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YYYEEEAAA HHHHAAAWWW, Cowgirls and Cowboys~~~~it's time for a change of attitude. After guiding 5 of my friends as they made a feathered star quilt block, I have decided that the need is large to give quilters some much needed confidence that the feathered star is a doable block. Nothing more than a fabric puzzle, the Feathered Star just has more pieces than most blocks. Rules must be followed, but if you treat the block as a simple 9-patch block and assemble each section ONE AT A TIME, you CAN do it.
Say this over and over until you really believe it, "HARD BY THE YARD, BUT A CINCH BY THE INCH!". This is our MOTTO for this project. One step at a time, if yo will stay with me, we will be successful in making a Feathered Star quilt block!
I am going to go on and tell you that it is not even that important to get the seam allowance the exact right size. What IS IMPORTANT is to sew with a consistantly sized seam allowance. That being said, I will tell you that when I discovered that I could actually make a Feathered Star I learned that if I could sew a consistant seam allowance all my pieces would fall together like dominos. It is the best thing since sliced bread (as my mother use to say). There is alot that has to be done here on the ranch, but YOU are the focus as I attempt this feat. So, quilters, the cows are grazing in the fields, it's not time to harvest the hay yet, the chores have been done, the big kids are in school and the little ones are taking a nap, and supper is in the "Crockpot". Let's prove that you CAN make a Feathered Star Quilt Block! Come on! What have you got to lose? A little stash and a little time--but what you have to gain is confidence and beautiful Feathered Star Block to use as the center of a wall hanging or a focus on a new tote. Let's get started---------
In this post I will guide you in picking out your fabric, give you some beginning tips, a tutorial on making half square triangle units using a method called bias strip method. This is Step one to making your star.
1. I use starch or Mary Ellen's Best Press on my fabrics before cutting. This gives the pieces stability and helps keep the bias edges from stretching. When pressing do your best not to move your iron around on bias edges. Not touching them with the iron at all is best, but sometimes, you just can't help it.
2. Test your 1/4 inch seam allowance to make sure it is as close to perfect as it can be. Recently a friend recommended this foot and I have certainly enjoyed using it. If you are having a problem getting that perfect 1/4 inch seam, this might just be your answer.
It has a small spindle (disk) that will slide to the right or to the left to adjust your seam just a threads width.
3. The rulers I use are a Bias Square ruler and most recently purchased Marsha McClosky's Feathered Star Ruler. It includes small increment measurements (1/16 most common) that are frequently needed for Feathered Star Blocks. I have made many Feathered Star blocks without it, but it certainly is a nice ruler to have to use and you can find it HERE. Any quilting square rulers will work. If you come across a piece that has 1/16 inch measurement and your ruler doesn't? Just cut the closest you can between the 1/8 inch measurements (1/2 of 1/8 is 1/16th). I know you knew that!
I like to use this ruler to cut most pieces.
Marsha's new ruler is really cool!! It is very much worth the $15.00 plus S&H.
FABRIX--This is a Stash Buster project. For your first FS, consider making it with stash fabric. One block--that is all--just one block--!! You will need 5 fabrix.
Your 5 fabrix will be used for the~~~
1. Background squares, 2. Half square trianges (feathers) 3. cornerstones, Star Tips and triangles that join to the kites and the squares that make the snowball block (all the same fabric for your first block) 4. kites peices. 5 . Focus fabric for the center snowball block.
Cut 2-- 10 inch squares--one of feather fabric and one of background fabric. You will use a the Bias Strip Method to make your 32 half squares for the feathers of the star. This is your first step. Easy, breezy--no pressure. If you have not used this method before, let me say that I don't know if Marsha Marsha invented this method, but she uses it and it is great for this star. You will place the two 10 inch squares right sides together (RST), use starch or Best Press and press dry.
Place the correct measuring line on the ruler so that it covers the edge of the fabric. You don't want to be able to see the fabric edge.
Make a cut diagonally from corner to corner then make 2 inch cuts in both directions until you have cut the entire square. Sew the sections together on the longest edge and press the seams open. Then sew the sections together.
Your bias strips wll look like this.
