Monday, January 7, 2013

Small Lone Star Block Tutorial

When I pieced another small Lone Star block yesterday I took pictures to share how to construct it. 
1 strip dark green (1.5” x 20”)
1 strip medium green (1.5” x 20”)
2 strips light green (1.5” x 20”)
4 white squares (3-3/8”)
1 white square (5.25”) cut diagonally twice into 4 quarter square triangles.

Sew 1/4 seams for all seams.

Strip sets and sub-cut units

1.  Sew a light green strip and a medium green strip together along a long side.  This finished strip set should be 2.5” wide.

 (Oops. I forgot to take pictures of theses steps, so I had to sew up another strip set after the fact to demonstrate.  Pretend that leafy print is light green!)

2. Lining up the 45 degree line on your quilting ruler with the bottom edge of the strip set, cut the end of the strip set at a 45 degree angle.


3. Line up the 1.5” line on your ruler with the cut end of the strip to cut one unit. Repeat to make a total of 8 units.


4.  Repeat steps 1 to 3 with a light green and a dark green strip.

Sewing units into diamonds

1.  Pair your light/dark and light units as shown above.  If you have a corner trimming template, trim one point as shown in the 2nd and 3rd photo below.  This will help you line up your two units to sew them into a diamond.


See below how that trimmed point on the top unit lines up nicely with the angled edge on the bottom unit?  If you don’t have a corner trimmer, just make sure the upper point on the top unit sticks out the same amount as the lower point of the bottom unit.



2.  Sew along the right edge. You should now have a diamond as you see on the right.

3.  Repeat 7 more times to make a total of 8 diamonds.

Marking the points

To sew the diamonds to each other and to the setting pieces, you will need to sew set-in seams (AKA Y-seams).  To do this, it's helpful to mark a dot at each point where seam allowances intersect on the 4 corners of the diamond as well as at all corners on the white background squares and quarter-square triangles.  An article at suggested using templates to quickly find where to place the dots.  If you are making several blocks, taking time to make templates will be time well-spent!  I made mine out of template plastic, but stiff card would work as well.

1.  Draw and cut out a 45 degree diamond shape.  The size doesn’t matter, as long as the angles are correct (sharp corners are 45 degrees, wide corners are 135 degrees). 

2.  Draw lines 1/4” from all sides.  Punch holes where these lines intersect.  Make another template in a square shape the same way.


3.  Line up each angle of the diamond with the corresponding angle on the template and mark a dot through the punched hole.  You can use the 45 degree angle of the diamond template to mark the 45 degree point of the background triangles.  

4.  Use the square template to mark the corners of the background squares as well as the 90 degree angle on the triangles.


Joining diamond units

1.  Sew two pieced diamonds together, matching points.  Start the seam at the tip of the diamond that will be at the center of the star (in this case the dark green tip). Stop sewing at the dot you marked on the wide angle (light green).  Backstitch 3 or 4 stitches to lock the seam. You now have a V-shaped unit.


2.  Repeat step 1 three more times to make a total of 4 V-shaped units.

Setting in background triangles


1. Match the marked dot on the medium green point of one diamond with the dot on the 45 degree angle of the white background triangle.  Pin.

2.  Match the marked dot on the triangle’s square angle with the dot on the diamond’s wide angle.  This should be where you stopped sewing the seam joining the two diamonds. Pin.

Steps 1 and 2

3.  Sew from the outside point towards the center, stopping at the marked dot and backstitching to lock the seam.  Be sure that the other diamond shape does not get caught up in the seam.


4. Pin the other side of the triangle to the adjacent diamond unit.  


5.  Sew from the outside point towards the center, stopping where the seam meets the previous seam.  Backstitch.  Press the seam between the diamonds open to reduce bulk and help the unit lie flat.  Also press away from the triangle towards the diamonds.

Step 5 back view

Step 5 front view

6. Repeat  with the remaining V-shaped units to make a total of 4 quarter star units.

Final Assembly

1.  Sew two quarter star units together as shown, again matching dots.  Sew from the dark green points towards the light green, stopping and backstitching at the marked dot on the light green. You now have a half-star.  Repeat.

Make 2

2.  Set in a background square as shown, setting in the seams as you did with the background triangles when you made the quarter star units.  Press the center seam open to reduce bulk, and press the square towards the green. Repeat with the second half-star.


3.  Sew the two half star together as shown, matching marked points on the light green points and matching seams at the center.  Sew only between the marked points and take a few backstitches at the beginning and end of the seam.  Press the seam open.



4.  Insert the last two background squares, setting in the seams as you did before.  Press towards the star.

You’re done!  The block finishes at 9-5/8 inches square.
If you prefer a totally scrappy look like the block I posted about here you can cut units from a variety of strip sets instead of just two colour coordinated ones, but the construction will be the same.


Note: The lone star is a very traditional block, and can be made in a variety of sizes, with many more smaller diamonds per large diamond. I was inspired to use this size for a table runner by the quilt “Sowing Seeds” by Catherine Kypta in the May/June 2008 issue of Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine. I am using the same block size but I chose to use fewer fabrics in each star.

UPDATE:   Look here to see what I made with my lonestar blocks!


  1. Great tutorial! All those pictures really help to explain! Thanks! ---"Love"

  2. Fantastic! Thanks for that Joanne - I've always thought this block was too hard but your technique makes it approachable. Perfect points too!

  3. Thanks! I agree with Ann. This makes a good "starter" lone star block and more doable than the great big one.

  4. That makes it look easy, but I know it takes practice. But thanks for the photos and instructions. One day I might try it again...or need to...and this will be helpful.

  5. I marked this in my favorites so I can find it again. Thanks for the tutorial, it really makes this do-able. Great pictures and instructions! ! !

  6. Thank you -- this is indeed very helpful. You should be very pleased with how well this tutorial came out. Lovely!