19 March 2013

Star Seams: a New Paper-Pieced Star, If You Dare

One evening while perusing a catalogue, I found a shape that I wanted to try replicating in fabric: this mirror. I love the look of outlined stars (evidence: Lone Starburst), and immediately had visions of this new paper-pieced specimen. This new 12.5-inch (unfinished) block, which I call Star Seams, was born.

I tried it out first with some lovely scraps... 

And then twice again with more limited, deliberate selections.

The template looks quite neat on paper. However, this block is quite fussy to sew up! Warning!

I discovered that you have to be very careful with this template, and since I'm not the most careful sometimes, I had a few oopses. My attitude towards the issues at the center of the blocks above and below: I'll just cover it with a button (or fix it later...)!

I don't love the process of paper-piecing.  It takes forever. After a few blocks, I get a little loose with the details and start to rush. But I do love the results, and once I get an idea, I like to see if I can make it happen.  

While I haven't been able to create the perfect exemplar yet (and may never...), here are the (free) templates I came up with if you're an intrepid crafter.  I'm experimenting with using Craftsy as a platform for distribution, to see if there are less technical issues than using a Google document.  With Craftsy, you can also subscribe to be notified about my new patterns in the future, and have them all in one place, which seems cool to me. If you try the block, I'd love to hear any feedback you have about the Craftsy platform and process.  

Instructions: print 2 copies of the pattern to have 2 templates for each piece, A to F.  Make sure that you print at original size or 100% (no scaling!) and measure when printed to make sure the 1-inch scale line is EXACTLY one inch. 

Once each piece is complete, 
1. join A -> B, C -> D, and E -> F, matching up outside edges and corners. 
2. then AB -> CD, 
3. then ABCD -> EF.
(repeat with second copy)  
4. Join both ABCDEF halves to form a full star! Match up from the center outwards.

Please keep in mind that foundation paper-piecing can be a very individual activity, with many different styles and options.  The basics of the method I like to use are best illustrated here and here

If you are interested, below are some random notes on construction that may be helpful if you're brave enough to try this block out!

I like to leave the paper on as long as possible. I also prefer to leave the edges that will be on the outside of the block untrimmed, and square up at the end.

When joining pieces, work to match up outside corners and outline strips (#2 above). I like to stick a pin straight through matching corners. 

These template pieces DO NOT match up neatly in the center. It looks so wrong, but it's right.

When joining D -> E, watch out for the little vertical tail at the center of the block on piece E.  It needs to get sewn to the seam line of CD, right below where my thumb is, above.

Here's another way to think about it: not only does the diagonal joining line need to be stitched, so does the vertical little spot at the center on piece E. 

Once pieces are joined, I like to remove the paper seam strips to avoid bulk. 

At some point, paper starts to fall off. A sharp, new needle can help you avoid that. If it happens, be strong, you can deal with it. 

I pressed my seams to one side, kind of creating a swirl in the center to avoid a gigantic, bulky area, which is kind of a nightmare to sew through and match up.  I'm curious if anybody has ideas or tips about a better solution? 

The best part: squaring up at the end!

If you decide to try this block, I'd love to see and hear about how it goes! 

Pin It!


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Thanks for sharing!

  2. WOW -- you like to punish yourself, don't you?! :-) This is a very cool pattern!

    As for the problems with bulk at the center of the star, I did have a couple of ideas. First, what piecing thread are you using? Using a finer weight thread might help, like Aurifil Mako cotton or maybe even a 60 weight cotton embroidery thread; the finer thread would help with the turn-of-cloth distortion which increases exponentially where so many seams come together. Second idea was to try this block in a lighter weight fabric, like one of those lovely Liberty lawns instead of the usual quilting weight cotton. Third idea, and I have no idea how this would work for paper piecing, is to reduce your seam allowances. I read a book about machine piecing miniature quilt blocks once and I seem to recall that author saying she used smaller seam allowances, more like the 1/8" to 3/16" seam allowances that are used for making doll clothes. I wonder if using a lighter weight and/or softer paper for your foundation might help as well?

    I personally am challenged enough by "easy" paper piecing, so I will be admiring your star block but not attempting it myself... I need to safeguard my sanity! ;-)

  3. Cool! I'm going to give it a go this afternoon!

  4. This is beautiful, but that centre does scare me a little - I have saved this to my to do list and I shall keep my eyes open for an opportunity to have a play. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Love this! Absolutely stunning block!

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I will be making this for the spring 4x5 Bee on Flickr so there will be a minimum of 6 made during the month of April. I love your paper designs. I can't wait to make these in the various colors that my other ladies request.

  7. Love it.it`s absolutely wonderful!!

  8. I love that star. Definitely give it a crack at some stage and let you know how it goes!

  9. Love the look of this star. Great creative potential. I even see making those side triangles in colors for a fun secondary pattern.

  10. I've now made 3 of this block - I'm using it for a paper pieced bee. Here's one of them: http://www.flickr.com/photos/68991152@N03/8677094626/in/photostream/

  11. Finally got a chance to have a go at your gorgeous block. I love how it turned out and I'm going to turn it into a cushion. I blogged about it here: http://quiltybitsandbobs.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/star-seams-from-six-white-horses.html Thanks for sharing your pattern!

  12. I cannot print the pattern. I guess I waited too long but I would truly like to try this pattern. Any chance I can go to another site to see and print this pattern? Any help would be appreciated.

    1. You can download it directly via Craftsy, thanks for visiting!

  13. This looks gorgeous! Book marked it to try it out later :-) I was just wondering one thing, what size does it turn out?


Hi, nice to see you! Sorry about the word verification but I've been flooded with spam messages recently. Thanks for commenting!