From our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library
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Instead of calling it the Virginia quilt block, perhaps it should be called the 'stubby star' quilt block. <cracks myself up!> You've got all the pointy goodness of a Sawtooth Star in the center, but none of the points to match at the edges.
Stacked pairs of Flying Geese are quick and easy to stitch with paper piecing,
But if the idea of paper piecing makes you vomit in your mouth a bit—don't worry, I've got you covered.
Directions for making the Flying Geese 4-at-a-time are also included if you'd rather stick pins in your eyes than paper piece.
As always, step-by-step, beginner-friendly, illustrated instructions are the backbone of the tutorial. There's more free goodies available for you to download to help you. They are:
The tools may be simple, but the results are sublime—follow along in this Virginia quilt block tutorial and see how!
This tutorial contains several common abbreviations. They are:
1/4" SA are used through this tutorial.
Highlighted in yellow, pressing instructions are easy to spot.
To press, 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.
NOTE: If you want to use traditional piecing techniques only, then SKIP this step.
You'll 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 size from the chart below and print the corresponding number of pages for a total of 4 FG Pairs.
Print the Paper Piecing Patterns
| # of copies|
|Finished Unit Size|
After printing, use the 1" square graphic on the printed page(s) to double check that your patterns printed at the correct size.
Have a look at my review of several of the most popular brands available to us quilters on the market.
My personal preference is for a super-easy paper to tear away—less stress on the stitches.
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
Attribution: Hearth & Home
AKA: Morning Star (Ladies Art Company) or Rosebud (Nancy Cabot) - click either name for another block tutorial that goes by that name
Design Type: Even 9-patch | Star
Please label all your patches. We refer to their numbers throughout this tutorial.
I used Art Gallery Fabrics for this sample. The pale green background and the dark print are from their Onwards and Upwards collection. The solid orange for the star points is one of their solids.
These fabrics have a higher thread count than your regular quilting cotton...a much finer fabric...closer to a batik. I LOVE working with Art Gallery Fabrics!
And, if you wondered...
Yes. I fussy cut the center patch...on purpose. :)
To print a copy of the block design and blue cutting chart to use at your cutting table, click here.
Cutting Chart for a~ Paper PLUS Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size||Sub Cut|
|1||Bac||1||4⅝'' x 4⅝''||5⅝'' x 5⅝''||6⅝'' x 6⅝''|
|2||Dark||4||2⅞'' x 2⅞''||3⅜'' x 3⅜''||3⅞'' x 3⅞''|
|3||Dark||1||4⅝'' x 4⅝''||5⅝'' x 5⅝''||6⅝'' x 6⅝''|
|4||Medium||4||2⅞'' x 2⅞''||3⅜'' x 3⅜''||3⅞'' x 3⅞''|
|5||Bac||4||2¾'' x 2¾''||3½'' x 3½''||4¼'' x 4¼''||---|
|6||Dark||4||1¼'' x 2¾''||1½'' x 3½''||1¾'' x 4¼''||---|
|7||Dark||4||1¼'' x 3½''||1½'' x 4½''||1¾'' x 5½''||---|
|8||Dark||1||3½'' x 3½''||4½'' x 4½''||5½'' x 5½''||---|
|Unfinished Block Size||9½''||12½''||15½''||na|
If you prefer to skip the paper piecing and use only traditional methods, click here to print the block design and green chart below.
