The first part of our Mini forum Round Robin! A Foundation pieced St Louis Star.
Materials for complete quilt
- Total 1 1/4yd background fabric
- Five fat quarters for fabrics 1-5
- Lightweight interfacing for foundation piecing
- Thread to match the fabrics
- 30 x 35in wadding and backing or 30 x 35in fleece
- Fat Quarter for binding
- General sewing supplies
Block 6in square
Quilt 28in x 33in
I've chosen a foundation pieced block for the centre of our Round Robin, but if you are not keen on foundation piecing, or prefer a different block, you can substitute a 6in square finished sized block of your own choosing in Round One. The first round is your own, so it is only fair that your quilt starts with a block you enjoy! I would advise choosing a block made from three fabrics, but it is really up to you. In the following rounds it will be more important to stick to the instructions, as you might find you run out of a particular fabric otherwise!
Firstly, pick three fat quarters from your five and identify which will be fabric 1, 2 and 3. For the first round, we'll be using fabrics 1-3, and a small amount of background for the block and the first sashing strips. In our example Fabric 1 is Orange, Fabric 2 is Light Green, and Fabric 3 is Dark Green.
The St Louis Star is made from four quarter sections. If you haven't done any foundation piecing before, don't worry, it isn't difficult! The most awkward part is joining the four quarters neatly, as there is quite a lot of bulk in the centre. Foundation piecing is fun!
You need to print off the foundation template, which you can find here, St Louis Star
If you are familiar with foundation piecing, then choose three main and one background fabric, and piece your star in your prefered method. Square up your block to 6 1/2in. Cut 1 1/2in strips of background fabric, and attach as border sashings to your star block, to make an 8 1/2in block. If you'd like some further instructions for foundation piecing, then read on.
Foundation Piecing for Beginners
I find it helpful to mark my foundation pattern with the right fabric colours before I start, so follow the diagram below to mark up the pattern with your chosen fabric. With foundation piecing, you will sew from the back of the design, and everything is pieced in reverse. This means that you need to reverse your colour placement if you want your block to be identical to the version shown. As this block is rotationally symmetrical, it won't matter if you don't do this, so don't panic. The completed block is shown below, the foundation pattern for the top half below that, and the foundation for the lower half at the bottom.
The finished block
Colour code the foundation pattern
Preparing the foundation pieces
- Trace the pattern pieces including seam allowances, as accurately as possible onto the interfacing foundation and number all the sections. The block is made from four quarters, so cut the traced foundation into four sets of templates, one for each quarter of the block. Each quarter is pieced in the same way, so once you have mastered one, the rest are easy.
- Take fabrics 1 and 3 and cut a 1 1/2in strip across the width of each. Cut two 1 1/2in strips from fabric 2. Cross cut the 1 1/2in strips into 2 1/2in sections. These are larger than you need, but will be easy shapes to handle. You need a total of eight each fabric 1 and 3 sections, and sixteen fabric 2 sections.
- Cut a 2 1/2in x 10in rectangle and a 3in x 6in rectangle from your background fabric.
- Cut a 3in x 6in rectangle from fabric 3.
- Cross cut each of the two small rectangles into two 3in squares. Cross cut the large rectangle into four 2 1/2in squares. Then cut each square into two half triangles. This will give you four large background and fabric 3 triangles, and eight smaller background triangles.
Foundation piece the first section
The foundation for the first quarter block
- Take your first quarter block of traced foundation, a quarter block is made up of four pieces as shown. We will start with the half square triangle section, so cut this out roughly with a good gap outside the seam allowance line. With the drawn side of the foundation up, take a fabric 3 triangle and pin it to the other side of the foundation, RS up, taking care that the fabric covers the whole triangle and seam allowance marked on the paper. You can hold the foundation up to the light to check. Then take your background triangle and pin it WS up in the same place.
Start with the half square triangle section
1. The half square triangle section foundation. 2. The first piece pinned RS up on the reverse of the foundation. 3. The second piece pinned WS up on the reverse of the foundation.
- Check before you sew that when the background triangle is flipped over it is large enough to cover the second section and seam allowance. It is easiest to do this if you put a couple of pins on the actual seam line and then fold the fabric back.
- Sew on the line between the two triangles on the drawn side. Use a shorter stitch than usual and start and finish just over the line beyond the seam allowance. Trim the seams to 1/4in and press the fabric patch over, to cover the second triangle. If sewing by hand a small running stitch is good. There is no need for a backstitch.
- Continue with the third piece using the correct fabric 2 or 3 rectangle according to your chart. When the piecing is complete, cut out the complete section with seam allowance.
Making the Quarter Block
Left: Joining the first and second sections
Right: Joining the third and fourth sections
- Repeat the process above for the three triangular pieces, following the number order and fabric guide on the paper pattern. You will need two small background triangles and seven rectangles to complete the rest of the sections for the first quarter. Keep checking your marked pattern for fabric placement.
- Join each section to the next as shown, and you will have a completed quarter square.
- Square up your block by removing the ears where sections join. If the star centre point is very bulky, trim the seam allowance here.
Completing the St Louis Star
- Repeat for the above steps for the other three quarters, checking fabric placement against your diagram for each section.
- Join all four quarters in a four patch to form the whole square. There may be quite lot of bulk at the centre of the block, so take care here. Square up your block to 6 1/2in if needed. If your points are not as exact as you'd like, you could applique a tiny circle or other shape over the join!
Adding the Sashing
Cut 1 1/2in strips of background fabric, and attach as border sashings to your star block. If you chose to use your own 6 1/2in block, then add the sashing now. You should end up with an 8 1/2in sashed unfinished block.
Congratulations, you've finished Round One!
You have the option of sending your fabric on to the next round, or letting your Round Two quilter add the fabric of their choosing. Take a photo of your block for the album, and then parcel up the block and extra fabric if required. Then send your parcel to the next person in your Round Robin group, and wait for the next set of instructions.