Lone Star Block tutorial

I mentioned here that I made a center block for three different medallion quilts.  Two are Marcelle Medallion blocks from the medallion pattern in the Liberty Love book.  The third was for the design as you go Medallion project we’re currently working on with the Utah County Modern Quilt Group.  For that block I decided to make a lone star block.

lonestar2

After our last meeting there were a few people who hadn’t yet settled on a block and I had a request for instructions on how I made mine.  Since I didn’t take a single picture the first time around, I made another lone star block the same size to use in this tutorial.    I don’t claim to have anything original to share concerning this block but I hope it will be of use to those who requested it.    I’ll be excited to see how it’s used!

lonestartext

To begin, choose five fabrics for your star colors.  The fabrics I’m using in my original medallion block are from the Carnaby Street collection by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics.  The prints I’m using here are from the Vintage Summer collection by The Yellow Bicycle for Blend.  You want prints that look good together but also have enough contrast to show off the beauty of the lone star block.

fivefabrics

Keep in mind that the fabric you choose for #3 will be the most prominent fabric, with #1 in the very center and #5 on the outer tips of the star.

cutstrips

Cut 1 – 1.5 inch wide x width of fabric strip from fabrics 1, 2, 4 and 5.  Cut two strips of fabric #3.  You should have a total of 6 strips of fabric that are 1.5 inches wide and 42 inches long.  Next cut  each strip in half lengthwise by simply cutting at the fold of the fabric, giving you 12 strips of fabric that are 1.5 inches wide and 21 inches long.

threesets

Now we need to create three sets of strips.  The first should be fabrics 1, 2 and 3 in a row, then fabrics 2, 3 and 4 in a row, and the last set from fabrics 3, 4 and 5.  You will have three strips left, one each of fabrics 1, 3 and 5.  They will not be used in this block.

At this point I carefully starch my fabrics.  I like to use Best Press, available at local quilt shops.  To starch, I spray the back of the fabric, turn it over, then carefully press.  Because these strips can so easily be stretched, be sure to simply lift the iron and set it down instead of moving it back and forth to distort the fabrics.  Starching your fabrics will go a long way toward helping your seams be consistent and your points matched up.  The starch helps the fabric behave more like paper, with less stretching or slipping.

All seams in this block should be an exact 1/4 inch seam.  Check your machine to be certain your needle position is where it should be and make sure you know where the 1/4 inch mark is.

sewnstrips

Sew your three sets of strips together in order, but start each strip about 1 inch down from the previous fabric as shown above.

seamsopen

Carefully press your seams open.  *Press all seams open in this quilt block!

45degrees

With the first strip set carefully lined up on your cutting mat, find the 45 degree line.  There should be one on your cutting mat to reference.  Cut off the edge to make an even 45 degree cut.

howwide

Measure 1.5 inches from the line you just cut.  This is your next cutting line.  Be exact!

strip1

Cut 8 of these strips.

cut8

Repeat with the other two fabric strips, making three piles of 8 – 1.5 inch wide strips.

repeatwithall

Now to start piecing!  We will make 8 small diamonds.  We’ll call our first strip (fabrics 1, 2 and 3) strip A, our second set (fabrics 2, 3 and 4) strip B, and our third set (fabrics 3, 4 and 5) strip C.  Each diamond will be made with one each of strips A, B and C.

startpiecing

Begin with one strip A and one strip B.  Lay them out like so, then flip strip B over on top of strip A with right sides together.  I think that the trickiest part of the lone star block is making sure the seams line up in these steps.

measurecarefully

You may find it helpful to measure 1/4 inch on the back of strip B at the seams to understand where the strips need to line up so your points will be perfect.  I do this with a pin, sticking it through both fabrics and checking to make sure that the pin goes right through the seams of both strips.  I think it’s more important to check this at the intersection of your seams than it is at the ends of the strips.  If you take time to pin carefully you will be rewarded with perfect points.

pinsew

perfectpoints

If this first seam doesn’t line up as well as you want it to, simply unpick it and re-pin it until you get it right.  Once you’ve figured it out, the others will come much more quickly and easily.  My theory is that you’ll be sewing a lot of them, so you might as well learn to do it right!

thirdstrip

Now repeat with strip C, pinning it carefully (right sides together) to the edge of strip B.  Again, pin and sew carefully, keeping your seam allowance even.  I always set my machine to the slowest setting when I’m piecing these diamonds.

diamond

Your first diamond is complete.  Iron it carefully, pressing seams open.  I starch again at this point.

8diamonds

Repeat this process 7 more times until you have eight diamonds.  Time to put the star together!

Note:  it is important at this point to mark the back of your diamonds so you don’t forget to leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance for the “Y” seams that will add your background.  I use a water soluble marker to measure and mark the dots on the side point of each diamond.

marks

Pin the two diamonds together with pins at every seam intersection.  I always start at the dot I marked, backstitching to set that thread, then sewing down the diamond to the center point.  I always sew from this outer point toward the center for two reasons.  First, it helps me remember that dot, and second, it prevents the diamonds from “spreading” so the star fits together nicely.

