Star of Virginia Block Tutorial // Summer Sampler Series

Summer Sampler Series (1 of 1)

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you love the Summer Sampler as much as I do. While you are here, check out my book, Vintage Quilt Revival, consider subscribing to new posts by email (in the side bar to the right), or Follow on Bloglovin

Welcome to the Summer Sampler Series! I know I can’t wait to get started, I hope that you consider joining in, for 3 blocks or 12!

For my first block, I chose the Star of Virginia, found on page 266, block 2141b in the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. (Note: The Encyclopedia is a great resource, but not necessary to participate in the Summer Sampler Series).

Like many traditional blocks, the Star of Virginia has several names, including Variable Star, NorthStar and Sawtooth Star (of course, I chose to use Star of Virginia because I live in Virginia…) I found some beautiful historic quilts using this pattern online; this one was sold in 1836 at a fair organized by the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. Click on it. It’s gorgeous!

Have you ever visited the International Quilt Study Center’s website? Located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the site is a treasure trove of information. This beautiful quilt on the left was most likely made in Pennsylvania in 1886; spend some time on the site, I guarantee that you will be inspired.
[International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2003.003.0317]


Summer Sampler Series (1 of 1)CHOOSING FABRIC
I think choosing fabric is the best part! I chose three fabrics for this block: Kona snow, and two Katie Jump Rope prints (blue ribbon flowers and blue basketweave).  Alternately, you can make this block with a solid instead of patterned background, make the star points scrappy, etc.


1. Cut according to the diagram below; note that the 3 7/8 inch squares and 7.25 inch squares will be sub-cut.
Block Pieces
Inside Square (blue ribbons)
6.5 inch square
Background (blue basketweave)
7.25 inch square
3.5 inch square
Star Points (Kona snow)
3 7/8 square
2. Take your 7.25 inch square and cut it in half, corner to corner.  Repeat on the other diagonal; you will end up with (4) quarter square triangles (see picture above).
3. Cut the (4) 3 7/8 squares on the diagonal one time; you will end up with (8) half square triangles (HSTs)


(note: please use a 1/4 inch seam allowance; I would recommend pressing seams to the side for this block)

4. Each star section is made of (2) half square triangles and (1) quarter square triangle.
Align the bottom edge of a HST with the bottom edge of a quarter square triangle (right sides together). Sew a ¼ inch seam along the diagonal edge. Press seam.
5. Repeat, by aligning the bottom edges of new HST with the quarter square triangle as shown above (right sides together). Sew on the diagonal (bias) edge and press. You have completed one of your flying geese/star points.
6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 three more times; you should have four identical units.
7. Lay out your block as shown.
8. Putting right sides together, sew block A to B and B to C, press seams.
9. Putting right sides together, sew block D to E and E to F, press seams.
10. Putting right sides together, sew block G to H and H to I, press seams.
11. Refer to the diagram below: match seams in blocks A & B, pinning on both sides of the seam.

Pay attention to where the HSTs meet in a point–I mark the spot with a pin.  Sew a 1/4 inch seam and try to sew right through the point–it will help your star look like a star 🙂

12. Repeat, match seams in blocks B & C; sew & press seams.
 Summer Sampler Series (1 of 1)-2
13. Tada! Your block is complete! Your block should measure 12.5 inches; trim it down, if necessary. (Please let me know if you have any questions.)
14. Show your friends! Consider adding pictures to the flickr pool, and make sure to check in with Faith on Wednesday and Lee on Friday for blocks 2 &3.
Note: There are multiple ways to piece this block; you can use HSTs to piece the star points, or you could construct your flying geese using squares and rectangles. I liked the look of the quarter square/half square combo–it seemed “cleaner” as well as more traditional for this block, but either would work.
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  1. Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    *whew* A block I know I can do to start with! 🙂
    I seriously just made my first sawtooth star last week…just one, and in a different way. I will try it this way & post to the flickr pool (eventually)

  2. Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Yay! Looks easy enough! 😀 I like the idea of doing them with the quarter square like that instead of drawing a line, sewing two seams…

  3. Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Love this block!
    I read through this post while eating breakfast, and then got it all pieced before the kiddos woke up. What a lovely start to my week! Thanks!

  4. Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Can’t wait to get started!

