Morning Star Quilt Tutorial

Jenny Doan

Morning Star Quilt Tutorial

Quilt Size: 60" x 60"
Jenny Doan demonstrates how to make a beautiful Morning Star quilt using 2.5 inch strips of precut fabric (jelly rolls). For this project, Jenny chose Tonga Batiks - Jubilee 2.5" Strips by Timeless Treasures. This pretty star pattern was designed by Tara Faughnan for our modern quilting idea book/magazine, ModBLOCK. It's an easier version of the old block known as Morning Star, Lone Star, or Star of the East.
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video transcript

Hi everybody, it’s Jenny from the MSQC. And I’ve got a really fun project for you today. This quilt behind me is a quilt that was designed by Tara Faunin for our Mod Block magazine. And it’s based on an old quilt, an old block pattern. But we’re going to show you how to make it quick and easy. And it just looks stunning, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look at this. We did nine of these big stars and oh it looks hard, doesn’t it? But it’s so easy. And I just can hardly wait to show you how to make it because this felt like a win for me. Thank you, Tara, for designing it. It’s just beautiful. So to make this quilt you’re going to need one roll of 2 ½ inch strips. And we have used the Tonga Batiks Jubilee for Wilmington. And this roll works particularly well because there are two strips of each color and that’s what you need to make this quilt. You’re going to need some background fabric, about two yards and that’s this black in here. We didn’t put a border on it. We just have a little binding out here. The binding is a half a yard. And the quilt is 60 by 60. Now I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to make a block so you can actually make as many blocks as you want to make. But this one we made nine big stars and it just is so cool.

So when you’re ready to make your star, you’re going to open up this jelly roll. A lot of us, you know, we don’t like to open these because they’re so cute wrapped up. But we are going to open them up and we are going to choose our colors for our stars. And I did this before I did any sewing. I paired everything in groups of threes. So you need two middle colors, two strips that are the same color right here. And I’m going to choose these two blues right here because they’re so pretty. And wait, let me make sure you can see. So I have two strips here and this makes the center band. So this is this band right here, it makes that center band. Then you’re going to choose a color for your center and a color for your point. And so for mine I’m going to use a yellow. I think I’ll use this vibrant yellow for my center right here and this pink for my point right here. So then what you’re going to do, and I actually, honestly, I did that with my whole roll. I just grouped everything into three colors because otherwise you might end up with three colors that there isn’t a lot of contrast to or something like that. So I just, I actually chose my band colors first and put two colors that had contrast with it, you know, like this would be a group, you know. And then I looked for two more band colors. And by that band I mean that middle part and I don’t know. Just look through it, find the colors that are pleasing to you and go oh, I love this green so then you’re going to have a green band. You’re going to have two strips of that and you’re going to put this rust color with it and this pink color with it. So you’re going to do that to your whole group and I did that and just kind of pinned them together and set them aside. I’m like, this is the color I want this star, this is the color I want this star.

