Variable Star Quilt Block ~ Week #7 Spring Block of the Week

variable star quilt block

Learn how to sew a Variable Star Quilt Block during week 7 of our Spring Block of the Week!  Last week we learned about the easy Friendship Star Quilt Block.  This Variable Star is also an easy star block and is perfect for a beginning quilter!! 

Also learn a technique for making a square tulip block within the directions for this week’s block!!

variable star pin

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Week 7 – Variable Star Quilt Block

This Variable Star Quilt Block uses squares and tulip squares to form the star.  There are a lot of different types of star quilt blocks.  Some are very intricate, but this is one of the easy stars to sew!! 

The finished block will measure 12 ½” x 12 ½” square.

Cut the fabric for the block…

Cut four 4 ½” squares of light-colored fabric and one 4 ½” square of medium-colored fabric. 

You can also use the same light-colored fabric for the fifth 4 ½” square if you’d like.  But I chose to use a different fabric for this fifth square, which will be my center square.    

Also cut two 5 ¼” squares of medium- to dark-colored fabric.  This will be the fabric for the “star”. 

Finally, cut one 6” square of the same light-colored fabric and one 6” square of the medium- to dark-colored fabric that you’ve chosen for the “star”.

You can also flipflop these colors for a different contrast than mine!!

Making the Tulip Square Blocks…

Using the two 6” blocks make two half square triangles.

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the lighter 6” block.  Place the two 6” squares right sides together.  Sew a seam ¼” on each side of the diagonal line.  Cut along the line to separate the two half square triangles.  Press them open.   

You’ll want to make sure to just press down on the seams, rather than iron them back and forth.  Ironing the seams back and forth will stretch the fabric all wonky!

Using your ruler trim the squares so they measure 5 ¼”.  To do this find the 45-degree diagonal line on the ruler. 

Match up this line with the diagonal line on the half square triangle.  Make sure that the end of the diagonal is touching the 5 ¼” intersection mark on the ruler.

Slide the ruler toward the edge of the square so there is just enough overhang so you can trim it.  But make sure the other end is still reaching that 5 ¼” intersection!!

Hold the ruler in place and trim the overhanging fabric.

Then flip the half square triangle around and line up the squared corner you just made to where the 5 ¼” lines on the ruler intersect.  Also make sure the diagonal line on the half square triangle still matches up to the 45-degree diagonal line on the ruler. 

Carefully trim any overhanging fabric on these two outside edges of the half square triangle. 

You should now have two perfectly squared up 5 ¼” half square triangle blocks!!!

Use half square triangles to make tulip squares…

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the medium- to dark-colored 5 ¼” square you cut for your “star”.

Now…place your 5 ¼” half square triangle right sides together with the 5 ¼” square you drew the diagonal line on.  Make sure the seam of the half square triangle is perpendicular to the diagonal line.

Sew a seam ¼” on each side of the diagonal line.  Repeat for the other 5 ¼” square and 5 ¼” half square triangle.

When finished, you’ll have 4 tulip squares.  Trim these to be 4 ½” square.

Trimming the tulip squares…

To trim the tulips line up the 45-degree line on your ruler to the short seam on the tulip.  Find where the 2 ¼” lines on the ruler intersect with the long seam on the tulip.  Trim the top of the tulip.

Now turn the tulip around a line up the diagonal line to the short seam again.  Find where the 4 ½” lines of the ruler intersect.  Trim the top of the tulip square again so now you have a 4 ½” tulip square. 

Plan the block layout…

Follow this diagram to plan the layout of the four 4 ½” tulip squares and the other five 4 ½” squares. Like the other blocks in this Block of the Week Series, this Variable Star Quilt Block is actually a nine patch block!!

layout of the variable star quilt block

It might sound very simplistic, but sometimes I actually take a picture of the planned-out blocks so I don’t mess up when I start sewing them together.  Then I can refer to the picture to help me get all the blocks in the right order!! 

Chain piece the squares of each row…

Begin sewing the squares together row by row.  I like to pin the first two blocks in each row before I start sewing them.  This way I can easily “chain piece” them together. I talked about chain piecing in a previous post.

Line them up in their correct row placement again.  Place the last block right sides together to each of the middle squares and pin.  Stitch the last block onto row one.  Again, rather than snip when you get to the end, you can chain piece the last square of each row onto the middle square of that row. 

I like to use this chain piecing technique to sew quilt squares together.  As an alternative you can also sew each of the squares individually if you prefer!!

Pressing the seams…

Press the seams of row one toward the outside of the square, away from the center.  Press the seams of row two toward the center.  And press the seams of row three toward the outside of the square, away from the center again.  This way the seams will “nest” together nicely when you sew the rows to each other!

Sewing the rows together…

With rows one and two right sides together, “nest” the seams together and place a pin in these lined up seams.  I also like to place a pin at the end of the rows, and a couple in the middle.

Sew the rows to each other, removing the pins as you come up to them.  Be careful not to let the seam from the bottom row fold over the wrong way as you come up to it!  This happens sometimes.   

Press the seams of each row all in the same direction, either toward the top or toward the bottom.  This way your block will lay nice and flat.

Nicely pressed seams look so pretty!!!  And they help to create smooth quilting patterns later!

Finishing the block…

Using the measurements for the individuals squares that make up this block, the final quilt block should end up measure 12 ½” x 12 ½”.  Once you’ve pressed it, lay it out on your cutting mat and square the block to make sure it’s 12 ½” square.  Your square will probably be very close to being 12 ½” square, you might just need to trim a few threads!

I have a 12 ½” square Omnigrip plastic “ruler” that works great for squaring up large quilt blocks!

 I love how the blocks of this Spring Block of the Week series are adding up!!! 

The other blocks in this series are the Plus Sign, Shoofly, Greek Cross, Bear Paw, North Wind, and Friendship Star.

Have fun making the Variable Star Quilt Block, and have a great week!!


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  1. Jennifer Haycock

    It’s too bad these instructions are not in a printable format. I don’t have a computer where I sew, so it would be nice to be able to print the patterns.

    1. Great news! The pdf printable pattern for Wild Flowers is available in my lakegirlquilts Etsy shop!! Here is the link

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