I love, love, love making small quilt blocks. One of my newest designs… not ready to be revealed… is tons of 3'' stars. While I love the look of small blocks, sometimes they're a challenge to make. I devised an easy method for making them oversized and trimming later. Working on a doll quilt for a swap seemed like a good time to share my method. I have a confession, though, I'm all about the tools. Having the right tools on hand makes my life much easier, particularly when I use those tools over and over. Mind you, I've also bought tools that I haven't used, but these are three that I use a lot.
1. Companion Angle ruler.
2. Quilt in a Day mini Flying Geese tool (comes in a set of three rulers) – or any flying geese tool that will make 3/4'' x 1-1/2'' finished size of flying geese.
3. Marsha McCloskey Precision Trimmer 3.
To make one star block, you'll need five 2'' squares for the star center and points (my red). You'll also need a strip of 1-1/2'' wide background fabric that is at least 16'' long. Cut four – 1-1/2'' squares for the corners, and use the Companion ruler to cut four triangles.
Step 1. Cut four star point squares in half once on the diagonal. Leave one whole for the star center.
Step 2. Stitch one star point to a background triangle, lining up the bottom. Press away from the background triangle. (I've also been pressing these seams open and am very happy with the results.)
Step 3. Stitch one star point to a background triangle, lining up the bottom. Press away from the background triangle. Make 4.
Step 4. Use the Quilt in a Day ruler to trim the sides and top of the flying geese. Then turn the unit upside down and trim again using the instructions from the ruler to line up the 1/4'' seam allowance.
Step 5. Lay out all the parts of the star. Don't worry if some of the units are a bit oversized… just line everything up along these two lines… letting the outside edges be uneven. You'll trim later. Sew into rows. Press seams open. Sew the rows together. Press seams open.
A note here on pressing. I never use steam in my iron when constructing blocks. I only use it when pressing pieces of fabric before cutting. I know there are many people who use steam successfully, but I'm not one of them. I can distort a block like nobody's business!
Step 6. This is where the 3'' Precision Trimmer tool really pays off. Line up the dashed seam allowance on your star points. Make sure the diagonal and horizontal dashed lines go through the center and corners of your block. Trim off all excess fabric.
Step 7. Voila! You have a perfect star that will finish at 3'' once it's sewn into the quilt.
I hope this little tutorial helps you get comfortable with making lots of tiny stars.