Wednesday, September 5, 2018

An Alternative Center for The Patchwork Barn

Instead of the Patchwork Barn, I made an alternative center. It is made from half square triangles and is easy to construct. The star is 24" square, including the sawtooth borders. This design is Barbara Brackman #2165, The Twinkling Star, published under the name of Nancy Cabot in the 1930's:

Here are the instructions I  have written:

My Alternative Center 2018 BOM
The Patchwork Barn

Instead of the Barn, I made a Sawtooth Star Block for the center of my quilt. I used the leftover fabric from my blocks.

NOTE--I used 3 yards of Kona Snow, an off-white, for all the sashing. The full cutting instructions for this layout will be given in Month 11. For now, save 2.5 yards of your sashing fabric for the vertical sashing and narrow sashing between blocks and use .5 yard for the center block construction.

Center Block Construction:

From a half yard sashing fabric cut:

(1) 5” x width of fabric (WOF)
Sub-cut into four 5” squares for the block corners
For the 12 light solid triangles for pieced blocks, you have a choice:
            Use a Half-Square Triangle ruler to cut (12) 4.5” FINISHED half-square triangles--this will require one additional strip of 5” x WOF
            Cut a 5.5” x WOF strip of sashing, sub-cut into (6) 5.5” squares, cut each in half to get 12 half square triangles, these are slightly larger than needed.

To Piece triangle units for the center block: I worked from leftover fabrics from the quilt:

            Make 36 1.5” FINISHED half square triangle units
               I used a half-square triangle ruler and 2” strips,
                        Right sides together, cut triangle pairs, sew them.
 Cut 36  1.5” FINISHED half square TRIANGLES, mine were all red--I used 2” leftover strips and a half-square triangle ruler. You could cut (18) 2.5” squares in half.

            Join 3 HST units and 3 triangles to form half of the pieced squares.
                  Make a total of 12 of these
Join the 12 pieced triangles to 12 solid white triangles to make 12 pieced squares that FINISH at 4.5”, they will be 5” raw edge to raw edge

Lay out the 12 pieced squares and the 4 corner squares, sew into 24” block.
            I pressed all seams open, press them however you prefer.

From remaining sashing fabric, cut two strips 2” x WOF for inner sashing.
            Sub-cut into (2) 2” x 18.5” and (2) 2” x 21.5” sashing strips

Join left and right sashing to left and right of pieced block, press toward sashing

Join top and bottom sashing to top and bottom of pieced block, now your block should be 21.5” square, raw edge to raw edge


To create the sawtooth borders, make 56 1.5” FINISHED half square triangle units. I used a half-square triangle ruler and 2” strips, lights and darks placed right sides together, cut and sewn into squares. They should be 2”, raw edge to raw edge. You could cut them from 2.5” squares, trimming them to perfection after sewing the triangle pairs together.

Cut (4) light 2”squares for the four corners of the borders.

Left and Right borders: sew 14 HST units together--I changed direction at the mid-point, you may prefer to have all the diagonals go in the same direction

Top and Bottom borders: sew 14 HST units together, add one light square to each end.

When sewn together, the center block is 24” FINISHED, 24.5” raw edge to raw edge.


It is very easy for these borders to “grow” as you join them together. I strongly recommend, you “ruler check” your work, with each pair you sew. Chain piece the 14 HST into 7 pairs. Decide how you want to press them--I pressed open.

Measure them carefully--they should be 2” x 3.5” now--two 1.5” FINISHED HSTs, and .5” seam allowance. If they are that size, join these pairs into units of four. Press and ruler check--they should now be 2” x 6.5”. Continue to create the border, ruler checking as you go. If you are off two threads every seam, your border will really grow.

Remember when piecing units: If your unit is not the RIGHT SIZE NOW, it will NOT MIRACULOUSLY become the right size when you do the next step.

The more you ruler check yourself, the better your piecing will be. Eventually, your piecing will be spot on, congratulations--you can stop checking now.

I check every time I make these kind of units--it is very easy to get careless. A metal tape is a good way to check the borders if you don't have a ruler that is at least 24.5" long. Do not use a paper or fabric tape--they stretch over time and are not accurate.


I also added 1" finished sashing between the blocks to lengthen the quilt. This layout will be provided in Month 11 if you are interested. My quilt has no applique'. The finished size is 74.5" x 97.5".

Let's Quilt.



  1. WOW WOW WOW!! I really love this as the focal center, Barbara!! It would actually be quite gorgeous as a standalone wall hanging! Beautiful! :)

    1. Thanks, Denise--that is exactly what I did with this block--now to quilt it. I show it pinned in place here on my top--the other center block I made will be revealed in November. Secret sewing...

    2. I adore secret stitching -- the best!! :)

  2. This centre is absolutely beautiful Barbara and really gives the quilt a big WOW factor. I have started my applique for the centre using a pattern called "Saddle Up" which a friend brought me from Canada. As I'm making this quilt for one of my daughters who has horses, I thought the Saddle Up pattern would be appropriate as it features riding boots, saddle etc in the applique. I would love to make your Sawtooth Star as a standalone wall hanging as Denise suggested. Thanks for all you help

  3. I love the way your quilt looks with 1" sashing between the blocks ~ I thought about doing that from the beginning and you've just confirmed how good it looks! Thanks for the inspiration. :)

    1. The Sunday Sew and Sews asked me to make the quilt bigger--this also gives "breathing" room between the blocks and lets each shine.

  4. Barbara, (yes me again) just wondering if I could make the alternative centre applique of my quilt 24" square rather than the 30.5 x 24.5 as the patterns suggests. The applique would work much better at 24" square also is the centre block measurement 24.5" square unfinished.
    Warm Wishes

    1. Yes, make the Appliqué square 24" finished. You can add borders to it when you get to month 11--if you add additional sashing those borders will be slightly different. Stay tuned.

  5. A lovely centre piece Barbara. I would love to make it as a stand alone little quilt in Christmas fabrics. Thanks so much for the tute.:-)

  6. That is such a gorgeous center. It is a great choice for a separate wall hanging. I am going to pin this and sometime in my life I hope to make one. :)

    1. This makes a great leader/ender project once you cut the half square triangles. Just sew them over time as you make other quilts--eventually you'll have those units all sewn and all that is left is to assemble the block.