Are you ready for some stitching time?! It’s Week 4 and 5 of the Winter Star Quilt Along and for the next two weeks you’re going to piece your Winter Star blocks!
There’s been quite a bit of prep work to get you to this point and so far in the Winter Star QAL you’ve focused on:
- Picking between the Fat Quarter Friendly and 8-Colourway options and then selecting your fabric
- Cutting your fabric and stacking into pretty piles with your block labels to stay organized
- Making half-square triangles using the 4-at-a-time method
And this week your task is to make two to thirteen Winter Star quilt blocks, depending on which size Winter Star quilt you’re making 😉
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HOW TO SET YOURSELF UP
Have you given any thought to your sewing room setup?
Even if you don’t have a dedicated room to sew in (join the club, I don’t either!), it’s worth it to take the time to gather all your necessary tools, equipment, and materials before you even sit down to stitch.
Being organized and having all your essentials ready at your fingertips will help keep you focused on the quilty task. This avoids you from getting up every few minutes to go grab >insert the required item< run back to your sewing machine, and settle back into the task. Every time you break this momentum your brain has to recenter itself and get back into the zone. This can be very draining and is a surefire way to kill your sewjo.
I’ve learned this the hard way and now, before I dive into a block piecing session, I like to take the time to set up my sewing table to make sure I’m tackling everything in an organized and orderly manner.
Here’s how that looks for me:
- I start by filling my iron, turning it on, and setting it to a nice steamy setting.
- Next, I give my sewing machine a quick shot of oil. You can read my Sunday Studio Maintenance habits here for all my sewing machine and iron cleaning rituals. In addition to that weekly cleaning routine, I also like to give my sewing machine a quick shot of this oil in the bobbin area. It was a tip the sewing machine technician shared with me when I purchased my Juki.
Strip Piecing Pieces D and E
With my sewing machine and iron ready to go, I turn my attention to the first step in the Winter Star quilt pattern piecing instructions is to create strip sets featuring your Piece D and Piece E.
I like to bring my two stacks to the sewing machine and settle in with the stack of Piece D on the left and a stack of Piece E on the right. I then place them right sides together (RST) before feeding them under the presser foot.
There’s no need to pin before chain piecing your sets together; however, if you’re finding things are sifting on you, then popping a pin in the center can help keep things on track.
Tip – take your time chain piecing your D and E sets together. To help maximize your fabric yardage, there’s no wiggle room built in for sub-cutting your units, so be mindful to piece as accurately as possible 😊
Once your stack of D and E units has been pieced together, you want to first cut your strip sets in half, then set your seams and press one half towards Piece D and the other half towards Piece E. This will be important to help your seams nest later on.
With your strip sets cut and pressed, you want to sub-cut each of those units to create your D/E pieces.
Stack your freshly pressed and cut D/E units into two piles: one with your seams pressed towards D and the other stack with your seams pressed towards E.
Star Corner Units
This step might look a little more confusing than it actually is. The key here is to be careful which side you attach your Piece F to your D/E units.
To help reduce the chance of stitching mistakes, I recommend making 4 piles:
- Pile 1 is for your D/E units pressed towards D with Piece F on the bottom (Top Left).
- Pile 2 is for your D/E units pressed towards D with Piece F on the top (Bottom Left).
- Pile 3 is for your D/E units pressed towards E with Piece F on the bottom (Top Right).
- Pile 4 is for your D/E units pressed towards E with Piece F on the top (Bottom Right).
Next up is more chain piecing 😊
This time, grab your first pile of D/E units with the seam pressed towards D and your stack of Piece F.
Place one of your Piece F RST with one D/E unit and stitch them together.
Continue placing your F pieces RST with your D/E units and feeding them under your presser foot one after the other without cutting your threads (aka chain piece away!).
Keep this action going until all of your four piles have been chain pieced together.
Tip – pop a pin in if you find your Piece F is shifting past your D/E unit.
Snip your units apart, then set your seams and press according to the pressing directions in the Winter Star quilt pattern (page 4 for the FQ-friendly version and page 9 for the 8-colourway option).
Leave your Star Corner Units in their piles to make the block assembly nice and quick.
Winter Star Block Assembly
To assemble your Winter Star quilt blocks I recommend first laying the block out on your cutting mat. Since you’re making more than one Winter Star block at a time, the best strategy is to stack your block pieces.
Here’s how to do that:
Grab your Star Corner Units and start laying those out: Top Left in the top left corner, Top Right in the top right corner, and so on until you have them all stacked and in their right quadrant.
Then, grab your stack of Piece G and place those between your Top Left and Top Right and another set between your Bottom Left and Bottom Right Star Units.
The center is made up of two Piece H and one Piece J.
Keep stacking your pieces on top of one another until you have all the blocks you want to make this week stacked up. Just make sure you’re laying them all out in the right order. If need be, lay each block out individually at a time.
Once you have your blocks laid out, work in rows, and start by chain piecing the first two blocks of each row. I like to start with the Top Left Star Corners and Piece G and chain piece all of those together.
Then I move on to the first two blocks in Row 2 which are Piece H and Piece J. Chain piece all of these together.
Next, focus on your bottom Row which features your Bottom Left Star Corners and Piece G.
Once all of your first two blocks in each row have been chain pieced together, snip them apart, re-stack them in their respective piles and bring them to your ironing board.
