In which: I make a block with 24 bias edges

Yesterday I promised to show you my very first attempt at piecing a LeMoyne star. It’s one of the coolest looking stars, with eight diamond shaped points and tricky set-in or Y seams (indicated in red in the illustration below).

star block

I sized the star block at 12 inches in Electric Quilt and printed template patterns.

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I made it big because I figured bigger pieces would be easier to handle on a first try.

I traced the three patches onto template plastic using a quilter’s ruler and an ultra fine point permanent marker and then cut them out with craft scissors.

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Each template was labeled with the block name, size, number of patches to cut, and for the diamond shape, the grain line.

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I traced each template shape onto fabric using a mechanical pencil loaded with a 0.5mm fine, 2B hardness lead. The tracing lines become your sewing lines, something I found valuable during sewing.

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Aligning the ¼” line of my ruler along the traced lines, I cut the patches with a rotary cutter.

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This gives you your ¼” seam allowance.

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Next, I placed all the patches beside the sewing machine

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and flipped each white background triangle onto the edge of its adjacent star point so that raw edges were aligned and right sides were together.

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I pin-matched the lines and their intersections on the two patches.

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With the white background piece on top, I switched to an open toe presser foot for maximum visibility, inserted the needle ¼” from the edge of the patch and sewed to the end of it.

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One how-to source I checked said to run your stitching line the entire length of the patches, like this:

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I did not do well further into the construction of the block following this advice, so I ripped it out and re-sewed the patches starting ¼” away from the edge.

I pressed the seam allowance toward the star point.

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The other thing I did not do was backstitch at the beginning and ending of all seams. It’s important not to skip this step when making this block because you don’t want the stitches pulling apart later. I chose to skip this step since this was a practice block and I knew for sure that I’d be ripping out plenty of stitches. If I ever make this block to put into a quilt, I will definitely be securing my starting and stopping points with a few reverse stitches.

I followed the same steps to attach the other star point to the opposite side of the white background triangle, pin-matching the traced lines and line intersections on both patches.

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With the pink star patch on top this time, insert the needle ¼” from the edge and sew to the end.

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I felt that improved accuracy was achieved by beginning at the inner point of each set-in seam and sewing toward the outside of the patch. It permitted the insertion of the needle precisely ¼” from the edge of the patch.

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Here is a close up of the Y-intersection composed of the two pink star patches and the white triangle that lies between the two:

Note that the stitches go up to, but do not extend all the way to the end of the patch.

Note that the stitches go up to, but do not extend all the way to the end of the patch.

Here is the front of the pressed unit after stitching the background triangle to the star patches:

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Here is the back of the miter:

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Here is the front of the miter:

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To make it easier to pin the center seam between the two star points, I found it helpful to gently tuck the white triangle loosely between the two star points.

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Here are the four main sections of the star:

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The seam allowances for the top two are pressed away from the white triangle, with the center seam pressed to one side. They appear to be pretty flat and not too distorted.

The pair of star points in the lower left corner are not lying flat, and I attributed it to having sewn the first seam end to end, which is why I removed the stitches and re-sewed it, starting ¼” away from the edge.

The center seam is pressed open for the set of patches on the bottom right, which I re-pressed to one side like the two in the top row.

So here is my first ever eight-pointed star block:

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I was especially pleased that despite the amount of handling the patchwork was subjected to, the block measured close to 12½”.

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Unfortunately, I will need to conduct a little more research to understand the best sequence to piece this block, in order to avoid this kind of a hot mess on the back side of future LeMoyne stars I make.

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Still, I feel I did pretty well for my first attempt at a block containing 24 bias edges.

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