It’s the WONKY STARS step!
If you are appliquéing your stars onto your smaller background blocks, go for it and we’ll see you next month. For the rest of you, even those not making this quilt, I’ll walk you through a stack and slash version of a star, pioneered by Thelma of Cupcakes and Daisies.
You’ve seen this before; this is an image I found on the web some time ago of the quilt we are making, Hallowe’en 1904 by Blackbird Designs. Yes, we are again hard at it for the Hallowe’en 1904 Quilt-A-Long. All of four of us will have quilts ready for Halloween, so I’m excited about that prospect. Well, maybe it’s more than four of you out there in the Internets, but at least two of us — Leisa and I — will be among those finished in time for that fall celebration.
Again, Leisa and I are making NINE blocks, down from the original twelve in the pattern. I posted a version of smaller quilt *here,* using all twelve blocks and formulated by Mary Burton. But we’re doing nine, with four appliqué and five star blocks.
A recap of last month’s sewing:
Yes, all four are done, even the one with the weird-o leaf. It’s staying put for now.
Here’s my tip for touching up those stray bobbin threads that work their way up if you are doing satin stitch: get out a Sharpie marker in the color of your thread and color it in. I also use it for errant free-motion-quilting oopsies.
And this time, we’re heading right into How to Make A Wonky Star. If you want to go the traditional route, of cutting and appliquéing your stars down to your background, go ahead and get going, and we’ll see you next time, on June 13th. Anyone else who wants to learn this technique, stick around.
It’s not a new technique as we used to use it to make things like nine-patch blocks: stack up a bunch of fabrics, cut, swap out the fabrics and sew. I also found a version of this stack-and-slash used in a star block, and the copyright on the page says it’s from 2000-2005. And Bethany Reynolds is credited with the first national use of the technique known as Stack-N-Whack. I tell you all of this to say there is nothing new under the sun, especially in quilting, but only new turns at an old technique or form or idea.
Get out your strips of fabrics, cut according to the chart.
Different versions of the Stack & Slash Star pattern. I drafted and revised this star block multiple times, trying to get the proportions of the Stack & Slash pattern correct. For this reason, please print off only enough for your own use. Please don’t print off enough for your mother or your girlfriend; send them here to get their own. Download the PDF file here: Stack&Slash StarEastmond
You’ll notice on the pattern that there are lots of little diamonds and slashes. (These are your notches to help you get the thing back together. It doesn’t matter if you use mine, or make up some marking system of your own, but please do this!) Lay some clear template plastic over the pattern and trace. Looks like mine got reversed somehow, but really it just doesn’t matter one way or the other. Now pay attention to what is the center of the star (A1, B1, B2 and C1) and what is the background (all the rest).
Working with a single layer of fabric (yes, you can stack them up, but don’t put the fabrics back-to-back unless you want to have some “regular” stars and some “reversed” stars. It will drive you a bit crazy, but it’s do-able, in case you forgot), lay out the background templates. (See example below)
If you do the usual cut of WOF, you’ll have part of the fabric facing you and part of it will be facing down to the cutting table, because of that fold. Unfold it before cutting and you’ll avoid this problem. I just had to go back in and cut some parts “backwards” and I made enough for a star or two. So you’ll notice that some of my stars are wonky to the left, and some are wonky to the right. It just doesn’t matter. Really.
Start stacking up your pieces underneath the templates as you cut them
VERY IMPORTANT: To get the appropriate amount of wonkiness, you’ll need at least FIVE different background fabrics, because there are 5 different pieces to the background. If you want to have the star pieces all different, you’ll need FOUR different star fabrics, because there are 4 different pieces to the star. Confused? Just walk yourself through one and you’ll see what I mean. I only had four different background fabrics and you’ll see some repeats, but I did have the five different star fabrics.
You’ll need to do some shuffling as you sew. Notice how all the fabrics are the same up above–all the star points are the same fabric and all the backgrounds are the same. In this stack and slash method, you will think of them as separate stacks. From the picture above, take one of the star points (start with B1) and move the top fabric to the bottom. Then move the next star point (B2) and move the top TWO fabrics to the bottom of the stack. Repeat for C1–moving the top THREE fabrics to the bottom of the stack. Now all the star sections will be different in your block. If you cut in layers and have multiple layers, just follow the instructions, treating the same fabrics as “one” and shuffling them all to the bottom. If this is all too confusing, on YouTube there are multiple videos — just type “stack and slash,” or “stack and whack.” If you have a lot of time, *this* one is in four parts, but it’s very thorough.
We’ll assemble this in three sections: A-section, B-section, C-section. First sew A2 to A1. Concentrate on that lower edge–keeping it aligned (where it butts up against the B-section). Press toward star. Sew A3 to A1/2 section, again, concentrating on that long straight edge. Press. Trim up that long edge, if necessary.
Repeat for the B-section: This time sew B2 to B3, concentrating on the long edge against the B1 piece. Now sew that unit to B1. Trim the edge where it will join up to the C-section if necessary, erring on the side of too little, rather than too much, trimming.
Trim up the block to a 5 and 3/4″ square, REMEMBERING TO TRIM ON POINT, so the main star tip is pointing UP to the corner. Yeah, I know mine got turned around pointing to the right, but I think you can figure it out. It’s the star point sitting on top of that long B1 piece. Repeat this over and over. You can cut and sew a bunch and it goes much faster.
Add on your outside large triangles, varying them from orange to black, as are your star points. We’ll save the outside HSTs for next month. So, get busy making wonky stars and we’ll see you on June 13th!
Here’s our schedule:
Step 1 (Preparation): February 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern. Mine was purchased from Common Threads in Waxahachie, TX (www.commonthreadsquilting.com). The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks. Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly 65″ square. I may change my mind, but this looks good from here. Step 2: March 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later. Step 3: April 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs. Step 4: May 2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips. I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up. Add on the large outside triangles.
Step 5: June 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, by adding their HST borders. In the pattern, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.) Make your own rules and go with it.
Step6: July 2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together. Cut the pieces for your borders. Make the four corner pinwheels.
Step 7: August 2016–Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt.