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“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie
Oh Henry. You get me. And when I make star quilt blocks, I think I might get you too. After cutting up so much fabric, carefully sewing it together and then finally ironing the delicate points open, I sincerely feel like my lovely stars are blossoming! If you have ever made a Sawtooth Star block, you too know the feeling. But if you haven’t made one of these wonderful little blocks, ooooh how exciting for you! Today is your day!!
A Quick History On The Sawtooth Star Block
The Sawtooth Star block has had many different names throughout history. Before quilt patterns were commonly published, women created patterns on their own or borrowed them from friends. Sometimes the patterns that were shared had a name that was passed on, while other quiltmakers gave each of their quilts a brand new name. As a result, we have identical quilt block patterns with many different names.
This block became standardly known as the Sawtooth Star in 1884 when a pattern was published by Farm & Fireside magazine. However, even after 1884, publications were printing this pattern under various names such as Evening Star, Variable Star, Square and Points (super original) and North Star.
Sticking with the very common practice of naming a quilt block based on household items and things observed in everyday life in early America, the Sawtooth Star received it’s name from the triangles that are reminiscent of a saw’s cutting edge.
If the history of quilt blocks is of interest to you (and if you're on my website it probably is) check out anything written by Barbara Brackman – especially her book, Making History: Quilts & Fabric from 180-1970.
Make Your Own Sawtooth Star
Below are dimensions for 4 different block sizes: 4", 8", 12" and 16"
Did you know there is a section in the shop linking to ALL of my favorite tools and supplies? Click here!
- Rotary Cutter - Check out this blog post on the Best Rotary Cutter!
- Cutting Mat (Here's a blog post aaaaall about cutting mats and what to look for.
- Ruler (You guessed it! A blog post all about quilting rulers.
- Ironing Board
- Sewing Machine (I have multiple sewing machine blog posts. Type "sewing machine" into the search button to see them all!)
- Thread (Part I and 2 of thread, coming at ya!)
4" Sawtooth Star
8" Sawtooth Star
12" Sawtooth Star
16" Sawtooth Star
1 - 3 ¼” square
1 - 5 ¼” square
1 - 7 ¼” square
1 - 9 ¼” square
4 - 1 ½” squares
4 - 2 ½” squares
4 - 3 ½” squares
4 - 4 ½” squares
1 - 2 ½” square
1 - 4 ½” square
1 - 6 ½” square
1 - 8 ½” square
4 - 1 ⅞” squares
4 - 2 ⅞” squares
4 - 3 ⅞” squares
4 - 4 ⅞” squares
Simple Sewing Steps
- The first step is to make 4 Flying Geese. Place 2 small dark squares on opposite corners of the large light square. On the wrong side of the dark squares, draw a guideline from corner to corner.
- Sew a ¼” from the guideline on both sides. Cut apart. Fig.1
- Press seams out. Place 1 small dark square right side down and sew a ¼” from the guideline on both sides. Cut apart and press seam out. Repeat with the remaining unit. Fig.2
- Now that you have 4 Flying Geese, or points on your star, sew the remaining squares together in rows as you see in Fig.3
- Sew the three rows together and press to complete the block.
Make A Quilt!
Now that you have mastered the Sawtooth Star block, put your skills to work and create a quilt top. Below are instructions for one of my favorite patterns, the Reverse Sawtooth Star Quilt. This quilt is Fat Quarter friendly too!
Reverse Sawtooth Star Quilt Pattern
Finished Quilt Size - 56” x 64”
Finished Block Size - 8” (56 blocks total)
Fabric - 20 *Fat Quarters (10 light, 10 dark) OR if you choose to use solid white as the background fabric, you need 10 Fat Quarters and 2 ½ yds. of white fabric cut into 10 Fat Quarters
*A Fat Quarter or FQ is pre-cut fabric measuring 18” x 21”
- Stack a dark and a light Fat Quarter on top of each other and lay them horizontally, so the longest side (the side that is ~21” in width) is at the bottom.
- Trim the left side of the stack so that both fabrics are in line with each other. Cut a 5” strip.
- From that 5” strip, cut three 4 ½” squares and two 2 ½” squares. See cutting diagram below.
- FLIP the remaining FQ 90° so that the long side is still on the bottom. Your FQ should currently measure 16” x 18”.
- Cut one 5 ¼” strip. Sub-cut that strip into three 5 ¼” squares.
- Cut three 2 ⅞” strips. Sub-cut TWO of those strips into ten 2 ⅞” squares.
- From the third 2 ⅞” strip, cut two 2 ⅞” squares, for a total of twelve 2 ⅞” squares).
- From the remaining portion of that strip, cut four 2 ½” squares.
- Cut one 2 ½” strip. Sub-cut that strip into six 2 ½” squares, for a total of twelve 2 ½” squares.
Block & Quilt Assembly
Each set of light and dark FQs will produce 6 Sawtooth Star blocks. Three of those blocks will be the reverse of the other three. Fun, right? You will have 60 blocks made, and since you only need 56, 4 will be left-over. Looks like you’re making a pillow too ;)
- From the fabric you just cut, separate the pieces so that each stack contains all the pieces for one block. This will save you some confusion. Each block will contain:
- 1 – 4 ½” square
- 1 – 5 ¼” square
- 4 – 2 ⅞” squares
- 4 – 2 ½” squares
- Sew the blocks together as instructed previously.
- Lay all of the stars out, using a checkerboard pattern of light, then dark, then light again.
- Once you are happy with the layout, sew blocks together in rows and then sew those rows together, pinning where the blocks meet.
- If you are on Instagram use the hashtag #SuzyQuiltsReverseStar so that we can all enjoy your beautiful designs!