Working with your first row, set your seams and press according to the pressing directions. Put your nicely pressed blocks back on your sewing table next to your Top Right Star Corner Unit
Repeat with your next stack, making sure you press in the opposite direction to ensure your seams nest up.
As soon as you have everything pressed, repeat the above with the remaining blocks in each row.
Piecing Winter Star Block Rows
With your Winter Star Block rows nicely pieced together, it’s time to join your rows 😊
Place Row 1 RST with Row 2, nesting and pinning your seams where they meet.
You can nest and pin all of your Row 1 and Row 2 together before settling in for another chain-piecing session.
Snip your chain pieced rows apart, set your seams, and press according to the pressing directions in the pattern.
Repeat with your bottom row to complete your first round of Winter Star Blocks.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly the Winter Star quilt blocks come together when you set yourself up for some efficient piecing action?
Keep all of these tips in mind for next week when you’ll tackle the remainder of your Winter Star quilt blocks in Week 5.
Winter Star Quilt Block Piecing Tips
One of the things that I love the most about quilting is settling in for a chain piecing session and the Winter Star quilt blocks are perfect for this quilting technique.
Before you settle in for some chain piecing, think about creating an environment that encourages calm and joyful stitching. Here are a few things I like to do:
- Grab a beverage! Quilting requires attention and stamina and both of those benefits from you being hydrated 😉 So, grab your beverage of choice and head to your sewing room.
- Turn on the lights! Seeing clearly is key to making sure your blocks are coming together accurately. Since I stitch at the dining room table and I’m on the other side of the room from the windows, my sewing area tends to be a little dark. Which is why I turn on every single light in the area to make sure I’m seeing things as clearly as possible. This one is amazingly bright and is perfect if you’re a nighttime stitcher!
- Put on some music, a movie, or a podcast. With the way I’m suggesting you set yourself up before you start piecing, you’ll find yourself getting into a rhythm of piecing, snipping, setting, and pressing. It’s quite a methodical and calm zone to be in making it the perfect time to listen to some music, watch a movie (this doesn’t happen for me as I can’t seem to ‘watch’ and stitch at the same time), or a podcast. Sometimes I also stitch in silence if I want my session to be extra soothing and quiet.
- Pin where your seams nest! I like to pop a pin in wherever my seams meet up so that I can secure the seams I’ve nested. I’ve found this to be the best approach to get nice sharp points most of the time 😉
- Have fun! This goes without saying for the entire quilt journey, but it’s worth sharing a reminder that the whole point of quilting is to have fun! If you’re finding yourself frustrated or tired, I recommend stepping away from the sewing machine and taking a break. Go outside, get some fresh air and sneak in a quick walk around the block. It’s amazing how just a 10-minute walk outside will help re-energize you!
- Share your progress! We love seeing things come together and getting in on your quilty fun! So, post some progress shots in our Facebook Group or on Instagram with #WinterStarQAL so we can all see your progress and encourage you along!
What notions and tools you’ll need
Here’s what you’ll need to make your half-square triangles.
- Sewing machine
- Thread for piecing
- Ironing board or wool pressing mat
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Ruler for cutting your strip sets
To make the same version as shown in the Winter Star Quilt pattern (and the one I’ll be making) you can find the exact kit featuring the same AGF Pure Solids in this exclusive quilt kit from Sew Curated.
It’s amazing how a small notion can have a big impact on the enjoyment of your sewing session and one of my favourite sewing notions that makes me smile every time I see it is my Sit ‘n Sew Pincushion. Super simple to make and the perfect fabric scrap buster, you can whip up one of your own in about an hour! To keep the momentum going and encourage you to stick with stitching your Winter Star blocks I thought Week 4 needed two winners! All you need to do is post your Winter Star blocks on the ‘gram and I’ll pick two winners to each win a copy of the Sit ‘n Sew Pincushion PDF.
To enter the giveaway, you must:
- Be following @shannonfraserdesigns on Instagram.
- Post a photo on Instagram of your Winter Star quilt blocks between October 24, 2022, and October 30, 20202, at 11:59 pm EDT.
- Instagram account must be public.
- Tag @shannonfraserdesigns
- Include the hashtags #WinterStarQuilt #WinterStarQAL
Week 4 giveaway is open internationally.
I’m looking ahead here to when you’ll be quilting your Winter Star Quilts and I thought you might want to try your hand at working with quilting rulers. To encourage this exploration, I’ve teamed up with Silly Moon Quilting Co to give you a chance to win a $25 CAD gift card for their shop.
I know you’re still working on piecing your quilt blocks, but I wanted to give you some time to start thinking about the quilting you’ll do on your Winter Star quilt. I’ve been eyeing these quilting rulers by Silly Moon Quilting Co for ages now and I thought you might want to get your hands on a set too! Which is why I’ve teamed up with them for your chance to win a $25 CAD Gift Card to use in their shop. There are 70 rulers for you to choose from!
To enter the giveaway, you must:
- Be following @sillymoonquiltingco and @shannonfraserdesigns on Instagram.
- Post a photo on Instagram of your Winter Star quilt blocks between October 31, 2022, and November 6, 20202, at 11:59 pm EDT.
- Instagram account must be public.
- Tag @sillymoonquiltingco and @shannonfraserdesigns
- Include the hashtags #WinterStarQuilt #WinterStarQAL
Week 5 giveaway is open internationally.
Don’t forget I’ll be going LIVE in our Facebook group on Wednesday at 1 pm EST to answer your top quilt block piecing questions!
Until then, happy stitching!
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