Supernova Quilt-Along: Let’s Start Piecing


Welcome to the second installment of the Supernova Quilt-Along. I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been watching all of you select your fabric and put together the color progressions for your blocks. I’ve especially enjoyed interacting with everybody in the Flickr group. But now I’m about ready to start piecing some blocks! How about you guys?

1. Remember the photos you took of your color progressions? You’ll want to be able to reference those as you start piecing. Here’s the photo for my first block.

2. Now get out the pieces you cut for the first block. Find your printed rectangles, and pull out one of each print. Then pull two 3″ print squares in the corresponding prints, two solid background rectangles, and two solid background squares.

3. Mark the diagonal on each of your 3″ squares. If you are using darker fabrics (as I am with my background fabric), you may need a light-colored marking pencil.

4. Now pair up the print squares with the solid rectangles, and the solid squares with the print rectangles, right sides facing. Important: Three of your marked diagonals should go in one direction, and one should go in the opposite direction, as shown above. Look at your color progression photo: The diagonal that goes in the opposite direction should always be a solid background square paired with the bottom print from your progression. It doesn’t matter which direction your diagonals go in (although if you have directional fabric, check out the tips at the end of this post). The only thing that matters is that three go in one direction and the last one goes in the other.

5. Sew on the marked diagonal line. (You may want to pin your marked square onto the rectangle, to keep it from slipping around.)

6. Trim off the excess, 1/4″ from your sewn line.

7. Press the whole unit flat (as shown above) to set in the seam, then carefully press back your newly-sewn triangle. Press seams open, using a dry iron. Steam can stretch and distort bias seams.

8. You will now have what essentially amounts to half of a flying-geese unit. (Be sure this half-goose unit still measures 3″ x 5.5″—if it doesn’t, it can affect the accuracy of your piecing as you continue.)

9. Repeat the process above with your other paired squares and rectangles, until you have four half-goose units.

10. Lay out your half-goose units, just like I did above. You’ll start piecing with the two lower-left horizontal half-goose units, so pair up those two, right sides together.

11. This part can be tricky—matching up those angled, biased seams. To do that, I pin the pieces at each end, then flip down the top edge to see if the bias seams are lining up approximately 1/4″ down, where the new seam will be. If it lines up (and it does in the picture above), put another pin right there in the middle and sew. If it does not line up, unpin your pieces and adjust accordingly. If you still find you’re having trouble getting the seams lined up, you could always go the extra mile and baste the seams first. If it looks good after basting, sew again with a shorter stitch to make it permanent.

12. When you’re done, you should have something that looks like this. Again, I pressed my seams open—in fact, I pressed all my seams open throughout the entire block. Seam-pressing is a matter of personal preference, so you could probably press to the side if you prefer, but I found pressing seams open to be more accurate, especially with the bias seams.

13. Now you’ll be adding the vertical half-goose unit on the lower right. No worries about bias seams matching up on this one! : )

14. You should now have a pieced unit that looks like this. To complete the sub-unit, choose another 3″ square from the pieces you cut for Block 1. I recommend choosing the top print (if you have 5 or 6 prints in your progression) or second or third print down (if you have 7 prints in your progression). I chose the yellow oval print shown above.

15. Sew your remaining half-goose unit to the 3″ square, as shown above.

16. Join your final seam, again following the process in Step 9 to line up your bias seams. You should now have a completed sub-unit, measuring 8″ square (6.5″ square if you’re using a jelly roll).

17. After you finish piecing this first sub-unit, make three more exactly like the first one. Use the same prints, same layout, and the same direction for your marked diagonals. You must stay consistent with the direction of your marked diagonals, or the seaming pattern created by this design won’t be consistent. Now you should have 4 identical sub-units. (The only difference may be the orientation of directional fabric, as shown above with my yellow oval print—see below for more info on using directional fabric.)

18. Just turn each of your four sub-units 90 degrees—and ta da! You can see now how these sub-units will begin to make up your Supernova block.

NOTE ABOUT DIRECTIONAL FABRIC: If you are using any directional prints, keep the “X” formation shown above in mind, because you may need to orient your fabric differently depending on which part of the “X” you are piecing. I recommend laying out your pieces in the “X” formation shown above and piecing them from that layout, so you can easily see how your directional fabrics need to be oriented.

Repeat each of the above steps for all nine of your blocks. When you’re done, you should have 36 completed 8″-square sub-units (6.5″ square if you’re using a jelly roll).

Next week, I’ll be posting about how to complete the Supernova blocks. In the meantime, don’t forget to post pictures of your progress in the Flickr group, and have fun!

16 replies
  1. Sel's Quilting Blog
    Sel's Quilting Blog says:

    Oh, I shouldn't have taken up this project in a month when I have EVERYTHING happening! But we shall contrive as best we can! (And, um, yeah, I'm thinking "good luck on getting my seams to match up!")

  2. capitolaquilter
    capitolaquilter says:

    You make it look so easy – When will the weekend get here so I can have time to give it a try??!!
    Any and all tips on getting the fabrics to match us and make the nice trick of the eye would be great. Baby steps….

  3. Marci Girl
    Marci Girl says:

    This looks so fun and cool! Maybe after I finish up some projects I can dig through my fabrics more and make this quilt, it is just so pretty! I can't wait to see everyone's finished blocks!

  4. Becky
    Becky says:

    oh poop, I still haven't gotten a few fabrics. Oh well, at least I can get started on some of the blocks. Thanks for a great tutorial! Very clear.

  5. Dianne Neale
    Dianne Neale says:

    I haven't joined this QAL yet, but onlu because I don't have the right fabrics. I'm off shopping at the weekend though, so hope to catch up. This is lovely and will look great on my bed.

  6. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Great instructions! Thorough, and understandable.

    My *only* complaint is that, when I print them out, I get teeny tiny print. I have to print it out, so I can take the instructions to my sewing room. My office and sewing space are not collocated, so it's really not convenient to not have the instructions close at hand.

    Is there any way we could talk you into creating a PDF version, where the text and images are large and clear? For those of us older quilters, who already need magnifiers to read… It would be a tremendous help! Thanks!


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