So this is the star we’re working on right here. And I”m going to take these two strips and I’m going to sew a blue to a pink and a blue to a yellow. And I’m just going to lay them right sides together like this. And I”m going to sew a quarter of an inch all the way down the side. Then I”m going to open them and press them to the colored side. So my colored side is here and I’m just going to roll that up and press that to the colored side. I will do the same thing with my blue strip and my yellow strip. Now I have some of these already sewn together here, the exact same colors. And so here’s my blue and yellow and here’s my blue and pink. Remember blue is our band color and yellow is going to be our outer point. My outer point isn’t up there yet. And the pink will be the star in the middle. That’s the star we’re forming in the middle. And so what you want to do is you want to stack these on top of each other so I’ve ironed them to the blue. Does that make sense, I hope, to the blue. So they’re ironed to the blue. And then I’m going to stack them on top of each other together. Now in the pattern it says to offset them by 2 ½ inches. That’s a great idea for saving fabric. You don’t actually use the whole strip set for one star. You’re going to end up with a piece about, I don’t know, ten inches leftover. And so once I realized that I didn’t actually have to do that my brain pretty quickly quit doing that. And so I’m going to start from this end and show you how to cut these. Now most of us have a ruler that has a 45 on it and that enables you to cut this as long as, as long as your strips are lined up exactly and as long as, you know, I mean for me this part of it. I mean it’s easy to do, we’re just going to look at, let me move this stuff over here so you guys can see easily. We’re just going to look at the 45 right here and we’re going to lay that on the edge and we’re just going to make this cut. But I don’t know if you guys have seen these bias rulers. But these are for actually cutting bias binding. And this one folds up which I think really helps with the breakage. And it also helps if you want to take it with you in your sewing bag. But honestly, out of a half a yard of fabric, this is completely off what we’re doing. But out of a half a yard of fabric you can get 280 inches of bias binding when you’re using a ruler like this. But I liked using this ruler to cut my bias strips because they’re exactly 2 ½. And all these little lines enable you to actually see over and over and over where your pieces are. So you want to make sure it’s turned in the right direction with the words going up. And you’ll see on here, see how these lines, this matches up on the centerline, this matches up on the outside line. So I’m going to cut these now. And I”m still making sure that this lines up on the centerline. The centerline is actually more important than the edge. So I”m making sure this lines up on the center line and mostly on the edge. And then I’m just going to make my first cut. Now if you are right handed you are going to come from the other direction. I’m left handed so I’m coming from here. This part right here is waste. And then we’re just going to lay our ruler right along the edge and keep cutting these 2 ½ inch units. Now the ruler is exactly 2 ½ so it works so well for this. And again I’m lining it up on the middle and on the edge. And I”m making a cut. And I’m going to make a cut. And you’re going to cut eight of these for each star. Again I’m lining it up on the middle, on the edges. And you’re just going to keep going. And I”m going to do a few more here. I have one cut here. Make sure. I want you to be able to see this because this is so cool. And it’s always good, if you have tools, it’s always good to know other things to do with them. You know, because it’s, I mean it’s great if it does one thing but if it does several things then it becomes a valuable tool. And this is one of those tools for me. Alright, so I”m going to cut this. And you’ll actually just, you know, you can keep cutting your whole row but with me this is going to be leftover. And I actually have a little pile of those from this quilt that I made of leftover strips so I’m going to see how it works to not have the matching band but I haven’t done that yet.

Alright so now you have these pieces like this and they need to be sewn together to form diamonds. And so the way I did it that made the most sense to me was that I took mine like this and you pull them apart and then I flipped this one around. So what I, you know, the mistake I made several times was that I would turn these like this and put my two colors in the middle and that doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. So you have to make sure you have a yellow point and a pink point. So flip this around and yes, so they go long like this. So they go yellow point, you know, yellow point, pink point. Not side by side. If you have anything side by side you are going to have to rip that out. And I did a few of those. So the other thing is, is that when you lay these to sew them you want to make sure that you have the same amount sticking off either end. And you can stick a pin in here and look at it and see if they’re going to match up. So I stuck my pin right here in the quarter of an inch, right here. And then I would open it up and I would see if that was going to match. And if I didn’t think it was close enough then I did it again. But I got pretty used to doing this and I, every once in a while I’d have to take one out but it got fairly easy for me and so I’m just going to take a big chance here sew this one together. So remember when you’re lining these up you want them to be about a quarter of an inch sticking over on either end. And it looks like I might need to slide this one just a tiny hair. And then we’re going to sew down the side and sew a quarter of an inch along the side. And so we’re just going to sew. And also when I started sewing these, this is just a little tip. Until you get in the hang of it I lengthened my stitch line because I thought if I’m going to have to pick these out, it’s better to have a bigger stitch than a smaller stitch. And so you can do that. Because I did have to take a few of these out because I wasn’t confident about that middle seam. And so, OH! Wait til I show you. It’s pretty good. Alright let me move all of this stuff so I can iron it. Alright, take a look. Beautiful. Alright let’s do one more. Let’s see if the magic can work twice. Alright, remember a quarter of an inch over and a quarter of an inch over and I’m going to sew this down. Now I’m feeling super confident so I’ll probably, it will be a little off. But we hope not. We’re crossing our fingers. Alright now press this one open and, oh my goodness. Amazing, just amazing.

