April 18, 2017

Week 6: Long Time Gone Sew Along | Plus A Star

Tools Used

  • Use Perfect Patchwork Template Set A #8251, square template #5, for measuring strip widths the Marti Way and cutting the squares.
  • Use template triangle A-6 for the half-square triangles.
  • The From Marti Michell 6½” Squaring Up Ruler #8973 was handy for cutting the strips to length.  

Making Plus A Star

Plus A Star is a really easy block…and at the same time, it is really easy to mess up on! My recommendation is don’t even think of making this without some kind of design wall. Unfortunately for me, while I have multiple design walls, they aren’t conveniently close to my machine, so I also made good use of my batting-covered, non-slip portable tray to carry sections between the design wall and the machine sewing and confirming the arrangement.

1. To me the star is the focal point of the block, so I started picking fabric for it that would emphasize my general color scheme and I planned right away to make plus signs of both these “theme” fabrics:

You may remember my talking about them in the fabric selection blog. The pieces in this block let them shine. For the same reason, I have already planned (looking way ahead) that I will have lots of these fabrics in my border.

2. After the star was done, I picked fabrics around it and worked my way up. Because each fabric is in contact with 4 to 6 surrounding fabrics, I thought I would lay out the entire thing and “audition all the actors” before sewing. But after a while I forced myself to commit and join some sections!

I photocopied Jen’s layout diagram and put it on the design wall to keep track of the tessellating plus signs – especially helpful since I was not using the same values as the illustration.

3. As Jen says, “Join the vertical rows.” My sewing system was much like Trip Around The World, except there are very few intersections that have to butt together, which is good and bad! Good, because there is less bulk and easier pressing decisions. Bad, because there were not obvious seams that line up.

I chose to complete the sewing on each vertical row and press every other row in opposite directions, except the Nine Patch and around the star. There I let the triangles control direction.

When joining the vertical rows, pin the ends of the rows and the 2 or 3 opposing seam allowances in each vertical seam to confirm the rows match before sewing. Check that you have pinned the correct edges together before you sew.

Obvious Statement!

In spite of the number of years I’ve sewn patchwork and the hundreds of times I’ve already said this, I can’t help myself— “Isn’t it neat how much better it looks when it is sewn and pressed than when it was just loose pieces on the design wall?”

Having said that, Let’s Look Ahead

Now that Plus a Star is done, if I do just a couple more rounds on one set of 4 Pineapple blocks, I can join the pieces for Section 4; see page 29 in the book.

If you haven't read ahead about Making the Quilt Top, please read page 25 and my next few sentences will make more sense.  I don’t think I mentioned that I had selected a small gray on white print for my checkerboard neutral and had made a small sample. I’ve also decided I’m not using the same fabric for the sashing and the neutral in the checkerboard. They are close, but not the same.

Putting one unit (Section 4) together now is another way of auditioning my choice. With just one section, it isn’t too late to change my mind.

Tune in next week for a picture of that section!

More About the Plus A Star Section

Visit these other Long Time Gone Sew Along blogs, too, for tutorials, contests and other info:



Use the hash tag #LongTimeGoneSAL to share photos on Instagram.

Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell. Copyright 2016 by Jen Kingwell Designs. Available on From Marti Michell website, www.frommarti.com


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