I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long: North Star

It's hard to believe that it's already time for the penultimate block of I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long! If you're just joining in, you can find all of the information and past blocks on my quilt along page.

This week's block is a lovely North Star designed by Kathleen McCormick of Kathleen McMusing. You can find her blog post with the block pattern right here.

Tri-Recs Tutorial

I chose to make my block using the Tri-Recs rulers by EZ Quilting, and I've written a detailed tutorial in case you would like to do the same. The rulers come in a set, but we will only be using the Recs Tool for this block. I find that these rulers are pretty slippery, so I stuck some clear bumpy bandage tape to the backs of them.

To make the star points with the Recs Tool, you will need a 4 1/2" by 7" strip of each of the star point fabrics, and a 4 1/2" by 14" strip of the background fabric. I find that these come together better if I place the entire 4 1/2" line of the ruler on the fabric when cutting the strip (rather than putting the line right next to the edge of the fabric with the line itself on the cutting mat).

Cutting the Star Points

Since the star points are mirror images of each other, place the 4 1/2" by 7" strips of fabric right sides together before cutting. The fabric for the right star point should be face up, and the fabric for the left star point should be face down. For my block, that meant the green fabric was face up, and the red fabric was face down.

Line up the Recs tool with the left and top edges of the fabric. The 4 1/2" line on the ruler will be slightly above the bottom edge of the fabric. Cut along the right side of the ruler and cut off the notch in the top left corner. Removing the notch is essential for lining up the pieces when we sew.

Rotate the Recs tool so the angled side is lined up with the newly cut left edge of the fabric, and the blunt tip is lined up with the bottom of the strip. Cut along the right edge of the ruler and remove the notch at the bottom right.

Repeat this process to make two more cuts. You now have 4 mirror image sets of star points.

Cutting the Background

Fold your 4 1/2" by 14" strip of background fabric in half right sides together. This will allow you to cut the mirror image pieces necessary to go with the star points.

We will cut the background just as we did the star points. With the top and left edges of the Recs Tool lined up with the fabric, cut along the right edge of the ruler. Cut off the notch at the top left corner so we can line up the pieces when we sew.

Rotate the Recs tool so the angled side is lined up with the newly cut left edge of the fabric, and the blunt tip is lined up with the bottom of the strip. Cut along the right edge of the ruler and remove the notch at the bottom right.

Repeat to cut two more pairs of background triangles. You should now have four sets of mirror image background triangles to go with the star points we cut earlier.

Sewing the Star Points

Match the background triangles with the star point triangles. Since we were careful to cut mirror images, half of the background pieces should work with the left star points, and half of the background pieces should work with the right star points.

Lay the pieces right sides together along the angled edges to sew. The notches in the corners will line up with the bottom edge of the adjoining triangle. Check that the notches are lined up at both ends before sewing.

Sew with a scant 1/4" seam allowance. I find that I need a scanter than usual seam allowance when sewing these. It's a good idea to start with one star point and make sure it comes out right before chain piecing the rest.

Gently open towards the background fabric. Press with a dry iron only, being careful not to distort the unit.

Trim off the dog ears. The star point units should measure at 2 1/2" by 4 1/2" to finish at 2" by 4" in the block. Don't worry about the little notches in the corners. Those will be inside your seam allowance when you sew the pieces together.

You've finished the star point units! Now you can assemble them into the block as described in Kathleen's pattern.

Other Tips and Tricks

Now that the star points are finished, I have several tips to help you with the rest of the block. For the center square-in-a-square unit, I drew the diagonal line on my corner squares. I stitched just to the outside of the line to make sure there was enough fabric to fold over and reach all the way to the edge of the block.

Adding the stripes in the corner blocks was a little bit fiddly, but so worth it. I do recommend taking your time with this part. I pressed the seam open from the front of the block, only going about 1/2" at a time.

Once it was pressed, I flipped the block upside down to trim. I lined up the 45 degree line on my ruler right on the center seam.

I prefer to press my seams to one side whenever I can get away with it. It created a little bit of bulk in this block, but it wasn't too bad.

I started by sewing the pieces into rows. I pressed everything towards the star points. So, for the top and bottom rows, I pressed the pieces to the inside. For the middle row, I pressed the pieces to the outside.

Next I sewed the rows together, being careful to nest the seams between units. I pressed the rows towards the inside. Here's a view of my block from the back so you can see which way all of my seams are going.

This was a fun little block. I always enjoy stars, and this one is really unique. Many thanks to Kathleen for designing it!

The Rest of the Gang

As always, the 10 other quilt along hosts have each made their own versions of the North Star. Check out their posts to see the block in other colorways, and to get some more tips for success.

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Becca at Pretty Piney
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
Diane at Cwilt
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Karen at Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Sandy at SandyStar Designs
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilt in Piece

Prizes

This week's prizes are a Binding Baby from Shari Butler of Doohikey Designs and a PDF pattern of your choice from Jennifer Fulton of The Inquiring Quilter.

