Friday, May 3, 2013

Sweet Caroline....

A friend, Caroline, sent me an email looking for some help.
Caroline lived in Columbus, but much to our dismay, moved to Chicago recently.  
And in honor of her new town she wanted to make something using a likeness of the Chicago flag...

the dilemma was how to do the stars.
It is sort of a sheriff star, right?  
So the options are applique {either machine or hand} or piece with Y seams, or paper foundation least these are the options I could think of at first glance.  
I thought perhaps the most efficient to make a star block would be to use paper foundation I have a little tutorial for Caroline and anyone else interested.
WARNING, though, there is a bit of math involved....but hopefully this will all make sense.
And since this is for Caroline....I will name this little block...the Caroline Star!

To begin you will need to gather some supplies....
a sharp pencil
acrylic ruler
rotary cutter
mat can use tissue paper, parchment paper, golden threads paper for quilting, freezer paper or regular old computer paper
scissors for fabric and for paper
sewing supplies

I first sketched out my 6 pointed star...but really I only need one half...actually I really only needed one point and the negative spaces on both sides of the point.

Draw a rectangle measuring....6 inches X 5.25 inches

Divide this rectangle in half along the width and the length....
3 inches and 2.625 {or 2 5/8th.}

With the top {5.25"} of the rectangle facing you, measure down 1.5" from the left hand corner and make a mark...then measure across the top 2.625".  This should be the middle line you made earlier.  Draw a line connecting those two marks.  Do the same thing on the right side of the top.

From the middle of this line you just drew {1.5" from both points},draw another line from the mid-point to the center line. Repeat on the opposite side.

Now we are ready to make the points...from the top center point draw a line matching the top center point - down 2.25 inches to meet the previously drawn line.

Do the same thing on the other side of the top center...

Now draw a line from that point up to meet the 1.5 inch mark you placed in the first step....

Repeat on the other side of the center line...

Then place a point from the left center line across the width 1.5 inches in from the left side. Connect the last line from the left to this point....

Repeat on the other side of the center line...

Then simply connect the points at the base of these long star points...each one of these lines will be about an inch long...

Again, repeat on the other side.

Now you should have a point and two negative spaces on both sides of that point that you can copy....

I copied mine onto golden threads paper...but you can use any thin paper.  Tissue paper, parchment, tracing paper, computer paper or even freezer paper.

You will see, I have copied it 6 have 6 points. Number them as I have.

Now you are ready to sew.  I am using red for the star and light blue for the space.

Cut squares from the red...about 4 inches X 4 inches.  This is larger than you need, but I always feel better knowing I have enough to cover.  You will need 12 red squares.  For the space, again, cut 4 inch squares and you will need 12 for the star.  You will need an extra amount to 'square' off the block {but we will get to that later}.

Begin with two red squares.  Place the foundation paper so the right side of the paper is facing you.  The red squares will be underneath the paper and you want to make sure you have at least 1/4 inch excess fabric all around. Pay close attention that you have an extra 1/4 inch {at least} beyond the line between 1 and 2.  


Before you begin stitching, reduce the stitch length to about 1.5...
this makes it easier to tear off the paper without tearing out the stitching.

Stitch directly on the line between 1 and 2....begin 1/4 inch before the line and end 1/4 inch after the line.

Finger press the two pieces open and then press...

You aren't quite finished yet...every time you need to trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch.  So fold on the stitched line and fold both fabric pieces back together so you are only cutting the seam allowance!

Place your acrylic ruler so the 1/4 inch mark is on the stitching and cut...

Open these two pieces again and fold the paper foundation on the next line...between 2 and 3....

After I fold on the next line, I go ahead and trim the seam allowance so I can just line up the raw edges of fabric #2 and #3...

Place fabric #3 with raw edges lined up with the edge of number 2.  And stitch on the line between 2 and 3....

Press open and then trim along the outside edge leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance....

Repeat the same process between 2 and 4!

When you are all finished with this point....make sure you trim all around the foundation template, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side.

You will need 6 of these points....

Once you have all 6 them together in 2 groups of 3 points....then simply stitch the halves together....

the last thing you need to do is square it off so it is a quilt block!  I found the easiest way to do this is to cut two rectangles - 2.5 inches X 3.5 inches.  Now cut these on the diagonal from upper left to lower right hand corner.  These will be placed on the corners to square off your block.  

This block ends up being about 5.5 X 6.5 inches.  If you need another size, I would make the template and then just enlarge or reduce it on your printer.

The most time consuming part is just making the template...and there is probably an easier way...but this is how I achieved my template.  
Hope this makes sense to Caroline and anyone else wanting to try this paper foundation pieced star!

happy Friday!


  1. Wow, that just hurt my brain. How did you DO that?! You are a very good friend.

  2. I agree - WoW!!!! What a great tutorial and such a wonderful star!!

  3. Mary, you are queen of quilting AND mathematics! I can't wait to try this. Thank you!!! Caroline

  4. Wow thats quite the process with a wonderful result! The star is perfect! I can't help but see a diamond in your first drawing. You got me thinking over here:D

  5. Too tricky for my simple brain. Can I come and take a lesson?

  6. omg....i think i need a strong coffee and a couple of hours to take this in!

  7. Thanks sew much for sharing this little tutorial! I have not yet done any paper piecing. Your explanations were great. Looking forward to trying this!

  8. That is INCREDIBLE. You are just a piecing genius! (Also, you got me humming Neil Diamond :)

  9. Wonderful what you have achieved - but it really scares me, lol!
    Hugs - Lurline!

  10. Gorgeous....I'm sure mine would be wonky!! You deserve a gold star!!

  11. Great tips on how to do the stars - thanks for sharing it!!