This is the first block from the pattern "The Milkmaid's Album" which was designed by Betty Alderman. Out of print pattern.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jan Patek Star Tutorial

Jan Patek uses a certain style star design in many of her patterns.  Linda Brannock also used the same style star.  There is a group of people making a block a week from one of Linda's star patterns.  See picture below for her "Gazing Ball" quilt.  The group has permission from Linda's daughter to share the pattern.

I am not participating in the sew-along but have made similar stars for some of the Jan Patek quilt patterns I have used.  I had trouble with making them until I started using what I call "hash tag" marks on my freezer paper pattern pieces.  They really aren't a hash tag.  Just a line across connecting pieces.  I was asked if I would show what I do.  Below is a picture of the stars I recently made for Jan's "Fall Festival" quilt I am making.  The same technique can be used for any of the star patterns that require templates in the construction process.

First I trace the entire star pattern onto freezer paper.  I use a ruler to do this so I am sure to get straight lines.  I assign a letter of the alphabet to each shape from the pattern and mark that both on the freezer paper block and the original pattern (or if the pattern already has a number or alpha letter identifying it....I use that).  I also use a ruler to make a line straight up and down somewhere on each shape.  That way I know how to line the template onto the straight grain of fabric.  The lines come in handy for using plaids or one way prints.

I then take my ruler and draw a tick mark across each side of the inner seams lines of the pattern.  I use these marks to have a pinning mark when I get ready to sew the pieces one to another. I also mark each freezer paper template piece with bckgrd for background or star for the star parts.  Also, I put a "T" at the top of the shapes so I know what is the top side. Then cut the star pattern pieces apart from each other.


Once the shapes are cut apart, iron the freezer paper template to the right side of your fabric and mark the fabric with the tick marks extending out from the pattern shape.

Below is a picture of the two types of rulers I use.  The clear flat ruler is for making all the tick/hash marks onto the freezer paper and marking the fabric at these points using the marking pencil of your choice.  The clear flat ruler makes it easy to see through and line the marks up perpendicular to the paper edge of the shape.  The yellow ruler is normally used in paper piecing.  It has a lip underneath that gives you the 1/4" seam allowance.  Place the edge of the lip next to the freezer paper and carefully cut along the edge of the ruler with a rotary cutter.  I had no helper for picture taking so I cannot show you how I do the cutting.

You now have your shape cut out and with a line mark starting right at the needed 1/4" sewing line.  I pin right through from that mark to the piece I need to attach it to.

If you are lucky, Jan or Linda has given you the sewing order for the pattern pieces but it isn't hard to figure out if that info is not given.

A finished star done using this technique.

And another star with more pieces done the same way.

I don't know if I have explained this well enough.  It makes sense once you actually start doing it though.

Additional info:  I was asked to share the name of the group doing the Gazing Ball sew-along.  It is on Facebook and called Prim Folk Art Quilts.  Click here for a link to it.  Donna, I could not send you an e-mail as you are a no reply blogger.



  1. Great tutorial Karen, thank you for taking time and effort to share!

  2. Great ideas! Thank you for sharing!

  3. great! this is a very primitive star isn't it will be good in flannel I bet.

  4. That is a great idea. Just really making it like clothing pattern pieces. I am going to try this, I'm sure it will help.

  5. Nice way to do your stars, I am lazy and make a mess of mine.


  6. Your explanation works for me, Karen! I really like the look of these stars.

  7. Karen que buen tutorial !!!!
    gracias por tanto trabajo,
    buena semana

  8. This is a great tutorial, Karen.

  9. Great visual tutorial! This looks like a fun project.

  10. Great tutorial! I find these hard to make as well. Love that eagle in the center of the star!

  11. Wonderful tutorial! Would you share the name of the group that is hosting the sew-along?

    1. Donna, you are a no reply blogger. I just have to hope you return to my blog to get the answer to your question. Here is a link to the Facebook group "Prim Folk Art Quilts".

  12. The ''hashtags'' are similar to ''notches'' used in garment construction. I do the marks same as you but I make each seam have different marks: one, two spaced, two close together, three spaced etc. That way I am sure not to pick up the wrong star leg to sew to the center. I also write 'Outside' along each outer seam and I add at least 1/2" seam allowance there. Trim later to size. This gives me lots of seams fabric to sew nice sharp star points.

  13. Good job explaining your technique,Once i had the pieces cut out, i had trouble figuring out how to get them going with the "Grain". Thank you
    so much.

  14. I'm so behind in reading blogs. I enjoyed your thorough tutorial for the stars. I made some for Women of Grace & Charm by Blackbird Designs. It did it the trial and error method with more trials than I want to remember. These stars can be tricky. Thanks.