This is a block called Unfolding Star, a Nancy Cabot block from 1936. I won't lie, this is one of the most complicated blocks I've ever made. Nancy must have had a lot of time on her hands, because this block took me about 4 hours to make over the course of several days. I was doing math and stopping to take pictures, though, so it won't take nearly as long for you. The important thing is that it's completely do-able with a little patience. You can make this block! And look how great it turns out!
My block finished at 22-1/2 inches square. I made it this size mainly because I wanted to avoid weird cut sizes and odd finished sizes of the components. You'll see what I mean as we go. Also, for this block I pressed the seams open, which I very rarely do. There are a lot of strange intersections in this block and pressing them open meant that I didn't have to worry about how they would fit together.
Let's get started!
I'm going to do this one a little bit differently, mainly because I used the pieces left over from making the blocks.
Cutting sizes will be given as we make the individual units that make up the block. I chose colors based on the size of the pieces I had, and I'll give the colors that I used throughout these instructions. The biggest piece I used was about a fat eighth, and I used almost a half yard of Kona white for the background. To make the block exactly as I did, you will generally need:
*enough of a single color to make 24 2-1/2 inch finished half-square triangles (about a 10 by 14 inch piece), or 24 multicolored scraps about 3-1/2 inches square
*about a half-yard of background, or scraps at least 3-1/2 inches square to equal about that length
*scraps of 8 different colors, at least 6-1/2 inches square each
*a piece about 10 by 18 inches for the corners, or scraps at least 3-1/2 inches square to make 8 hsts and 8 squares
*a piece of scrap paper or card stock about 9 inches square, plus a pencil and some scissors for paper (an old manila folder or a magazine cover works well)
*lots of pins and some Magic Sizing, Best Press, or spray starch
Making the units:
Let's make a bunch of half-square triangles!
Start with making the half-square triangle blocks for the ring around the center star. I chose to make all of mine in a lovely medium-value green, but you could choose to make them all multi-colored. Medium or darker values will stand out the best. Use any method (and any colors) to get 3 inch half-square triangles that will finish at 2-1/2 inches in the block. You will need 24 of these triangles total. To make the hsts individually, use 3-3/8 inch squares of the color and the background. To use the Magic 8 method, use 6-3/4 inch squares. Put these aside for a later step.
Next, choose a color for the corners, the wide "rays" that come from the center star. Paler colors work well here, but a dark that contrasts strongly with the hsts made in the previous step will also create a striking block. I chose a pale yellow green. Use any method to make 8 hsts that will finish to 2-1/2 inches. (These should be 3 inches before they're sewn into the block.) The same measurements given above will work for these hsts as well. In addition to the hsts, cut 8 3-inch squares of the same color.
Make the first corner units:
Cut 4 3-inch squares from the background fabric. Use these squares, plus 8 of the medium green triangles from the first step and 4 of the pale yellow-green squares from the second step above, to make 4 corner units. Arrange the hsts and squares as shown:
Stitch and press. These units should measure 5-1/2 inches square. Make 4 of these units and put aside for now.
Make some templates to save some fabric:
Okay, here's what's next: making some templates. Don't be scared! There is nothing to download and these are very easy! The only reason to use the templates is to save fabric, so stay with me here. Use some scrap paper or anything that's getting thrown out anyway. I used an old manila folder. If you don't want to make templates: just cut each piece of fabric in the sizes given for the templates. There will be a bunch of waste.
There are 4 templates to make. First, cut an 8-3/4 inch square from scrap paper. Cut this piece from corner to corner twice, giving you 4 pieces. Save one of these pieces and discard the others. Mark this as template 1. (Yes, there's some waste, but it's scrap paper--better than wasting fabric!)
Next, cut a 5-7/8 inch square from scrap paper. Cut this once from corner to corner and save one side. Label this as template 2.
For template 3, cut a 6-1/4 inch square from paper, then cut it from corner to corner twice. Discard 3 of the pieces and label the one you save as template 3.
For the last template, cut a 3-3/8 inch square from paper, and cut it in half from corner to corner. Discard one side and label the remaining half template 4.
Now the fun begins!