  5. Posted July 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for starting simple! I am going to sew this today!

  6. Posted July 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I am totally excited to get started. Yeah!

  7. Posted July 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Awesome! I love these little stars, I’m on a total star kick at the moment, I’m looking forward to working on this one! Great tute 🙂

  8. Me? A Mom?
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    oh man, i was totally going to do my quilt in solids and then I see this pretty KJR block. Now I might have to rethink things. LOL

  9. Posted July 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Very clear instructions – and quick to do. Just posted finished square to Flickr

  10. Posted July 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    woot woot! good choice on the name!! I am a fellow Virginian too! I seriously couldn’t w8 to get off work and get started. can’t believe i have to w8 till wed. for the next one 😉

  11. Posted July 12, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Note to self: things to try tomorrow…. Thanks, Kate!

  12. Meg
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! Looks great! I am ready to go make mine!

  13. Posted July 12, 2011 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    I am so excited to give this a try!

  14. Joy
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the pointer to the Quilt Study Center – what a great site! Your block is beautiful.

  15. Posted July 12, 2011 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Thankyou! Mine’s done (hurray!), it’s a bit late in the day to take a pic though. It’s the first time I’ve ever made flying geese – I alway thought they were a bit tricky for some reason, but of course they’re simple. I will no longer fear the geese. 😉

  16. machen und tun
    Posted July 12, 2011 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    great start! your instructions are great and i feel strangely relieved that i know this block already 🙂

  17. Posted July 13, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Just got mine done. Actually I had just picked this block to make for a quilt for my son. Now that I know how easy it is, I’m glad I picked it!! First time I’d made flying geese…don’t know why?!?

  18. Posted July 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always loved this block, great tutorial!

  19. Posted July 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m a new follower – became one after I saw this post. I’m going home after work (that’s where I’m at now) and I’m going to see if I can make this one up fast! Cool tutorial! Thanks.

  20. Posted July 13, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    It is great to catch this sampler at the start… I’ll post to flicker.. and look forward to staying focused!

  21. Dara
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    I did it!! I am so excited- well I did it twice because the first time I put it together I put the points down-OPPs. So I did what every self-respecting quilter does is make another block and now I have two great looking matchy blocks.

  22. Posted July 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tutorial. Done!

  23. Happy Turtle
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this. Have been wanting to make this star for a while now. Thank you!

  24. Posted December 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad that I found this! I just joined our local quilt guild and the service project at the moment includes making a 12 1/2 inch star square in red, white and blue. I had no idea on measurements.
    Putting this in to favorites then I am off to see what I have in red white and blue to use.

  25. Anonymous
    Posted June 14, 2012 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    With the pictures you make this look so simple. I appreciate that because I am 68 years young and am learning to make quilts and learning how to operate my sewing machine. And I feel like a kid in the candy store with all my stache.

    Mary Ann Sorry no blog

  26. Maggie Landeck
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    an anyone tell me how much yardage to buy. I’ll be doing a solid blue and a white. School colors for grandaughter

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted August 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Hi Maggie–sounds like it will be a beautiful quilt. Are you hoping to make the entire summer sampler quilt, or just a quilt of Virginia stars? for the sampler quilt, we estimated (But its just an estimate) that it will take 2 yards of background fabric and 3 yards (about 1/4 yard for each block) of feature fabric, in this case, most likely the blues. The entire anthology is for sale in PDF form, if that makes it easier. thanks

  27. dondim
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Yippee! I might possibly manage this. Maybe. I have so much great fabric. I should be able to make 20 quilts from my stash. I have misbehaved badly. One block a week sounds so easy if I can keep life from happening. Thank you so much for the opportunity!

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      I hope you join in! Some weeks I know I won’t get around to it, and that is okay, too. 🙂

3 Trackbacks

  • By A Sampler For All Seasons – on June 18, 2016 at 11:22 am

    […] Thank you, Claudia, for inspiring me! : ) Here are the blocks I added: Another Star of Virginia (tutorial here) Another Greek Cross (tutorial here), but I changed up the colors/values to give it this octagon […]

  • By WIP Wednesday #40 – on June 18, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    […] – currently caught up This week, Leila gave us a sawtooth star/Star of Virginia block, using Kate’s Summer Sampler Series tutorial. Although I’ve obviously made this block recently, I was more than happy to make another one! […]

  • By A Roundup of the Classics: Famous Quilt Blocks on April 4, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    […] block in the Summer Sampler Series is the Star of Virginia, with a tutorial written by Kate of Swim Bike Quilt. This famous quilt block is foundational for […]

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