Choosing Fabric + Adding Stars for a Patchwork Quilt

Today I’m sharing a fun and simple way to give a traditional patchwork squares quilt a little more pizazz. Just adding a few simple traditional Sawtooth Star Quilt blocks will add some interest and change the look of your patchwork. I’m also sharing my favorite tips for choosing fabrics for patchwork.

This project is perfect for a fast summer picnic quilt, but also easy to modify to any size quilt or patchwork size. I’m also sharing my favorite tips for choosing fabrics for patchwork!

While we’re at it, let’s also talk about choosing fabric for a quilt, since that’s always a popular subject.

This tutorial features prints from the brand new fabric collection for Riley Blake Designs, Just Add Sugar by the girls from Simple Simon and Co. (I just LOVE those pink lemon slices!)

The Just Add Sugar collection features lots of summer-y, sherbert-y colors. Usually I really like incorporating all of the prints and colors in a collection into a project. But this time I decided to narrow down my color palette and focus on the the color scheme of pink, black, and white. Notice that I have a variety of shades of the pink as well as the black and white prints. We’ve got a narrow color palette, but the variety of shades of the different colors will give the quilt more texture and depth.

Another fun tip – throw in a surprise. As you can see, I decided to throw in one more color for a little punch by adding the green. It creates a some playful visual interest among the dominant colors. These are the prints I ended up using from the Just Add Sugar collection.

Because I really love the look of a lot of prints in a patchwork quilt – to give it more texture and more of a scrappy look – I wanted to add a few more prints in the color palette.  This time I pulled from a selection of Riley Blake basics, including different sizes of dots and stripes and the black hashtag fabric.

Here are all of the fabrics together. Another key to effective patchwork quilts is a variety of scale. Because of their large scale, those two pink lemon prints are going to be my dominant prints. They are the eye-catchers – the divas – and we want to show them off. They’re going to do a lot of the heavy lifting and give the quilt visual interest.

If all of the prints were the same large scale however, they would fight. (Think too many divas = too much drama.) So we need a supporting cast that will really let the divas shine – but at the same time bring their own strengths (different color shades, textures, etc.) to the patchwork.

Check out this post for another example of how to use scale and color successfully in a quilt.

Here’s how they all play together. You can see how the variety of scales as well as shades of color create depth and interest among simple squares. These are tried and true principles for any basic patchwork quilts.

With this quilt, I added one more twist to give in some playful interest = adding the traditional Sawtooth Star Quilt Blocks.

I love how the stars pop and give a little extra something-something to a very basic design. Such a simple addition with a big impact. And you can really have fun with the variety of fabric combinations. I’ve tried this with a few other patchwork quilts and have always loved the effect.

You can add any number of Sawtooth Stars that you want, but I recommend an odd number for added visual interest.

As you can see, I decided to make things even more interesting by using different sizes of stars. These stars are 8″ x 8″ (finished) and 16″ x 16″ (finished).

This quilt finished at 64″ x 64″ – perfect for a summer picnic size.

Fabric requirements for this specific quilt:

About 14-15 different 1/4 yards (not Fat Quarters) cut into:

  • 58 squares 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
  • 2 stars blocks 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ (will be 8″ x 8″ finished)
  • 1 star block 16 1/2″ x 16 1/2″ (will be 16″ x 16″ finished)

1/2 yard binding fabric

4 yards backing

Sawtooth Star tutorial and chart for cutting requirements to make star blocks found here.

For step-by-step process of cutting and piecing a basic patchwork squares quilt see the Beginning Quilting Series.

The fun part of this is that you can make your patchwork squares – and stars – any size you want. (The Sawtooth Star tutorial has a chart for cutting instructions for a wide variety of star sizes.) And you can always add more squares/blocks to make your quilt whatever size you want it to be.

(If you’re feeling intimidated to resize the quilt yourself, remember graph paper and a calculator are your friend. This is a great project for building your quilt-math skills. And here’s an added bonus – if you’re going to use the same 8″ x  8″ (8 1/2″ unfinished) squares that I used, keep in mind that you can get 5 squares 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ from a regular 1/4 yard of fabric. So take the final number of squares that you need and then divide that number by 5 = that’ll give you the number of  1/4 yards that you need for your project. If you plan to add star blocks, add another 3-4 different 1/4 yards for the added star-block piecing.)

You can do it!

The quilting on this quilt was done by Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting. We decided to try the Fast Daisy pattern for this one.

I hope this quilt will inspire you to cut through some of your own stash – or some Just Add Sugar – and try some new color/fabric combinations to create a quick summer patchwork quilt with a twist. Visit the Simple Simon blog for links to see more recent projects made with Just Add Sugar. Just Add Sugar fabrics are available on Etsy.

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  • Reply
    Tammy Jewkes
    June 27, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Fabulous colors for a fun summer quilt. Thanks for all the great information.

  • Reply
    Karen Seitz
    June 27, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Great quilt, and the pink flamingo is the perfect photo accessory!

  • Reply
    Liz Childers
    June 27, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Love it! Good tutorial, thanks.

    • Reply
      Judith nolan
      June 23, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      Thank you so much.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    So pretty!

  • Reply
    Little Quiltsong
    June 28, 2017 at 4:20 am

    This quilt really shines, Amy! Love your post and how you explained the choosing of fabric and the adding of Star blocks – thank you!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

    It’s a perfect summer quilt. Very pretty. At first glance the colors made me think of a watermelon.

  • Reply
    Needle and Foot
    June 28, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Wonderful explaination of pulling fabric- scale and value are key. You did an excellent job with this pull!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Amy, I love this quilt! The stars really do make everything pop. Your explanation of fabric choosing tips is valuable, too!

  • Reply
    Cindy Weeks
    July 6, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Love the stars! I have been looking for the perfect block for fussy cuts! This is perfect!

  • Reply
    Harper Campbell
    July 11, 2017 at 10:25 am

    I am wanting to make a quilt for my daughter’s birthday, but I need help in choosing the fabric for it. I love that you pointed out that I need to pick out a color scheme to help narrow down my choices. For her, I think she would love to have a purple with a hint of green in it.

  • Reply
    Carin Carlton
    June 25, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Love getting your emails. So much fun. I am working on your pendant quilt… I should say on and off working on it but I just loved it…but now I love this one so I will start another project! Thanks so much for all the tips. My friend just received a first place ribbon for her quilt at the El Dorado County Fair in Northern California. It;s adorable with chickens and cows and barns etc. If I can figure out how to add a picture I will do so… thanks again for all your wonderful post. They are all very inspiring!

  • Reply
    June 26, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Delightful post, Amy! Love the quilt and the photo shoot!

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