Take the 8 colors that you have chosen and lay them out in a circle. Fuss with the colors until you are happy with how they look together. When you're happy with it, label the pieces A through H, as shown (This is important! Don't skip it! It's too easy to get confused later!):
Take fabric A, C, E, and G and cut 1 each of template 1 and template 3 from these fabrics. If you arrange the templates as shown, the grain lines and the bias will be correctly placed in the block:
Next, take fabrics B, D, F, and H and cut one each of templates 2 and 4, as shown:
All done with the templates! Feel free to recycle these. Again--better than wasting fabric!
In addition to the templates, cut one 8-3/4 inch square from background fabric and cut it twice from corner to corner, so that there are 4 pieces.
Last, cut one 3-inch square from any color or from the background. This is the center, so a paler color works better than a darker one. I used the same light yellow-green color as I used for the corner "rays."
Make the outer star pieces:
Lay out the pieces cut from template 1 (fabrics A, C, E, and G) and the white triangles as shown:
Stitch and press.
Lay out the corner pieces and the pieces cut from template 2 (fabrics B, D, F, and H) as shown:
Stitch and press.
These are the outer pieces of the center star. It's a good idea to arrange them in color order, just to keep everything straight.
Make the center star piece:
This is the most complicated part of the construction of this block. It's a little putzy, but go slowly and stitch carefully and you will have it done in no time. First, take the remaining pieces cut from templates 3 and 4. Arrange them in a rough circle in the same order as they were originally arranged:
Notice that the B piece is on "top." These pieces will go together to make an octagon, which the outer star pieces will then attach to. Begin constructing the octagon by joining the triangles into pairs as shown above-- B and C, D and E, F and G, and H and A.
|Be a better quilter than me--clip the dog ears right away!|
These pieces are joined to the center square using partial seams. As I said, these are putzy, but not hard. Start with the H--A piece and the center square. Flip the H--A piece onto the center square, right sides together, aligning the straight edges. Use a pin to mark the the center of the square on the seam edge. Stitch from the left edge to the pin and backstitch a couple of stitches. Remove the piece from the machine, clip your threads, and press the short seam you've created. The right edge of the piece should be free of the seam.
Next, flip the B--C piece onto the center square and attach a partial seam in the same manner. It helps to pin the free edge of the H--A piece out of the way.
After the second partial seam is created, return to the first seam. Flip the H--A piece right sides together with the center square and stitch the remaining seam, including the edge of the B--C piece. Clip your threads and press the remainder of the seam.
Continue around the center square, attaching the remaining pieces in the same manner. Clip threads and press your seams, and you should have a completed octagon. This is a good time to add a little spray starch or Magic Sizing to the center to keep it stable. I always do this from the back, then give it a good press on the front:
Hurray! Time for a break! After you've cleared your head, it's time to attach the outer star pieces. Again, this is a little putzy, but not hard, and only has one partial seam! Take the octagon you just created and lay it out with the outer star pieces, aligning the same colors:
Start at the bottom of the octagon, with the F triangle which is attached to the corner square. This first seam will be a partial seam like the ones in the octagon, but is the only one left in this block. Place the F piece on the octagon, matching the F piece in the octagon. Carefully stitch a partial seam, which will only be about an inch long. Open out the piece and finger press the very short seam. (So as not to distort it with the iron.)
The rest of the construction moves around the octagon to the right, and attaches using complete seams. Align the remaining pieces, matching the colors, as shown above. There are plenty of bias edges, so use lots of pins (even if you don't usually use pins) and be sure not to stretch the pieces out of shape (sizing or starch may help here).
When you get to the final piece (piece G) stitch the final seam, then return to the first seam and close it up, all the way across the G piece. This should give you a square with a colorful star unfolding in the center!
Whoo-hoo! Give this a good press and take a break! You deserve it!
Add the block borders:
All that remains is to add the borders to the block. Cut 4 more 3 inch squares. Lay out these 4 squares, the remaining green hsts, and the remaining yellow-green hsts as shown, paying attention to the directions of the hsts:
Make 4 of these strips. Take 2 of them and add the remaining 4 yellow-green squares (for the "rays") to the ends.
Attach to the center square as shown:
Trim the threads, give it a good press, and stand back and admire!
Wow, that was an intricate block! And a fitting end to this quilt! This completes the blocks and the center medallion. All that's left to do is put it all together. Come back on December 6 for the thrilling conclusion to this year-long quilt, when I will show the completed quilt top and some other layout options. Sure to be a real winner!
Thanks so much for coming along on this quilt journey! Sharing at Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and soscrappy for RSC16.