This starry mini quilt is made with 96 triangles with 2″ (finished) sides. It looks impressively tricky and intricate, but is actually fairly easily constructed by foundation piecing the triangles in rows. It’s a great introduction to the amazing potential of foundation piecing!
You will need:
At least 6″ x 6″ (or equivalent, e.g. 3″ x 12″) of each of the following:
Four low value (pale) fabrics (very pale grey/white in my version)
Four medium value fabrics (medium grey/dark beige in my version)
Five high value (dark) fabrics (dark grey/black in my version)
Our fabric was from The Wordsmith by Janet Clare for Moda and was kindly supplied by Eclectic Maker.
At least 4″ x 12″ (or equivalent) of white fabric
19″ square coordinating fabric for the backing
One FQ (or skinny quarter) for the binding
19″ square wadding
A washable glue pen or glue stick (e.g. Pritt) is really useful for temporarily fixing fabric pieces to foundation pieces
Foundation paper or printer paper
The large triangle template provided is oversized to allow for a margin of error, so that you can work nice and quickly. Whilst piecing the triangles you will need to trim the seams to 1/4″ as you go – this will be explained in more detail in the pattern.
When stitching the foundation pieced rows, adjust the stitch length on your machine to 1.5mm or less so that you can tear the paper out easily later on.
If you are finding it tricky to tear the paper away, use a ruler and suitable implement (I use a Hera marker) to score along the stubborn line of stitching, or you can fold along the line and crease it to make tearing easier.
Foundation piecing equilateral triangles can be tricky because it easy to stitch them so that the print on the fabric ends up at the wrong angle. It pays (I speak from experience!) to get into the habit of checking that your triangles are going to end up exactly where you want them before sewing each seam.
The nature of foundation piecing means that the seam allowance is always pressed to the side. When using high contrast fabrics – like the ones in this pattern – to prevent the darker fabric showing through on the front, trim the dark fabric seam allowance so that it is slightly narrower than the lighter, so that they are covered by the seam allowance of the lighter fabric. You will see how this works later in the pattern.
Note – If you are new to foundation paper piecing read this beginner’s guide.
Printing and cutting list
Print out the two triangle cutting templates (one copy of the PDF), the six star points foundation paper pieces (one copy of the PDF), and six copies of the foundation piecing strips (six copies of the PDF). When printing the PDFs, please use Adobe software (other PDF readers can be very inaccurate in their sizing), and make sure that the ‘Shrink to fit’ or ‘Fit’ box is NOT ticked.
Check the print outs for size – the small triangle on the template sheet should have 2″sides, the small triangle at the centre of the star point foundation pieces should have 2″ sides, and the triangles on the foundation strips should have 2″ sides. It doesn’t matter too much if they are a tiny bit under or over, as long as they are all the same size!
Piece the foundation paper pieces together to create two rows of 9 triangles, two rows of 11 triangles, two rows of 13 triangles and two rows of 15 triangles. Trim these paper pieces so that they include a 3/8″ seam allowance.
(This picture shows the strips for half the quilt)
Using the large plain triangle template cut:
6 triangles from each of the five high value (dark) fabrics
6 triangles from each of the four medium value fabrics
11 triangles from each of the four low value (pale) fabrics
From the 4″ x 12″ piece of very low value/white fabric cut 12 triangles using the smaller triangle template.
From the binding fabric cut enough strips to create a length measuring at least 2″ x 54″. So, from the 22″ side of a FQ, cut three 2″ strips.
Cut one piece of fabric measuring 19″ square for the back of the mini-quilt
Cut one piece of wadding measuring 19″ square
Step 1: Create the central star points
Select which of the dark fabrics you would like to use for the small central star and collect together the six triangles you have cut from that fabric. Take one of the star point foundation papers, and place one of the dark triangles with its wrong side against the back (unlined) side of the paper. Use a little bit of washable glue to hold the fabric in place.
Take one of the small white triangles and place right sides together with the larger triangle, so that one of the edges of the triangle overlaps the smaller right-hand side line on the back of the triangle by about 1/4″.
Working on the paper side, stitch along the marked line, as shown above. Extend the line of stitching right into the seam allowance, and remember to adjust the stitch length on your machine (see pattern notes).
