We are almost done! In our charity quilt project, we made 12 star quilt blocks. Now, we add sashing to put the individual quilt blocks together into a cohesive whole.

This is one post, but don’t expect to do it in one sitting. Have some patience! The less you rush this part of the process, the better the finished product will look. It took me several sittings to get this sashing on.

The Original Quilt Schematic

Press, Measure, and Evaluate Quilt Blocks

At this point, press your blocks and measure them. Are they all the same size? They should be 12.5 inches total, and 12 inches between the star points. The star points should be at the edges of the finished blocks after the blocks are sewn onto sashing fabric.

In actuality, some might actually be larger than 12.5 inches, and some might be smaller.

Evaluate your blocks. This is your LAST chance to make corrections on the individual blocks.

  • Incorrect size (12.5″ square, unfinished)?
  • Uneven star points?
  • Not flat after pressing?
  • Strange-looking?

If there are visible problems, taking out your seam ripper and fixing some of the problems can save a lot of frustration for the rest of these instructions. You’ll want to have extra fabric on hand in case it’s needed.

In the end, how much time (and fabric) you want to devote to correction is up to you. I decided spending the time and effort was worth it, so I did a little reconstructive surgery on my quilt blocks before moving to the next step.

Make Adjustments for Odd-Sized Quilt Blocks

Before cutting the sashing pieces, see if you have to make adjustments. You won’t be able to add a bit of length or width to a block after it’s been cut!

If your quilt blocks are larger than expected, your next strips will need to be larger. 

Main blocks too small:

If your blocks are smaller, you can just make your quilt a bit smaller. But to keep them the same size, you can cut your sashing wider and taller than normal, and then trim each combined block – a 1 star + 1 sashing block – to size.

Main blocks too large:

If it’s okay that your quilt is larger, cut your sashing pieces longer. After sewing the sashing and blocks together, you can trim the sashing to the size of the block.

A few smaller or larger blocks:

You can put same-sized blocks in the same row or column to make them sew up easier.

Decide on Your Block Layout

Lay out your blocks on a bed or large floor space. Move blocks around until you like the color and pattern variations. This can take some time, so be patient.

Once you are happy with the look, take a photo so you don’t forget!

I laid down my sashing fabric beneath the blocks so I could see how the colors might look once the sashing has been sewn on.

Plan the Sashing

Some people want to put a decorative square in between the sashing, for more of a checkerboard pattern.  If you want to do this, that is just fine. Be aware that you will run into trouble if your finished blocks are not exactly square and the right size.  Having sashing that is all the same color will be more forgiving.

That is why these instructions have the sashing all one color: it’s going to be a lot easier for a beginner (or any non-expert, really) to be successful.

This block lineup shows unmatched points in strips.

Cut the Sashing Pieces

You will need 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 yard of sashing fabric (45″ plus washing shrinkage, plus a bit more in case your blocks are too big and you need more sashing fabric).

Pre-wash (if you’ve washed your other fabric), and then fold it long-ways (not from selvedge to selvedge, but from cut edge to cut edge).

Cut the following out of your sashing fabric:

  • 5: 44.5″ by 2.5″ (2.75″ if your your block sizes are a bit too small)
  • 16: 12.5″ by 2.5″ (2.75″ if your your block sizes are a bit too small)

Sew One Small Sashing Piece Onto Each Quilt Block

Here, you make 12 blocks with just 1 star and 1 piece of sashing.

I want my points to match up.

  • First, I double checked the blocks so the points would line up correctly, which is important if you want your finished stars to have points that end just at the edge of the finished block.
  • If they’re only a tiny bit off, you can probably use a seam ripper to either let out or take in a point so they line up evenly.
  • Then, I carefully marked the edge of both the points with a Frixion pen (a pen with ink that disappears when ironed). Any type of pen will do, as long as any markings inside the seen do not bleed through to the front side of the block. Frixion pens are known to come back after freezing the quilt, so I was careful to keep my markings in the seams.

Then, I trace the entire line down the length of the fabric, ensuring it is straight enough that the block will be square when sewn on. I have some quilting clips; I use them here. Pins will do fine as well.