Start cutting your Half square feather units from the bottom.
You will keep cutting them always from the lowest point.
Rotate the block and trim to the exact 1 1/2 inch size.
This is only the first installment of the Feathered Star Tutorial. This is taking more time than I thought it would, so please bear with me. I will get you there. I don't want you to agonize over the process, but it seams that I need to include alot of information to make sure that EVERYBODY can ride this horse home!!! If you know what I mean---lol SEW--Just make 32 1 1/2 inch half square blocks -seams pressed open--to be used for your quilt block's feathers. I don't care how you make them, just make them and I will come back soon to tell you what to do next!
My 5 friends are firm believers that the Portable Big Bock Flannel Board is a real key to staying organized as you make the Feathered Star. Go HERE to see how I made mine. It will only take about 30 minutes. Now is the time to get that done.
Time to cut the rest of the pieces for your Feathered Star.
Star Tips-Start with a 1 1/2 inch strip. Use any ruler with a 45 degrees line. Align the 45 degree line along the edge of the strip.
Make the cut and then---
Rotate the strip and align the 45 degree line again, put the tip of fabric on 1 1 /2 inches- then make your final cut. You can fold your strip to make two diamonds for each cut for a total of 8 diamonds.
Cornerstones--8 - 1 1/2 inch squares. These can be cut from the same 1 1/2 inch strip as the diamonds.
Now--you will need 4 triangles to add to the kites. These along with the corners of the snowball block form the circle in the center. Cut two squares 2 1/8 inches.
Cut these squares diagonally yeilding 4 triangles.
Last, but not least, cut 4 squares to be used to make the coners of the Snowball block at 1 3/4 inches square.
These are the pieces that are cut from the same fabric.
The center of your block can be a focus fabric and can also be fussy cut if you like. For my western block, I chose a boot fabric. I picked just the boot I want to focus on. The block is 4 3/4 inches.
Kites are cut from 4 -- 3 7/8 inch squares that are cut diagonally.
Then you measure the length of the square down the long side of the triangle, in this case 3 7/8 inch.
You can see the kite shape underneath the ruler.
Cut off the pertruding triangle.
This is the goal shape called a "kite".
All the pieces except the background squares and triangles. Now lets cut those.
Background triangles --- 1 - 7 1/2 inch square cut diagonally twice ---
5 1/4 inches square.
Ok Dolls and Guys--start cutting and I will see you soon for step 3!
OH MAN!!! You still have one triangle to cut--sorry--it was not until I began to put my own block together that I realized it. It is background fabric (same as large squares and triangles) and the size is 1 7/8 inch. Cut 8 squares and then cut them once diagonally which yeilds 16 triangles.
Before you start to sew, be sure you have a fine sewing thread in your machine and bobbin (I use 50 st.)
A fine needle (I use a 60/8)
Test your seam allowance
Sew slowly. You will sew more accurately if you sew slowly. You don't have to use pins unless you just HAVE TO. If you take my advice above you will never lose your points or your marbles! LOL
This is the layout for one of the corner blocks. There are 4 of them. This is the easiest of the two blocks that complete the Feathered Star, so we will start with this one. Does anything look difficult in this block? Looks pretty straight forward to me. The only thing that you might have a little problem with is sewing the diamond to the triangle. The red square is a cornerstone. We will stitch the pieces of each side. The conerstone (red square) can be stitched to either side. It doesn't matter which. Lastly, the shortest side will be sewn to the background square first, then the long side---
Now, lets do a little press talk. When you sew the half squares together, press the seams open. On any other seam, you will press for ease of construction. What does this mean, you say? Well, this is the best I can do to help you. After you sew a seam, let the seam go to the side where there is less bulk. A little farther down I will show you the back of the strip pieces of this block.
Sew the diamond and the triangle first. You always match the narrow tip of the diamond right sides together to the triangle as shown above.
Stitch the segments in the pattern shown above.
Here is a pic of the diamond/triangle of the other side ready to be sewn.
Here I am showing you the back of the strips so you can see how I pressed the seams.
Side strips ready to be sewn to the background square.
Flip the shortest side and sew.