{Sunset squared}: A quilt block tutorial

Look at that, I finally made a tutorial for this quilt block!  Be warned, this is going to be a picture overload.

This is the block I constructed for the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee in the 4th Quarter of 2011.  I’ve been intending to make a tutorial every since.

This block is composed of two separate parts: 1. the upper portion (the “sunset”) finishes at 7.5 inches x 12 inches 2. the lower portion (the squares) finishes at 4.5 inches x 12 inches.  [When I say “finishes”, I mean when it’s sewn into a quilt, the block will be 12.5 x 12.5 inches.]

The upper portion is paper pieced so we will start by making a template and paper piecing those 9 rays.  I am going to use the method of paper piecing in which you fold back the paper along your piecing lines and sew next to it rather than sewing over your lines and tearing the paper off later.  Freezer paper allows the template to stick to your fabric.

First draw a rectangle on the paper side of the freezer paper (as opposed to the waxy side) that is 12 inches x 7.5 inches.  Add another rectangle 1/4 inch to the outside of that one (12.5 inches x 8 inches) to account for your seam allowances.

On the inner rectangle, mark the center of the lower edge.

Find a protractor (ack!  math!) and line it up with the mark you just made on the center of the lower edge.  Mark every 20 degrees all the way around.

[Note: you could also mark every 30 degrees and then you would end up with 6 rays rather than 9.]

Draw lines that extend through the center mark and the every-20-degrees marks, all the way past the edge of your template.

You finished template for the upper portion of this block will have 9 rays that meet at the bottom center of the template.

Choose your fabric for the rays.  You could alternate 2 colors every other ray or select a different fabric for each ray.

Cut your rectangles of your fabric pieces for the rays 3.5 inches wide.  The longest pieces (the two on the corners) will need to be at least 10.5 inches.  I usually cut them at 11 inches so I have some extra fabric to work with.  The others don’t have to be quite that long, so just keep that in mind if you’re working with scraps.

[Assuming the rays are numbered left to right from 1 through 9, the fabric for 3 and 7 should be 11-inches long, the fabric for 2, 4, 6 and 8 should be 10-inches long, the fabric for 5 should be 9-inches long and the fabric for 1 and 9 should be 8-inches long.

Line up the fabric for your first ray with the template.  The wrong side of the fabric should be against the waxy side of the freezer paper.

Iron the freezer paper to the fabric.

Fold back the template along the line between the first and second rays.

Trim the fabric to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

With right sides together, line up fabric for the second ray with the edge you just trimmed.

Sew the two pieces of fabric together right along the fold of the paper without piercing the paper with your needle.  

Unfold the template.  Iron the second ray open.

Iron the freezer paper to the second ray.

Fold the template back along the line between the second and third rays.

Trim the second ray to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Line up the fabric for the third ray even with the edge you just cut, right sides of fabric together.  Sew right along the fold without piercing the paper with your needle.

Unfold the template.

Iron the third ray open.  Be careful not to touch your iron to the waxy side of the freezer paper.

Iron the freezer paper to the third fabric ray.

Fold back the template between the third and forth rays and then trim the third ray to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Continue with these steps until you have completed all 9 rays.  Trim around the template.

I like to trim the bottom even with the seam allowance line and add an extra 1/4 inch on the 3 remaining sides so that I have a little extra fabric available for squaring up the block at the end.

Ta da!  Congratulations, you’ve finished the upper portion of this block.  The rest is easy.

Cut out 6 2-inch squares of fabric.  I like to use the parts I cut off the rays from the upper portion of the block.

From a background fabric, cut 2 2-inch squares and 2 2-inch x 12-3/4 inch strips (they really only have to be 12.5 inches, but again, I prefer to have the extra little bit and then trim it at the end).

Sew the squares together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance, creating a 2-inch wide strip.  Make sure the two squares from the background fabric are on the ends of the strip.

Sew the three 2-inch strips together with the pieces strip in the middle of the two background fabric strips.

Sew the top portion to the bottom portion, taking care as you go over the middle, which will be rather thick from where all the rays came together.

Trim your block to 12.5 inches, square.

Voila!  Sunset squared!

4 replies
  1. Mrs. Hale
    Mrs. Hale says:

    This block is beautiful! Thank you for the very thorough walk through. This is definitely on my “To Do” list. 🙂

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  1. […] get around to it until now, just in time for her birthday.  I used the quilt square I made for my sunset squared tutorial.   It’s a 12-inch quilt block, and resulted in a 12-inch square […]

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