Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Star block tutorial and template - without dog's ears!
I enjoyed making the star block in the last post so much (using my super duper new Go! Baby) that I wanted to share it with you as a tutorial. There are lots of fantastic tutorials for quilting blocks all over the Internet, but the reason why I wanted to add my own tutorial to the collection is because I wrote to the kind people at Accuquilt and asked if I might reproduce the template pieces for you that I used that have the dog's ears* already cut away. And they said yes. Hurrah! So even if you don't have your own Go! Baby or this particular die for it to make the cutting out part speedy, you can still experience how jolly lovely it is to work with shapes that have the dog's ears cut off, as all the templates by Accuquilt do (one of their major selling points for me). I've re-drawn the templates and they're available here and at the end of this post to be downloaded as a PDF. Just make sure that you set your printer to 'no page scaling' and '100%' so that they print out at just the right size. You can check that your printer hasn't been misbehaving by measuring the sides of the square which should equal 2.5". Let's begin.
I've laid out all the pieces that you'll need here. The four outer corners are made from the small squares and the rest of the shapes are using the triangle shape rotated to different angles. It might show up better in this (not to scale) diagram here, as it's important to have each triangle positioned in just the right place.
8 of the pink triangles
16 of the green triangles
You'll see that in theory, the eight triangles that make up the centre of the star could in fact be made from the four squares. However, I prefer to keep these as triangles because the seam lines created by sewing the triangles together make it appear more star-like...without them it just looks like you've plonked a square in the middle.
Once you've cut out your pieces, place them just like mine, as above. It's really important that you pay attention to which way the triangle is rotated. If one of them is the wrong way, even though they might fit together, your finished star won't look right.
The pieces you'll be working with are quite small and you may find that when you begin sewing, the little pieces are initially sucked down into the feed dogs of the machine. If this is a problem that keeps foxing you and piecing is something you do a lot of, then a footplate with a smaller hole is an excellent investment. On the right you can see the regular footplate: the space where the needle goes down through it is a horizontal oblong to allow you to do zigzag stitches and use different needle positions. The plate I've inserted on the left has just a pinhole for the needle to go through - this eliminates any possibility of your fabric being sucked into the machine, making it perfect for piecing. This isn't by any means essential - I just thought you might be interested in it. Anyway, on to some sewing.
I've gone on to sew a 2" border around my block and have now incorporated it into something that I'm making today, but the blocks could be sewn together to make a larger quilt, or perhaps just a generously sized coaster (I have a tutorial for this here).
Once again, you can find my templates for this pattern to download as a PDF here. Thank you so much to Accuquilt for allowing me to re-create them. As in the previous post, if you want to look into purchasing one of their Go! Baby machines, then go here and if you'd like to download the 22 free quilt patterns that Accuquilt have currently made available for download then can visit here).
* For those not familiar with the sewing term dog's ears, they're the little excess bits of fabric that need cutting off, as seen here.
Ps. A few people have written to me asking whether the Go! Baby is available in the UK - it certainly is and a quick Google search returns several places that stock both the machine and the dies to go with it. The machine, I think, retails at around £140 and the cutting mats and dies are extra on top of that. However, it's worth doing a price comparison as I'm wondering whether this may be one item that is actually cheaper to import from the US. Accuquilt themselves do offer international delivery as an option. I hope that helps and sorry not to reply individually.
Pps. I don't profess to be a quilting expert - piecing is still something that's relatively new to me. I tend to sew in a way that makes sense and seems logical to myself and while I feel confident that following this tutorial will produce good results, if you are a more proficient quilter then I'm completely happy for you to suggest better ways of doing things in the comments. It's always nice to learn an easier way and I won't be at all offended. x