Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sew Mama Sew Oakshott Challenge Table Runner + Star Within Block Tutorial

I'm ecstatic to participate in one of Sew Mama Sew's Oakshott Challenges! Our challenge was to create table linens with the new Lakes collection of Oakshott shot cottons. I couldn't believe all of the shimmery wonderfullness that fell out of the mail mid-September!

Shot cottons change colors in the light - you have to see it to really believe it. I love these Oakshott fabrics because they are a bit thicker and easier to work with than quilting cotton (in my opinion). Plus, they have more dimensionality than regular solid quilting cotton. So, so pretty. Plus, these colors were my favorites - purples to pinks to a wide range of blues. Mmm.

I decided that a table runner would show off the fabrics beautifully. I've had this block design in my sketchbook for a while - it combines half-square triangles (HSTs) with half-rectangle triangles (HRTs). It's a traditional block (I haven't found a name for it, so I'm calling it my creation at the moment), and you can easily merge with modern elements as I have with this tablerunner (I added randomly sized scraps to the sides). See below for the block tutorial!

The quilting was more planned out than usual - I used my Hera marker to make radiating stars. I decided to quilt the scrappy ends with wonky/organic lines to give off a more modern vibe. Again, I used my trusty Aurifil light gray thread (I'm not sure exactly which color because I switch between several).

For the back of the table runner, I pieced together my blue and teal scraps to make some improvisational curves In case you didn't already notice, I love to make quilts double-sided so they serve a double purpose. Now I have the same opportunity with this table runner. I see myself using this side in the summer! You can see from the above picture to the one below how the Oakshott colors change depending on the light and where you stand in the room. Seriously amazing! Oh, and I love how the quilting from the front made hexagons on the back. :)

Make sure you check out Sew Mama Sew the week of October 22-25 to see the challenge highlights and enter to win Oakshott fabric! Until then, you can check out the other sewists who have whipped up some surely beauteous Oakshott projects:

Mary Claire King of Remember Wren
Michelle White of Falafel and the Bee
Nicole Neblett of mama love quilts
Sara Peterson of knottygnome crafts 

Thanks to Sew Mama Sew and Oakshott for the chance to work on this project!

Ready for the tutorial? Please let me know if you make something with this block - I'd love to see! :)

Star Within Block - 14" block
All seam allowances - quarter inch
Please read all directions before starting! 

*I used fat eighths of several Oakshott fabrics to make these blocks, and had much left over for the ends of the tablerunner and the back. You could easily make these blocks with scraps, too!
  • (4) 3.5" x 5.75" rectangles of fabric for star (half rectangle triangles/HRTs) - light blue in tutorial
  • (4) 3.5" x 5.75" rectangles of contrasting fabric for star (half rectangle triangles/HRTs)
  • (2) 5.875" (7/8th) squares - fabric for surrounding half square triangles (HSTs)
  • (2) 5.875" (7/8th) squares - constrasting fabric for surrounding half square triangles (HSTs) 
  • (1) 5" square for middle strip (matches with HRTs) - light blue in tutorial
  • 1" x 5" strip of contrasting fabric for middle of star (OPTIONAL - see below)
  • Hera marker or some kind of marker for fabric
  • Rotary cutter and ruler
  • Sewing machine
 ^All the necessary fabric requirements. They just shimmer!

To make the outer HSTs (half square triangles):
Pin your 5 7/8ths squares right sides together (1 color with the other). Draw a line with your Hera marker down the centers. I used a Hera marker for two reasons: 1) It's easily my favorite fabric "marker" because 2) it doesn't leave marks when you are done. No ink to worry about. No stains. Just an indentation in the fabric. I'm not getting paid to say that or anything - I really just love this tool!

Sew a quarter inch from the line on either side (you can chain piece these if you wish). And yes, my sewing machine, Elsa, has swag.

Cut along the line with your rotary cutter.

Press to the side and trim to 5" square. Now you have 4 HSTs!

Note: You may want to cut your original squares to 6" or larger if you are working on accuracy. If you are pretty confident about your HST-making abilities, the set amount is perfect.
To make the inner HRTs (half rectangle triangles):

These are much the same process as HSTs. Read on...

