From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
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) because it's the perfect place to practice making quarter square triangles (QST).
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.
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. All the patches are squares. So for Patch #1 for a 4-1/2" finished block, from your light fabric cut two 2-3/4" x2-3/4" squares.
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.
In the cutting chart above is the measurement your QSTs need to be after stitching. Trim as needed.
Cutting Chart for an~Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|Trim QST to...||2”||2-1/2”||3”||3-1/2”||4-1/2”|
|QST Center for trimming||1”||1-1/4”||1-1/2”||1-3/4”||2-1/4”|
My go-to thread for all my piecing is...
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.
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.
You must determine the midpoint of your block and align that ruler mark with the intersection of the seams in the center of your block.
This number is in the cutting chart above for your convenience. (We aim to please!)
The QST in the photos here finishes at 3", it is trimmed to 3-1/2" unfinished.
In the chart, you'll find a row with this information. The next row down is 'QST Center for trimming'. You can see that a QST in a 9" finished block is trimmed to 3-1/2" with a center of 1-3/4".
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 to' size from the chart above. Repeat for the remaining three.
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.
All of the following blocks also go by the name Ohio Star, but look nothing like our version.
This first one resembles the design of our original Ohio Star quilt block, but this one is drawn on a 4x4 grid and looks more like a Sawtooth Star.
AKA: Mosaic #10
A completely different block, looking more like a LeMoyne Star except it uses rectangular parallelograms instead of true diamond shapes.
Another variation, completely unrelated to the patchwork design in our tutorial.
AKA: Ohio and State of Ohio
You might be finished with this Ohio Star quilt block, but there's more blocks to be made. Just click the image below to find them.
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!