Nancy’s Quilting Classroom: Star Quilts

Do you have a favorite quilt block? Mine is a star block and I love star quilts. My first finished quilt was made from quilt blocks that created a Variable Star block when set side-by-side. So, perhaps, that’s why star quilts are a go-to design for me.

I love any star block! But, my absolute favorite is a Feathered Star block — a Feathered Star quilt is hard to beat. These complex looking blocks are really not that hard to make and are certainly well worth the effort. When making a Feathered Star block, make sure there is plenty of contrast between the background fabric and the feather fabric. In “Blooming Feathered Star” from Love of Quilting September/October 2014, I used a white-on-white print for the background and a red tone-on-tone print for the feathers.

Blooming Feathered Star Quilt
Blooming Feathered Star Quilt

The block I used to create “Tranquil Stars” from Love of Quilting November/December 2012 is called a Formosa Tea Leaf. For this star quilt, I used a cream print for the background in all of the blocks. For the large diamond shape, I used a several brown, tone-on-tone prints. For the small diamond shapes, I used a red print for the center diamond. For the rest of the small diamonds, I used four different fabrics ranging in value from light to dark, making sure to place the darkest fabric in the outer most diamond. The result was a blended look which allowed the center of the block to glow.

Tranquil Stars Quilt
Star Quilt

When I was designing “Double Stars” from Love of Quilting July/August 2014, I decided to use two different colors for the background in the blocks. I made half of the blocks using a white background and the other half of the blocks using a dark blue background. I then reversed the placement of the fabrics for stars in each block. So, half of the blocks have large white stars and the other half has small white stars. The result is a very traditional, yet modern looking star quilt, that is super easy to make.

Double Stars Quilt
Star Quilt

At first glance, you might not notice the stars in the Swamp Angel quilt blocks in “Illusions” from Love of Quilting May/June 2014. That’s because I wanted the stars to take a backseat in this quilt design. Instead, I wanted you to notice the black prints zigzagging diagonally across the quilt. I also used teal prints in the squares to help draw your eye along the zigzag path. Using a white print for the star points, allowed the stars to recede into the background.

Illusions Quilt
Star Quilt

It’s always fun combining a star block with another block to make a two-block quilt. In “Stars and Checks” from Love of Quilting September/October 2015, I created my own version of a Pinwheel Star block and combined it with an Irish Chain block. Then, I used a lovely collection of red-white-and-blue prints to make a patriotic quilt. The key was making sure to use light, medium, and dark prints with good contrast to make the design sing. This star quilt may look difficult, but it’s mainly composed of triangle-squares, which can be made quickly and accurately (see the quilting video tutorial below).

Stars and Checks Quilt
Star Quilt


As you can see, star blocks are very versatile. You can set them side-by-side in a horizontal setting or in an on-point setting. Star blocks can be combined with sashing, as well as a variety of other quilt blocks. Or, you can make one big block and add pieced borders. Perhaps it’s their versatility that makes star blocks a perennial favorite.

Nancy Mahoney, Fons & Porter Guest Blogger

 

Happy Quilting!

Nancy

 

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Nancy Mahoney

About Nancy Mahoney

Author, teacher, fabric designer, and award-winning quiltmaker, Nancy Mahoney has enjoyed making quilts for over 30 years, during which time an impressive range of her beautiful quilts have been featured in many books and in over 180 national and international quilt magazines. Nancy enjoys combining traditional blocks and updated techniques to create dazzling quilts. She doesn’t consider herself a specialist in one particular area, although Nancy’s favorite techniques include precision machine piecing, quilt design, and machine appliqué. When she’s not designing and making quilts, Nancy enjoys traveling to guilds and events around the country, sharing her quilts, teaching her piecing and machine appliqué techniques, and visiting gardens. Visit Nancy on her website, www.nancymahoney.com, for more quilting information and fun!

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