It's a new week, my Shining Stars, and that means new sewing fun and a new prize! Today we are officially in Week 2 of the Shining Star quilt sew along. This week we cut, sew, press AND trim. Phew! It sounds like a lot, but I know you can do it.
Making the flying geese units is the more technical part in the Shining Star blocks so I figured we'd get them out of the way early and then rock 'n roll through those improv log cabins for a couple weeks. Sound good?
Shining Star Sew Along Schedule
- Week 1, July 8: Pick fabric and gather supplies
Sponsor: Sewing Arts Center
- Week 2, July 15: Cut fabric and make flying geese
Sponsor: Heather Alexander Longarm Quilting
- Weeks 3 and 4, July 22 and 29: Make improv log cabins
Sponsor: Week 3 DuckaDilly, and Week 4 Global Fiber Textiles & Notions
- Week 5, August 5: Assemble blocks
Sponsor: Traveling Dye Co. (fabrics being dyed for a shop update now!)
- Week 6, August 12: Assemble quilt top
Sponsor: Lamb & Loom and Trace Creek Quilting
Shining Star Quilt Supplies
The great thing about this quilt is that you can make it with the most bare minimum quilting tools. Since I pop around to a few different rulers just for ease (and because I already have them on hand), I'll link to them below. I like a wider ruler for cutting lots of Background strips (a video tutorial below on why) and a shorter, smaller ruler for trimming the flying geese units.
Week 2 Assignment: Cut Fabric & Make Flying Geese
First things first, we will tackle cutting and then move on to the flying geese. Honk! Honk! 😉
Tip #1: Keep your fabric organized.
I've mentioned this in past sew alongs, but if you're new here, my favorite way to stay organized with my fabric is to lay it out and take a photo. Here's a photo from Week 1 where I did just that. This way I don't have to scratch my head and wonder later.
This is a great reference because in the next step when we cut, the fabric can get a little mixed up.
Tip #2: Stack your fabric for cutting.
After ironing your fabric, divide your Color 1 and Color 2 fabric into two piles. Each pile will have 9 fabrics (18 total) if you are making the throw. If you are making the limited-color version and using yardage, you can skip this part.
From each Color pile I divided the fabric again into one stack of 4 and one stack of 5 fat quarters. I'm able to cut through this much fabric at once because my rotary cutter blade is really sharp. If you are using a dull blade, you will have some trouble getting through that much fabric.
If you are new to cutting, you don't have to stack fabric at all. First try the cutting with one or two layers of fabric and then add more layers as you feel comfortable. I usually max out at about six layers of fabric.
Cutting Fabric 101
I have two videos on cutting fabric that will help if you are new to the process. The video below demonstrates the basics in cutting fabric. In the example I am cutting yardage.
I'm debating whether or not to get into fabric grain...hmmm. OK, how about this. If you are having issues with your long narrow strips bowing in the middle, that means your fabric is really off grain. Here is a video on how to fix that. Only rip your yardage. Don't rip your fat quarters. You may lose too much fabric.
This next video is an Instagram reel that quickly shows how I like to cut a lot of strips accurately.
- Line up the guidelines on your ruler with the trimmed edge and the bottom fold of your fabric.
- Multiply the amount of strips you want by the strip width. In this example I want 5 strips (mostly because my ruler isn’t wide enough to do more). 5 x 1.5" = 7.5". So I line up my ruler at the 7.5" guideline and start cutting backwards. WHY?? Because the added weight of the ruler stops the fabric from shifting while I cut which means MORE ACCURACY. It also goes faster once you figure out the math.
Tip #3: Cut surgically if you want to keep bigger scraps.
If you cut really carefully, this pattern gives you some nice fabric scrap chunks. It does take more effort, though. Below is Color 1 and how I cut to get the largest scrap pieces afterwards.
See that nice big chunk of scrap leftover? For now I will set those aside so I have a lot of variety to choose from when picking my little sashing squares.
You can also see that with some of the leftover fabric I went ahead and cut 2.25" strips for future scrappy binding. Another reason I love this pattern is that if you cut carefully you will have enough scraps to make binding!
