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 Latest PDF FREE

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.

98 comments

  • Julie

    Great tutorial thank you – your Carnaby Street star is gorgeous

  • I love your Carnaby Street star.

  • Thank you for this tutorial! It is perfect timing for a project I am doing 🙂

  • Sam

    Thank you so much for this tutorial, I recently bought a pattern online only to find it uses a template to make the lone star! I have been searching everywhere for a tutorial that makes sense of it using the strip piecing method, and now thanks to you I can get on with making the quilt I had in mind.

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  • Your tutorial is fabulous – coming over from Cluck Cluck Sew.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for the wonderful tutorial. Your pictures are wonderful & your directions are quite clear. I am bookmarking this for the future.

  • Great tutorial – seems easy to follow. I’ll be pinning this to my quilting board!

  • Terry

    your directions are so well written and appear easier to follow than the one I did about 25 yrs ago. The stars look gorgeous !

  • Jennifer

    This is a great Tutorial! I’ve wanted to join the UCMQG but I know they do it in sessions. By chance do you know when the next session starts?

  • jennifer

    Jennifer, I believe the next session starts in August. You should join us!

  • Great tutorial, you stars look beautiful. Hope to have a chance to try one soon.

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  • thanks for the tutorial your quilts are gorgeous, loved viewing your sight

  • luisa

    gracias por explicarlo tan bien tenia muchas ganas de aprenderlo ahora lo pondre en practica gracias de nuevo, hasta prontp

  • This is a great tutorial. I have always wanted to make a quilt like this. The ‘y’ seams freak me out a little. But with a smaller more manageable size…I think if I make a few of them I will be more at ease with the process and can try my hand at a larger size. I always appreciate those that take the time to do tutorials to help others along their quilting path. So thank you very much. I love the fabric choices that you used on your quilts. They really pop. Beautifully done.

  • Hope

    I find the seam matching-pinning totally confusing. When the seams match at the fabric edges, they don’t line up across the diamond. No matter how I move them, either the points are off or the seams are off. This is a beautiful tutorial up to that point, but I can’t figure that step out (nor can my husband!) Please help.
    Thanks.

  • deb cavan

    Wow, your matches are so perfect. Thank you for the tute.

  • Kathy

    Hi. My sis just sent me the link to your site, more specifically to the Lone Star pattern, since I just told her I was interested in making one. I would like to “follow” you thru this quilt, but I don’t see a link to the next step (block). Has the entire quilt been finished and is it posted? I’m really “crazy” for all things stars…so this one is just right for me. Thanks.

  • Sherry

    Thanks so much for photos and tips. Ordered a book and felt more confused than helped! Appreciate your generous step by step, cut here, sew this…For all us bewildered newbies, Thanks very much!

  • Manon

    Esto me gusta gracias por el tutorial……………

  • Great instruction, thank you!

  • Marie Canonne

    Thanks so much for this great tutorial. Very clear , precise and helpful

  • Aafke Bergman

    Great tutorial, thanks!

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  • Wonderful block and what a thorough tutorial! After realizing I don’t have enough background fabric to work with for a project I stumbled on this block and it might be the solution!

    I see your strips started out as 1.5″ I’d like to make this block using a jelly roll so I’ve got some quilt math ahead of me to try and adapt to a 1.25″ strip or a 2.5″ strip. If I work it out I’ll be sure to link to you and drop a note incase any of your other visitors are interested in that size adjustment! I love doing fun quilt math like that!

  • jennifer

    Hi Terri Ann! Thanks for your comment. The block will look fantastic with 2.5 inch strips. When you have the strips sewn together in sets of three and you are ready to cut on a 45 degree angle, make sure you cut widths of 2.5 inches and it will work great. You may need extra sets of strips depending on the width of your fabrics, and you will need larger background pieces as well. Good luck!

  • Jess

    @Sandy
    There’s a way to skip the y seam process just using smaller/half background triangles for the sides and attaching them to the diamonds first and then attaching the diamonds with the background already in place along one long continuous seam (does that make sense?). Hard to explain, but definitely possible.

    It’s super stretchy though so pin and handle the triangles gently. It also gives you a seam up the middle of your background (may or may not bother you).

  • The lone star is one of my favorites. I have yet to try one. Your instructions are great and so clear. Thank you!

  • Gracias por compartir su saber con las demás, Un abrazo, Muy buena explicación, diría mas, EXCELENTE!!!

  • Jacqueline Negrete

    This will be my first quilt that I will be making. It will be for my daughter that will be born this August 13. I’m nervous about my corners lining up.

  • Linda

    i don’t know if I will ever manage to do one this good but I won’t find a better tutorial. Thank you very much.

  • Emma Carpenter

    Love this quilt and the thorough and clear tutorial. I think it is just beautiful. Appre
    ciate all the work and time you put in to make this tutorial. I will try to do this soon. Will send photo when done.

    Emma Carpenter

  • Jacelyn Jones

    Loooooooooove it!! Amazingly adorable. Great for a birfday gift. Thanks.

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  • sara

    Muchas gracias, excelente

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  • Marilyn Robichaud

    This is just beautiful. I’ve been waiting a long for a clear easy way of doing this, and this is it!! I’m going to start right away. I wonder how big this block is??

  • Marilyn Robichaud

    This is beautiful. Can’t wait to start this one!

  • Lynette Peucker

    Thank you for your tutorial. We have a challenge for our patchwork Groups’ Quilt In this year, to make a miniature quilt with a block with the same initial as our first name.
    I chose Lone Star as my name begins with ‘L’. I had planned to hand piece it but will try your machine method instead. Cheers from Victoria, Australia

  • Tabitha

    If I wanted to make a bigger quilt using this pattern could I simply increase the number of different fabrics I used as long as it was an odd number? And if I could do it that way would I still see up the pieces in the same manner – I.e. using 7 fabrics my #4 fabric would be my middle and I would have it in every strip set?

  • Gloria Elswood

    Thanks for the tutorial for this block. I have a quilt top that needs finishing. I have the star done. Should I just measure a leg of the star and make that size square? My star leg measures 22″ so I would cut 6 22″ squares and then cut two in half. Thanks for any help.

  • Carolyn Carter

    Thank you for the tutorial. I used to watch my Mother piece these quilt blocks and love them but never believed I could do it too. Now I can as a tribute to my Mother even though she has passed from this life. God bless

  • Sonja J Loyd

    Thank you for a great Tutorial,this makes my sewing easier to understand,

  • Susan

    I an starting this tomorrow. Thanks for the great tutorial. Susan

  • Wendy Stevens

    Just beautiful, clear precise instructions. I am itching to start a new project this is going to be the one.

  • Peggy

    Thank you so much for a very good tutorial. I found it easy to follow and now II understand the principal of the Lone Star (Star of Bethlehem?), I just must get on with it. dinner will just have to wait!

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  • Thank you so much for producing this extremely detailed, pictorial and easy to understand tutorial on how to produce a lone star quilt; I shall be sharing it with my quilting friends.

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