It’s been a while since I did a crafty post, so here you go: a Death Star quilt for my daughter (aged 9) who is currently obsessed with all things Star Wars (though, since expressing her preference for Revenge of the Sith, she may find her inheritance downgraded). I came across the idea on Pinterest and thought I’d have a go.
The above quilt you can find on the Wild Olive blog, and it was very useful for my starting point.
I didn’t download a pattern though I did copy the design of those quilts I found online, and then modified them to fit my own purposes. The finished quilt measures about 75cm x 72cm (yes, yes, it should be square but I’m not good at that kind of thing). Here are my instructions if you fancy having a go yourself. I should say right from the start that I’m a bodge crafter. If you’re looking for precise measurements, accurate cutting and no frayed ends, this ain’t it.
- a five-pack of grey fat quarters from ebay in assorted patterns
- three other fat quarters in a cream fabric that I picked up from local fabric shop
- one large piece of black cotton fabric (about a metre, I guess)
- two packs of iridescent sequins, one big, one smaller. I didn’t buy these; I already had them in my sewing stash
- grey embroidery thread
- tacking thread
- white thread
- black thread
- decent scissors, ruler, tape measure (or rubbish ones if you’re going to bodge it like I did)
- fabric chalk (I advise the kind that has a point rather than the flat whatsit I bought from local shop that was v hard to draw straight lines with)
- quilt wadding (I used quite thin stuff; my fabric shop sells thick and thin and I bought the thin one) – one metre
- four metres of white bias binding
- endless amounts of time, or a mini-break in Portsmouth followed by a Poirot box-set
First, find a large piece of card and draw round something big and round (I used a very large serving plate). Mark free-hand where the pieces will go. I added a Z onto the shapes that needed to be a bit darker, shade-wise. Then work out which shade of grey fabric will go where. I (being, at heart, an organiser with a mathematical bent) divided the rows around the Death Star into numbers (from 1 at the top to 7 at the bottom) and then gave each fabric a letter so that I could see, for example, that in row 3 I would have a piece in (d) fabric etc. I should say that fabric (a) was the lightest and fabric (g) the darkest in shade, so that I would get a graduation across the space station.
Before you do anything else, draw round your dinner plate onto the black fabric using chalk. This is so that you have something to line your pieces up to later and in case you accidentally drop and smash your useful dinner plate. Mark top and bottom and where the middle separating line in the Death Star is. These are helpful points for later.
Cut all the pieces out and tack the fabric around the cardboard (note: I didn’t try to sew THROUGH the card because I wanted to be able to remove the card easily – ahahaha – without damaging the fabric). This is fiddly and time-consuming but quite satisfying.
Check you’ve got all your pieces by laying them out in the design you initially drew out
Now start attaching the pieces to each other using white thread and ladder stitch.
Remove the cardboard pieces except for the ones round the outside. Snip through the tacking in all the pieces except the ones at the edge (because they’ll lose their shape). Remove any thread that doesn’t match. (In hindsight, I would’ve done better to use white thread because then I wouldn’t have had to tidy up quite so much.)
You’ll see that the two hemispheres of the Death Star remain separate. This is part of the design. Of course, you can stitch yours together if you like, but I liked the extra definition from having a bold black line right through the middle. Start stitching the pieces onto the black fabric, using the ‘compass points’ you marked earlier. I used three skeins of grey embroidery thread and backstitch. You have to take out the cardboard from the edge pieces as you go.
When you’ve attached both hemispheres to the black fabric, it should look something like this:
Using more grey skeins of thread, backstitch along some of the pattern piece joins, to add definition. This is what mine looked like on the back when I started doing this:
When you’re happy with all that (or you’ve run out of grey thread, like I did), it’s time to start thinking about the outer part of the quilt. You can make stars out of French knots, or silver thread, or whatever – I only used sequins because I already had them. Also, my daughter requested an X-wing fighter, which I initially made out of white felt and then realised it wouldn’t stand up to wear and tear so had to embroider over it.
Oh yeah, and she requested green laser cannon fire for the Death Star, and red for the X-wing. I sewed my sequins on in a very random manner, using fewer big ones than small ones. Yep, those are my feet – for scale, you understand.
Then you’ve basically done all the fun bit and now have to do the boring bit. I used leftover fabric from the grey fat quarters to make the back (you could save yourself hassle by buying another metre of something, but I am stingy and decided to sew four pieces together). Put your backing fabric face-down on the floor, put your quilt wadding on top of that, then your finished design on top of that. Try to make it look as right-way-up as possible. Pin the whole thing together with lots of pins, then cut the edges with your truly excellent sewing scissors. Oh – I also sewed around the Death Star itself using black thread so that it would stay in the right shape. Then iron your bias binding in half lengthways and pin it around the edges of the quilt, going carefully around the corners. I sewed the top and the bottom separately in white cotton using a bodge job of a slip stitch. Take all the pins out. Check the damn thing for pins. Check it again. Tah-dah!
My whole quilt is hand-stitched but if you’re not quite such a masochist you can do sections of it on a machine, I’m sure.
And now, I’m off for a lie down.
2 thoughts on “Making a Death Star Quilt”
Oh my goodness, this is an amazing project! I’ve been googling around for different approaches to making a paper-pieced Death Star and yours is particularly lovely. Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial–it definitely gives me a better idea of how to approach this!
You’re so welcome! It was a massive undertaking but I was so pleased with the way it turned out. Good luck!