2sections

Press open the two diamonds, and you begin to see the star taking shape.  So pretty!

halfstar

Continue until you have four diamonds sewn together to make half of the star.

halfstars

Repeat the process with the other 4 diamonds, making two half stars.

Now we’ll get our background fabric ready.

sixsquares

Cut six – 5.5 inch square pieces of your background fabric.  For my original block I used the text print from the Madrona Road collection.  For this block I’m using the gray dot print from the Cruizin collection by Barbara Jones.

cuttriangles

Cut two of those squares in half diagonally.  You now have 4 squares and 4 triangles.

yseam

Time to start your “Y” seams.  Here is another tutorial if you’d like to read one, or you can also watch tutorials on YouTube.   Set a square in the top left corner of your star so you understand where it goes.  Then flip it right side down along the bottom line with the bottom edge still lined up with your star.

markpoint

Once again, mark your 1/4 inch point on the back of the square in the corner.  This mark should line up with the seam on your star that is open 1/4 inch because you marked the diamonds as well.  Pin at this point, and along the seam.

pinned

Beginning at the outer edge of the block, sew the background square to the side of the star until you get to your mark.  At this point, keep your needle down, right on that dot.

needledown

Lift your presser foot, keeping the needle down, and gently pull the edge of the background square toward the front of the sewing machine while also rotating the star towards it.  Rotate your fabrics until both line up on a straight line and you can finish the seam.

pivot

And the Y seam is done!  Press the fabric and get ready for the next one.

firstcorner

Repeat the process in the center with a triangle, again marking your pivot point, and sewing carefully.

triangleready

trianglein

Now on to the right corner with another square until you have three pieces of background set in.

firsthalf

Repeat the process with the other half of your star.

bothalves

Now it’s time to sew the star together.

pinagain

Once again, pin carefully at every seam intersection (especially the center one) and don’t forget your two marks on either end where you will backstitch.  I had to darken mine a little so I wouldn’t forget them.  Sew carefully.

sewnstar

Press seams open and you’re ready to add the last two triangles to either side.

lasttwo

And it’s done!  You just pieced lots of diamonds and 8 Y seams.  Well done!  Trim your block, being careful to make sure the corners are square, to 15 inches.  Before you start trimming, make sure you’re leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance at each star point so you don’t lose the points when you add borders.

lonestar

 

lonestar1

And there we have it.  A lone star medallion center block.

*Edited to add:

I’ve created a simplified version of this tutorial in PDF form if you want a simple list of basic steps to follow without all the photos and instructions.  This PDF includes a chart for cutting strips of various widths to create larger or smaller blocks.  Click here to download the PDF

I have also created a page with links to all my lone star projects, which include a lone star quilt with 8 different sizes, a 64″ lone star block, and other variations of the lone star.  Hopefully these posts will inspire you to begin a lone star project in whatever size interests you!  Click here to visit my Lone Star page.

94 comments

  • Ami

    This is such a great tutorial thank you so much!

  • Yes thank you ,very easy to fallow tutorial .

  • Thank you so much for this tutorial! I made my first lone star and this afternoon I’ll post some pictures on my website:)

  • claire quilty

    Thanks for taking the time to give explicit instructions regarding how to mark and pin the crossing seams in the star. Now I understand this most important part.

  • Susan W

    So happy to find your tutorial. I’ve been working on 16 large 18.5″ lone star blocks and have completed 8. I was ready to call it quits on the remaining blocks. I sewed all the stars as complete, with the 8’pieced points joined in the center. Then I tried to add the squares and nothing worked.mthats the way the directions went; not clear, certainly not precise and it was awful. I started another quilt, one that I knew I could complete. Perhaps I can return to the 8 blocks now & work them out.

  • Suzi

    This is probably the BEST star tutorial I’ve ever seen – includes Y joints too…just great!! Thank you!

  • bharathi

    I have lot of interest in tailoring related all hobbies. But I don’t get chance to learn. You taught very easily to understand everyone. Thank you very much. Keep teaching.

  • merlyn morse

    I congratulate you on such clear instructions well done!!!and your photos are great too

  • Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial which makes this middle square so much easier than I ever thought it would be.

  • tristina

    Great tutorial!easy to understand even to beginners like me! Very informative! Please email me if you do any more quilt tutorials.

  • Janet Taylor

    Just want to say Thank You for the instruction. I’ve wanted to do a star but the instructions usually look too intimidating so I have put it off. With your help it was a great process… thanks again!

  • Patricia Deniau

    This is somewhat what I learned too. You show it in a very simple laid out method. I always had trouble with the inset “triangle” and was surprised to see you leaving one corner out. That makes some sense. Good tutorial.

  • Pingback: Rainbow Lone Star and Some Flowers | Aaseevana

  • Ella

    Thank you for all the work you did to post this very useful tutorial. I’m a ‘visual’ learner and this tutorial is a blessing to me! You mention fabric lines I’ve not heard of before. May I ask what is your source for the fabrics you mentioned? (on-line, brick and mortar shops, or ??)

