After piecing together these blocks one by one, I can tell you that each square entailed, after cutting a rough piece of background fabric and some lighter colored strips for the stars:
4 big slashes
9 presses with an iron
and 20 trimming cuts
So it made me happy to realize that all it would take to put 48 blocks together was:
Just 12 passes through the sewing machine, and I'd have the main part of the top pieced!
The first 5 seams would be stitching the columns to each other using the chain piecing technique.