How to Make a Hunter's Star Quilt
This 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.
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.
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 you 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.
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).
Even if you make a quilt with lots of dark fabrics, consider using the same light fabric throughout to add continuity to the design. That's part of the method for choosing fabrics for quilts.
The quilt finishes at about 72 inches by 84 inches, as shown. 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 inches by 96 inches.
Block Sizes and Yardage Needed
Small blocks finish at 12 inches square
Larger clusters of four blocks finish at 24 inches square
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.
Quilt backing: A panel about 82 inches by 94 inches or the size required for the type of quilting that's planned.
Quilt batting: Same as backing, 82 inches by 94 inches.
Quilt binding: About 340 running inches of continuous double-fold binding to sew to the quilt with a quarter inch seam allowance. Bias binding strips are not necessary for straight sided quilts but you can use them if you prefer.
A few more supplies needed include:
- 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.
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 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 before you begin. Never cut all fabric for a quilt until you've made a few test blocks.
HSTs for a Two Color Quilt
Be sure you understand 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 inches by 3 1/2 inches 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-inch by 7 3/4-inch light squares
- Cut (42) 7 3/4-inch by 7 3/4-inch dark squares
Pair each light fabric with a dark fabric as explained in the tutorial to produce eight 3 1/2-inch by 3 1/2-inch HSTs per pair (336 total).
Plain Squares for a Two Color Quilt
Cut these squares:
- Cut (42) 6 1/2-inch by 6 1/2-inch light squares and set aside (same as larger squares if making a two fabric quilt)
- Cut (42) 6 1/2-inch by 6 1/2-inch 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-inch 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-inch squares, but they'll be different.
To make block sections that are alike, cut a 6 1/2-inch square for each 7 3/4-inch 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.
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-inch 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-inch 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 inches by 6 1/2 inches.
- Sew a 6 1/2-inch 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-inch 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 inches by 6 1/2 inches.
- Sew a matching (or scrappy) 6 1/2-inch 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 inches by 12 1/2 inches.
A Few Notes About Assembly
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 these tips as well:
- Use straight pins as needed to keep matched seams from shifting.
- For this pattern, 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.
Combine Hunter's Star Patchwork
Assemble a Cluster of Four Blocks
- Gather four of your 12 1/2-inch 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 inches square.
- Make a total of nine large quilt blocks.
- You should have six of the 12 1/2-inch block sections left.
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-inch by 12 1/2-inch 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.