for sewing AND cutting during the construction.
That's a lot of opportunity to be off a bit; that's why I cut oversized to begin with.
The dimensions in the chart are computed using the +1-1/4" formula above.
Since I prefer to cut generously sized patches for half- and quarter-square triangles, before cutting I added an additional 1/2" to the #1 and #2 dimensions.
That's what works best for me. I suggest you add a 1/2", too, make some blocks and then fine-tune this 'insurance' measurement if you need to.
Cutting Chart for an~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1**||Light||2||2¾'' x 2¾''||3¼'' x 3¼''||3¾'' x 3¾''||4¼'' x 4¼''||5¼'' x 5¼''|
|2**||Dark||2||2¾'' x 2¾''||3¼'' x 3¼''||3¾'' x 3¾''||4¼'' x 4¼''||5¼'' x 5¼''|
|Corner||Light||4||2'' x 2''||2½'' x 2½''||3'' x 3''||3½'' x 3½''||4½'' x 4½''|
|Center||Dark||1||2'' x 2''||2½'' x 2½''||3'' x 3''||3½'' x 3½''||4½'' x 4½''|
|Unfinished Block Size||5''||6½"||8''||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 #1 and #2 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 these patches.
Mark the diagonal of the two light #1 patches.
With right sides together (RST), layer a #1 and #2 together. Stitch a quarter inch away from both sides of the line.
The red arrow points to my anchor cloth—a scrap of fabric that helps prevent my machine from chewing up the points of the patches.
Cut the units apart on the drawn line.
Press. First with the patches closed to set the seam and then open with the SAs towards the darker fabric.
Repeat for both pairs.
At this point you have, for all practical purposes, four half square triangles (HSTs).
Draw a diagonal line (blue in the photo below) that bisects the sewn seam on two of these HSTs.
With RST, sandwich a marked and unmarked HST, nesting the seam to make matching the center easier.
Align the edges of the HSTs. Use pins to hold things in place if needed.
Again, stitch a 1/4" inch from both sides of the drawn line.
See how the SA is pointed toward the needle. That makes it easier to 'push' the match at the center of the QST.
Repeat for the second pair.
Cut the two apart on the marked line. Press. First closed to set the seam and then open.
You now have four QSTs.
Find the Finished Size of the Ohio Star block you're making and the corresponding Center Measurement.
NOTE: Regardless of whether you cut your patches to the exact size or if you added a bit, like I did, these measurements are the same, because you're basing them on the center of your block.
|Trim QST to…|
At your cutting mat, align your square ruler over the QST. The diagonal 45 degree line matches the seamline.
This next step is CRITICAL to properly trimming your block.
Using the Center Measurement, align that ruler mark with the intersection of the seams in the center of your block.
For our 9" finished sample Ohio Star, the Center of our QST is 1-3/4" and is trimmed to 3-1/2" square.
Shown below the 1-3/4" mark on the ruler (both vertical and horizontal) is positioned right on top of the intersection of all seams in the center.
Make sure nothing has shifted and then trim the two exposed sides.
Flip the unit and repeat these trimming steps so that your QST equals the 'Trim QST to' size from the chart above. Repeat for the remaining three units.
Lay out the cut patches and stitched QSTs into rows making sure the 'star points' point to the outside edges of the block.
It's easy to get them switched! Did you notice the ones on the top and right are positioned incorrectly—double checking is faster than ripping!
Stitch the units into rows and press with the SAs in the direction of the arrows. This is to reduce the bulk in the seams.
Stitch the rows together and give your block one final press. (Use our Best Pressing Technique to really get your patchwork wickedly flat!)
And this is the finished Ohio Star quilt block.
Quilters love to put their own spin on designs. Some change the fabric placement, others change the corner units or center.
Some do it all.
Place your cursor over the image to see the block name.
And for this final variation, the Massachusetts quilt block, click the image to the right to find the instructions to make it.
You might be finished with this Ohio Star quilt block, but there's more blocks to be made.
If you use our tutorials to make your blocks and quilts, there are some easy ways to share your creations so other quilters (including me!) can enjoy the fruits of your labor:
I love seeing your work!
Our readers do, too!