So now we have to build the quarter of the block. They are built in quadrants. So this is built like this right here. And this star generally has a Y seam involved but we’ve made it so it doesn’t So then you’re going to take some background fabric, your black fabric. Once you get all your points done, you’re going to take some background fabric and you’re going to cut one strip of six inch and this is just to make, this is just to make one block I’m telling you. I mean you’re going to have to cut one or have four six inch blocks for each strip. So I’m going to cut off my selvedge edge. And I am going to cut this six inches. So I know this is five right here, one more, six. Make sure this is squared on here. And so I’m going to cut four six inch squares for each block. And I’m going to cut them once on the diagonal right here. And then I’m going to cut four eight inch squares from each block and what I’m doing here is I am, I’ve cut an eight inch strip and I’m going to sub cut this into eight inch squares. So again, cut off my selvedge, come over eight. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and cut. And then I’m going to cut it on the diagonal. Now especially with the six inch strip you can get more than one block out of a strip. But I”m going to show you one block. That’s how I did it to keep everything straight in my brain. And then just know if you want to make a quilt with nine blocks then you’ve got to do that nine times.

Alright so here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to take one of these. And this one is going to have, its block is going to go like this. So what you have to remember is that half your blocks have to go this way and the other half have to go the opposite. So this is the finished block, a finished quadrant, what it looks like right here. And so I am going to show you using this as a pattern how to do this. So I need one block that has this short triangle on the short side and one block that has the short triangle on the left side. So we’re talking left and right not short, I didn’t mean to say that. So here we go. So the long side of the triangle is going on this side here like this and this. And they’re much bigger you see. So what we’re going to do is we are going to lay these on here and I’m going to sew this one this way. And always go, let your point go off as long as it wants to go. But you have a quarter of an inch right down here on the bottom. So right here you’re going to line this up a quarter of an inch and we’re going to sew that one down. Now this one is going to be on the opposite side. So it’s going to go this way. But it’s still the same, you’re going to put the quarter of an inch down there and let the point just sew right off the end. Alright so let’s sew these together. And now I’m just sewing right down the side here. And then I’m going to do this one as well. And I like to sew, I prefer to sew from the point up. I did the other one the opposite way but I prefer this way. This way feels more comfortable to me. Alright, now what we’re going to do is we’re going to press these open. And so I’m going to take these over here. I feel like I’m a mess. I feel like I have stuff everywhere. But if you guys ever come to my sewing room this is literally how I sew. So I liked, because the batik feels lighter to me, I liked to iron to that batik side and I did that on both my blocks or on all my blocks. It just feels like it lays nicer that way.

Alright so now we have these great blocks but they have these little points that are sticking out. So we’re going to trim those off. So we’re going to use our ruler and we’re going to come straight up the side like this. And just trim those little points off right there. And we’re going to do that on this one as well. I’m going to flip this over. And you use your diamond as the guide and just trim off that little point right there. Alright now we’re ready to add the other side to our pieces. And so we’re going to come from our eight inch triangle that is cut in half on the diagonal. And this time we’re going to use the short side of the triangle. And we’re going to put it over here like this. So just like that we’re going to turn this over. Again, do your quarter of an inch from the bottom. It’s going to not be exactly the right length at the top. That’s perfectly ok. And so I’m going to flip this over so you can see you’ve got about a quarter of an inch right there. And a little bit sticking over on the top. So we’re going to sew that down. So now we’re just going to sew down here a quarter of an inch. And we’re going to do the same thing to this one. And, but remember they’re opposite sides and on this actually you can’t help but put it on the right side because you’ve already taken your, you know, your thought pattern and made sure this side fits. So we’re going to flip this side over like this. I’m going to put my piece a quarter of an inch over. And I”m just going to sew that one on as well. Alright now we’re going to press these open. And this one I like to just roll the black back like that, your background fabric. I think the, I think putting this on a black background is so stunning, just really stunning.

Alright so now you have these two pieces and we’re going to put these together long sides like this. And do you see that, we’ve just made a quadrant of our star. And it’s going to fold over. And now when you put these together there’s several places you want to watch. You want to match as you go along these seams and these seams you want to match up. So I”m going to put my two points, make sure they are lined up exactly. And then I’m just going to start sewing here and stop and check my first seam. So I’m going to make sure those are laid, nested right together and then this one as well. Nested right together. And then we’re going to sew right up on this background fabric and just sew right to the top a quarter of an inch. Alrighty, now we’re going to press this open and we are going to be able to put our star block together.

