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Awash With Color Mystery Sampler -- Block 7

Greetings! Our skill-building Awash With Color Mystery Sampler continues to get a great response from our readers. In this update you will find the block pattern and tutorial for Block No. 7, Star Gazer. We are well on our way, but it's not too late to play catch-up if you would like to make this mystery sampler quilt. You can find all the past block patterns on the Quilter's World website in the past updates. Just click on the "Select an Issue" pull-down menu at the top of this page and select the update issue you need. I designed this mystery sampler, Awash With Color, not only as a fun project but also to be a great scrap and stash buster. So, I hope you'll play along with us, build up your skills and, in the process, use some of your favorite fabrics all while making a lovely quilt. This is a take-your-time project, so you don't need to rush.

Let me introduce myself: I'm Carolyn Vagts, editor of Quilter's World magazine and writer of this update. That's my day job, and at night, I'm an addicted quilter. I tend to eat, breathe and sometimes sleep with my quilting. I have a beautiful studio with my work space right in it. How convenient, since I work at and with quilting. As editor, I am very hands-on with every issue. I'm also very hands-on with this update. I love to share my thoughts, inspiration and my experiences with other quilters in hopes to inspire them on to another project.

With each update I select a book or pattern to accompany it. As we continue to work on the Awash With Color Mystery Sampler for the next couple of months, I will continue to suggest patterns and sometimes books I feel will be of value to anyone who wants to improve her or his quilting skills. This time I'm suggesting Blooming Scarecrows, a downloadable quilt pattern that I feel goes along with Block No. 7. It is a great pattern to work on your piecing skills while at the same time making a lovely gift for someone special. This pattern has lots of small star blocks which will help you with maintaining nice crisp points if you practice and go slowly.

Blooming Scarecrows
The Blooming Scarecrows table runner quilt pattern can be purchased at AnniesCraftStore.com.

For the seventh block in this mystery sampler series, Star Gazer, you will need your chosen background fabric (mine is black) and three other contrasting fabrics. Keep in mind that for this particular block design you will be making a total of only two blocks. I'm using the same fabrics for both of mine, but you can change up the colors and make them different if you wish. After all, this is your quilt.

This is the second to the last of the blocks before we reveal the setting and the setting instructions so keep that in mind when selecting your colors. You may want to take a quick look at the previous blocks you made before you make that selection. Questions you may want to ask yourself include: Do I have a nice balance of colors? Do I need to add more colors? Do I want to repeat some of the colors I've already used?

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Diagram of Block No. 7 -- Star Gazer. Make two blocks.

Cutting List for Block No. 7 -- Star Gazer

(Makes two blocks)

From the background (black) fabric cut:
  • 16 (2-inch) A squares
  • 16 (2 3/8-inch) B squares, the cut once diagonally (HST)
  • 4 (4 1/4-inch) C squares, then cut twice diagonally (QST)

From yellow cut:

  • 8 (3 7/8-inch) D squares, then cut once diagonally (HST)

From purple cut:

  • 16 (2 3/8-inch) E squares, then cut once diagonally (HST)

From fuchsia dot cut:

  • 2 (6 1/2-inch) F squares
Note: You can easily substitute your color choices. The only one I would suggest you should keep the same all the way through the Mystery Sampler is the background fabric. All the rest can and should be pulled from your stash if possible.

HST is the abbreviation for Half-Square Triangle. QST is the abbreviation for Quarter-Square Triangle.

Saving all your scrap pieces from each of the blocks is a really good idea. You may want to use those pieces in one of the upcoming blocks to help pull all the colors in the quilt together, or you might possibly use them in a border or binding.

Once I was sure of my color selections I took my time cutting out all the pieces I needed to complete two Star Gazer blocks. Because much of this block is small piecing, it's important to cut the pieces just right. With small piecing you can easily see mistakes and the block can go askew if you're not careful. Having said that, this block really isn't difficult once you break it down into units. The corners are simply four-patch units with a couple of HST units, and the center is a large plain square. The double flying geese units are the only real challenge in this block. I know the block looks difficult but that's mainly because of the small pieces. The small pieces are done just the same as the larger ones so don't worry about the size. Just take your time.

