This quilt takes its name from the blocks being able
to be arranged into many designs, you then
have the choice of deciding which one
looks the best, which is not an easy
task, you will want to make them all.
- 40cm of purple stripe fabric
- 60cm of purple swirl fabric
- 30cm each of blue, orange and natural
- 50cm each of blue, orange and natural
- 3m of navy fabric for blocks, sashing
- 135cm square of backing fabric
(could be pieced)
- 135cm square of wadding
- Foundation of your choice – see note
53in (135cm) square
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 2: For a larger quilt make extra blocks and add sashing
- Cut the following:
- Ten 2 1⁄2in strips across the width of
the navy fabric for the inner and
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Finishing the Quilt
- Cut the backing fabric at least 1 1⁄2in
larger than the quilt top, and the same
with the wadding.
- 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.
- Quilt in your favourite way either with
straight lines or you could use a pattern
inside the blocks.
- 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.
- 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