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

Posted in Grading Seams, Inklingo, Parallelograms, Star of the Milky Way, Stars, Triangles, Tutorials

Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice Mystery and Inklingo, Clue 5

It’s getting very exciting knowing that we must be near the home stretch to the reveal of our Celtic Solstice Mystery. Waiting patiently Bonnie!

I didn’t get my Clue 4 four patches finished until Sunday due to the remnants of a ‘flu’ bug that hit us hard. I still have lots of fatigue and brain fog.

Bonnie’s Clue 5 has us making 100 Split Triangle or Birds in the Air blocks. I’m glad our HSTs were already completed! Linda’s Inklingo Clue 5 instructions has us making two blocks at a time. It’s an interesting technique because I’m not sewing any triangles, just rectangles!

Here are my shapes printed, cut and ready to sew:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Again, apologies for a camera that distorts flat images, these are cut straight!)

I carefully followed Linda’s wonderful one-page guide for this Clue: first sew a rectangle of two neutral HSTs to one the completed Sawtooth unit, (grade seams, optional), press toward the neutral, turn one unit:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALayer with right sides facing, sew the longer seam:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next step seems more confusing to follow in words than to actually do: clip in the seam allowance between the two yellow triangles so the block will lay flat (Linda’s instruction shows the detail), press as shown, sew the diagonal dashed lines:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACut apart on the solid diagonal line:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATrim dog ears, press toward the blue HST:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd I, thankfully, have two perfect 3-1/2 inch unfinished blocks. I love hand piecing and do a lot of it, so it’s a real thrill for me to be able to get all these perfect blocks by machine. I’ve only made these test blocks, I’ll complete the others this week.

Stay tuned for the tutorial on how to machine piece a Star of the Milky Way block that is made from the shapes in Bonnie’s Inklingo Celtic Solstice collection. The flu got in the way, but I’m expecting to be able to finish it before Friday.

Click below for this week’s link-up on Bonnie’s blog; there’s lots of eye candy:00 Paddy125

’til later, Jillian

Posted in Celtic Solstice, Inklingo, Triangles | 3 Comments

Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice Mystery and Inklingo, Clue 4

120 four patches is this week’s Celtic Solstice Mystery Clue 4. Here’s my orange (caramel) printed with 20 patches. I only printed the 12 pieces of caramel fabric, layered it on top of 12 pieces of green, then sewed four straight lines:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReminder, my camera distorts these kind of flat images, it is square!

I sewed them all, then cut the rows apart, on the longer seam. Press toward the green. Grade the darker seam (optional). Here I did a couple steps a little differently than Linda Franz suggested in her Inklingo Celtic Solstice Mystery Clue 4.

At the cutting mat, take two of the pressed rows, turn one opposite the other, layer right sides facing:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANest the seams:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cut each four patch, yielding 5 four patches:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sew the seams, unpick a stitch or two at the center seam, twirl center seam, do a final press:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATa da, 5 perfect four patches at a time! I could have chain pieced all of them, but I found I really liked working with 5 at a time. That’s probably because I haven’t had a big chunk of time to stitch, so this way felt like good progress.

As of today, Monday Dec. 24, I am not yet complete with this Clue…

Click the picture below to continue your tour of Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice Mystery participants:00 Paddy125For those of you that have the Inklingo Celtic Solstic shape collection, I’m preparing a tutorial on how to machine piece a BEAUTIFUL star block that can be made with this shape collection–the Star of the Milky Way. Click here to see the star that hand piecer extraordinaire Cathi at Quilt Obesssion made; this was my inspiration. The tutorial should be completed this week.

’til later, Jillian

Posted in Uncategorized

Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice Mystery and Inklingo, Clue 3

I was caught up by the time Bonnie released Clue 3. It ended up that I didn’t get Clue 2 totally finished until the wee hours of Friday morning. (Sometimes there is an advantage to having insomnia.) I know we really don’t have to keep up with the clues, but for me, that’s part of the challenge and fun of it. I appreciate that Bonnie planned that this clue was not as intense as 1 and 2.

