At long last here's my tutorial on how to make your own Columbia Star blocks.
First, I originally found this pattern on United Notions' website in their free patterns. It was called Portobello Market and measured 81" x 97". And as far as I can tell, its no longer available on their website but that's okay. I have a pdf copy for anyone interested.
CUTTING & MAKING STRIP SETS
Before we start let's talk about LOF (length of fabric). According to the original pattern, you are cutting strips the length of fabric (parallel to the selvage) because will help minimize stretching. The original pattern called for 2" x 31 1/2" (WOF X LOF) strips which is long enough for two star blocks. And what I learned is that left NO ROOM for error. So cut your strips from 36" LOF and that'll give you a little room for squaring up and a miscut should that happen.
For each block you will need five prints.
- Round 1 (Center) - 1 strip 2" x LOF
- Round 2 - 2 strips 2" x LOF
- Round 3 - 3 strips 2" x LOF
- Round 4 - 4 strips 2" x LOF
- Round 5 - 5 strips 2" x LOF
Below is a picture of my strips laid out into five strips sets.
Sew the strips in each set together staggering the 3/4". Always press in the direction of the arrows. They should now look like this.
CUTTING UNITS & MAKING SECTIONS
Next, from each strip set you will cut 12 units. To start align the 60 degree line of your ruler with the bottom of your strip and trim off the uneven edge (first pic). Then cut 2" strips, aligning the 2" mark on your ruler with the 60 degree edge you just trimmed (second pic).
Every so often its a good idea to make sure everything is still aligned correctly. If not just trim your 60 degree edge again before cutting more strips.
After you have cut all your units lay them out like this and you are ready to start piecing them together.
I like to piece mine working left to right, starting with strip sets E and D, and sewing from the center outward. Lining up the pieces properly is the most critical part to a perfect star.
Lay Unit D on top of Unit E, right sides facing as shown. Lined up properly your 1/4" seam should begin where the arrow is pointing in the front view picture. When you are looking at the two units from the back side, the seam of Unit D should meet the corner of Unit E. (This rule applies when adding the other units too).
Here's another view of how they should line up.
Sew and press toward Unit D. Continue adding the other units in the same manner and pressing toward the newly added unit.
COMPLETING THE BLOCK
When done you will now have 12 block sections. Lay out six sections for one star block and sew them together from the center out, pressing in one direction. If you've pressed all your seams in the right direction, all your sections should butt up perfectly.
When sewing the two halves together I like to again sew from the center out and then turn it around and sew the other direction. This helps to create a more perfect center.
And when pressing the final seam, to reduce the bulk in the center and keep all the seams "spinning" in the same direction pop a few stitches from the back the first two sections were together for each half. If you've done it right, it should look like this.
TRIMMING THE BLOCK
To trim your block align the 7 3/4" line of your ruler with the center of your block. Trim the edges off. Continue rotating and trimming each side in the same manner until all six sides are trimmed.
And you're done...with the block that is!
To set your blocks, cut 60 degree triangles from 8 1/4" strips and set like you would any hexagon quilt.
I hope y'all enjoyed my tutorial and will use it to make Columbian Stars of your own. If you do, I'd love to see them!
Please feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have and I'll try to answer them in another post. And don't forget to leave me a comment if you would a like a copy of the pattern I used to make this quilt.