Trim off the excess corner of dark fabric, using scissors to cut it with a very scant 1/4″ seam allowance so that the seam allowance of the white fabric completely covers it, as shown.
Press the white triangle into place on the front.
Stitch the other triangle into place, then trim and press as before. The picture shows the finished star point triangle.
Repeat this process for the other five star points. Trim all six of these triangles, using the paper template, so that they have a very exact 1/4″ seam allowance, then very gently remove the paper. Put to one side until you need them later.
Step 2: Piecing the rows
Referring to the arrangement chart for guidance, lay out all the cut triangles in their final placement on a flat surface. Make sure you get the low volume (white triangles on the chart) the medium volume (grey triangles) and the high volume (black triangles) in the right places.
But otherwise there are enough triangles to create a fairly random arrangement (there will be two low value triangles left over, so don’t worry about that!).
Once you are happy with your layout, take a photo to record it, just in case you get interrupted later. Or, alternatively you can pile up the triangles for each row.
Take one of the short 9-triangle foundation paper strips, place one of the low value fabric triangles right side up on the unlined side of the paper, covering the first triangle (once again, a little swipe of washable glue comes in handy here).
Place a medium value fabric triangle on top, right sides together and pin in place.
Working on the paper side (as shown) stitch along the line, extending the stitching into the seam allowance.
This shows what it should look like.
Fold the paper temporarily away from the seam line, as shown.
Use scissors or a rotary cutter to trim the seam allowance to a neat 1/4″.
Press so that the medium value fabric is right side facing, and continue by adding a triangle of low value fabric. Work your way across the row, trimming and pressing as you go. You will find that to trim the seam allowance for the later triangles, you will have to tear the foundation paper a little to fold it out of the way. It’s fine to do that as shown.
Once you have completed the first row, start on one of the 11 triangle rows. A tip here is to start at the opposite end of the foundation paper (and carry on alternating as you stitch each row of the mini-quilt), as this will allow the seams to nest together when you sew the rows together later. Don’t worry if you forget (I did!) it’s not the end of the world.
Step 3: Adding the star points to the rows
When you get towards the centre of the fourth row, you will need to add in the first of the star point units. The first thing to do is to trim the ordinary triangle you have just stitched into place, so that it has a VERY accurate 1/4″ seam allowance on the edge that you will be joining the star point to.
In order to do this, crease, then fold, the foundation paper along the next unsewn seam line, away from the triangle. Put the 1/4″ mark on a quilting ruler against this fold, and trim away any excess fabric on the triangle, as shown.
Fold the foundation paper back into place. Working on the back of the foundation paper, mark a point midway on the next unsewn seam line, and connect this with the point of the triangle. You will end up with a line as shown.
This shows what it should look like from the front. The last triangle is very neatly trimmed, and you can just see the line you have marked on the back of the paper.
Put the first star point triangle right sides together with the triangle you just trimmed, aligning edges and making sure that the point of the star is exactly in line with the line you drew on the back of the foundation paper.
Pin, then stitch into place (remember to work on the paper side, it’s easy to forget at this stage). It’s really important that you don’t stitch over that lovely point, and as you can see in picture 18, my line of stitching is just to the right of the point of the star – if you make sure you do this, you’ll be fine, and will hopefully achieve a result as shown above.
Pin the next star point into position as shown above. It is very important that the inner angles of the star meet neatly, so make sure that the seams are lined up as you pin the points together.
Pin the final star point of this row as shown. Once again make sure that the seams at the inner angles of the star are very neatly aligned.
You should finish up with something similar to the picture above. It really is worth taking your time with this bit. It is very tempting to breathe a sigh of relief at this stage and stitch the next triangle without really thinking about it, but do please make sure that you aren’t chopping off that beautiful star point!
Step 4: Joining the rows
After you have completed all the rows, neatly trim all the seam allowances to 1/4″, using the lines on the foundation templates as your guide. Then carefully remove all the paper pieces.
I like to mark the seam lines on my rows to help with my accuracy. I try to make sure that the line goes through all the points of the triangles, I then stitch slightly to the right of the line, just to make sure I don’t cut off any triangle points. Once the lines are marked, pin together, matching and pinning points and lines along the row.
Step 6: Finishing the starry mini quilt
With the backing fabric and the wadding, make a quilt sandwich, with the wadding and fabric about 1″ wider on all sides. Quilt and bind as desired.