The Structured Star Block Bomber Jacket

The Structured Star Block Bomber Jacket

I just got back from my first QuiltCon! The week before I left for the conference, I decided to make a Structured Star block and attach it to a jacket for the event. And I was just blown away by your responses to the results. In this post, I'll walk through the steps I took so you can make one too!

You'll need the Structured Star block, a jacket (I bought THIS one from Old Navy), and your block fabric (see info in pattern for fabric amounts). 

1: Picking the colors for the Star block. 

When I was making my QuiltCon backpack, I chose colors with a softer undertone (all AGF Signature Solids from the Suzy Quilts curated collection).

For this one, I wanted to do something bright and bold and high-contrast. I picked these colors (also all AGF solids) with that in mind. I'd chosen a white background for the panel before I ever decided to buy a white jacket. At this point in the process, I was still planning to add this to a jean jacket.

    2: Block assembly. 

    For this pattern, I like to pre-cut my fabrics because there are so many of the same shapes so it actually does save time. I also like to lay everything out so that I don't mix up any of my colors. Which I did at one point on this one and had to re-print one of the templates and redo it. Even with that delay, this entire block took less than a single afternoon to cut fabric, piece the paper pieces, assemble the block, and remove the papers.

    A reminder about using high contrast colors while paper piecing: When trimming your fabrics as you add them, extra margins of light colors and trim your darker fabrics just a little narrower than you normally would so that the edges of your dark fabric don't accidentally show through your lighter fabrics!

      3: Quilting the block. 

      This was by far my favorite part of this project. I made a quilt sandwich as normal. I used white backing, a thin batting (so that the panel would be as flexible as possible), and started quilting. I hate burying threads and in general securing the starts and ends of threads so I chose quilting that was continuous in as many portions as possible. I wanted to emphasize the star shape and downplay the accent squares this time so I used lines that radiated from the star. This was my first time allowing the lines to cross over one another instead of doing a true echo, and I love the results.

        4: Binding the block. 

        I used a bit of a 'cheating' method for this 'binding.' I wanted to have a polished, finished look but absolutely as little bulk as possible. And I knew that the back of this panel would be entirely hidden. I cut a single 1.5-inch wide strip of white fabric for each side. Then I used a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance and attached the top and bottom strips to the quilt, ironed them back, and glue basted them to the back of the quilt. I didn't need to stitch them down because I knew that when I added this panel to a jacket, I was going to topstitch along the inside of the binding. Then I trimmed the excess that was hanging off to the left and right and added just a little glue to the edges to help prevent future fraying (although these edges would end up underneath the corners of the left and right strips I attached in the next step).

        Then I took the left and right binding strips and trimmed so they hung 1/4 inch over the top and bottom. Then I folded those 1/4 amounts in and glue basted them down so that the strips I was going to attach looked finished at the ends. Then I sewed the strips to the front of the block using that same scant 1/4-inch seam allowance, folded the rest to the back, pressed it well, and glue basted the back down. Binding done. And not bulky at all!

          5: Attaching the block.

          Because this bomber jacket is cropped, I knew that it would be easy to get the block placement wrong. To avoid this, I used a long basting stitch to attach the block to the jacket first to check the placement. I DID NOT stitch near the edges for this. Instead, I stitched right near the center star. This jacket is made of synthetic fabric and I knew that any needle marks I made might not come out. So I did not want needle marks near the edges of the block if I was going to move it and they show. I was glad I did that because I ended up moving the block down almost 2 inches from where I initially thought I'd want it.

          Once the placement was finalized, I returned my machine to a slightly longer than normal stitch length (3.2, which I always use for any topstitching) and stitched right along the inside of the binding all the way around. I then used a long, narrow zigzag stitch and went around the outside edge of the block twice. My goal was to just barely catch the binding and secure it to the jacket, but to make the thread blend into the jacket. And to avoid adding a lot of holes or stippling to the jacket that would result if I used a short zigzag stitch. The result actually had a bit of a star look to it, which was a pleasant surprise.

          That's it! 

          If you make one, I'd love to see it!

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