Star Catcher Quilt Block Tutorial

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Block Size: 16″ finished (16.5″ unfinished)

The fabrics used in this tutorial are from Libs Elliott’s three collections for Andover: True Love, Tattooed, and Wild Side.  I’m using them for my Honey Pot Bee quilt, so I used them for the tutorial as well.


Cutting Instructions

For Corner HSTs:
       Two background squares: 4 7/8″ (I use 5″ squares and cut them down)
       Two Corner Color squares (purple in the photo above): 4 7/8″
For Blue Corner Bars:
       Four rectangles: 4.5″ x 2.5″
       Four rectangles: 6.5″ x 2.5″
For Triangle in Rectangle units:
       Center Star Color 1 (green in the photo): 8 rectangles : 3.5″ x 4.5″
       Background fabric: Eight 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangles
       Center Star Color 2 (red in photo): Eight 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangles
For center square unit:
       One center square (green in photo): 4.5″
       Four center corner squares (red in photo): 2.5″


Piecing Instructions

Use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance for nearly all steps, except the final construction of the block.  Look for further instructions near the end of the tutorial.

Step 1: Construct the Corner HSTs
Using the “two at a time” method, make four HST’s for the corners of your block. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of the two background squares.
Place two 4 7/8″ squares right sides together – one background fabric square and one outside corner color square –  and sew a quarter inch line on both sides of the diagonal line. Cut on the diagonal line, creating two HSTs.
Repeat with the remaining 4 7/8″ squares, creating four HSTs total. Press and trim to 4.5″.
Step 2: Sew Corner Bars to HSTs
Lay out your HSTs and the four 4.5″ x 2.5″ Corner Bar rectangles to match the photo below.  (Ignore the red and green center square for now.  I took the photos a little out of order.) Lay the two pieces right sides together and stitch using a quarter inch seam.  Press.
Lay out the units you just created to match the photo below, on the left.  Add the 6.5″ x 2.5″ corner bar pieces as illustrated.  Sew with right sides together.  Press.
You should now have four complete HST/Corner Bar units. Set these aside for use in the final construction of the block.
Step 3: Create the Center Square in a Square unit
Draw a diagonal line on the back of each of the four 2.5″ corner squares.
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Place two squares over opposite corners of the 4.5″ square.  Align the corners and edges of the smaller square with those of the larger square, right sides together.  The diagonal line on the wrong side of the smaller square should not intersect with the corner. Stitch on the line, right sides together.  Trim the excess, leaving a quarter inch seam allowance.  Your center unit should match the photo on the left after you’ve sewn two of the four corner squares. Press open. Sew the remaining two corner squares in the same fashion as the first two.  Press and trim.  Set aside for use in the final construction of your block.
Step 4: Create the Triangle in a Rectangle Units
For each triangle in a rectangle unit, you’ll need one Center Star Color 1 rectangle (3.5″x4.5″) and two smaller rectangles (3.5″x2.5″).  You’ll make four units with Background rectangles and four units with Center Star Color 2 rectangles. Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of your background rectangles in one direction, then draw a diagonal line in the opposite direction on the remaining four background rectangles.  Do the same with your Center Star Color 2 rectangles.
Start with one 3.5″ x 4.5″ rectangle and one 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle. Your instinct may be to line them up as you would for a flying geese block.  Don’t!  You will end up with a wonky looking thing like this polka dot and green block below.
Instead, take your large rectangle and make three small marks across the top at 2″, 2.25″, and 2.5″.  Then, arrange the small rectangle over the big one as I have it in the photo below, with right sides together. The top corner is aligned with the 2″ mark, and the bottom corners are aligned.  Pin or hold in place, and sew on the diagonal line marked on the small rectangle.

Trim and press open. Your second background rectangle will have a diagonal line going in the opposite direction as the one you just used.  Mark the 2.5″ line (as illustrated below) on your background fabric to help with aligning the second rectangle.  Stitch on the diagonal line, trim, and press open.

Repeat until you have four Triangle in Rectangle units made with background fabric and four with Center Star Color 2 fabric.  Lay out one of each as illustrated below.

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Stitch the two units right sides together with a 1/4″ seam to create one diamond unit.  Repeat with the remaining Triangle in Rectangle units to create four matching diamond units.

Step 5: Final Block Construction
Lay out all 9 parts of your block.
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For the final construction, you will use a seam that is just under a quarter inch (about 1/16th of an inch under).  The geometry of the Triangle in Rectangle units is tricky, similar to Half Rectangle Triangles.  There are a few ways to deal with this in the construction of the block, but my personal preference is to reduce the seam allowance. In order to keep our diamond points, we need to use a super scant seam allowance.  In the photo below, you can see where I have aligned my block with my presser foot to achieve this.

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Sew the block together in three rows, using the super scant seam allowance.

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Lay the top and middle row right sides together.  Align the seams and pin or clip in place. Stitch together using the same super scant seam allowance.  Repeat for the bottom row. Press.  Trim evenly on all sides to 16.5″.

