Nancy’s Quilting Classroom: Easy Techniques for Quilt Patterns

Have you ever looked at a quilt pattern and loved the quilt but didn’t know where to start? At first glance, quilt patterns that contain a lot of pieces can be overwhelming. So much so, that often the quilt pattern is added to the “some day” pile. Many years ago, while working in a tailor shop, I learned a valuable lesson that applies to quilting: when faced with a complicated task, don’t dwell on how much there is to be done, take it one step at a time, and before you know it, the job will be finished.

With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at my quilt “Glory Stars” from Love of Quilting September/October 2016. Although this quilt appears to be two different quilt blocks, it’s actually a Star block with pieced sashing.

This quilt is made up of four total units – three for the quilt block and one for the sashing. To start, I broke the block design into three individual units. Here’s a breakdown of how I approached each unit as I moved through this quilt pattern:

  1. As I’ve already mentioned, this Star quilt block has three units. I made the corner units first, starting with the Triangle-Squares. It’s helpful to have an idea of how you’re going to approach each technique. For Triangle-Squares, an easy and quick method is shown in the video below.
corner unit

2. Next, I made the side units. These units contain a pieced unit, cut from a strip set, and a Flying Geese unit. I could have used a number of different techniques to make the Flying Geese units. Since all the Flying Geese are identical, I used my favorite no-waste method for making these units. The added bonus is you make four perfect units without having to cut any triangles. It’s a really efficient method shown in the video below.
side unit diagram

3. The third units in this quilt block are the center units. There are a couple different ways to make them. Although there is a little waste, I’ve found the Directional Diagonal Seam method (shown in the video below) to be easy and accurate. And, again, you don’t have to cut any triangles.
center unit diagram

After assembling the blocks, I made the sashing units. For these units, I made a strip set and then cut the units from the strip set. Easy peasy! Here’s Colleen Tauke, Fons & Porter Sewing Specialist, to show you how to create strip sets for your next project.

Well there you have it! Four (relatively) simple units is all you need to construct this intricate looking quilt. Always remember, it all begins with cutting the pieces accurately. It’s also important to use an accurate ¼” seam allowance.

Nancy Mahoney, Fons & Porter Guest Blogger


Happy Quilting,



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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,, for more quilting information and fun!