Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Block 10 - Twinkling Stars

I have to begin this month by apologizing up front for the difficulty in cutting the pieces out for the the Twinkling Stars block.

Just about all blocks can be simplified to a grid.  Usually 3 x 3, 4 x 4, or 5 x 5.  To give you an example, a 9 patch is a basic 3 x 3 grid.
A friendship star is also a 3 x 3 grid, and similar to a 9 patch, except 4 of the squares are replaced with half square triangles. Our block this month has 8 friendship stars positioned in a wreath.  The block width spans 3 of these friendship stars, left to right and top to bottom.  So the grid for our block this month is 9 x 9. 

The block has a lot of pieces, and that would not be so bad, except the block finishes at 12".  So the issue is that 12 is not divisible by 9 evenly.  Each block in our grid must finish at 1 1/3", which makes the math difficult, and any cutting we do with standard rotary cutter and rulers with be just an approximation of the correct dimensions. Our rulers are divided into neat half, quarter, and eighth inch segments, so when cutting out your pieces this month, be aware that I am going to suggest cutting at dimensions that fall in between your normal measuring lines.

The cutting directions supplied in the pattern are close in some cases, and way off in others, so I suggest you ignore the cutting directions and follow mine instead.

When I say, cut your square at just shy of 2 1/4" x 2 1/4", I mean measure 2 1/4" on your ruler, then slide the ruler slightly, so that you are cutting perhaps 1/16 of an inch less than 2 1/4".  There are several dimensions that require this.  Just aim for halfway between your 1/8" lines on the ruler. I know this is a bit of a pain, and for those of you who are incredibly precise, you might find this a little unnerving, but trust me, it will come out way more accurately, than following the cutting directions in the pattern.

Fabric Choices

I am again using solid black as my background for this block. You should select 8 other fabrics for your friendship stars.  Each should contrast nicely with the black.  Although I did pick one fabric with a small + pattern in the weave, I avoided really busy, large scale patterned fabrics and plaids.  This is my personal preference, as I wanted each of these stars to show very clearly, and not have a lot of distraction from pattern in the fabric.
I also chose several different colors and values from a light golden tan, to a medium dark charcoal (still contrasting with the black background). I used 2 reds, a green, a tan, a brown, and one of teal blues.  The original quilt only had these teal blues in the Tulip and basket blocks, but I love these colors and so I decided to throw one in this block as well.

Cutting

From the black background cut:

A- (16) 2 1/4" shy squares. (Note when I say shy, your actual cutting dimensions should be reduced by approx. 1/16").  Cut all of these squares in half once on the diagonal yielding 32 HST pieces. 

D- (4) 1 7/8" shy squares. 

E- (1) 4 1/2" square (Note this cutting measurement is exactly 4 1/2").

F- (4) Rectangles 5 7/8" shy x 1 7/8" shy

G- (4) Rectangles 4 1/2" (exact) x 1 7/8" shy

From each of your 8 friendship star fabrics cut:

B- (2) 2 1/4" shy squares. Cut each of these squares in half once on the diagonal yielding 4 HST pieces.

C- (1) 1 7/8" shy square

Assembly

I would like to stress that your 1/4" seam allowance is pretty critical in this block.  If in doubt, test your seam allowance first, before sewing your pieces together.  If you are a bit off from a 1/4", it is better to err on the small side (i.e. a scant 1/4" rather than a generous 1/4").

Begin by matching one black triangle to one friendship star triangle, right sides together, and sew them on the long diagonal. Press the seam allowance to the black, and make sure to open the seam fully.  Clip dog ears off.  Repeat with all the triangle friendship star fabrics, matching each with a black triangle.

Organize your friendship star colors by making little piles of 4 HST units and one square on top from each color.

Then begin laying out your block.  Follow the diagram in your pattern to arrange the friendship stars in a wreath with the large black square (E) in the center.  Double check your layout to make sure all of your HST's are facing the right way.  It is very easy to position these incorrectly.  Note that four of the stars are spinning to the right and four are spinning to the left.








Your block layout should look something like the photo to the right.  Remember that not all the pieces will line up evenly spaced at this point, because you have lots of seam allowances that will be lost when you begin sewing your units together.

I begin by sewing each side unit together.  These include two black rectangles and one HST unit in the center.  There is a side unit for each of the 4 sides of the block.  Then begin pairing squares and sewing them together.






Here, on each end, I have sewn a line of pairs together and joined them to a side unit (A + G's).
Then 3 pairs on each side of the center square (E).
When you join the 3 center segments, all that remains is to add the two final side units (A + F's) to each end.

As you are sewing pairs of small grid squares together, press seam allowances in alternate directions, so the pairs join to each other easily. When you add the side units, I pressed the seam allowance toward the side unit.  When joining the two groups of six grid squares to the center black square, I pressed seam allowances toward the center square.  When I joined the 3 large center sections, I pressed the seam allowance open, as there were lots of cross seams coming into this seam, and I felt it would lay flatter if pressed open.

The finished block should measure 12 1/2" square.  Mine was actually just a touch under that measurement, but very close. Sewing with a scant 1/4 seam allowance would probably help with this. 

This was a most challenging block. Partly because the designer chose a very difficult grid measurement, and partly because there are just so many pieces in this block. 

We are now at the point where we have completed all the blocks for the quilt.  The next two months I will focus on the sashing elements to bring all the blocks together into a quilt top, and then a little bit about quilting and finishing the quilt.





Give yourself a pat on the back for finishing your blocks.  Have a glass of wine and celebrate your accomplishment, and I will be back next month with some sashing tips.

Steven



2 comments:

  1. I just found this pattern in QuiltMania and found your blog online. I was SO excited to see a kit available but then read through your blog to find out your store has closed. Any chance of having another kit on hand that you're willing to sell? Many Thanks, Lisa Stevens

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa, You are correct. I have retired and closed One World Fabrics website. We no longer have the kits available, I am sorry. Please see reply to your comment on earlier blog article regarding fabric manufacture and style references. Thanks.

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