How to sew a sunflower star quilt block

Sew Carolyn Forster's scrappy star quilt block with a Dresden-twist with our step-by-step guide and free quilt block pattern

Sunflower star quilt block

This beautiful quilt block is one of our favourite blocks ever to appear in Today’s Quilter – we featured it in our first ever issue.

You will need

  • Fabric for the petals
  • Fabric for leaves
  • Fabric for background diamonds
  • Fabric for flower centres
  • Freezer paper
  • Download our Soothing Sunflower quilting template – Template A (petal) Template B (leaf), Template C (circle), Template D (diamond)

Finished block size

  • Block size: 15½in at widest point, 8in along straight sides.

Notes

  • Seam allowances are ¼in throughout.
  • WOF = width of fabric.
  • FQ = fat quarter.
  • Press all fabrics before cutting.
  • Press all seams open unless otherwise instructed.

If you want to use pre-cuts for the petals and leaves, then the following information may help:

  • One 5in square will yield two petals.
  • One 10in square will yield eight petals.
  • One 10in square will yield eight leaves.

Set-in seams

A set-in seam, sometimes called a ‘Y’ seam, is necessary when three or more pieces of fabric that have angles other than 90 degrees meet at one point (Fig A).

For more detail, see our guide to set-in seams

The stitching line where the pieces meet needs to stop ¼in from the raw edge of a fabric piece, to allow another piece to be set in. For this quilt, these seams will be easier to sew if you mark dots ¼in from the beginning and end of the fabric pieces, to show where to start and stop stitching (Fig B).

Backstitching for a few stitches at the beginning and end of the stitching line will help to secure the seam. The project instructions below give further advice on this.

Sunflower quilt block Y seams

How to make the sunflower star block

These steps will give you the method to sew one block. When you have the hang of it you can chain piece some of the process, but it’s useful to cut and make one block first, to check things out and practise the technique.

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Step 1

Take twelve (12) fabric petals and sew these together in a round. Start at the very edge of the fabric in the centre of the flower and stop 14in away from the outside edge of the flower (Fig 1).

Sunflower star quilt block Fig 1
Fig 1

Press the seams open (Fig 2).

Fig 2

Sunflower star quilt block Fig 2
Fig 2

Step 2

Take six (6) fabric leaves and using set-in seams, sew the leaves into alternating gaps between the petal. Work with the wrong side of the petals uppermost so that you can see where to stop with the machine needle in the work to pivot (Fig 3).

Sunflower star quilt block Fig 3
Fig 3

Step 3

Start sewing at the raw edge of the fabric and stitch towards the pressed-open seam. Stop sewing in the middle of the open seam, with the needle in the work. Lift the foot and turn the work on top to re-align the petal raw edges and leaf underneath. Lower the foot and continue to stitch to the fabric raw edge. (If it’s easier, take work off the machine to manipulate the pieces into place.) Repeat in alternating segments around the flower to fit six leaves in. If it helps, shorten the stitch length when pivoting . Press the leaf seams towards the petals (Fig 4).

Sunflower star quilt block Fig 4
Fig 4

Step 4

Take six (6) background diamonds and using set-in seams, sew three (3) alternating diamonds in the spaces between the leaves. Again, work with the main body of the flower uppermost and the diamond flat on the machine bed. Press the seams open. Stitch the three (3) remaining diamonds in the remaining places and press (Fig 5).

Sunflower star quilt block Fig 5
Fig 5

Step 5

Now add the centre appliqué (see Fig 6 overleaf). Take a fabric circle with a freezer paper circle stuck to it (already prepared) and turn the seam allowance over onto the freezer paper and baste through the layers to hold it in place (Fig 6).

Sunflower star quilt block Fig 6
Fig 6

Step 6

Position the circle over the hole in the flower and ensure that it is in the centre by making a crease at the quarter points of the circle and matching these up with the quarter point seams on the flower. Pin in place and appliqué down with a slipstitch. Take the basting stitches out and remove the freezer paper.

Step 7

Turn a single block from Carolyn’s Soothing Sunflowers quilt into a colourful table mat to practise your technique. For this example we simply quilted inside the pieced shapes and bound in a contrasting leafy fabric.

Sunflower star quilt patchwork
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Finished your block?

We hope you’ve enjoyed this free tutorial. If you loove this block you want to make a whole quilt out of it, you can see Carolyn’s full sunflower quilt in issue 1 of Today’s Quilter magazine. We’ve run out of printed copies but you can still get a copy of our digital issue through our Today’s Quilter apps. Keep up to date with Carolyn’s latest work over on her website Quilting-On-The-Go.

Sunflower star quilt