Sun Rays Quilt Block Tutorial: 4½", 6", 7½", 9", and 12" finished

From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library

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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!

General Instructions

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

Print the paper piecing patterns you need

You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download the pattern.

On the Adobe Print Menu page, under 'Page Size and Handling' set 'Custom Scale' to 100% before printing for accurate results. Click here to see what it looks like on the Print Menu page.

Choose your finished block size from the chart below and print the corresponding number of pages for a total of 4 TiaSs. Then print a copy of the Center template.

Print the Triangle in a Square
Paper Piecing Units

Sun Rays
Finished Size
# of copies
per block
TiaS Size
4½" 1 1½" Print 1
6" 1 2" Print 1
7½" 1 2½" Print 1
9" 1 3" Print 1
12" 2 4" Print 1

After printing, use the 1" square graphic on the printed page(s) to double check that your patterns printed at the correct size.

Read my review of 6 paper piecing papers available on the market

Not sure which paper to use?

Take a look at my review of several of the most popular brands available to us quilters on the market.

You want a super-easy paper to tear away—less stress on the stitches. 

The newest quilt fabrics to tickle your fancy...

Click the images below to see the full collection. We share any commercial and/or free patterns that showcase them, too. (For inspiration, of course!)

Step 1: Cutting patches for a Sun Rays quilt block

Sun Rays quilt blockThe Sun Rays quilt block

Sample Block Size:  4½" finished / 5" unfinished

Grid:  6x6

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

Helpful Tip

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.

Generations Quilt Patterns logo

Cutting Chart for a
Sun Rays Quilt Block

~ Paper PLUS Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished 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''

Shop at the Fat Quarter Shop

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.

Subcutting the Centers

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).

Marking to subcut the Sides

Match your ruler with the marks at the edge of the rectangles and cut through all four layers.

After cutting the Side rectangles in half

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

TiaS Unit

Make 4    

TiaS unit

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. 

Position the Center on your pattern

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.

At last!

Let's sew!

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.

Nudge the lighter Side patch a couple of threads past the edge of the darker Center

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.

Stitch the seam of the first Side


Add the second Side in the same manner. 

Sew the second Side onto the other side of the CenterThe 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!

All three patches are stitched

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.

Trim the TiaS one side at a time

All done! These will be easy to piece into our Sun Rays block.

All the trimming is complete

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.

Arrange all the patches into the block design

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.

Stitch the rows together

These last two seams are pressed out from the center.

Our finished Sun Rays block

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.

The Sun Rays quilt block from the backside

Looking for something truly stellar?

To browse all the star quilt block patterns in one place, click here

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. Moe.

Which star quilt block will you sew?

There's more quilt blocks to make

For EVEN MORE blocks to make, visit our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library, with over 220+ blocks to choose from in multiple sizes.

Free downloads are included in all sizes for any blocks require paper piecing patterns or templates.

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