To be eligible to win, post your completed block before the next block is released. The official deadline for submissions is 11:59 pm Eastern Time on December 4, 2017. Enter by sharing your block in our Facebook group, on Instagram with the hashtag #iwishyouamerryqal, or by joining the linkup on Kathleen's post.

quilt along prizes

We also have a fabulous grand prize package. Here's a look at the wonderful sponsors we have lined up for that. To be eligible to win the grand prize, post a completed quilt top that includes all 12 blocks by 11:59pm Eastern Time on January 15, 2018. The final block will be released on December 5, so you'll have plenty of time. It doesn't even have to be quilted!

I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long: Christmas Lantern

It's hard to believe we're already on block 10 of I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long! The final block and setting suggestions will be revealed in just four weeks. If you're new to the quilt along, or if you need to play a bit of catch up, you can find links to all of the information and past blocks on my quilt along page.

This week is a lovely Christmas Lantern by Diane Lomax of Cwilt. Head on over to her blog post to download the block pattern. Remember, all of the blocks will be free until January 16, 2018, so you don't want to wait to download it.

Tips for Success

This was a fun block to make. I was new to piecing with templates, but I found that everything went together quite well. As long as you have an accurate quarter inch seam allowance, you'll do just fine.

I cut all of my pieces with my rotary cutter. I like to put my old rotary blades into a cutter that use whenever I need to cut through paper. That way the paper doesn't dull my nice sharp blade in my regular cutter.

I recommend looping a piece of tape to stick the template to the fabric as you cut. This way the template and the fabric will stay together. Otherwise, the paper likes to static cling to the rotary ruler, and you have to realign it with the fabric each time you move the ruler.

For the top and bottom of the lantern, I used my standard stitch and flip technique. I placed the background fabric on top of the lantern fabric and drew a line from corner to corner. Then I sewed just to the outside of the drawn line so there would be enough fabric to flip over and make the unit. I definitely recommend using pins for this since the rectangles like to shift.

For easy removal of the paper from your fusible web, score it with a pin. Fold along the score line, and the paper will pop right off.

I decided to applique the holly berries. To get them all the same, I found a button that was just the right size and traced around it. If you decide to use actual buttons instead of applique, it's a good idea to wait to add them until after quilting. That way you don't risk damaging your machine or your quilt by running into a button as you quilt.

My Partners in Crime

10 other wonderful quilters are hosting this quilt along with me. They have each made their own versions of the Christmas Lantern block and are sharing their tips and tricks. Check out their blog posts to see their ideas.

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Becca at Pretty Piney
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
Diane at Cwilt
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Karen at Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Sandy at SandyStar Designs
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilt in Piece

Prizes

We have another great set of prizes this week. Our winner will receive two packages of Steam-A-Seam 2 sheets from The Warm Company and a free pdf pattern of their choice from Vanda Chittenden of Quilt in Piece.

To be eligible to win, simply post your finished Christmas Lantern block by 11:59 pm Eastern on November 20, 2017. You can share your block in our Facebook group, on Instagram with the hashtag #iwishyouamerryqal, or by joining the linkup on Diane's post. I can't wait to see what you make!

We also have a fabulous grand prize package. Here's a look at the wonderful sponsors we have lined up for that. To be eligible to win the grand prize, post a completed quilt top that includes all 12 blocks by 11:59pm Eastern Time on January 15, 2018. The final block will be released on December 5, so you'll have plenty of time. It doesn't even have to be quilted!

Remington's Jelly Roll Race

A good friend of mine recently had his third daughter. I made a quilt for her two older sisters, so of course she needed one, too! You can read all about the first quilt here, and the second quilt here.

This time, I decided to go with a jelly roll race. Jelly roll races are always fun, and they come out just the right size. I was fortunate to have a friend that was willing to trade me a jelly roll in girl colors for one of mine in boy colors. For some reason, it seems like my friends only ever have girls, so my stash of feminine precuts has run dry.

One thing I did differently with this race quilt was to press each seam as I went rather than racing and pressing at the end. I enjoyed it much more this way, and I wouldn't be surprised if I saved myself a little bit of time in the process.

I quilted it with a design called Butterfly Enchantment. I just love how the quilting design softens the lines of the quilt. And every little girl needs some butterflies in her life.

For the backing, I found a minky dot at the local quilt shop. I think I prefer the look of regular minky without the dots, but the color was perfection. I also suspect that Remington will appreciate the extra texture of the dots as she begins to explore the world.

I didn't have enough of any one fabric in my stash that worked well for the binding, so I went scrappy. I hardly ever make scrappy bindings, but I always love them when I do. I attached it to both sides by machine since I don't love hand stitching in minky. The little bit of hand stitching for the long side of the label was plenty!

I'm so glad quilting is a way I can give to the people I love. It's always sweet to know the people I care about are wrapped in a quilt when they are too far away for a hug.