01 of 04
How to Make a Hunter's Star Quilt
My Hunter's Star quilt pattern is written for and illustrated with just two fabrics because sometimes quilters are confused about the arrangement of dark and light colors in the design. I hope that displaying the layout like this makes it easier to understand the Hunter's Star quilt blocks.
The original Hunter's Star quilt was designed with diamond shapes but it's very easy to create the same look with easy half square triangle units.
Even though only two fabrics are illustrated, I love this... design when you use the blocks to make a scrap quilt. If you do decide to go scrappy I suggest you practice sorting fabrics by color value (contrast) and learn about color dominance. Both of those skills will help you position fabrics in the best places.
Taking the Mystery Out of Hunter's Star Quilts
One reason the Hunter's Star design is sometimes confusing is its layout. Each area that we would normally call a quilt block is really four patchwork sections that are rotated and then joined to create a larger quilt block. A secondary design emerges when blocks are sewn together.
Small blocks finish at 12" square
Larger clusters of four blocks finish at 24" square
Planning Your Quilt Design
- Each half of each of the four smaller blocks is (mostly) light.
- The other half of each small block is (mostly) dark.
- Your light and dark may be different from someone else's starting point of light and dark.
- For a scrap quilt, the dark fabrics within each small block needn't be the same and the lights in each section can be different, too.
- It's the overall contrast in the finished blocks that's important, and contrast can vary when a scrap quilt is assembled.
- If you make a scrap quilt remember that warm and hot colors (such as yellow, orange, and red) can pop out in a design as much as a dark fabric (a neutral such as black or a cool color such as dark blue). See the links above (about color) if this is a new concept.
- Even if you make a quilt with lots of dark fabrics, consider using the same light fabric throughout to add continuity to the design.
- How to Choose Fabrics for Quilts might help you choose fabrics.
- The quilt shown finishes at about 72" x 84".
- Add borders or make additional quilt blocks to increase the quilt's size.
- Adding five more small blocks would balance the design at all corners (see how the right edge differs) and result in a quilt that measures 72" x 96". Which is most important to you, balance or size? Refer to the last page for more details.
Yardage for the Quilt Blocks
Yardages are generous to allow for shrinkage and occasional errors (and probably enough to make those extra blocks).
- 4 yards of dark
- 4 yards of light
Use the same totals as a guideline if you are making a scrap quilt.
- A panel about 82" x 94" or the size required for the type of quilting that's planned. See How to Make Quilt Backing.
- Same as backing.
- About 340 running inches of continuous doublefold binding to sew to the quilt with a quarter inch seam allowance. I like my binding to extend a bit past the seam on the back of the quilt so I typically use 2-1/2" strips. For me, that would be about 3/4 yards of fabric.
- Bias binding strips are not necessary for straight sided quilts but you can use them if you prefer.
A Few More Supplies
Continue to 2 of 4 below.
- Thread for piecing and/or machine quilting.
- Sturdy white thread, adhesive products, safety pins or another product for basting the layers of the quilt sandwich.
- Rotary cutting tools or another cutting device such as an AccuQuilt Cutter or one of the other cutting systems available to quilters.
- Long straight pins.
02 of 04
Make the Individual Units for the Hunter's Star Quilt
The Magic 8 method for half square triangle units (HST) is perfect for the Hunter's Star quilt, even if you're making it scrappy because each of the patchwork sections requires eight HSTs.
The method is very easy and the fabric's sturdy straight grain will be parallel to the outer edges of your HSTs (unlike another HST method that results in stretchy bias edges in those positions).
Read all of the instructions on this page before you begin.
Never cut all fabric for a quilt until you've made a... few test blocks.
HSTs for a Two Color Quilt
Follow the link above before you cut your squares, to learn the Magic 8 method if it's new to you or if you want to make oversize units and then trim them back to 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" after assembly.
That's a lot of trimming back so make a few test sets by sewing a scant (very slightly narrower) quarter inch seam on a pair of fabrics (one will be marked) and measure the results.
- Cut (42) 7-3/4" x 7-3/4" light squares
- Cut (42) 7-3/4" x 7-3/4" dark squares
Pair each light fabric with a dark fabric as explained in the tutorial to produce eight 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" HSTs per pair. or 336 total.
