Creative articles about quilting

Old Block Quilt-Along, Part 28: Sunbeam

Today we are continuing with the 28th block of our joint Old Block Quilt-Along! It is the “Sunbeam” patchwork block:

The “Sunbeam” patchwork block that I’m presenting to you here was mentioned for the first time in 1932 in the “The Patchwork Book”.

The author of the Chester Criswell Quilt and Friends blog, who was researching another block from this book, wrote on her blog: “The Patchwork Book was published in Chicago by the Woman’s World Service Library. It is a catalogue of patterns that can be purchased by mail as well as some social commentary on quilt making. It is sixteen large pages, all in colour. One of the most interesting things I found in The Patchwork Book is the naming of the patchwork blocks. Names were not yet set in stone because not many quilt books had been published; patchwork designs still showed regional variation.” (Source: Chester Criswell Quilt and Friends, July 26, 2018)

The block was mentioned earlier in Ruby McKim’s column in the Kansas City Star in 1929. Nancy Cabot presented it in the Chicago Tribune in 1933. However, these two “Sunbeam” patchwork blocks differ from ours, as the middle square is inserted horizontally.

(Source: Barbara Brackman’s Material Culture – Ruby McKim in Denver Post – 20.2.2013)

During my research, I found this other article from The Denver Post. It is also by Ruby McKim.

What is interesting is the small text box in the article, which says: “Like our other instructions in this series of authentic ‘old-time quilts’…” This implies that this block was already identified as “old” at that time.

I assume that many of the blocks I have featured here in the Old Block Quilt-Along were “invented” much earlier than is indicated by the publication dates. 

We are sewing the “Sunbeam” patchwork block

The Sunbeam is a 9″ block (9.5″ including the seam allowance) and is made using pattern templates.

Download the patchwork templates

For cutting out, I have created three PDF documents to download:

  • The first is a coloring sheet. This allows you to try out colors and designs for this block to see what they look like.
  • On the second PDF you will find the templates for the foundation paper piecing
  • and on the third you will find the pattern templates.

On the PDF with the pattern templates, I have put a control square with a side length of 1 inch so that you can check whether your printout of the templates is the right size. It is important to set your print options to “Actual size”.

Here are the downloads:

Coloring sheet “Sunbeam”

Templates “Sunbeam”

Cutting out the pattern pieces

You will need to cut out the following number of pieces:

  • Template A: 4 x background fabric 
  • Template B: 4 x background fabric
  • Template C: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template D: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template E: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template F: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template G: 1 x patterned fabric

Sewing the “Sunbeam” patchwork block

As always, we start by laying out the pattern pieces.

The assembly method is relatively simple! Three pieces are always sewn together: one background piece and two patterned pieces. All you have to do is make sure you a) sew the right pieces together (sounds funny, I know!) and b) make sure that the background pieces are sewn on the right way around. We have already looked at how to “sew around the corner” for previous blocks, so I won’t demonstrate this again here.

Once you have assembled all the block sections, each consisting of three pattern pieces, you should now have 9 segments including the middle piece.

Next, join the sections together so that you get 4 corner pieces.

You already know how to do this, right? Mark the seam points on the back of the fabric so that you can insert the center square later on.

Close the seams of the 4 corner pieces up to the markings in the middle. Secure the seam end in the middle.

Now insert the middle piece. You should also know how to do this from the previous blocks :-).

And the 28th block of the Quilt-Along is finished! Be proud of yourself and what you have created so far. It will turn into a very beautiful quilt in the end, I promise you.

Post your block here in the Community area of the BERNINA blog, on Instagram or on Facebook – wherever you prefer to share your beautiful creations. Don’t forget to tag your picture on Instagram with the hashtag #BERNINAOldBlockSampler!

New here?

Have you only just discovered the quilt-along? No problem! You can join at any time. Registration is not required, and you can win a BERNINA 570 QE! All the posts will remain permanently available:

In the first post, which was the invitation to participate in the quilt-along, you will find the important initial information about our joint project:

Old Block Quilt-Along – who’s in?

You can find the rest of the blocks from the quilt-along that have already been published here:

Old Block Quilt-Along – overview of all the posts

Have fun with this block and I look forward to seeing you for the next one!

Until then,


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  • Heather Westgard EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Is there no paper piecing for this pattern as per the instructions.  I like the paper piecing steps.  If there is a sheet for FPP, I would love to have this

    • ramonawirth EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Dear Heather,

      The Old Blocks are a mix out of FPP and non-FPP blocks, so there is no paper piecing for this one.

      Kind regards, Ramona

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