Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Spinning Star* assembly tutorial

Anna Maria Horner has this great block that she has named Spinning Star*, and she has assembled a quilt using her fabrics and 9 of these blocks.   Not only is this block easy to sew together but it measures 18 inches square when finished which means you don't need too many of them to make a nice size quilt.

When I sewed the test block I ended up with a very fabric-congested and raised centre.  Having discussed this issue previously with a very competent quilter I knew it was time for the seam ripper.   After unpicking the centre and trimming and tidying up and then restitching the seams, it lay beautifully flat.

In an attempt to help prevent other sewers ending up with the same problem, I've put together this assembly tutorial and hope it helps you.

If you had to unpick the entire block you would this is how it would go:
First you'd have two halves, then four quarters, eight segments which in turn are made up of three pieces.

To make the block you will need to print out the pattern and templates.  Using the templates cut 8 of each of the three pattern pieces for the block = a total of 24 pieces.   (In the pattern these pieces are referred to as A, B and C.) Then lay out the pieces so that you are happy with the placement of your fabrics.  

Start assembling your block by taking the pieces that make up a segment and sewing them together. 

 When you place the pieces together you will see that when they are correctly placed rights sides together, there are little rabbit ears that stick out on both the start and the end of the seam.

 Next you'll sew two of these segments together.  Before you do that there is the matter of whether you iron seams open or iron them side ways.  I'm not willing to enter into a debate about the rights or wrongs of either.  For the purpose of this tutorial we will use my personal preference which is to press the seams so that they lie sideways.  This means that one segments seams should be ironed upwards and the other segments seams lie down toward the centre.  When you lay the two segments rights sides together the seams will nestle cosily against each other and you can push your pin through both top and bottom seamlines quite comfortably.

 Starting from the outside edge, sew toward the centre and stop sewing 1/4 inch from the edge.  Press your seams to set them and lay the seam to once side.  For this example you will see that all these seams lie in an anti-clockwise direction.

When you turn this corner quarter  piece over you'll see some rabbit ears sticking out on the edges. 

When all four corners / quarters are sewn together and you lay them face up then these little rabbit ears in the centre are very easy to spot. 

Now, it is time to get rid of them and any other ears sticking out at seam intersections. 

Now it is time to sew each 'corner / quarter section' to it's neighbour.  Again you will be able to nestle the seams against each other and pin them through the stitching line.

When you've done this you will have two halves.

Two things are important:
Firstly, when sewing the segments together, stop when you get to 1/4 inch from the edge;
Secondly, It is very important to trim off rabbit ears as it will lessen the bulk of fabric when you finally lay the completed block out and press it.

In the pictures above and below you will see how the seams are pressed to lie anti-clockwise and how the seams on each segment alternately lie up and down.

Next, pin the two halves together and sew the seams, again from the outside toward the centre, stopping 1/4 inch from the centre.

When it's finished, this is what your view of the back of the block should look like. 

The centre of the block where the seams all meet lies nice and flat and when you turn it over it is not raised.


Time now to stand back and admire your work.  It's a lovely block for a cushion cover or if you want, make a few more and you have a quilt.

If there are any questions or you'd like clarity on a point, please don't hesitate to ask.

*At first this tutorial post was named Spinning Wheel assembly tutorial.  It has since been amended to the correct block name - Spinning Star. 


  1. Thank you for the lovely tutorial, that will help a lot when I try this pattern, its on my list!

  2. Well, this is going to save me a boat load of frustration--thanks for all the great tips!

  3. I wish I had known about this before I attempted my paper-pieced star - I had trouble getting it to match up. I blogged about it and the trouble I got into - it might make you giggle.

    I hope you enjoy the Quilting Gallery mug rug swap.

  4. I love your blog so I have nominated you for the Liebster Award on my blog at www.quiltingadventuresofaginger.blogspot.com Have a great day and keep blogging!

  5. What a great tutorial! Thank you.


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