There's no subcutting for any of these patches.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||Bac||1||4½'' x 4½''||5½'' x 5½''||6½'' x 6½''|
|2||Dark||4||2¾'' x 2¾''||3¼'' x 3¼''||3¾'' x 3¾''|
|3||Dark||1||4½'' x 4½''||5½'' x 5½''||6½'' x 6½''|
|4||Medium||4||2¾'' x 2¾''||3¼'' x 3¼''||3¾'' x 3¾''|
|5||Bac||4||2¾'' x 2¾''||3½'' x 3½''||4¼'' x 4¼''|
|6||Dark||4||1¼'' x 2¾''||1½'' x 3½''||1¾'' x 4¼''|
|7||Dark||4||1¼'' x 3½''||1½'' x 4½''||1¾'' x 5½''|
|8||Dark||1||3½'' x 3½''||4½'' x 4½''||5½'' x 5½''|
|Unfinished Block Size||9½''||12½''||15½''|
Make 2 of each unit OR 4 of only one unit below
Since I was using a directional print (the green background has arrows pointing to the upper right) and wanted to keep the print moving in the same direction, I chose this construction layout.
YOU may decide to piece four units all the same way, and then simply rotate the corners so that the dark #6 and #7 patches are toward the center.
Either method works! Do what works best for YOU with the fabrics in YOUR block.
Patch layout for directional fabrics
The direction of the print is the same in all patches.
Patch layout for non-directional fabrics
The print has no identifiable direction so all the units can be pieced the same way.
With RST, sew a #6 to #5.
Press away from #5.
With RST, sew a #7 to #5/#6, pressing away from #5 again.
Check your accuracy before moving on to the following units. These are the edge-to-edge measurements for each of the finished block sizes:
Anytime a pattern calls for pairs of Flying Geese, my go-to method is paper piecing. No specialty rulers required. It's easier to create perfect points, and there's less trimming.
These first instructions are for paper piecing these units.
If you prefer to use a traditional piecing technique AND you cut your patches from the green cutting chart above, CLICK HERE, The link takes you further down in the instructions for that traditional piecing information using the 4-at-a-time FG technique.
Paper Piecing Pairs of FG
Use a small dot of Elmer's Washable Glue Stick to glue the #1 to the unprinted side of the pattern. The dashed guidelines make accurate positioning a cinch.
Repeat this gluing for all four units, so you can put the glue stick away.
General Sewing Machine Setup for Paperpiecing
After adding each patch, press the unit as it was sewn to set the seam and then open. The SA is automatically pressed towards the last patch added.
Before adding the next patch, take a look to make sure the one you just added covers the space plus seam allowance that it is supposed to.
Steam is optional and usually curls the pattern.
If that bothers you, don't use steam. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.
It truly 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.
With RST, layer the long edge of a #2 with one short edge of #1.
While it doesn't matter which side you sew first, it does help to be consistent, i.e., always start on the left side, OR always start on the right.
Sew on the solid line between #1 and #2, starting and ending your stitches a good 1/4" before and after the line.
After adding the first #2, press.
Repeat for the second #2 as shown below. Press.
Here you can see how I've stitched a generous 1/4" past both ends of the two solid stitching lines.
Sometimes a stitch or two will pull out before the block is assembled. Those extra stitches keep your seams secure.
Position the edge of your ruler with the solid line between the #2s and #3. Fold the pattern back on itself on this line.
You'll have to pull the paper away from the stitches a bit—the paper may rip. This is completely normal.
If it rips too much and distorts the pattern, use a bit of Scotch Brand® Magic Tape to repair it from the printed side. (Don't iron on the tape, it'll crud up your iron.)
Align the 1/4" line of the ruler (red arrow) with the folded edge of the pattern, and trim, leaving behind a perfect 1/4" SA.
After the trimming is complete, you have the perfect placement line for #3.
Align the long edge of a #3 (it's the same fabric as the #2s) with the cut edge.
Stitch on the line, starting and stopping beyond the outside dashed lines on the pattern.
Since this seam runs from one side of the unit to the other, you can chain piece this step in these units. Yes, there are efficiencies to be had in paper piecing! Who knew!
To trim the SAs to create the perfect placement, fold back the pattern on the line between #3 and a #4 like we did before, aligning the 1/4" marking with the fold, and trimming away the excess fabric.
Repeat for the other side.
With RST, add a #4 to each side of #3, pressing between each addition.
