Sea of Stars QAL: It's a flying geese chase!

Welcome to the latest post in the Sea of Stars quilt along! Haven't started yet? No worries, this is a no-stress, join-in-when-you're-free quilt-along, so feel free to jump right in or bookmark the quilt-along for later :)

Just as there are several different ways to make half-square triangles, there's several ways to do flying geese. I'll show you the two methods I use most often, and you can decide how you'd like to make yours for your Sea of Stars quilt, or you can pin or bookmark this page for future reference!

Anatomy of a Flying Geese unit
A flying geese unit is made up of two integral parts, the geese/goose and the sky, creating a rectangular unit used very frequently in quilts and blocks.


geese/goose: the focal part of a flying geese unit, shown here in a beautiful print from Denyse Schmidt's upcoming Shelburne Falls line fabrics
sky: background pieces, shown here in white

Construction Two Ways

Method A: Shown in the Sea of Stars pattern, and the method I use most often, though it is slower than Method B

Creates one flying geese unit at a time

To make a 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" flying geese unit, you'll need:
(1) 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle of printed fabric
(2) 2 1/2" squares of white fabric

1. Using a ruler, draw a line across the diagonal of all of your white squares. I like to use either a Frixion pen, which disappears when an iron is applied to it, or a Hera pen, which creates a crease rather than an ink or pencil line. Then, place one at a time on the 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles, as shown below right sides together, with the diagonal line going from the bottom right corner of your rectangle fabric and continuing up to the center of the rectangle fabric.


2. Stitch just a few threads to the right of your line, just slightly closer to the corner.  



3. Fold back your white fabric to line up with the corner of your printed fabric.  Press well, using a hot, dry iron.  Trim excess seam allowance down to 1/4".



A word on waste: To avoid making waste in this step, you can add an additional seam approximately 1/2" closer to the corner from your first seam. Then, when you trim to a 1/4" seam allowance, you create a bonus half-square triangle, to use in a future project. You can do this on both sides of the flying geese units, using this method.


4. Using the remaining white square, line up raw edges and ensure that your diagonal line makes a triangle when it intersects with the existing neutral square/triangle. Stitch just a few threads closer to the corner again, fold back, press, and trim excess seam allowance.



Method B: A little more bang for your buck

Creates four flying geese units at once

Honestly, as much as I enjoy the lack of waste in this method, I must be just set in my ways, because I rarely actually use this method, though it is a solid flying geese method. 

To make four 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" flying geese units, you'll need:
(1) 5 3/4" rectangle of printed fabric
(4) 3 3/8" squares of white fabric

A math note: to calculate your own flying geese using this method, simply start with the width of the finished flying geese unit you plan to make, for example here, it's 4 1/2". Add 1 1/4" to that, which in this example equals 5 3/4". That is the size to cut your geese fabric, shown here in a printed fabric. One geese square will yield 4 finished flying geese units. To determine the size to cut your sky fabric, use the height of your finished flying geese unit and add 7/8." For this example, the finished height is 2 1/2", so when you add 7/8" to that, you get  3 3/8". Then, cut four sky squares using that calculation, to create the four flying geese units this method yields.

1. Just as we did in Method A, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of all four of the white squares, using the marking tool of your choice. Place two of the white squares, on the geese square, right sides together, aligning the raw edges of one square with the bottom left corner, and the other square with the top right corner of the geese square. Make sure that the lines you drew align in the center, where the two squares will overlap slightly.


2. Sew a scant 1/4" seam parallel to the lines you drew on the white squares, on both sides of the line, for a total of two seams.



3. Cut along the marked line, and ta da you'll have two units! But they're not flying geese just yet. :) Press the seam open for both units.



4. Take one of the two units and align one of the remaining white squares with the printed corner of the unit in progress, right sides together. Make sure that the marked line is pointing from the corner of the printed fabric through the two white triangles sticking off the printed fabric. This square will hang off the edge slightly, between the two white triangles. Sew a scant 1/4" on both sides of the line, then cut on the line.



5. Ta da!!! Two flying geese units! Press the seams open, and then repeat with the remaining white square and remaining unit in progress, and you'll have four flying geese units, with no waste.


