Friday, June 15, 2012

35 - Feathered Star

Tutorial for a 12 inch finished Feathered Star
Here we are, Block 35 of the Skill Builder Sampler, a 12 inch Feathered Star.  I'm not going to lie - this block is a killer - a real Skill Builder.  Lots of pieces to cut, trim and piece.  Lots of half square triangles that have to face a certain way and inset seams, but it is do-able.  My block isn't perfect, but I am hoping you will be able to do better.  :)

If you would like to practice making feathers on a smaller scale you can make this feathered pinwheel, Kansas Troubles, instead.  It was featured last year as part of Barbara Brackman's Civil War Sampler.   It finishes at 8 inches square, so just add on some 2.5 inch borders to bring it up to 12.5 inches.  But if you are feeling up to a challenge, take a deep breath and jump into the Feathered Star Tutorial.

From the background fabric cut:
(1) 6 7/8 inch square - cut it in quarters along both diagonals
(4) 3 5/8 inch squares
(12) 2.25 inch squares - draw a line along the diagonal
(8) 1.75  inch squares - cut in half along the diagonal

From the "Middle Star Fabric" cut:
(1) 4.25 inch square
(4) 2.75 inch squares - cut in half along the diagonal

From the "Feather Fabric" cut:
(12) 2.5 inch squares
(8) 1.5 inch squares
(8) 1 3/8 inch 45 degree diamonds

 To cut the diamonds cut a 1 3/8 inch strip of fabric and square up the end.

Line up the 45 degree angle line with the edge of the strip and cut at an angle.  Then line up the 1 3/8 inch line with the angled end of the strip and cut again.  Repeat down the length of the strip until you have 8 diamonds.


Use Method 2: Squares With Diagonal Line in this great post by Sandi of Piecemeal Quilts to make 24 half square triangles out of the (12) 2.25 inch background and feather fabric squares.  Trim the half square triangles (hst) to 1.5 inches square.

Sew together two hst and one 1.75 inch triangle as shown above.  Sew together 4 units of each orientation.

Sew together one hst unit and one background triangle as shown above.  Make 4.  Make 4 more in the opposite orientation also.

(I totally blanked taking a picture of the two orientations together.  But the other 4 should be oriented in the same direction as the two hst units above on the right.   Or you can just wait and look at the layout below and sew the units together then.)

Lay out the units as shown above.

Mark a quarter inch line on the bottom corner of the middle square and on the right angle of the large background triangle.

Sew one of the hst units to the 1.5 inch square.  Stop and back stitch at the quarter inch mark.

Repeat with the other hst unit - stopping at the quarter inch mark also.

Center the triangle pieces  and sew onto to each side.

Sew the side units together.  Sew a square to the hst unit, then add the diamond at the bottom.

When sewing the diamond to the triangle unit, make sure they overlap by 1/4 inch as shown above.

Sew the diamond units onto both sides of the main group.

Open up the seam allowance and line up the quarter inch marks.

Sew from the quarter inch mark (remember to back stitch) to the end of the fabric.

Rearrange the fabric and sew from the quarter inch mark to the end of the fabric along the other side.

YEA!!!  We are making progress!

Sew a diamond and hst unit together as shown above.

Sew to the top of a 3 5/8 inch square.

Sew the square units to either side of the main unit.  Repeat the process and make another of these large units for a total of two large units.

Arrange the remaining pieces as shown above.

Using the same steps as outlined above, sew the pieces together.  Remember to stop stitching a quarter inch from the bottom of the square.  Make two of these units.

Sew these units to either side of the middle 4.25 inch square.

Sew the large units to the top and bottom of the middle unit.

Sew in the inset triangles on each side as shown above.  Press really well, square up to size if necessary (12.5 inches).

Take some deep breaths and choose to overlook the fact that the points aren't all perfect and that the points of the diamonds will be cut off when it is attached to other blocks (arrggg!)  and just enjoy all that did go right. 

 Take your block out for a walk and photo shoot.  :)  You both deserve it!!!



  1. WOW! I am sweating just reading this! Gorgeous block!

  2. I am equal parts excited and afraid of this block. You did great and I love that last picture!

  3. Oh man- I'm going to have to pep talk myself into this one.

  4. Leila,

    I have followed, and dropped, several quilting blogs because they show you all the lovely things they have made but never share how they made them. I love that you take the time to share the how-to parts of the art of lovely quilting.
    Thank you! ~ Lynda

  5. Whoa... I'm a little scared! :)

  6. this thing is intense! i feel like i'm being super accurate and then when i finish a section it has serious bows and warps. i think i might use an entire bottle of starch on this one!

  7. This is gorgeous. Maybe I can finally jump back in!

  8. I have seen other feathered star blocks but they have more feathers, and it looks like paper piecing might be easier ?? Is the point that we need to do set in seams to learn this time? ;-)

    1. Paper piecing would be a great idea - too bad I thought of after I started to make the block. I guess the point was that I had always thought feathered stars were too hard to even bother to try and I wanted to do something that I thought was hard.

  9. Finished. Wow! I could feel the tension leaving as I pressed and finished up. I only have one point that will be hidden by other seams so I'm pretty happy with that. I used the paper pieced version and it worked pretty well.