Looking Back…A New Carpenter Star from a Vintage Quilt

The Island Batik Ambassador Challenge (Island Batik provided the fabrics) was to “be inspired by a quilt, design or block from the past when designing and/or creating a new piece.”

What to do?  What to do?   I so love vintage quilts and there are so many ways to make them new.  I have been wanting to try Beth Helfler’s accordion triangle technique, so when I saw the Mennonite Broken Star I couldn’t resist and thought a new technique would make this so much fun.

Mennonite Broken Star c. 1890 Mrs. Myers

I have lots of books on historical quilts.  This picture came from Vintage Quilts:  Collecting, Dating, Preserving….  by Gerald E. Roy, Sharon Newman and Bobbie Aug.  I had the privilege of taking a class with Sharon Newman many years ago, and this brought back fond memories.  As the book says:  Seven of these quilts are thought to exist, one made for each of the maker’s seven children, three are known to exist and are in private collection…”(page 71).

The block is also known by a few other names:  Broken Star, Carpenter Star, Carpenter Wheel and Swoon.  Swoon is a favorite among many quilters – I did a quilt in French fabrics a few years ago using Swoon.  I do have a love affair with stars of many varieties.  This one keeps reappearing in new ways.

I began by selecting fabrics.  Part of the challenge is being sure to have enough fabrics to finish a project – always interesting – and it always is fun.  I had just enough of this grouping:  Small Pointed Floral in turquoise and Bubbles in Salmon would be pieced with a lovely neutral called Rice.

So what is this technique.  Well, it is genius!  Beth Helfter of Eva Paige Quilt Designs calls it Accordion Sewn HST™(Half Square Triangle).  She has videos on YouTube that show you the technique and a book coming out on it very soon.  You sew half square triangles into what Beth calls and accordion.  It is much more fun than the ordinary half square approach.

I followed her pattern,  but true to form, made mine a bit differently. The inner star was easy, following her pattern.  The outside star was a little more difficult – because of my changes not hers – but I persisted.  Also, I did not have enough fabric to do a third ring of star points or a third border. I simply needed the right count of each pair of fabrics to get it done.

Here is a group of squares sewn together.

The picture on the left is getting ready to sew the front and back piece together.  After this you trim, press and sew the HSTs together.  Beth recommends the Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmer and Clearly Perfect Angles to make your work easier (affiliate links).  I didn’t use these tools, but I have them now and will review in another blog entry.

The top was completed on my guild’s retreat weekend.  Here is is hanging above the quilters – among the group of finished tops.  Quilting wasn’t in the cards for the weekend.


My next great dilemma was how to quilt the Carpenter Star.  I decided to use Westalee rulers again on my Bernina 440 and I am very happy with the results!  I decided to stay with a more traditional quilting, that is, not as dense as modern quilting to reflect the traditional nature of the block.


Our Island Batik box also included Aurifil thread and I pieced quilted this quilt with 50 wt. Aurifil 2024 white, 1148 light jade and 2350 copper.  I love the color combination and the finished quilt.


I loved the challenge of the making something old in a new way and this new technique takes half square triangles to a new height!  I highly recommend checking out Beth’s technique, you won’t be disappointed.

And, this finishes my first project for the second quarter FinishAlong; you can see my goals here.

Thank you Island Batik and Aurifil for providing the great materials to work on and another interesting challenge.

Linking up:  Linky Tuesday
Finish It Up Friday




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  1. Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl
    April 24, 2018 / 4:34 AM

    The accordion HSTs looks like an awesome method. The quilt looks great and seem to have just the right amount of quilting. 🙂

    • Kathleen
      April 24, 2018 / 4:59 PM

      Thanks, Yvonne. I sometimes worry it too much – don't we all.

  2. Home Sewn By Us
    April 24, 2018 / 12:55 PM

    Hi Kathleen,I have never seen or heard of the accordion method for HSTs but it sure looks easy enough. Just perfect for when you want a totally scrappy look. Thanks for sharing that with us today. Your quilt looks beautiful and the quilting is awesome. I love these colors together. ~smile~ Roseanne

    • Kathleen
      April 24, 2018 / 5:00 PM

      Thank you, Roseanne. It is a new technique as far as I know (been around longer than I'd like to admit). Those colors are becoming a favorite these days….maybe the Southwest is calling me.

  3. teachpany
    April 24, 2018 / 3:45 PM

    Great colors for this. I've seen Beth's method, and think it's great you used it. I like the history, too and the quilting.

