This folded star tutorial is an extract from the new revised edition of The Complete Book of Patchwork, Quilting & Applique by Linda Seward for Search Press. This bestselling book is jam packed with hundreds of clearly explained techniques.
Folded Stars are composed of rectangles or circles of fabric which are folded into triangular shapes and arranged on a base; they are then sewn in place by hand in a variety of ways. Known in Great Britain as Somerset Patchwork, this delightful variation is not technically patchwork at all because the pieces are not actually fitted and seamed together. Folded Stars look intricate, but are so easy to make that you can complete one in a short time.
The secret of making successful Folded Stars is in the fabric selection. First, try to use only 100% cotton fabrics as they will hold creases well and save time in assembly. Folded Stars are constructed from a minimum of 20 triangles and you should prepare all the triangles before beginning; if you use polyester fabrics, the creases may not hold long enough for you to complete your arrangement, which means that you’ll have to press the pieces twice.
Fabrics in each round should be highly contrasting, both in colour and pattern. The worst mistake you can make is to try to be subtle – it won’t work. The fabric in each round should sparkle when placed next to subsequent rounds. This is an excellent way to test your sense of colour and contrast. If you have trouble with colour, stick to two or three dissimilar hues such as red, white and black.
Do not use large-scale prints which will become unreadable when folded into small pieces. Tiny prints can be very effective because they add depth and dazzle to what might otherwise be a static colour scheme. Experiment and have fun with Folded Stars. Make your samples into pot holders, cushions, wall hangings, Christmas ornaments – even quilts. Folded Stars can also be framed like paintings.
As a variation, try using ribbons instead of rectangles of fabric. Simply cut the ribbons into 6.4cm (2½in) lengths and fold into triangles. Mixing satin, cotton and grosgrain ribbons in one star will add texture and character.
When finished, Folded Stars are round owing to the way in which they are put together. However, through experimentation, you can come up with a variety of different shapes such as squares, rectangles and octagons, depending· upon how many triangles you fit into each round. Play with your triangles before sewing them to the base; you’ll be amazed at how many variations you can design.
If you decide to take advantage of the round shape, bind the edges with bias binding. Then use the star as an appliqué. If you prefer to frame the star with fabric, see Finishing on the facing page. Press the edges of the star and frame gently; avoid pressing the star itself or it will flatten and lose its textured quality.
Because of the many layers involved in making a Folded Star, finished stars are too thick to quilt, although you can make up for this by quilting the background frames instead.
How to make a folded star
Cut a square base from fabric; base should be slightly larger than desired finished size. Pencil a horizontal and vertical line and 2 diagonals on base to indicate centre of square and placement of folded triangles.
Cut fabric rectangles 6.4 x 3.8cm (2½ x 1½in). Turn one long edge 6mm (¼in) to the wrong side of the fabric (WS) and press. Fold top edges to centre of rectangle along lines indicated; press, forming a triangle. Prepare a large number of triangles beforehand to save time.
For Round 1, arrange 4 triangles on base with folded sides uppermost; match angled sides of triangles to diagonal base lines. Pin in place. Hand stitch the centres of triangles to centre of base; baste around outer edges of triangles.
Round 2 requires 8 triangles of the same colour. Pin 4 triangles to base, aligning fold of each triangle with a horizontal or vertical base line; overlap Round 1 as shown. Position points of triangles about 13mm (½in) away from centre of base.
Round 3 requires 8 triangles of the same colour. Pin each triangle to base, overlapping every triangle in Round 2; position points of Round 3 about 13mm (½in) away from points of Round 2. Stitch points to base; baste outer edges in place and trim corners.
Round 4 requires 16 triangles. Pin 8 triangles to base, overlapping Round 3; position points 13mm (½in) from points of Round 3. Pin 8 more triangles to base so that points touch star points of Round 2. Stitch points to base; baste outer edges; trim corners.
Round 5 and subsequent rounds require 16 triangles each. Pin triangles to base, overlapping triangles of previous round. Stitch points, baste edges and trim corners. Add rounds in same manner until star is desired size. Trim edges to form a circle.
Folded star tutorial variation
Triangles and base can also be cut from circles. To make triangles, draw a 6.4cm (2½in) circle pattern; make template and cut from fabric. Fold fabric circle in half and press, then fold sides down, as shown by dotted lines to form triangle. Press.
Round 2 requires 8 triangles of the same colour. Pin triangles to base, aligning folds with marked base lines. Position points of triangles about 13mm (½in) away from centre of base. Stitch points and baste outer edges to base.
Cut circular base slightly larger than desired finished size. Pencil a horizontal and vertical line and 2 diagonals on base to indicate centre of circle and placement of triangles. Position Round 1 on base as shown; hand-stitch points, then baste outer edges to base.
Round 3 requires 8 triangles of the same colour. Pin triangles to base, overlapping every triangle in Round 2; position points of Round 3 about 13mm (½in) away from points of Round 2. Stitch points and baste outer edges to base.
Round 4 requires 8 triangles. Pin and secure to base as for Round 3. Round 5 and subsequent rounds require 16 triangles; overlap each triangle of Round 4, then pin 8 triangles to base so points touch star points of Round 3. Trim base to match star.
Finishing your folded star
For frame, cut a square from coordinating fabric. Mark diameter of star (minus 13mm [½in]), centred on WS of frame; stay-stitch marked line. Mark 6mm (¼in) seam allowance within circle. Cut out circle on inner line; clip curves.
Fold and press seam allowance of frame to WS along stay-stitching. Position WS of frame on right sides (RS) of Folded Star; pin and baste pressed edges of frame to star all around opening. Slipstitch frame to star using matching thread. Remove basting. Press gently.
By adding a frame you could make a folded star cushion, pot holder or mini quilt. If you bind around the edge you have a folded star Christmas ornament.
To learn more patchwork, quilting and applique books visit the Search Press website to order your copy of the new edition of Linda Seward’s book.
Note: The top 2 images are stock images and not from the book.