Sun Rays Quilt Block Tutorial: 4½", 6", 7½", 9", and 12" finished
From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
When all is said and sun, those pointy-points in the Sun Rays quilt block are easy peasy. You won't even need any special tools to create them.
Simply follow along in our tutorial. Learn to make these simple units with confidence.
Rays and Shine, Quilters!
We've got perfect points to piece!
In this tutorial, you'll find:
Ready? Cut. SEW!
Several abbreviations are used on this page. They are:
- SA - seam allowance
- RST - right sides together
- TiaS - triangle in a square
- Bac - background fabric
1/4" SA are used through this tutorial.
Pressing instructions are highlighted in yellow throughout this tutorial to make them easy to spot.
When instructed to press, first press the patches in the closed position just as they came off your sewing machine. This sets the seam, melding the fibers of the threads into the fibers of the fabric.
Then press the SA to the dark unless otherwise noted.
Download and print the paper piecing pattern
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Step 1: Cutting patches for a Sun Rays quilt block
The Sun Rays quilt block
Sample Block Size: 4½" finished / 5" unfinished
Attribution: Kansas City Star
Design Type: Even 9-patch | Star
Please label all your patches. We use their numbers throughout this tutorial.
You'll notice I've swapped the lights and darks in this block. You are always in charge of the fabrics you choose for your quilts—regardless of what the instructions say. :D
I took a risk using a dotted background fabric with a 'Rays' fabric that almost matches the dot color. Occasionally, you'll lose the points because the tips are the same color as something in the background fabric.
'Not sure if this will be a problem for your quilt? Make a sample block to be sure.
To print a copy of the block design and cutting chart to use at your cutting table, click here.
Cutting Chart for a~ Paper PLUS Traditional Piecing ~
Sun Rays Quilt Block
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
| 4½" || 6" || 7½" || 9" || 12" |
| 1 || Bac || 5 || 2" x 2" || 2½'' x 2½'' || 3" x 3" || 3½'' x 3½'' || 4½'' x 4½'' |
| Center || Bac || 4 || 2¼'' x 2½'' || 2¾'' x 3" || 3¼'' x 3½'' || 3¾'' x 4'' || 4¾'' x 5'' |
| Side, Side.R || Rays || 4 || 2¾'' x 2⅝'' || 3¼'' x 2⅞'' || 3¾'' x 3⅛'' || 4¼'' x 3⅜'' || 5¼'' x 3⅞'' |
| Unfinished Block Size || 5'' || 6½'' || 8'' || 9½'' || 12½'' |
| Grid Size || 3/4'' || 1'' || 1¼'' || 1½" || 2'' |
Subcutting your patches
After cutting out the corresponding Center template, align its top and bottom edges with the top and bottom of your Center fabric rectangles. Right-side or wrong-side up doesn't matter for this patch.
Trim away the excess on both sides with your rotary cutter and ruler.
To cut the mirror-imaged pairs we need, layer your Side rectangles in pairs right sides together. Unlike the triangles we just cut, RST matters here.
The longer edges are on the left and right sides, shorter on the top and bottom.
With a pencil, make a mark 5/8" in from the top left and bottom right edges (red arrows).
Match your ruler with the marks at the edge of the rectangles and cut through all four layers.
Precutting our oversized patches like this means that all the outside edges of our units are on the straight of grain—just like if we pieced these with traditional methods.
Step 2: Assemble the units for a Sun Rays block
You'll be sun-stoppable using this paper piecing technique for making your points the pointiest!
To begin, use a tiny bit of a washable glue stick to stick the Center patch, wrong side to the unprinted side of the pattern. I love Elmer's Washable Glue Stick for this—it's cheap, easy to find and works perfectly
Notice below that I've just done a rough cut around the pattern. There's no bonus points for cutting exactly on the line. ;)
The dashed placement lines make it quick work to position the Center.
General Sewing Machine Setup for Paperpiecing
- Reduce your stitch length to 16–20 stitches per inch (1.3-1.6 mm). This perforates the paper and stabilizes the seam when you remove the pattern. [Learn more about stitch length here.]
- Reduce your machine's speed or just plain slow down. Sew only as fast as you can stay on the stitching lines.
- Install an open toe appliqué foot (sometimes called an 'embroidery' or 'satin stitch' foot) if you have one (it's easier to see where you're stitching with one installed).
- If your machine has a needle stop up, use it. The stitching goes faster when you don't have to lift the presser foot with every seam.
- As you stitch each seam, start and stop a generous 1/4” before and after the solid stitching lines. ALWAYS. Future lines of stitching secure the ends.
After adding each patch, press the unit as it was sewn to set the seam and then open. The SA is automatically pressed towards the last patch added.
Before adding the next patch, take a look to make sure the one you just added covers the space plus seam allowance that it is supposed to.
Steam is optional and usually curls the pattern.
If that bothers you, don't use steam. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.
It truly depends on my mood.
Remember, as you follow this paper piecing tutorial, the printed and the fabric sides of this block are mirror-images of each other.
With RST, match the long bias edge of a Side (you can start with either Side or Side.R, it makes no difference) to the Center patch. Wide end to the point or short end.
Just a wee bit of the Center should stick out past the short end of the Side as shown below on the right.
If you're making your TiaS with a dark center and light Sides, nudge the Side just a few threads past the edge of the Center. This will prevent the darker fabric from shadowing through the quilt top later on.
For a good sturdy seam start and end your stitching past the outside dashed edges of the block. No need to trim just yet. The final trim takes care of all the thread tails.
Add the second Side in the same manner.
The stitches go past the beginning and end of the solid line
Even though I positioned the second Side a bit low, cutting generously sized patches helps. There's just enough to trim away on this one. No ripping for me today!
To trim this to the exact size, at your cutting mat printed side up, line up the 1/4" mark on your ruler with one side of the solid square (red arrow). Trim away the excess.
Repeat for the remaining sides on the remaining units.
All done! These will be easy to piece into our Sun Rays block.
Return your sewing machine to your everyday settings.
We stitch the remainder of the block with traditional techniques.
Install your favorite quarter inch presser foot. Adjust the needle position if needed. Increase to your normal piecing stitch length.
Step 3: Assemble your Sun Rays quilt block
Arranged the pieced TiaSs and the cut squares into the Sun Rays design. The background fabric is on all the outside edges.
With RST, sew the units in each row together. I prefer to sew with the pieced patch on top whenever possible. When you can see the seams, it's harder to accidentally flip them over as you stitch.
The SAs are pressed away from the TiaSs to reduce bulk.
Sew the rows together.
With the naked eye, you can see one of the benefits of paper piecing.
As long as you stitch directly on the line—and especially where the stitching line hits the outside solid square—your blocks are SUPER accurate. The points of the triangle in the middle row are EXACTLY where they need to be without any special futzing around.
Perfectly sized units making putting the block together a more enjoyable experience.
These last two seams are pressed out from the center.
I always like to share a look-see from the backside.
When I learned to sew from my Mom and Grandma, they always insisted (painfully sew sometimes!) that the inside of a garment should look as good as the outside. That idea has stayed with me through quilting.
Looking for something truly stellar?
You've finished your star quilt block, and you're ready for more!
Browse our collection of 50 stellar star quilt block patterns. All have instructions and cutting charts in multiple sizes. If templates or paper piecing is used in the tutorial, there's a free download for you of those materials.
Eeny. Meenie. Miney. Mo.
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This article was printed from Generations-Quilt-Patterns.com