 I found this tutorial by Buttons and Butterflies to be thorough and easy-to-follow that I'll just send you over there. I promise, if you haven't done them before -they are simple! Just use my measurements instead, and follow these steps beforehand:

Match up 2 of your light blue star fabrics with 2 dark blue star fabrics (PILE 1). Do the same for the other 4 pieces of fabric (PILE 2). Pile 1 will be marked one way, according to the tutorial:

Pile 2 will be marked the other way:

You MUST make sure to do this or else your diagonals will all be the same direction! Follow the tutorial and trim to 2.75" x 5" when you are done. You should have 8 HRTs per block (4 of each diagonal).

To make the "middle strip" in the star center:
This part is optional, but I love the depth it gives to the block. Plus, you can alternate the way the line lies (horizontally or vertically) if you lay several of these blocks in a row as I did. 


Take your 5" square for the middle of the star (the light blue fabric here) and cut straight down middle at the 2.5" mark. Sew the 1 inch strip where you cut (it will come out to 1/2" wide after seam allowances). Press it to the sides (outwards towards square). Trim to 5". If you sewed and pressed accurately, it should come back out to a 5" square (no trimming necessarily). If you are practicing accuracy, cut a 5.5" square to start and then trim after sewing in the middle strip.

 ^An unpressed version of the middle 5" block finished.

Lay out all of your blocks. 

Sew the HRTs together first. Then, sew all three rows across separately. Press in opposite directions to nest seams. 

 Then sew all the rows together, and you have a beautiful block! 


  1. That is beautiful, Jess. I love the design, but those fabrics are so yummy! Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. Such a pretty table runner! I love that is is double sided, why wouldn't someone do that, especially for a table runner? And I love your combination of straight line and FMQ! Someday I will have a table that isn't constantly sticky and covered in crumbs and I will make a table runner for it.

  3. This is lovely! I adore the bundle you worked with and you did it justice for sure! Your quilting just added to your beautiful design. Nicely done!! And it looks great on your table of course!

  4. Gorgeous!!! Love Oakshots...just remember to pre-wash them because they shrink way more than other quilting cottons.. Thanks for the great tutorial - love your stars!

  5. That runner turned out absolutely stunning! And it's totally right up your alley color-wise :) I hope you're going to keep it! I love the blocks and the color composition and the swirly quilting accents and the light gray thread really stand out. Love love love!

  6. Pretty runner! You did some lovely quilting too

  7. Blues and purples and greens too....my favourites! So pretty. You've done a great job!

  8. It is beautiful. Wonderful photographs and great details. I enjoyed seeing it in person at the guild meeting.

  9. What a clever design - perfect for the solids. Love the quilting! Really makes this piece so beautiful! Nice work and thanks for sharing the tutorial, Jessica!

  10. I'm not sure my first comment went through, so you might be getting two of them. :) I really liked the way you utilized your solids for this table runner. The combination of using more traditional blocks with the improv piecing on the ends is perfect. Great job improv piecing the back, too. Thanks for linking up with TGIFF!

  11. Stunning. And a great opportunity to practice FMQ.

  12. Beautiful, thanks for the tutorial!

  13. Love the table runner, stunning fabrics. Thanks for the tutorial.

  14. Your design is festive and I love the way you made the stars twinkle by turning the rectangle. I think your directions are clear and I appreciate the tips for accuracy. I often forget to leave that extra smidgen. Thanks for the thoughtful explanation.

  15. Loved this table runner so much that I went ahead and made my own from it. Your color way absolutely seems to glow--the oak shott fabric is beautiful in it. My unique challenge is that I am very slowly working through and extremely large stash that I inherited from my mom collected throughout a very long lifetime of fabric shopping. Not complaining because her sense of color was artistic, but no new fabric has entered our house in 4+ years. Since she was a quilter, I have been learning to quilt and this was my first attempt at half squares and half rectangles. I never would have gotten those rectangles on my own. So my take on your tutorial produced a very different look--the same major blocks, but with small prints and much more muted colors. Here's a link to it: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/84442561740001114/ Thanks so much for your tutorial!

  16. Wow, stunning piece of work!


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