Star Gazer QAL – Week One: Fabrics, Cutting and Layout

Posted by on Feb 18, 2013 in Blog

Hello and welcome to Week One of the Star Gazer QAL. I hope you are excited and ready to get sewing.

I know it seems ambitious to combine picking fabrics, cutting and layout in one week but as I was working on my quilt, I couldn’t figure out a way to separate them.

Picking Fabrics

The original Star Gazer was designed around the nine prints in Birch’s Scamper collection. I just really wanted to show off all of the really cute little details in the fabrics. I found that the color prints really popped off the cream petals. The prints with cream backgrounds worked just as well, particularly because they are balanced by the color pints. This pattern is so versatile that any cohesive set of fabrics will look great.  Lighter prints might get washed out a bit if you use a white or cream for the petals, but lighter prints for the diamonds and a darker solid for the petals would look stunning. If you used a dark blue for the petals, it would look like the night sky.

I can’t wait to see pictures of what everyone is using. Please feel free to post pictures in the Star Gazer QAL flickr group.


My first recommendation if you aren’t using the Scamper prints like I did is to assign your prints to the Scamper prints I used in the pattern before you start cutting. That way, it will be easy to keep track of how many pieces of each print you need and what print goes where in the layout. The diamond pieces (Template A) take up a lot of fabric because of their long “arms” so planning ahead is really important. Definitely consider tracing the pieces with a fabric safe marker before cutting to make sure you have enough fabric, particularly if you are fussy cutting your prints.

If your paper pattern piece is wrinkly and tough to use, turn off the steam on your iron and quickly iron it flat. Just be sure to turn of the steam or you will end up with a soggy piece of paper.

Another thing I found helpful is to use a small square ruler placed on top of Template A. It helped keep the paper piece in place as I used my rotary cutter. I just shifted it to the sides that I wasn’t cutting. And don’t forget to mark the center notch on each side of the diamond. You need this mark to line up the center of the pieces cut with Template B.  A small 1/8″ notch or mark with a fabric safe pen works the best. If you have the time, transfer your pattern piece to a plastic template. It is really easy to shave little bits off the pattern as you cut with a rotary cutter.

The same advice applies to cutting Template B. Be sure to mark the center notch and consider transferring the pattern piece to a plastic template.


If you are using nine prints, you can just follow the layout I used or you can try something new. I have found that I prefer balance and symmetry for this quilt pattern, but don’t let that stop you from trying out different arrangements.

This time around, I am making a quilt with Birch’s new line coming out this spring called Yay Day! It is super cute and feminine. Since the first time I saw this collection, I have wanted to do a Star Gazer version. The pattern calls for nine prints, but the Yay Day! collection only has seven prints. This means that I can’t follow the layout of the original Star Gazer and I needed to increase my yardage to 1/2 yard of each print.

Below is a picture of my final layout with the Yay Day! fabrics.* I really like the darker prints on the edges and down the center with the lighter prints mixed in between.  I have to confess that I couldn’t figure out a good layout without having the pieces to play around with. This makes things a little tricky because there isn’t a lot of extra fabric due to the funky shape of the diamonds. I very carefully and conservatively cut 5 of each print so I could try as many options as possible. I folded the edge pieces in half to help me visualize how the quilt will look without being distracted by those long arms.  I was careful enough that I could go back and cut the remaining pieces once I knew how many pieces I needed of each.

*I apologize for the picture quality. I don’t have a design board (long story involving an A-frame house) so I lay out my pieces on my bed.

If anyone wants to use 7 prints, please let me know and I can give you more information on how many pieces of each print I ended up needing.

I hope this post helps and look forward to seeing pictures of your fabrics and layouts.

Next Week: Sewing Curves!!



  1. Melissa, I only bought fat quarters of the scamper line and your pattern calls for 1/3 yds. Can I supplement with 2 or 3 coordinated prints. I bought the fabric before I got the pattern.

    • Hey Annemarie,
      I think that would look great. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Keep me posted.

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