    • Kathleen
      April 24, 2018 / 5:11 PM

      Thank you, Maryellen. I love the method and it was a great reason to use it. I wanted to highlight some of the history (although there wasn't much on it). I always wanted to study fabric/quilting history more but never did it. I do a little on my own, which suits me just fine.

  4. Beth Helfter
    April 24, 2018 / 6:25 PM

    Thank you for sharing and highlighting my Accordion Sewn HSTs™! It's so much fun and I love that you were able to incorporate the ideas in my pattern with the other block!

    • Kathleen
      April 25, 2018 / 1:31 PM

      Thank you Beth! It is a wonderful technique and so much fun! I can’t wait to see the book.

  5. Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting
    April 24, 2018 / 8:00 PM

    Wow, I love that technique!!! And I love your carpenter's star, Kathleen!!! Great quilting choices on it.

    • Kathleen
      April 25, 2018 / 1:31 PM

      I worried those quilting choices, not sure why but I did. You will love the technique if you try it – magic!

  6. BillieBee (billiemick)
    April 24, 2018 / 8:33 PM

    Love your block and your method of HSTs.

    • Kathleen
      April 25, 2018 / 1:32 PM

      Thank you for coming by and do try the HST technique – I think you would have fun!

  7. Kelly
    April 24, 2018 / 9:33 PM

    Love the quilting! I made this quilt using Beth's technique but have been stalled on the quilting design. Thanks for the ideas. Awesome colors!

    • Kathleen
      April 25, 2018 / 1:43 PM

      Its a great technique, isn’t it. I used rulers and if you don’t you can easily mark and use a walking foot or free motion – whatever you like!

  8. Barb
    April 24, 2018 / 10:29 PM

    Wonderful, those fabrics are delicious.

    • Kathleen
      April 25, 2018 / 1:33 PM

      So sweet, thank for stopping by Barb!

  9. Emily
    April 25, 2018 / 1:02 AM

    Lovely! I just recently discovered the Carpenter's Wheel and I am completely in love!! I have never seen this HST technique before.

    • Kathleen
      April 25, 2018 / 1:34 PM

      Emily, the block is fun and the technique is even more fun! Do check it out.

  10. Karen
    April 25, 2018 / 12:49 PM

    Very pretty quilt – love the colours you chose!

    • Kathleen
      April 25, 2018 / 1:30 PM

      Thank you, Karen. It is fun to replicate the old designs in a new way.

  11. Dena@LivingWaterQuilter.com
    April 26, 2018 / 4:35 AM

    wow, thanks for the tip on quickly making half square triangles. Your quilt is lovely!

    • Kathleen
      April 27, 2018 / 10:25 PM

      You are welcome, Dena. It really is a fun way to do it!

  12. Sandra Walker
    April 29, 2018 / 5:43 PM

    Well who knew, another HST technique for me to check out. This is a gorgeous quilt Kathleen! The quilting is perfect too. I just bought a ruler foot for my Bernina but haven't tried it out yet (another learning curve I suspect, as I'm used to my longarm with rulers), but it will be good to have the option to quilt on a DSM with rulers. Hoping to get my challenge done…

    • Kathleen
      May 4, 2018 / 9:34 PM

      Well, how did this reply get lost in the mail??? I loved it and you will have fun if you try the technique. The rulers are awesome, I like being a little more precise – they are a big help.

  13. Kathleen
    May 4, 2018 / 9:34 PM

    Thank you, Abbie. I do have a lot of projects and I am having a good time. Let me know if you check out the video…I'll be curious to see what you think.

  14. July 4, 2020 / 12:52 PM

    I love the Carpenter Star block. I have a dormant Swoon project that I think needs just one more block (maybe 2). I like the salmon and turquoise color combination you chose and enjoy the curved quilting in the background. Thank you for linking up with Show Me Something with Stars!

    • kathleenquilts
      July 5, 2020 / 1:33 PM

      Thank you. It was one of my favorites from the IB ambassador group that I did. I was assuming it didn’t need to be a new quilt, but could be an older one for this linkup…am I right? I did swoon, too, a few years ago and loved it. Thanks for the party!

  15. Den ALLEMANN-Dannelly
    July 15, 2020 / 10:22 PM

    Kathleen, do you have a pattern for your star and the yardage needed? I’m a beginner and want to make one for quilts of valor. Thank you
    How big was this?

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