Before you sew your flying geese into your blocks, you may want to trim the dog-ears (the pointy bits sticking out over your flying geese). Admittedly, I very rarely do this, because I like to take shortcuts, and I know my machine doesn't have any trouble sewing right over those dogears. I think one of the reasons dogears aren't an issue for me is because I press my seams open. Do what works best for you and your machine here.

Now, we've covered the basic units that you're making for your Sea of Stars blocks, I can't wait to see them coming together in the Flickr group! The next Sea of Stars quilt-along post will be January 5th, to give you time to get through the holidays, and on the 5th, I'll be sharing some basting and quilting tips. Remember, please don't feel like you have to keep up - this is a leisurely quilt-along, meant for you to follow at your own pace! Haven't joined us yet? No problem, jump right in! Everyone is welcome :)

Have a wonderful Friday and a great holiday season weekend!

Sea of Stars Quilt Along: All About Half-Square Triangles

Welcome to the second post of the Sea of Stars Quilt Along. Just joining us? The first post, about fabric selection, can be found here.

As you have probably noticed, there's quite a few half-square triangles in this quilt. Half-square triangles are one of the most common units found in quilt blocks, with its popularity first rising in the 1800s, toward the end of the Industrial Revolution. Over the years, quilters have used many different ways to make half-square triangles, and it seems that every quilter has a favorite.

My personal favorite method, shown here on my blog many times, is the 4-in-1 method, which is the method shown and used in the pattern. I prefer this method because it's quick, requires no prep work beyond cutting your fabric, and because it works well for me. However, I've heard concerns from some quilters about the bias edges that the 4-in-1 method creates. Indeed, the edges of the half-square units created with this method do have bias edges, but I've honestly never had an issue with them. If your bias edges have an attitude and give you a hard time, a quick spritz of starch will make them behave.

If the 4-in-1 method just isn't for you, let me show you a few other ways to put your half-square triangles together.

The 2-in-1 method is an adaptation to the old school method of cutting actual triangles and piecing them together. Not that there's anything wrong with that old school method, it's just got a lot of room for error, in my opinion. The 2-in-1 method is the art of pairing two squares together, drawing a line with your chosen marking tool across the diagonal the lighter of the two squares, and sewing a scant 1/4" on either side of that line.

Mark a line on the diagonal of the light squre

Then, you cut across the drawn line to create two separate units, which you then press and trim. You may have seen this method before, but I do the math a bit differently, which allows for a little bit more wiggle room in trimming as well as a bit of math ease. To determine the square size to start with for this method, simply add 1" to the size you plan to trim to. For instance, if I am going to trim my half-square triangles to 3 1/2", then I will need 4 1/2" squares to create those units.


The 8-in-1 method is quickly gaining popularity in my sewing room, thanks to Cherie, who introduced it to me earlier this year in her Carpenter's Star tutorial. The only downside of this method is that it does take a bit of math-related brainpower and a few moments with your chosen marking tool. This method is much like putting four of the 2-in-1 method squares together to create one large square that will ultimately yield 8 identical half-square triangle units. So, if I want to trim my half-square triangles down to 3 1/2", I would want to cut two squares measuring 9". Then, I would take my lighter square, and mark a line down both of the diagonals of the square, for a total two lines.

Mark two lines, creating an X

I would then stitch a scant 1/4" to the right and left of each of those two lines, for a total of four seams.

Sew a scant 1/4" on either side of the lines

To trim this block properly, I would first trim the squares in half lengthwise and then widthwise. Without moving the cut units, I would then cut along the lines that I drew on the light square, creating eight half-square triangle units to press and trim.


Regardless of the HST method you choose to use, to trim your HSTs down to the size you need, simply use a square ruler with a 45 degree marking on it. Align the seam in the center of your unit with the 45 degree marking, and then align the raw edges with the proper markings for the size you want. Typically, I first trim as shown in the picture below, going 1/4" larger than the size I truly want. I then rotate the unit and ruler and trim the remaining two raw edges to make sure my unit is the proper size.

Trim HST

Do you have a favorite HST making method? Or one I didn't discuss here? I'd love to hear about it! The next Sea of Stars quilt along post will be on December 14th. Go ahead and start cutting and tackling your half-square triangles, with whatever HST method you prefer to use. On the 14th, I'll be sharing some tips for creating your flying geese units. Have a great day!