Plain Squares for a Two Color Quilt
- Cut (42) 6-1/2" x 6-1/2" light squares and set aside (same as larger squares if making a two fabric quilt)
- Cut (42) 6-1/2" x 6-1/2" dark squares and set aside (same as larger squares if making a two fabric quilt)
HSTs for a Scrap Quilt
You'll need the same size and number of light and dark 7-3/4" squares for a scrap quilt -- they'll just be different. Repeat some fabrics if you like because the quilt will still be scrappy.
Use another HST quick piecing method if you have small squares of fabric that you would like to include in the quilt.
Plain Squares for a Scrap Quilt
You'll need the same number of light and dark 6-1/2" squares, but they'll be different.
To make block sections that are alike, cut a 6-1/2" square for each 7-3/4" square of the same fabric. That sounds more confusing than it is -- you'll understand in a few minutes. That step is not a requirement -- mix up your fabrics and go as scrappy as you wish. Just remember the light and dark combination.
Let's Sew the Hunter's Star Quilt
Pay very close attention to the orientation of triangles when you make the small patchwork units.
- Pair a light 7-3/4" square with a dark square of the same size and use the Magic 8 method to create eight HSTs that each measure 3-1/2" square.
- Repeat to make a total of 336 HSTs, either using the same two colors or a scrappy light and dark assortment.
- Keep like units together to make it easier to find if you design a scrap quilt.
- Grab four like (or scrappy) HSTs. Arrange them into two rows, Figure 1 left. Check those angles!
- Sew the units in each row together and press the seam allowances in adjoining rows in opposite directions.
- Join the rows and press either direction. Figure 1 middle.
- The joined HSTs should measure 6-1/2" x 6-1/2".
- Sew a 6-1/2" light square to the right-hand side of the HST patchwork. Figure 1 right.
- Press seam allowance towards the plain square.
- Make a total of 42 rows with light 6-1/2" squares.
Make the Figure 2 Patchwork Unit
- Find four matching (or scrappy) HST units.
- Arrange the units into two rows as shown in Figure 2, left.
- Sew the units in each row together. Press seams in adjoining rows in opposite directions. Join the rows. Figure 2 middle.
- Press to make a patchwork unit that measures 6-1/2" x 6-1/2".
- Sew a matching (or scrappy) 6-1/2" square to the left side of the patchwork. Figure 2 right.
- Press the seam allowance towards the plain square.
- Make 42 patchwork units in the same configuration.
- Join the two rows, Figure 3. Press seam either way.
- The new block should measure 12-1/2" x 12-1/2".
A Few Notes About Assembly
Continue to 3 of 4 below.
- It's nearly always best to press adjoining seam allowances in opposite directions to make patchwork easier to match up when areas are joined later. That isn't always possible (or practical).
- Use straight pins as needed to keep matched seams from shifting.
- For this pattern, I'll say it again -- take care when you align the HSTs. It may be confusing at first.
- Accuracy is important. Measure as you go, and make corrections before assembling more blocks.
- Once you're familiar with assembly you might want to chain piece some areas of the blocks to speed up the process.
03 of 04
Combine Hunter's Star Patchwork
Assemble a Cluster of Four Blocks
Continue to 4 of 4 below.
- Gather four of your 12-1/2" square blocks and arrange them into two rows as shown in Figure 4.
- Sew the two blocks in each row together, Figure 5. Press the seam allowances towards the blocks with darkest edges.
- Join the two rows and press the seam allowance either direction. Figure 6.
- The large quilt block should measure 24-1/2" square.
- Make a total of nine large quilt blocks.
- You should have six of the 12-1/2" block sections left.
04 of 04
Assemble the Hunter's Star Quilt
Sew the Rows and Finish the Quilt
- Take a look at the right end of Figure 7. That narrow unit is two of the remaining smaller blocks. Sew together in pairs as shown and press towards the dark.
- Sew three of the large blocks together side by side and add the narrow unit to the end.
- Repeat to make two more rows.
- Press new seam allowances in adjoining rows in opposite directions and join the rows.
- Press. Mark for quilting if necessary.
- Sandwich the quilt top with the batting and backing.
- Quilt the... quilt.
- Remove excess batting and backing, taking care not to trim away the quarter inch seam allowance that surrounds the top. You may need to square the quilt up a bit if it has become skewed.
- Sew doublefold mitered binding around the edges of the quilt or finish in another way.
For a Balanced Right and Left Side
You can see that five more 6-1/2" x 12-1/2" sections would produce three rows of the larger blocks and increase the size of the quilt. If you prefer that look, make the sections and assemble blocks exactly as you did the others.
Alter block numbers in any way that will work with the size you need for a specific bed. My mattress comparisons article can help you decide.