I love, love, love making half square triangles with Inklingo. I’m using yardage so I printed the HSTs on 9 pieces of yellow fabric, layered each one on an unprinted caramel fabric (my orange) and sewed the whole sheet with one continuous seam, turning at the edge as necessary. This sheet has 24 HSTs, sewn and ready to cut apart:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Reminder: my camera distorts flat images so they don’t look square.)

Here’s a sample of my completed triangles and pinwheels:


My caramel fabric turned out to not want to play nice with pressing, it just wouldn’t hold a crease as well as I wanted it to. I ended up using steam to get the pieces to press good and flat. Also, to be sure the pinwheels fit well together, I graded the seams. I tried a few ungraded and they didn’t go together as easily or as nicely as those with the seams graded.

Since I finished this Clue early, I rewarded myself by winding a couple dozen bobbins. Are you like me? I really dislike being in the middle of some piecing and needing to stop to wind a bobbin!

Here is my storage container full of all my Celtic Solstice pieces so far:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been playing around with these on the design wall trying to guess at how they may go together…

Click the picture below for Bonnie’s Clue 3 link-up post. There’s usually about 200 Mystery participants who link up. I love seeing everyone’s fabric choices and which techniques they’re using to reach the same goal as me.

00 Paddy125

’til later, Jillian

Posted in Celtic Solstice, Grading Seams, Inklingo, Triangles

Ever have a twinge of guilt cutting up a thrift store shirt?

Then listen to (or read the transcript) this National Public Radio piece, The Afterlife of American Clothes.

And in case you don’t know the best way to cut up a shirt for your quilt stash, watch Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville ‘debone’ a shirt:

’til later, Jillian

Posted in Uncategorized

Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice Mystery and Inklingo, Clue 2

Here are a few of my completed Clue 1 and 2 units:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(They are square, my el cheapo camera distorts these kind of flat images.)

All Clue 1 units are finished. With Clue 2, the next step is the challenging center seam–the moment of truth. I was greatly relieved that these first finished units measured correctly. I credit Inklingo for that, not my abilities, because I typically can’t sew a straight seam by machine, and I am extremely rotary cutter challenged! My ‘ooops’ and ‘oh ohs’ are way too common with a rotary cutter. For me, with Inklingo, I don’t have to think through every single action. I just print, cut, match the shapes, and sew.

Now if only someone could figure out how to keep fabric from being soft, shifting and moving (other than starching it to death)! Oh wait, aren’t those the qualities of fabric I love, once it’s pieced? tee hee…

Linda Franz (Inklingo inventor) showed a creative and innovative way of piecing these chevron units in her Clue 2 blog post. I decided to try it her way. It worked well for me. Linda’s ‘One-Page Guide’ (included in her free Clue 2 PDF Instructions) was very helpful in keeping my piecing organized and correct. In fact, it traveled with me from cutting table to sewing machine to ironing table.

Thanks for stopping. How are you doing on the Mystery? Continue to see the progress of many other Mystery participants by clicking the picture below (it will take you to Bonnie’s Clue 2 link-up post).

00 Paddy125’til later, Jillian

Posted in Celtic Solstice, Inklingo

Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice Mystery and Inklingo, Clue 1

A perfect combination for me–a great quilt designer and Inklingo. I discovered with the only other quilt mystery that I participated in (Bonnie’s Orca Bay), that a quilt mystery is a stretch for me. I very much like to know where I’m going. It’s uncomfortable for me to let go and just do it!

00 Paddy125Inklingo 01

I pretty closely followed Bonnie’s suggested colors of yellow, orange, green and blue (plus a neutral). From my somewhat limited stash I chose a jewel-toned turquoise for the blues, and caramels for the orange:


Here are the Clue 1 shapes printed on the ‘back’ side of the fabric:


The darker line is for cutting, the dashed lighter line is the stitching guide. I did a print test and these colors wash out of the fabric.

This afternoon I’ll cut the shapes apart. I’m hoping to get the majority of the units sewn before Clue 2 is released Friday. If not, I’ll follow Bonnie suggestion to go on to the next clue and catch up when I can.

Thanks for stopping. Check the progress of many other Mystery participants by clicking the picture below (it will take you to Bonnie’s blog link-up post).00 Paddy125’til later,

Update: Met my Tuesday goal–all the shapes are cut apart. Yipee… Sewing begins Wednesday!

Posted in Celtic Solstice, Inklingo | 1 Comment