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.
Evening Star Tutorial
If you are new to paper piecing, please see Faith’s excellent introduction to paper-piecing. If you have already paper-pieced the other blocks in this series (or any other blocks, for that matter), this should be a piece of cake! And a special thanks to my sister-in-law Amber for drafting the templates, and being patient when my math was initially (but no longer) wonky.
Print four copies of each of the paper piecing templates, Template A & Template B. Make sure to print them at 100%, and double check that the 1 inch ruler on the printed template actually measures 1 inch. Please note: If you print directly from Google Docs, the templates might not print accurately. Instead, download the PDF to your desktop and print it from Adobe Acrobat. Lee wrote up more information on how to do this in this Flickr discussion.)
Step 1: Cut your fabric according to the instructions below. When paper-piecing, it’s better to use larger-than-you-need rectangles and save the scraps for another block than to be stingy with fabric. Ask me how I know this This block can be made with a single fabric center octagon, like I did, or out of as many prints/fabrics as you want. I wrote my color choices on the templates–thanks for the tip, Faith.
Background/Kona Snow Triangles: Cut 24 squares that measure 4×4 inchesColored triangles: Cut 8 squares that measure 4×4 inchesCorner 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 4: Sew along the line between Triangle 1 and Triangle 2, sewing into the seam allowance.
Step 5: Turn your block over, fold back the paper, trim your seams to 1/4 inch seam allowance, and press triangle 2 open.
Step 6: I trim the fabric along the edges of the template once I have completed my block; if you prefer, trim the fabric along the paper template now.
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 8: Take your fabric for Triangle 4 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 4 and 1, sewing into the seam allowance. Turn your block over, fold template paper back, trim your seams to 1/4 inch allowance, and press triangle 4 open. Turn your block over and trim around the template. You are done with the first 1/8 block.
Step 9: Take Template B, and follow the directions above to piece Triangles 1-4.
Step 10: Take your fabric for Triangle 5 and put it right sides together along the line made by Triangle 1, 3 & 4. Tape/pin, make sure that at least 1/4 inch of the fabric overlaps, and sew a line between Triangles 5 and 1/3/4, sewing into the seam allowance. Turn your block over, fold back the paper template, trim your seams to 1/4 inch allowance, and press triangle 5 open. Turn template over, trim block along the template lines.
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!
Finally, if you have read this far, and if you are here as part of the Series, I hope you stick around/come back and visit Swim, Bike, Quilt. Additionally, I hope you will consider participating in 100 Quilts for Kids, a charity quilt drive that is taking place September 15-October 15, 2011. Make a baby/kids quilt, donate it to a child in need in your area, link up here to be eligible for prizes, and feel happy that you used your skills to help a child in need!