Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Diamond Star Halo How-To

I am going to take a crack at describing how my Hubcap Diamond Star Halo quilt went together, for those who may be interested in making one.  This is not a detailed step-by-step tutorial, but I think you'll have all the information you need from here to create your own.

For starters, let's shorten the name of this to Diamond Star Halo, because that's what it basically looks like, at least to me—faceted like a diamond, the star in the center with the halo around it.  Your interpretation of hubcaps is optional.

The quilt is made with a 12.5-inch kaleidoscope block.  There are only nine blocks in the quilt, which measures 36 inches finished.  So it's wall hanging size or baby quilt size.

Below I have marked the lines which show the individual blocks.  See, only nine of them! 
Each kaleidoscope block is made from eight wedge-shaped kaleidoscope triangle pieces and four 45-degree right triangles in the corners.  You can see the individual pieces better below, where I've marked all the seam lines to show the shapes.

So there are just two simple shapes that comprise each kaleidoscope block.  By using the white background fabric in the corners and parts of the four blocks at the compass points north, south, east, and west (the green and gold blocks above), you create the halo effect around a center star.

As you can see, value and placement of the various fabrics within the blocks is key to this quilt.  I've used mostly medium (or medium/dark) and light fabrics for contrast.  You're probably going to want to play a bit with the layout of your particular fabrics until it strikes your fancy.

I learned most of what I know about kaleidoscope quilts from the quilt along I participated in a couple years ago at Don't Call Me Betsy blog (which, sadly, no longer exists).  I used her PDF template for my kaleidoscope blocks for this quilt.  

Edited in March 2023:  The downloadable PDF template referred to in the preceding paragraph is, unfortunately, no longer available.  However, you can purchase a kaleidoscope ruler such as this one by Marti Michell (not an affiliate link), and use the appropriate markings on the ruler to cut your kaleidoscope triangle pieces for a 12-inch finished block.   

Original post continues:

You can then trace the shapes onto card stock to make your templates for cutting your fabric.  But what I did instead was tape the paper kaleidoscope triangle to the underside of one corner of my Companion Angle ruler that I already had, because the angle matched exactly.  You're going to be cutting your pieces from 6.5-inch strips of fabric, so the lower and upper edges of the kaleidoscope triangle template should match the width of the fabric strip exactly.  Zip-zip with your rotary cutter along the left and right sides and you're all set!

For the corner triangle pieces, instead of using the 45-degree template, I simply cut 4.5-inch squares from the background fabric and then cut them in half on the diagonal.  Easy-peasy, no template really necessary for those.

For my Diamond Star Halo quilt, I cut the following number of kaleidoscope (wedge-shaped) triangles:
8 white
4 purple
4 pink
4 med blue
4 blue floral
12 green
8 gold floral
8 light-colored dot
8 light floral
4 plaid
4 harlequin (center block)
4 purple floral (center block)

Plus:  36 white 45-degree triangles (cut 18 4.5-inch squares and subcut on diagonal)

That's 12 different fabrics, including the white/background.  A fat quarter of each would be ample, plus 1/2 yard (or less) of white.  Or use scraps.  Scraps are good!

Regarding assembly of the blocks, it may seem confusing but remember this:  The four blocks that are north-south-east-west are identical.  They're assembled exactly the same way and then the block is just turned the appropriate direction when you lay them out (before sewing the quilt top together).  

N-S-E-W blocks (make 4 identical)
Same idea with the four outer corner blocks.  They are all assembled the same way, the only difference being in the medium/dark fabric that forms the "X" shape in the block (i.e., one purple, one pink, one blue, and one blue print in my example).  The two light fabrics in these blocks are placed in the same positions in each block. For example, (see below) the light dot is at 6 and 9 o'clock, and the light floral is at 12 and 3.  Again, when you lay your blocks out for your final assembly, you'll just turn them.