  • Joanne Ezell

    I wish to print this pattern out, with your permission. I could not find anything that would say i could print .thank you for sharing and showing how to make this beatiful star

  • What if you want to make a smaller square? How do I figure out the sizes of the strips and all?
    Having a lot of trouble with this block. And no I am not blonde but use to be…lol
    Please help.

  • Anne Phelps

    I am in desperate need of advise. I’m starting on my 4th square and have made adjustments after each one. With the first square, the sides didn’t come out even. With the second square I readjusted my 1/4″ seam; felt it wasn’t right. With the third square I decided to trim the diamond (parallelogram) to 5″ per side and stay stitched the squares and half-squares. The final piece was far better, but still not right. I double checked my 1/4″ seam and determined that it was wrong and have re-set my marks on the sewing machine (I put a layer of three 1″ strips of duct tape at presser foot at my now perfect 1/4″ mark, to give me a bit of a dam to help guide the fabric through). I stitched the A-B-C panels with this new 1/4″ setting; but now the parallelogram’s sides each have a different measurement…4 3/4, 4 1/2, 4 1/2, 4 7/8 and point to point is 8 1/2 and 3 3/4. Do you have a measurement that each diamond must have? Any help and advice you have will definitely be appreciated!

  • Eu estou maravilhada!!!!!!Eu queria muito montar esta estrela e não conseguia, com esta explicação ficou fácil.. Muitíssimo obrigado!!

  • Lucy

    Very well done. Instructions are clear and precise. This is very helpful and thank you.

  • Muriel Ayres

    Thanks so muchforyour nifty tutorial. Very helpful and it worked just right!

  • Maryann

    I like your method. Seen a tutorial the other day on lightly glueing fabric together before sewing to ensure fabric staying in place and not having to use pins. I think between the two methods I will try another lone star and perhaps be successful this time!

  • pauline

    I worked really accurately, or so I thought! I have ended up with lopsided diamonds that will not match in pairs, let alone make a star – what have I done wrong? Any ideas?

  • It is really a nice and useful piece of info. I’m happy that you shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  • Am I able to down load these patterns to my adobe pdf. Or can I print them for future use?

  • Great, informative tutorial! This past winter and spring I made a King size Lone Star quilt with 9 LoneStar blocks. I wish the directions in the McCall’s Quilting magazine was even half as concise as your blog. I’m sure you will save many quilters a lot of headaches. 🙂

  • Virginia Chandler

    Love this pattern !

  • Thank you for posting this tutorial. It’s a block I’ve always wanted to try, and now I will.

  • Ida Bramblett

    This was a great tutorial. So precise. Now I understand the Y joints! Thank you for the time you spent on this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Catherine

    I’d like to make a quilt with just this star in the center but bigger (full size). Is it possible to size this pattern up?

  • Larain

    Thank you so much, I will definitely have a go with your tutorial. Thanks for sharing with me I live Downunder (Australia).
    )

  • Darlene

    What sizes would i have to cut to make 1 big star in the center of a king size quilt?

  • Pingback: UFO Finish #4 | Monkey Needle

  • Padma

    Excellent tutorial ???

  • Amanda

    Thanks for providing such a complété tutorial. My first lone star turned out gréât thanks to your instructions. Thanks again!

  • Thank u for sharing your knowledge, but I have a question if I am going to make full size how wide should I cut the stripes.. I was thinking 2.5 inches and should wash the fabric before I cut…
    thank…

  • PP:)

    Great tutorial!! You make it look so easy for a beginner (like myself) I really want to try this!

  • Arzella

    Darlene, I probably would do at least 6 rows of fabric for a larger quilt.

  • Daniela D.

    This is a really great tutorial!!! I was able to enlarge the star by doubling the measurements and it came out great! Thank you for posting – this was extremely helpful.

  • Carmen

    Could you make your strips wider to make a larger star I would like my star to be in the center of the quilt but would like it to be a lot larger more like the large Dahilia center Thanks

  • Nettie Grant Sikyta

    How to make a full size lone star quilt?

  • jennifer

    Carmen,
    Thanks so much for your question! I have updated this post with a couple of items at the end of it. One is a link to a PDF that includes a table for increasing the width of your strips to create a larger star. It shows you how large your block will be with the size increase. I have also added a page with links to all of my lone star projects, and one of them is a quilt with both larger and more strips which you might enjoy seeing. I hope you’ll check them out and see if they can help you. And of course, questions are welcome!

  • jennifer

    Nettie,
    I have updated this post with a PDF for increasing the size, and also have added a page to my blog with links to other lone star projects I’ve completed. One of them is a 64″ lone star with 5 strips which you might enjoy seeing. I hope you’ll check them out and let me know how I can help you! Thanks so much for visiting! -Jennifer

  • jennifer

    Lena,
    Somehow your comment was lost in a sea of spam and I didn’t see it until now. I have updated the post with a PDF that includes measurements for 2.5 strips as well as other sizes. I hope you’ll check it out and see if it helps. Jennifer

  • jennifer

    Catherine,
    This reply is shamefully late, but I have updated my post to include a PDF with information about changing the size of the block. I don’t know if you’ve already made one or are still interested, but if you are please check it out! Jennifer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *