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This is the Evening Star, and it is my favorite block! There are seven blocks in the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns that are named Evening Star; I chose block 2736a, which first appeared in the Kansas City Star on November 28, 1931. I didn’t find anything interesting on the history of this specific block, but it is located in Chapter 15 of the Encyclopedia, which specializes in the Maltese Cross.
A Maltese Cross block is “divided by four intersecting diagonal seams into eight pie-shaped pieces” (Brackman, Encyclopedia, 330). Kaleidoscope quilts (block 2704) fall into the same category. This is my favorite of the blocks that I chose for the Summer Sampler Series; I had no idea that it is based on a cross that has been in use since the First Crusade, almost one thousand years ago. It is easier to see the Maltese Cross block construction in the image below.
The Maltese Cross (also known as the Amalfi Cross) was the symbol of the Knights Hospitaller, a group of men who ran a hospital beginning in the 11th century in Jerusalem. This group, later known as the Knights of Saint John and dedicated to charity and caring for the sick, later moved to the island of Malta, hence the name. One version of the story claims that the eight points of the star represent the eight points of courage: including loyalty, generosity, and helpfulness to the poor and the sick. There is also an interesting story about how the Maltese Cross became associated with firefighters in the United States on the FDNY’s website, if you are interested.
Colored triangles: Cut 8 squares that measure 4×4 inches
Corner triangles: Cut 4 squares that measure 5×5 inches
Step 2: Change your stitch length to approximately 1.5, so that the stitches perforate the paper. Start with Template A. Take your fabric choice for Triangle 1 and place it right side out against your template. Use double sided tape (I learned this trick from Lee in her Minnesota Block tutorial) or pins to adhere the fabric to paper.
Step 3: Take your rectangle for Triangle 2 and place it right sides together to Triangle 1, which you just taped/pinned. Make sure that at least 1/4 inch of the fabric overlaps the seam line; it is easiest to do this by holding it up to the light.
Step 7: Following the same steps outlined above, take your fabric for Triangle 3 and put it right sides together with Triangle 1. Tape/pin, make sure that at least 1/4 inch of the fabric overlaps, and sew a line between Triangles 3 and 1, sewing into the seam allowance. Turn your block over, fold the paper template back, trim your seams to 1/4 inch allowance, and press Triangle 3 open.
Step 11: Repeat these steps three more times for both templates; you should have four completed A blocks and four completed B blocks when you are done.
Step 12: Keeping the paper on (optional), take block A and B and match and pin center triangle points as shown. Sew block A to B on the seam allowance line, ironing seams (I ironed mine open). Repeat for blocks C and D, E and F, and G and H.
Step 13: Match points, pin, and sew block AB to CD and block EF to GH.
Step 14: Match points, pin, and sew the two block halves together. Iron open and tear off all of that paper! Step back and admire. Congratulations! You are done with the Evening Star!
This is my last block tutorial with the Summer Sampler Series–I have loved co-hosting this quilt along, and have absolutely loved seeing all of the talented sewists who are participating. There are some amazing blocks in the flickr group, and I can’t wait to see the quilts once they are done. We have started a thread in the flickr group containing additional traditional blocks that fit well with the Summer Sampler Blocks–feel free to post your own, I know I’m going to make a few extra!