Tutorial: Star of the Milky Way quilt block, an 8-pointed star

I’ve been inspired by Cathi at Quilt Obsession again. This is the beautiful star that Cathi made from the shapes in Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice Shape Collection. Linda Franz identified it as the Star of the Milky Way.

I’m going to add about 50 of these stars to a border in an in-process quilt top. I had planned on hand piecing LeMoyne Stars, but I like this star because of the corner half square triangles (HSTs) and it can be sewn by machine more easily as there are no Y seams.

I’ve written up my construction notes and thought a tutorial may help someone else. An important part of this star is to press the seams so they nest. It really doesn’t matter which HST gets sewn to the parallelogram first, just be sure the seams are pressed as shown.

My stars are four colored: the parallelograms are aquas or peaches, the HSTs are white or yellow. That could make it a Star of the Milky Way variation as the original is two colors. (If any of you know, please let me know.)

I do wish I had a way to video this as it sounds much more complicated written out than actually sewing them:

1. Print the shapes. My preference is to print all the shapes I need for a project at one time. Each star has:

– 8 parallelograms, which I’ll call star points in this tutorial (4 peach, 4 aqua for my sample)
– 16 1.5 inch (finished size) HSTs (8 yellow, 8 white):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIMPORTANT: The star points are directional. In the Inklingo Celtic Solstice shape collection the peach is Parallelogram B; aqua is Parallelogram A.

2. Unit 1, 4 per block. Yellow HST is sewn to peach star point; press seam to HST:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANOTE: Grading seams is my preference. This is an optional step that most machine piecers choose not to do, but it sure makes the blocks lay flat and, IMO, piece more easily. Try it and see if you too notice the difference.

Add another yellow HST to the star point; press seam to star point:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. Unit 2, 4 per block. White HST is sewn to aqua star point; press seam to star point. Add another white HST to star point; press seam to HST:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. Unit 3 = Unit 1 (peach) sewn to Unit 2 (aqua), 4 per block. Nest your seams, stitch. Press seam to aqua Unit 2:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. Unit 4 = 2 Unit 3s sewn together, 2 per block. Press seam to peach Unit:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA6. Sew 2 Unit 4s together. On a star block, the center seam should be sewn as perfectly as possible–I don’t want mismatched seams here. After I nest the seams, I stick a pin in the critical matching points of the seam, at about a depth of one-eighth of an inch, like this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYup, the pins are just sticking up in the air and look useless! (I think of this as my porcupine technique… tee hee.) It only takes a few seconds to do this. All it does is stabilize the block as I move it to the sewing machine. I take out the first pin, sew a stitch or two at the beginning of the seam, remove the next pin, continue to about an inch from the following pin, remove that pin, etc.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou might consider this overkill, but it works perfectly for me. I prefer this to the possible distortion of ‘regular’ pinning. (Sewing machine note: I’m using a walking or even feed foot with the needle moved to the right so the feed dogs can grip the fabric better.)

I also like to unpick a stitch or two at the center of the seam so I can twirl the seams, managing the bulk better. Press as shown:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here it is, this hand piecing snob (as Monkey would say) is thrilled with her machine pieced star:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m going to make another variation of this star. Stay tuned!

’til later, Jillian


About DakotaEssence

Piecing and quilting in the northern Plains.
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