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Enjoy your finished Star Catcher quilt block!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial.  Please be sure to share your finished blocks on social media using #starcatcherblock.  Be sure to leave questions or feedback in the comments.  I’d love to hear what you think.

 

Enjoy The Journey

Do you EPP? I tried English Paper Piecing for the first time at the #EPPParty hosted by Mister Domestic and Pat Bravo over on Instagram. It’s been such fun learning new hand sewing skills and trying new blocks and shapes with each new block they introduce. The most recent block was #7: Chrysanthemum. I decided to go pretty literal with this one and found this photo for inspiration: 


I’ve been wanting to try improv sewing for awhile, and thought this was just the block for it. I selected a few pinks and yellows for the center and got to work. After a few hours of work, 8 Y seams, and a fat eighth worth of fabric invested, this is what I came up with:


I loved the way the improv turned out, but the stitches on the yellow strip were coming really loose at the curves. I might have been able to save it by cutting out a bit of the fabric at each of the corners, but I was afraid it might fray and come apart even more in the end, so back to the drawing board. I turned to one of my favorite techniques, weaving with my WEFTY needle (learn more here), and wasn’t disappointed. Here is the final version of my block:


One thing I’ve learned as a teacher, a crafter, and a mom is that “failure” is such an important part of success. I learned so much about improv, worked on a few Y seams, and enjoyed some unexpected fabric weaving on my journey to a block that I really love. Have you had any sewing “failures” that led to success? Maybe you sought out a new piecing technique? Or learned how to use a new notion? I’d love to hear about your journey. 

Quiltography App for Quilt Design

After a few months of sewing and quilting, I became interested in designing my own quilts.I designed a table runner for a summer fabric challenge using MS Excel, which worked perfectly for my plus sign design.  A couple months later I used MS Excel again to design my 2017 QuiltCon entry, but again, this design was all squares and straight lines.  Fast forward to October, when Katarina Roccella put out the call for entries for her Blithe Fabrics Blog Tour.  I had passed on calls for makers because I wasn’t a blogger.  Katrina said she would work with us on Instagram, and I was ready to work.

I decided to use Quiltography to design my entry, since it consisted of HSTs, something I couldn’t do easily in MS Excel.  The features offered by Quiltography, the ease of use, and interface are perfect for me as a new designer.

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Quiltography has features that allow you to use your stash in your designs, create your own blocks using your stash before building a quilt, and create a quilt design using a photograph.

The My Stash feature allows you to store photographs, taken by you or uploaded from another source, to use in your quilt designs.  The app gives you the option to save the name, fabric line, color information, measurements of the cut you have, manufacturer, purchase location, and release date of each fabric you enter.  I used the fabric swatches on the Art Gallery Fabrics website in order to design a quilt for the Blithe fabric blog tour.

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Once you have your stash set, you can move onto designing blocks.  Quiltography offers 186 block templates for you to choose and customize with fabrics from your stash.  The app also allows you to create a custom block using a grid and a variety of shapes.

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For the design I had in mind, I used the HST template to create blocks that used all the different fabrics in the line in various combinations.  Quiltography saves your blocks in a folder until you delete them.

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Once all of your blocks are set, you can move on to quilt design.  Quiltography uses a grid that allows you to insert blocks for your design. You can choose the number of squares for your design grid, up to 15 blocks square.  This works fine for many designs and block sizes, but still, it is a limitation that I would like to see changed in a future update.

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Just tap the squares on your grid that you would like to change, then select a block from the wheel on the right to insert into the highlighted squares.  You can edit your design using the buttons on the left to open the settings menu, link the highlighted squares and edit them simultaneously, rotate your blocks 90 degrees to the right, flip the highlighted blocks vertically or horizontally, or edit the highlighted blocks.

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The settings menu allows for further customization, including the addition of borders and corner stones, and turning the blocks in your quilt on point.

Once your design is complete, Quiltography estimates the amount of fabric needed to complete your quilt.

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This feature is incredibly helpful, but I would love to see it expanded to include the option of exporting this information in PDF format for easy sharing and reference.

Quilt designs are saved in a folder similar to the block and stash folders for easy reference.

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Features I would like to see expanded are the size of the quilt design grid, to accommodate larger quilt designs, and the ability to create a PDF version of the fabric requirements. The fact that Quiltography is an iPad only app limits those who can use it to people who own iPads.  That is definitely a problem for those quilters who don’t own an iPad or prefer not to use an iPad for quilt design.

Overall,  Quiltography is exactly what I need at this point in my quilt design journey and is definitely worth $9.99, a relatively high price tag for an app.  The My Stash feature makes it easy to jump in and design a quilt using fabrics I already have, or  plan to purchase.  The ability to design my own quilt blocks using the templates and block design features give me more than enough flexibility in terms of the quilts I can design. Having the fabric requirements and block requirements listed in an easy to read format is incredibly helpful for when I have a design I am ready to execute.

I thoroughly enjoyed using this app and would suggest it for those of you who are looking to get started in quilt design or want a portable option for basic quilt design.

Have you used Quiltography?  What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.