Corner blocks (make 4 w/different fabrics in "X", same lights)
You only make one center block:

Center block (darker fabric forming "X")
Clear enough so far? 

As far as assembling the individual blocks, I like to lay the pieces out on the table the way they go together.  Then I start by sewing the corner triangles onto the four wedges that will make the "X" shape.

Please don't be confused by my example here.  I am using leftover, already cut pieces from my scraps, and the way I've laid them out here is not how any block in the Diamond Star Halo is pieced.  I'm just describing, in general, how to sew a kaleidoscope block together.

So, as I was saying, sew the corner pieces onto the four wedges.  They look like ice cream cones at this point, don't they?

I press all seams open through the whole block assembly process, and press after each seam is sewn.

Then starting from the upper left (ice cream cone piece) and moving clockwise, sew four wedges together.  Then repeat the same for the remaining four pieces, such that you end up with two halves or hemispheres.

Then sew the two halves together in one long seam, press, and there's your block!  Trim as necessary.  It should be 12.5 inches square.

Lay out your blocks as they're assembled and check to make sure everything is pointing the right direction, i.e., you see your star center and halo and such.  Then sew the blocks together in rows, etc., as usual to finish your quilt top.

Make sense?  If not or you have questions, let me know in the comments and I will clarify as best I can. 

If you make a Diamond Star Halo quilt, I'd love to see it!  I think it'd be cool to make it in Christmas prints or a nautical theme (or any number of other ways).  However you make it, have fun!


Sarah Craig said...

Awesome, P.! I can't wait to make one!!!

West Michigan Quilter said...

Thanks you so much for these instructions. I've been admiring this quilt since I first saw it and was hoping you'd give us a tute. I can't wait to try it.

Empty Closet Quilting said...

Great tutorial and lovely quilt making!

Marti said...

Thank you for the instructions. That is a gorgeous quilt! I'm going to try to bookmark this thread so I can make this one.

Hazel said...

You did a good job explaining the pattern!

Shay said...

Brilliant. Your explanation is so clear even I could probably make one !

Janine @ Rainbow Hare said...

This is really beautiful. Thank you for describing it all so well :)

Kevin the Quilter said...

P!!!!! I love your tutorial! So easy to follow for some very intricate piecing! I love your idea of taping card stock to the back of a ruler you already have! Your piecing is absolutely perfect!

Karen said...

I think I need to try this! Perfectly described :)

sophie said...

This is simply BRILLIANT! Thanks for taking the time to show how you did it. I love it.

Elizabeth said...

Nicely done!

Looking at your second dissected photo above, this would look so cool as a "stained glass window" type quilt. This may warrant further investigation on my part, because if you make 81 blocks (instead of 9), you could make a 108" x 108" bed-sized quilt . . . I wonder how that would look? 9 stars and 9 halos? I'll keep that in mind for the future. I really love the ideas you come up with.

xo -E

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

How neat! I made my kaleidoscope quilt out of those fabrics and I really like this design, thanks for sharing!

Lara B. said...

This is totally awesome P! Thank you for sharing your design and know how! I think i'll try it someday and use the fabrics I bought for a kaleidoscope quilt.

Unknown said...

I think this would be a beautiful stained glass quilt. think I will practice before hand though

Μοιρούλα said...

I love your tutorial!

StitchingSuzi said...

With the black between each part it reminds me of the Rose Window at our church - I am going to have to figure out how to put in the black edging so it appears that there is lead between each fabric - this won't be done this week however!

Sandra C. said...

How can I get the template pattern for the Diamond Star Halo Quilt Block. The links on the page no longer go to functioning sites. Please help me out. I really love the look of this quilt and would like to make one.
Sandra C.

Paulette said...

Hi Sandra C., and thanks for letting me know about the broken links. Yours was a "no-reply" comment, so I hope you see my reply here as I was unable to email you back. I have edited the post above to include a link to a kaleidoscope quilt ruler that will enable you to cut the pieces for this block. I hope that helps!