Sawtooth Star quilt blocks are simple, traditional quilt blocks. It is an eight-point star, which has many other names, such as Evening Star, Variable Star, Morning Star, and North Star.
Sawtooth Star Quilt Blocks
Back in the 1800s, quilt blocks were named after everyday objects, and this is no exception. The points of the star resemble the sharp teeth of a saw. There are theories that this was one of the quilt styles used as a code for the ‘Underground Railroad’, helping slaves to escape from the Southern states to the slavery-free northern areas. This design was apparently used to tell slaves to follow the North Star to find safety, that is where the North Star name originated.
The shape is also used by Native Americans as a symbol of honor. A gift of a North Star quilt is a way to protect and honor the recipient as they travel through life.
Although it is really a very old, historic quilt block, it is still used often today because of its simplicity and attractive appearance.
How to Make a Sawtooth Star Quilt Blocks
The center square can be made up of one solid square, or four smaller pieced squares. If you use one solid square in the center, you can make it different and unusual by using fussy cutting for a central motif.
You could draft your own pattern, with your own desired size of blocks, or you could use the table below as a cutting guide for your pieces.
Traditionally the sawtooth star is made with light-colored fabric for the star and a darker color for the background. Of course, you can choose whatever colors suit you best. When the block is made with a dark color for the fabric and light background, it is called a reverse sawtooth star.
Flying Geese Method
This chart is for the flying geese method of assembling your block.
- A will be your rectangles for flying geese, background color.
- B are your star color squares, which will be cut into points.
- C is your central square, assuming you are just doing 1 solid central square. Usually it is the same color as the star points, but it doesn’t have to be.
- D are your corner squares, background color.
|A - Cut 4
|1 ½ x2½”
|B - Cut 8
|1½ x 1½“
|2½ x 2½”
|C - Cut1
|2½ x 2½”
|4½ x 4½“
|D - Cut 4
|1½ x 1½”
Flying Geese Method
This is the most commonly used method for constructing these blocks. Probably because it is the easiest and quickest way to make them!
- First use your removable marker to draw a diagonal line across all your B squares.
- Lay a B on top of an A, right sides together.
- Sew along the diagonal line.
- Cut off the extra fabric along the black line, and press.
- Take another B square, and repeat on the other side.
- This will make one Flying Geese unit.
- Make 3 more flying geese units like this. You can use chain piecing to speed this part up, if you like!
- Now make rows. On either side of 2 of your flying geese units, sew the background D squares. Use a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seams outwards.
- Your Flying geese should be facing in opposite directions, one for the top, one for the bottom.
- Now sew the other 2 flying geese to either side of your central square C. Press these seams in the opposite direction.
- Sew all three of your rows together, nesting the seams nicely. (That was the reason for all that opposite direction pressing.) Pin your seams to match them up perfectly before you start stitching.
- Trim your block and square it up.
Half Square Triangle Method
This method is useful to know if you enjoy working with half-square triangles, if you have half-square triangles leftover from previous projects, or if you have scraps that you want to use up.
For an 8” (20.3 cm) final block, cut:
- A - 4 squares 3x3” (7.x7.6 cm) - half square triangles- background fabric.
- B - 4 squares 3x3” (7.6x 7.6cm) - half square triangles- star point fabric.
- C - 4 squares 2x2“ (6.4x 6.4cm) or one large square 4½ x 4½“ (11.4 x 11.4 cm) This is the center of your star.
- D - 4 squares 2½ x 2½" (6.4x 6.4 cm) of background fabric for your corners.
Make the half-square triangles like this:
- Draw diagonal lines in removable marker across each of the background squares.
- Place background squares and print squares together, right sides facing.
- Sew ¼” (6 mm) on either side of the line. Chain piecing is speedy for this step.
- Open out and press.
- Square up and trim to size.
- Now make rows. Use the cutting diagram at the beginning of this article to place each row correctly.
- Press all the seams.
- Now sew the rows together. Nest your seams carefully, and pin before stitching. If just one row is out of alignment, you will lose the ‘star’ illusion completely!
If you really like the idea of an elaborate block, you can use a completely different block as the center of your star block. For example a windmill or bow tie block. You may lose some of the ‘star’ effects if you do this.
Putting The Sawtooth Star Quilt Blocks Together
You can make an entire quilt from just sawtooth star blocks, or place quilt sashing in between each block. You can alternate star blocks with plain blocks. You can combine different sizes of the star and plain blocks - just be sure they will all fit together at the end! You could make a quilt of different and varied star blocks, there are many others to choose from. Find some pictures of old quilts using these blocks for inspiration. Another idea is to alternate sawtooth stars with reverse sawtooth stars. That will give a very different effect. Almost all sampler quilts contain at least one sawtooth star.
Arrange your possible blocks on a large flat surface or a design wall to make your decision. Don’t despair if some blocks don’t make the cut because they don’t blend well into your design. Squirrel those away for another time and another experiment. When you have decided on your combination of blocks, continue with a quilt border, the ‘quilt sandwich, the actual quilting, and the binding on your quilt.
Sawtooth Star Quilt Blocks - In Conclusion
Choose which construction method you prefer and make yourself a sample sawtooth star block. If you stick to a set-sized finished block and make yourself a sample of each block every time you read another example of a quilt block, you will eventually have enough blocks to put together an entire sampler quilt. Be a ‘star’! Try this one today. You will be so pleased that you know how to make one of the most traditional quilting blocks, the sawtooth star block.