Alright so now you have your quadrant finished like this. And we are just going to leave all this unevenness. I guess you could trim it now if you wanted to. I didn’t. But obviously you can. And then we’re going to put four of these together. And it’s the four of these together that’s going to make the star. So I want you just to watch this as this is unfolding because it is beautiful. It’s like I love it when a plan comes together. So now we have this one and this one. And then basically as you put this together it’s like a four patch. So we’re going to sew this, these two together and we’re going to sew these two together. Now you always want to sew from the point down. Don’t trust these edges to be straight because they’re not. So start down here at the point. Make sure your two points match up. And we’re going to put this on here like this and sew a quarter of an inch. And again you’re just going to match your colors just like you did sewing the two pieces together. And sometimes, see how this one has like a little bubble in it, it will lay down as I go along. See how that, just go nice and slow. Then you can zip off the end. And we’re going to do the same thing to this other side. So it’s interesting how so many blocks come together like a four patch in the end. And we’re there with our points lined up and make sure these two stay lined up. And then these two. Alrighty, now we’re going to sew these two halves together. And I’m going to go ahead right now and just clip off these little bit of points because they’re coming in the middle. Because they’re, this is the little, the little bunny ears. Oh I found a little bunny in my garden yesterday. That’s completely off the subject. Alright here we go. Now if you want you can go ahead and iron these together. I waited to iron my whole big thing. But you’re going to put these together this way. And if you’re concerned at all about how your edges are going to match up you can start from the middle at the point and sew down and flip it over and do the same. And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to kind of start on this side right here and make sure these two seams are going opposite directions and nested. The center of this block is what’s really important. So make sure those line up. We’ve got our first color lined up here. And we’re going to line up this color. And we’re going to sew out to the edge. And then I’m going to take, flip this over and sew down the other side. So now my center is already lined up. And I’m just going to put these two colors together.

Alrighty, we’re ready to press. And I have to say I did use some Best Press. I love steam and so I’ve got some steam going on here. And I’m just going to press these center seams open or not open but just flat. I press from the top first, give her a shot of this steam all the way out. This makes such a nice big block. It’s like a 20 inch block. Now you can flip it over. And people always ask me about this center part right here. My seams, because I nested them, one set of seams goes this way and one set of seams goes that way. And that’s two pieces of fabric on either side. If you open them up, if you find that you have, you know, like a little raise or something and you want to open them up, you can. I don’t worry about that too much unless it’s really bad. I rarely open a seam. Or press a seam open but that’s a personal preference.

Alright so take a look at this block. How cool is this? Isn’t that beautiful? Alright now we’re going to trim it up. And because it’s a large block we want to kind of center it on one of these lines. So we have a nice seam right here to center it and center it on these lines. And then you’re going to make sure, you’re going to want to make sure it lays nice and flat. So I like to cut side to side and then top to bottom. And so we’re going to line this middle seam back up on the middle. And again come out 10 ½. And that’s going to hit right here. We’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 ½. 10 ½ and we are just going to trim this up right here. And make sure, before you trim, look and make sure that you have enough room on your points, you know, so you don’t lose your star point. I’ve got plenty of room here. Just like that. And then we’re going to turn it this way and do the same thing. So we’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 ½. 10 ½, checking my star points and then one more side. Right in the center there. Because I’m a rote sewer, it really helps me to do the same thing over and over again. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 ½ right here. We are going to trim this. Alright, take a look at that beauty.

Now I have to say, I want to really actually say thank you to Tara because I’m not sure I would have attempted something like this. I feel really proud of myself that I was able to do this. And I think the fact that I had this little ruler helped make the blocks straight. I think that the fact that I had to take some of these out, make sure that these points lined up perfectly, you know, I think all of that helped me. And so for me this was one of those blocks where I feel like I learned something. But also when I look at the quilt it gives you that feeling, we all have quilts that do this but this quilt gives me that feeling that, I can’t believe I did this. You know it’s so cool. So how we put these together is we just sewed three rows, you know, three stars in a row, one, two, three, right together. And then the next. And that’s what forms these secondary patterns here like this which I think are so stunning. Sometimes those are the patterns that pop off the quilt and you see them.

So I hope you give this a try. It’s way easier than it looks. And it gives you such a feeling of accomplishment. And we hope you enjoyed this tutorial on the Morning Star from the MSQC.

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