Draw a seam line and clip

Sew the seam, with the marking up.

Press seams to one side.

Sew and press seam

Do this 12 times. You will have a stack of 12 blocks with one seam on each side.

Trim each block to 14.5 inches to get even-sized block sections.

12 blocks, each with one seam

Sew Quilt Blocks into Rows

Next, lay out a row of blocks: 1 piece of sashing and 3 of your star+sashing blocks together. Double-check against the photo you took earlier, to make sure the blocks are in the same order.

Lay out row of blocks

Now, sew the seams together. I used the same marking technique I used earlier.

Press seams to one side.

Sewn Block Row

Do this 4 times. In the end, you will have 12 rows of 3 stars.

An Important Sewing Tip

As you start sewing your long strips together, if you stretch them, you will end up with a wavy edge, and your quilt will not be flat!

I have seen quilts get super wavy as the outer long strips stretch longer and longer. You do not want to end up with wavy edges!

I prevent such stretching by pinning the pieces flat before sewing, and keeping the pins in until I am about to sew over them.

Sew One Long Sashing Piece Onto Each Quilt Block Row

First, I mark the points of my stars with the Frixion pen.

Second, I draw seam lines on the pieced row.

Third, I pin the sashing onto the block strip.

Finally, I sew the seam.

Okay – in actuality, I sewed these seams in block sections: marking each block section, then pinning and sewing the sashing to that section – then doing it again for the other two blocks. In this way, I was able to do it all at my small cutting board next to my machine.

Just do what makes the most sense for you

I sewed on the first sashing strip in block-sized sections.

Again, Press seams to one side.

Trim the blocks+sashing to 14.5 inches wide.

Do this 4 times.

You’ll still have 4 rows of stars, but this time sashing will be on one side of each row.

Here, you can see the rows with sashing sewn on one side.

It’s a good thing we planned to make the sashing as forgiving as possible! With a plain color background, the unmatched points won’t matter after the rows are sewn together.

Sew All Rows Together

Sew your rows together, and add one last row of sashing.

In this case, I placed my larger cutting board on the bed to make a large, flat area to work. Then, I pinned the entire sashing piece on at once. I did a little bit of measuring and stretching to make sure the corners sorta matched up across the sashing. In reality, it’s not perfect, which is why I was glad I chose only one sashing color.

I pinned the rows together carefully, stretching the fabric a bit to match corners.

Stretching the fabric is actually not a great idea. I didn’t really stretch fabric in any other part of this project. However, I don’t think these particular seams will cause too many problems later on, but we will see. I may have to use more care when I set up the quilt for quilting.

I sewed these seams all at once, rather than sewing block sections at a time, because I had pinned them so carefully the whole way.

Afterwards, I checked my points and either ripped out or sewed over the old seam in order to get the points to match up well.

Press seams to one side. Notice that it’s a lot easier to press seams to one side (rather than open) after it’s been re-sewn to fix a point match-up! Also, pressing seams to one side will make “stitching in the ditch” while quilting disappear better and not weaken the quilt.

Here, you can see the sashing is mostly done!

I have one more seam to do. The seam sections are getting bigger, and the top is coming together. What I have now is covering most of the bed in my craft room!

Sashing is mostly sewn

And here it is again, sashing sewn.

Sashing and blocks sewn together

Square up the edges

It might be sewn together, but the sashing won’t be completely even, and it might even be crooked. As careful as we are, we can’t be perfectly exact. So here, trim up the edges. Since we want 2″ sashing, and there’s a seam on one side, but not the other, trim to 2 1/4″ wide. In my case, one of the blocks was just a tiny bit narrower than the other, so in that section I kept the outer edge as straight as possible, rather than the inner edge.

Square up the sashing

Whew! Your Quilt Blocks Are All Together!

This is a big step in your quilt journey! Take a look at your project and be proud of what you have done.

The quilt top is not completely done: we have more to do. But this is a big step! All of our star points are sewn onto seams, which means we won’t have to do any more star point matching on the last few (big) seams.

Next Steps:

I will link to each post about these steps as I complete them.