Surprise Stars


  • 40cm of purple stripe fabric
  • 60cm of purple swirl fabric
  • 30cm each of blue, orange and natural stripe fabric
  • 50cm each of blue, orange and natural swirl fabric
  • 3m of navy fabric for blocks, sashing and binding
  • 135cm square of backing fabric (could be pieced)
  • 135cm square of wadding
  • Foundation of your choice – see note

Finished Size

53in (135cm) square

Skill Level


You can download a pdf copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, Surprise Stars


There are many different foundation mediums. For example, you can use ordinary paper which can be put through the copier, freezer paper which can also be copied, Stitch ‘n’ Tear which Jenny prefers as it acts just like fabric when in use, or lightweight sew-in Vilene which is very good and can be left in place when blocks have been completed and is also hand piecing friendly, as you do not have to tear foundation medium away.


  1. Draw your main foundation templates. Start with a 6 1⁄2in square and add the lines as shown on the foundation diagrams. Add a 1⁄4in seam allowance around the outer edge. Copy each A and B quarter section 18 times onto your chosen foundation; you will need two A and B sections for each block.
  2. There are nine 13in blocks to make up this quilt. For each block cut across the width of the fabric:
    • One 2in strip from a stripe fabric
    • Two 2 1⁄2in strips from a swirl fabric
    • Three 2 1⁄2in strips from the navy fabric
  3. Following the foundation method, start with section 1, which on all blocks will be from a stripe fabric. Sections 2, 3, 6 and 7 are in the navy fabric, and sections 4, 5, 8 and 9 are in a swirl fabric, this sequence is the same for all blocks. Jenny suggests lightly shading all the navy sections on the foundation fabric for quicker piecing and to prevent mistakes as foundation piecing is almost impossible to unpick.
  4. Make nine blocks in your choice of colours. This quilt shows two blocks each in blue, orange and natural and three blocks in purple. If you want to change that remember to buy different quantities of fabric.
  5. Once all the blocks have been made then comes the fun time. Start arranging the blocks in different sequences. There are many designs, see Figure 1 for some ideas. If you have a digital camera then keep taking pictures of your arrangements. Jenny’s choice in the end was to keep the blocks in their colour sets, but to alternate each quarter, with two pointing to the centre and the other two pointing towards the outside of the block. Once you have made your decision, sew the blocks together in rows of three then join the three rows to complete the quilt top centre..
Figure 1: Alternative arrangements of the blocks
Figure 1: Alternative arrangements of the blocks


Figure 2: For a larger quilt make extra blocks and add sashing
Figure 2: For a larger quilt make extra blocks and add sashing
  1. Cut the following:
    • Ten 2 1⁄2in strips across the width of the navy fabric for the inner and outer borders
    • One 1 1⁄2in, one 2in and one 2 1⁄2in strip from each stripe and swirl fabric across the width of the fabric for the main border
  2. Join all the navy strips of fabric together end to end to make one long strip. Measure the width of the quilt and make a note for later. Measure the length of the quilt and cut two strips the same size in navy and sew one to each side.
  3. Randomly sew a total of eight stripe and swirl fabrics together along their long edges: repeat twice more with the remaining strips of stripe and swirl fabrics. Cut across these pieces to give 3 1⁄2in strips.
  4. Add a striped border to each side of the quilt by joining together enough of your groups of strips to make borders to fit. Sew to the navy borders and press towards the outer borders.
  5. Measure the top and bottom of the quilt; cut two navy strips to fit these edges. Sew these in place and press as before. From the pieced striped border fabric cut four 3 1⁄2in squares, these will form the four corners. Sew a 2 1⁄2 x 3 1⁄2in strip of navy to one side of each square. Make two striped border strips the measurement noted in step 2 and add the pieced corner pieces to each end. Before you cut check that the border will fit the width of the quilt with the navy meeting the side borders, adjust if necessary.
  6. Finish the top by sewing the rest of the 2 1⁄2in navy fabric strips to all four sides in the same manner as before, measuring all the edges before cutting the fabric, this will help to keep the quilt square with no wavy edges.

Finishing the Quilt

  1. Cut the backing fabric at least 1 1⁄2in larger than the quilt top, and the same with the wadding.
  2. Lay the backing fabric on a table or floor and smooth out; using masking tape, stretch out and tape the sides down to keep in place. Lay wadding on top, smooth out, and then lay on the quilt top, smoothing it from the centre out. Pin or tack in place through all three layers.
  3. Quilt in your favourite way either with straight lines or you could use a pattern inside the blocks.
  4. Trim the excess wadding and backing fabric from the edge of the quilt, making sure you keep the quilt square; a long ruler is useful for this.
  5. Cut five 2 1⁄2in strips from the navy fabric, join these strips end to end, press in half lengthwise, WS together, to make a binding 1 1⁄4in by the length needed to go all around the edge of the quilt. With the raw edges level, sew this all around the edge of the front of the quilt by machine, fold over to the back of the quilt and slip stitch in place

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 13 Issue 1 - January 2005