Sunday, July 31, 2016

Star Light, Star Dark QAL: Piecing the Large Stars

Welcome to the 4th post of the Star Light, Star Dark QAL! Today we're going to start piecing - the excitement is palpable in the Facebook group (which all Quilty Habit readers are invited to join!).

June 26 - October 4, 2016

All info here!

Share your fabric choices and progress!

 Instagram: #starlightstardarkqal

Sponsored by:



Today we are creating the Large Stars - also known as the Sawtooth or North Star. It's difficult to track down where first this quilt block originated. Deborah of Art Threads reveals that she's found one dated all the way back to 1800 (you can see the lovely quilt and others in her post here). One North Star quilt was for sale at an 1836 Anti-Slavery Fair to raise money for the cause. If you're interested in reading more about the Sawtooth/North Star block, please visit Barbara Brackman's blog, Civil War Quilts.


  • There are other ways to make the Sawtooth Star. One way involves creating flying geese as the points instead of using 2 half-square triangles (HSTs). I chose to write this tutorial using the HST version because I think it is easier for beginners. There are more seams, but they are easily manageable - I promise! Plus, I think it's useful to practice working with lots of HSTs because they are so common in quilt-making. If you haven't already cut your fabric and want to try it a different way, please feel free, but please note that I am only including the HST instructions here.

Please Note
  • Please read through all the instructions before you start! 
  • All seams are 1/4 inch, which is standard for piecing quilts.
  • The following are the instructions for 1 section's Large Star. You will be making 6 for a lap size quilt and 4 for a baby quilt. Don't worry, I'll remind you again at the bottom of the post! :)


Making Half-Square Triangles (HSTs)

You will need:
  • Fabric 1 - Large Star 
    • (1) - 9.5" square (Middle)  
    • (4) - 6" squares (Points)

  • Fabric 2 - Large Star Background 
    • (4) - 6" squares (Points)  
    • (4) - 5" squares
  • Pencil
  • Rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat
  • Hot iron
  • General sewing notions and machine

1. Pair (1) - 6" square of Fabric 1 with (1) - 6" square of Fabric 2, right sides together (RST). Pin in two opposite corners.

2. Using a pencil and ruler, draw a diagonal line from one corner to another (where you have not pinned).

        *TIP: Draw the line on whichever fabric is the lightest. It's just easier to see!

3.  Sew 1/4 inch away from the line on both sides (see below, where I've emphasized the pencil line).

4. Cut directly on the pencil line with your rotary cutter. Now you have two HSTs!

5. Press open using a hot iron (no steam, as it can distort the fabric).

     *NOTE: Pressing preferences vary from quilter to quilter. I usually press my HSTs to the side to make certain colors stand out a bit more, but this quilt will have a lots of seams. To reduce bulk, I recommend pressing open for the whole quilt.

6. Trim HSTs to 5" square. 

     *TIP: Here's how I ensure that the diagonal line of my HST ends up directly in the corners, every time. This is my untrimmed HST from later in the project (starts at about 3.5" large, finished size will be 3" - you will start at about 5.5" instead):

Center the HST so that the sides are about 1/4" each over an inch line on your cutting mat. Cut .25 off each side (see below).

Flip the HST around and repeat. You should now have a perfectly pointy, accurate HST.

    *TIP: When a pattern calls for lots of HSTs, it saves time to make them all at once. You can chain piecing them (meaning, you can sew all the lines of all the squares at one time [Step 3], then flip the chain around and sew the other side). Cut and press all your HSTs for all the large stars simultaneously to save more time!

Piecing the Star

7. Lay out all of your pieces. Be sure that the points of your star are laying in the correct direction (as shown below). 

   *TIP: You may want to lay out ALL of your large stars at the same time, as shown below mid-process. It helps keep all your pieces in place and saves time in the next few steps (similar to chain piecing).

8. Sew the two sets of HSTs together on either side of the large center square (Fabric 1). Press seams open.

    *NOTE: If your 1/4 inch seam is accurate throughout and you trimmed the HSTs as described above, your points *should* match up at about a quarter inch away from the end of your 2 HST unit. Then, when they are sewn to the middle piece in the next step, they will meet. If they don't, that's totally okay. Perfection is overrated anyway, and only you will know! :)  

9. Sew these units to the sides of the center square. Press seams open.

10. Sew the four squares in the rows above and below the center. Press seams open.

11. Pin at seam intersections (where the seams will meet). Slowly sew the top and bottom rows to the center (lots of seams to manage, but you can do it!). Press seams open.

  NOTE: You might notice above that I pressed my original HSTs to the side instead of open. I realized afterward that open was better, which is why I recommend you go that route! :)

 12. Admire your new block! Unfinished size is 18.5" square (unfinished size = before it's sewn in to the whole quilt top). Repeat all directions to make 1 for each section of your quilt (6 Large Stars if you make a lap size, and 4 if you make a baby size).

Happy piecing! Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments or in the Facebook group. See you next week for the small star (Friendship Star) instructions!

Quilt-A-Long Schedule
August 1: Piecing the Large Stars << you are here!
August 8: Piecing the Small Stars 
August 15: Share Your Progress Linkup (open through September 1)
August 22: What Is Alternate Gridwork?
August 29: Piecing the Top Together
September 12: Quilting Suggestions
September 19 - October 3: Final Linky Party - Link up your Finished Quilt - Prizes Up for Grabs!
October 4: Winners announced


  1. this is great. I am really glad you added to the cutting size so that we can get that final piece perfect.
    This looks wonderful and super easy. I hope everyone quilting along enjoys this step. I am going to try to keep up. So far, I have .... well, never mind, not telling :-D
    Happy Monday Jess and everyone❀

  2. Yay! The first set of piecing instructions definitely is a big milestone in a QAL and I am eager to sew up my blocks. :)

  3. Jess, the sawtooth star is my all time favorite quilt block! So when I saw them in your quilt, you set the hook! Now to play with my fabrics and decide which to use for the large stars!


Let's start a conversation! I love comments and I'd be happy to reply to all who have an email address accessible. Thanks for commenting!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...