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


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!