Sea of Stars Quilt Along: Fabric selection


Welcome to the first post of the Sea of Stars Quilt Along! If you've already got the pattern, then the next step to take is to pick your fabrics. Oh, how I love fabric. Fabric selection is definitely one of my favorite parts of the quilting process. So, let's talk fabric, shall we?

Sea of Stars - detail 3

For my quilt, I used some Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids mixed with charms of Liberty of London's Bloomsbury Gardens. When I started thinking about this quilt along, I started to think about what fabrics I would pick for my next Sea of Stars quilt.

Near the top of my list is using Madrona Road, which is quite possibly my favorite fabric line of 2012. I happen to have some in my stash, and I think it would work really nicely with this pattern.


Another line I'm thinking about using is Mama Said Sew. I love the contrast in the colors here, and I've got a fat quarter bundle that is screaming to get used. I love the classic feel of the red, black, and grey in this line, and the text prints in this line are just fantastic.


The other line that I keep thinking about is Joel Dewberry's latest, Notting Hill. Having seen the fun, vibrant prints in person at Sewing Summit, I know I will definitely be stashing some soon. This could be make a really great girlie quilt...


When you're thinking about the fabric for your Sea of Stars quilt, here's a few tips and pointers to think about:

1) I'd recommend sticking with small to medium scale prints, if you're using prints. Large scale prints will really get lost in this pattern, since the pieces are fairly small.

2) When selecting your fabrics for the lattice of your quilt (shown in light gray on my quilt), if you use a directional print, order some extra yardage, as you may need to use more fabric to ensure that your directional print is uniform throughout. Solids are great for the lattice, but a using a print would be a great way to make your quilt unique.

3) Don't be afraid to use more color on this one! Use a bright contrasting color for your lattice, for instance, or for your star frames fabric.

If you don't have fabric in your stash for this quilt, let me help you out with that. The wonderful folks at Fat Quarter Shop are celebrating the start of this quilt along with coupon code SeaofStars, which will give you 10% off your supplies for the quilt along! Once you start getting your fabrics together, hop on over to the Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy to share a photo of your fabrics and to join the discussion. Make sure to grab a button, too! Happy sewing :)


Introducing: Sea of Stars, my newest pattern

I am so excited to share with you about my newest quilt pattern, Sea of Stars. Sea of Stars is now available in my pattern shop as well as my Craftsy shop!

Sea of Stars Pattern available today!

This quilt comes with five size options for your convenience: baby, lap, twin, queen, and king. This quilt pattern was inspired by a tile layout I saw once in a restaurant, and I love the way it looks in fabric.

Sea of Stars - detail 3

For the pattern sample, I made a lap sized quilt, using some gorgeous Liberty of London Bloomsbury Gardens prints as the centers for all of my stars. I used some beautiful Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids to pair with the Liberty prints, and I just adore working with the Cotton Couture fabrics!

Sea of Stars - front 2

The quilty photoshoot for this pattern was a bit of a mess - it was the windiest day I've seen in a long time, and I nearly lost the quilt to a retention pond, but thankfully I grabbed a corner of it before it flew away!

Sea of Stars - nearly lost it!

Quilt Details
name: Sea of Stars
size: 60" x 72"
pattern: Sea of Stars by yours truly, available here
fabrics: Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Soft White, Fog, Grey, Malibu and Aqua, paired with several Liberty of London Bloomsbury Gardens prints
quilting: wiggle free-motion stitch in grey 50 wt Aurifil and a stipple free-motion stitch in white 50 wt Aurifil thread
binding: Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Fog

Sea of Stars - detail 2

I hope you enjoy this pattern, and if you buy one, you'll be pleased to hear that I'll be hosting a quilt-along here on my blog to encourage you to make your very own Sea of Stars quilt! The quilt-along will kick off on November 19th, where I'll share some tips for planning out your fabrics for your quilt, and I'll continue to share tips and tricks on making the pattern for a few weeks, in a leisurely way. Feel free to join in whenever and please don't feel pressured to "keep up" - it's not a race, I'll just be posting regularly to keep myself on track :)

If you have a moment today, pop on over to Amy's Creative Side, where voting has opened up for Bloggers Quilt Festival. My mariner's compass mini is nominated for Best Mini/Doll Quilt, and I'm so honored, I'm in such great company! Have a wonderful Tuesday!