Tip #4: Cut your binding strips from scraps!
I love scrappy binding and it's such a pleasure to maximize the fabric you have rather than throwing those scraps in the bin. Below I cut Color 2 and I was able to get lovely long 2.25" binding strips from the fat quarter.
Make Flying Geese
Your fabric is cut so let's make some geese. On page two of the Shining Star pattern there is a link to a private video tutorial on how to make these flying geese units. Skip to minute 20 for the tutorial.
Tip #5: Dealer's choice—three ways to mark fabric.
I mark fabric differently based on how big it is and how many pieces there are. For a full rundown on marking fabric and quilts, check out this post, Quilt Marking Tools: Different Ways To Draw Guidelines.
For the Shining Star throw quilt, there are quite a few of these flying geese squares, so for the first batch of sewing on the large square I mainly used the creasing method.
Later on I switched to the sewing tape method, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's break these methods down.
Method 1: Marker
This Dritz water soluble marker is very easy to see and washes away with water. I like to line up a few, point to point, and mark them all at the same time.
Method 2: Crease
You can use a hera marker or even just your finger nail to make creases. With this many squares, I chose to take them over to my pressing mat and use my iron. I found that if I stacked a couple on top of each other, I could crease them two at a time.
Method 3: Sewing Tape
Depending on your sewing surface this tape may or may not work for you. I switched over to using the sewing tape as a guide once I started sewing just a single square to the flying geese units. When I was sewing two squares to a large square, the fabric was so big I couldn't see the tape.
Tip #6: Pin. (At least at first)
Here's the thing with pinning and I'm sure you already know it—the larger the sewing area the more you need to pin because fabric shifts as it makes its way through a sewing machine. When sewing two squares to these large square pieces, you probably should pin.
I mean, maybe if you sew really slowly you can get away with not pinning, but who wants to sew really slowly? Not I!
Tip #7: Chain piece your flying geese units.
This is a great opportunity to lay out your units, pin and then chain piece them all at once. The more you can pin, sew and press in batches, the speedier the process. (Chain piecing is when you continually sew without snipping your thread.)
(If you're wondering about my sewing cabinet, I wrote a review on it here, The Best Sewing Cabinet For Quilting & Crafting.
Tip #8: Don't just trim the dog ears.
I know it's tempting to go snip snip with your scissors and move on to the next step, but these flying geese units finish ever so slightly larger than 5.5" x 10.5" so you really do have to trim them down.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I thought some slight trimming would be better than 95% of you coming up short and getting frustrated. Plus this way your geese finish sooooo tidy and perfect. Watch the video tutorial in the pattern for a full demo on trimming.
Tip #9: Add some tape to your ruler.
If you are having trouble knowing what to line up on your ruler when trimming the flying geese, add some guides with washi tape or painter's tape. I even use a Sharpie sometimes to draw dots, lines and arrows to help me see what's what. With some soap and water the Sharpie marks wash off.
Got questions about cutting or making flying geese? Ask them below in the comments or in the Suzy Quilts Patterns Facebook group! We are here to help and send some encouragement your way.
Week 2 Sponsor & Prize
Heather Alexander Longarm Quilting is our Week 2 sponsor. Heather is giving away FREE edge to edge longarm quilting on any throw quilt. She not only quilts beautifully, Heather also quilts quickly! So if you have a deadline, she's willing to work with you.
Get 25% off longarm quilting on your Shining Star quilt from Heather Alexander Longarm Quilting now through 2022. You must mention this deal when filling out the info form.
How to Win
- Post a pic to Instagram. The photo prompt for Instagram this week is to post a picture of your Shining Star progress. Use #ShiningStarQuiltSA in the caption.
- You must have a public Instagram profile to participate.
- Each photo posted is an entry and you can enter as many times as you want in a single week. Once the week is over, those posts do not count in the next week's giveaway. Every week we start fresh.
- Your photo must be posted between Friday, July 15, and Friday, July 22. The winner will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. on the 22nd. Good luck!