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My chosen fabrics for Block No. 7, Star Gazer, and cutting out the pieces for my two blocks.

The Star Gazer block can be broken down into three parts: four double flying geese units, four corner block units and one large center square. Starting with the corner block units, I laid out the pieces (A, B and E), making sure that the orientation was correct (Photo 1). Then I matched up one black B HST with one purple E HST and stitched along the diagonal seam to make a total of two B-E units for each corner unit. I pressed the units open, trimmed off the dog ears and replaced the units into the layout, making sure once again of the placement (Photo 2). Then I stitched two B-E units to two black A squares to complete one corner unit (Photo 3); this unit should measure 3 1/2-inch square. I made a total of eight corner units, four for each of the two blocks.

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The pieces laid out for the corner units (Photo 1), piecing the HSTs (Photo 2) and the finished corner unit (Photo 3).

Next, I laid out the pieces (two each B, E and C) for the center pieced triangle (Photo 4). I started with the inside flying geese unit. I stitched one purple E HST to one side of a black C QST, pressed it open and then stitched another purple E HST to the other side and pressed it open (Photo 5). I laid the inside flying geese unit back in the layout (Photo 6) and prepared to stitch the next pieces together.

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The layout for the center pieced triangle (Photo 4), making the inside flying geese unit (Photo 5) and then returning it to the layout (Photo 6).

Next, I stitched the remaining black C QST to the top of the inside flying geese unit and pressed it open (Photo 7). Then I stitched one black B HST to each side and pressed them open to complete the center pieced triangle. Then I was ready to stitch two yellow D HSTs to each side of the center pieced triangle to complete the double flying geese unit (Photos 8 and 9). I made eight double flying geese units; that's four units for each block.

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The finishing steps of making a double flying geese unit (Photos 7-9).

Once all the double flying geese units were trimmed to size (6 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches), removing the dog ears, I laid out four of these units with four corner units and one center F square for one block (Photo 10). Then it was easy to see the yellow star. This is the time to really scrutinize your color selections. Ask yourself if these are the best colors for this block. I sort of wished I'd selected a bit brighter yellow, but I can live with my selection. I've really gone bright in my fabric selections all the way through this skill-builder quilt and a richer yellow would have been in keeping with that. Sometimes you have to weigh whether a choice you've made is one that you'll be happy with in the long run. If it bothers you, now is the time to change it. It may require some ripping out of seams and/or cutting new pieces, but if it saves you annoyance/anguish later on, then it's worth the extra time now. I've decided that my choice for the D HSTs is all right, so I'll be leaving it as it is.

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The Star Gazer block in progress with the stitched units and square placed in the order they need to be when finished (Photo 10).

Now it was time to stitch all the units together into rows and then blocks. For the center row, I stitched a double flying geese unit on each side of the F square, making sure to stitch through the intersecting points slowly so everything stayed nice and square and the points would not be blunted (Photos 11 and 12). For the top and bottom rows, I stitched a corner unit to each side of the remaining double flying geese units. I then assembled and stitched the rows together to make one 12 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch block. I repeated these steps to make the second block.

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Stitching the rows together to complete the block, taking care at each of the points (Photos 11 and 12).

When you break down the piecing into units, any project seems easier. You can concentrate on a smaller section, and in turn, you can take better care of how that unit is pieced. The Star Gazer block looks hard until you break it down into manageable sections. I love how this block went together and I hope you do also.

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One finished Star Gazer block and one to go (Photo 13).

In the next update you will get the eighth and final block for this mystery skill builder. Now is the time to collect all the extra pieces of fabric used in these blocks. I suggest that you use many of them in the final block pattern. I hope you are enjoying these blocks and are finding them a learning experience. I know I am.

Please let me know how you feel about participating or if you have any suggestions for how to present the instructions. I'd love to hear from you at Editor@QuiltersWorld.com.

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