Notice how I've scooched the edge of the orange patch a bit past the edge of the darker #3? I don't want that darker #3 print to show through the top of my quilt (to shadow through).
By positioning #4 this way, the darker #3 won't stick out further than the SA when the patches are pressed.
Remember to stitch, starting and stopping past the outside dashed lines of the unit.
Just like the last seam, you can chain piece the seams of these patches BECAUSE the seam lines extend from one edge to the other.
Chain piecing in paper piecing?
Who'd a-thunk it!
Once all 4 FGs are stitched and pressed, use your rotary cutter and ruler to trim the FG to perfection.
Beautiful, aren't they. Smooth edges all around, perfect pointy-points ending exactly where they should.
Paper piecing is a terrific tool to have in your quilting repertoire. I hope this technique becomes a favorite of yours, too!
NOTE: Since the patches to make this unit were precut, all the outside edges are on the straight of grain. After the final pressing of these units, I remove the paper.
Return your sewing machine to your everyday settings.
We stitch the remainder of the block with traditional techniques.
Install your favorite quarter inch presser foot. Adjust the needle position if needed. Increase to your normal piecing stitch length.
Traditionally Piecing Pairs of FG 4-at-a-time
In the Beginner and Basic quilt blocks section on this site is a tutorial for piecing FG 4-at-a-time.
Just like the patches for paper piecing, these squares are also cut oversized so after stitching, you'll be trimming them to perfection and then stitching the FG together to form the pair.
Click here to go to the 4-at-a-time tutorial now, it will open in a new window. When you're finished with the technique, simply close that window and return here.
In that tutorial, #1 and #3 are now 'Goose'. #2 and #4 are now Sky.
A quick review in pictures is below.
Use this chart for the Center measurement and the 'Trim to' size.
|Trim individual FG to||After sewing, FG pairs measure|
|9"||1¾"||2" x 3½"||3½" x 3½"|
|12"||2¼"||2½" x 4½"||4½" x 4½"|
|15"||2¾"||3" x 5½"||5½" x 5½"|
Find the Center measurement for the block size you're working on. It's 1-3/4" for our 9" finished sample.
Position the point of the Goose with the Center measurement, 1/4" in from the edge. This is your 1/4" seam allowance. (blue arrow)
The Trim To measurements are used to position the bottom edge of the ruler. The height of the Goose (the lower number) is directly over the diagonal seam on one side. The width measurement is over the seam on the other side. (red arrows)
Once these three points are correctly positioned, trim away the excess fabric on the top and right sides (if you're right-handed).
Flip your FG with the point at the bottom. Line up the freshly cut edges with the Trim To measurements—2" and 3-1/2" for our 9" sample. (red arrows)
If you're using a square ruler for trimming, the 45° diagonal marking on it should line up with the seam allowance.
The point at the bottom (blue arrow) is 1/4" in from the bottom at a distance equal to the Center measurement—1-3/4" for our sample.
Once all the points are in place, trim away the excess.
At this point, you have four each of the #1/#2 and the #3/#4 Flying Geese units. All exactly the size you need.
With RST, stitch one of each together, matching the top edge of #1/#2 to the bottom edge of #3/#4.
Press with the SAs toward the #3/#4 or top Goose.
Repeat for the remaining 3 pairs of FG.
Since there are no seams to match between the units, and you checked that your stitching is accurate, this block practically sews itself together.
Arrange the units in our Virginia quilt block as shown below with the background fabric on all the outside edges.
With RST, stitch them into rows.
And finally, sew the rows together.
With a good final press, your Virginia quilt block looks like this.
A sparkling success!
Now for a quick look at the backside to see how all those SAs work together.
We were able to press all the SAs with background fabric underneath the star. This will help our Virginia stars to stand out a bit against the background—exactly what we like our piecing to do.
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.
For EVEN MORE blocks to make, visit our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library with over 200 blocks to choose from in multiple sizes.
Free downloads are included in all sizes for any blocks require paper piecing patterns or templates.