• Greaseproof paper
  • 60cm of light background fabric - cut 6 strips 4 x 27" (patches 2, 3, 4, 13 and 14)
  • Fat 1/8 of bright red fabric - cut 6 strips 3 1/2 x 9" (patch 6)
  • Fat 1/8 of dark red fabric - cut 6 strips 3 x 6" (patch 5)
  • Scraps of brown / gold striped fabric - cut 6 strips 2 x 3" (patch 1)
  • Scraps of assorted greens for the trees (In Ruth's star, she has made the piecing even quicker by using just one piece of fabric for the trees. In this case you should treat patches 7 - 12 as one piece and buy a fat quarter of fabric
  • 6 strips 2 x 13" (patches 7 and 11)
  • 6 strips 2 x 7 1/2" (patch 8)
  • 6 strips 2 x 8" (patches 9 and 12)
  • 6 strips 2 x 5" (patch 10)
  • 75 x 75cm (30 x 30") wadding
  • 75 x 75cm (30 x 30") backing fabric
  • Invisible nylon thread
  • Metallic gold thread
  • 20cm of fabric for binding or 3m of decorative braid for edging
  • Gold star for the centre and other decorations as desired

Finished Size

27" x 24" (69 x 60cm)

Skill Level


Photographs by Jonathon Farmer, variations sewn by Jackie Tonks and Ruth Goodman.


  1. Scale up the Star Surprise foundation piecing pattern by 212% on a photocopier.
  2. Trace onto greaseproof paper or a foundation medium of your choice. Indicate your colour choices on the tracing or foundation fabric, following the numbers. Leave a 1/4" seam allowance around the outside of the diamond, before cutting.
  3. Sew six sections following the general foundation piecing instructions.
  4. Lay out the six sections to form the quilt. Sew three sections together, then join the two halves with a middle seam, Figure 1.
  5. Remove the foundation paper and press the quilt top.
Figure 1: Joining the six diamonds
Figure 1: Joining the six diamonds.

Foundation Piecing

  1. Trace pattern onto the greaseproof paper.
  2. Find piece number 1 on the pattern and cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover number 1 and a seam allowance.
  3. Pin fabric to the undrawn side of the paper, RS of fabric uppermost. Turn to the drawn side of the paper and hold the paper and fabric up to the light to check that the seam allowance extends beyond the lines of number 1.
  4. Find number 2 on the pattern and cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover number 2 plus a generous seam allowance.
  5. Place number 2 RS together with number 1. You will be sewing on the line between 1 and 2 on the drawn side, so check that you have placed the patch correctly and that the patch is big enough to cover number 2 plus seam allowances after sewing and pressing. Use pins to hold if necessary.
  6. Sew the patches together by sewing on the drawn line through all layers. Sew with a shorter stitch than usual. Start and finish three or four stitches beyond the line of the patch.
  7. Trim seams and press fabric patch 2 over, to cover paper patch 2.
  8. Continue in numerical order.

TIP! Make sure that you leave a seam allowance around the outside of the pattern. When the foundation piecing is complete, stitch with a large stitch all around the pattern, just beyond the outside seam line. This secures the edges and makes it easier to sew the blocks together. The blocks (or part-blocks) are joined on the solid outside line.

Quilting and finishing

  1. Layer the backing, wadding and quilt top together, pin and quilt as follows.
  2. Outline machine quilt the star and the tree shapes with invisible thread.
  3. Using gold thread, quilt inside the shapes and in the background. Quilt parallel lines or freehand stars, just have some fun!
  4. Cut the binding fabric 2 1/2" wide and join to give a total length of 110". Fold in half to make a double binding and sew to the edge of the star, mitring the corners.
  5. Finally sew on any other embellishments such as buttons or beads.(If using as a table centre, it is best not to decorate with buttons that are not flat).
  6. To use as a wall quilt, it is a good idea to sew a sleeve across the top widest edge of the quilt and insert a narrow batten. This will make the quilt lie flat against the wall. Sew a curtain ring on the top one or two star points (depends in which direction you are to hang it) and hang on picture pins.

TIP! Alternatively, for a quicker finish, you can use a decorative braid. Zigzag stitch around all the outside edges of the quilt and through all the layers. Now stitch the braid over the zigzag stitches, using invisible thread.

Variation by Jackie Tonks Strip pieced trees with braid trim by
Anja Townrow
Left: Strip pieced trees with binding by Jackie Tonks.

Right: Strip pieced trees with braid trim by Anja Townrow.

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 8 Number 7 - December 2000