Free Tutorial for the Sandhills Star (or Blossoming Cactus) Quilt Block

Posted by Elaine Huff on

The Sandhills Star quilt block, steeped in tradition and sometimes referred to as the "Blossoming Cactus" block, was first published in the Kansas City Star. While obviously being a star block, it can also be considered a weathervane block.

Sandhills Star is composed of four fabric colors set against a contrasting background. Your color placement can change the entire look of the block so you can create a quilt that is uniquely your own. Let's take a look at how to construct this beautiful block!

(Update: Sandhills Star block pattern is now available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/listing/1683605077/sandhills-star-block-pattern-pdf-quilt.)

sandhills star quilt block

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Sandhills Star Quilt Block:

  • Light/Cream: 4 - 3" squares, and 12 - 2.5" squares
  • Light Gold: 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, and 8 - 2.5" squares
  • Medium Gold: 1 - 5.5" square, and 2 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
  • Dark Green: 4 - 3" squares, and 4 - 2.5" squares
  • Dark Orange: 1 - 5.5" square, and 2 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles

sandhills star fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Hourglass Unit:

Step 1:

Using the Medium Gold and Dark Orange 5.5" squares, sew together an Hourglass unit like the one shown below. Trim/square up the unit to 4.5" square. You can find my detailed tutorial for making a basic Hourglass quilt block at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-hourglass-or-quarter-square-triangle-block. You will have an extra unit to use in the next block.

sandhills star 1

Half Square Triangle Units:

Step 2:

Using four of the Light/Cream 3" squares and the four Dark Green 3" squares, piece eight Half Square Triangle units as shown in the picture below. Trim/square up the units to 2.5" square. You will find a tutorial for making a basic Half Square Triangle block at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-half-square-triangle-block.

sandhills star 2

Corner Units:

Step 3:

Lay out two of the Step 2 Half Square Triangle units, one Light/Cream 2.5" square and one Dark Green 2.5" square as shown in the picture below.

sandhills star 3

Step 4:

Now you can sew the patches together like a typical Four Patch block. First sew them into two rows and press the seam allowances away from the Half Square Triangle units as shown below.

sandhills star 4

Step 5:

Then sew the two rows together and press the seam allowance toward the Dark Green 2.5" square as shown in the picture below. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 for a total of four Corner units.

sandhills star 5

Flying Geese Units:

Step 6:

Using the Light Gold 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and Light/Cream 2.5" squares, sew together Flying Geese units. For a detailed tutorial of my no-trim method for making perfect Flying Geese blocks check out https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-flying-geese-block. The picture below shows the first four steps.

sandhills star 6

Step 7:

And here's a picture showing the last four steps.

sandhills star 7

Step 8:

Repeat Steps 6 and 7 for a total of four Cream/Light Gold Flying Geese units like the ones in the picture below.

sandhills star 8

Step 9:

Now using the Medium Gold 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and the Light Gold 2.5" squares, repeat Steps 6 and 7 for a total of two Flying Geese units.

sandhills star 9

Step 10:

Now using the Dark Orange 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles and the Light Gold 2.5" squares, repeat Steps 6 and 7 for a total of two Flying Geese units.

sandhills star 10

Middle Units:

Step 11:

Pair up a Step 8 and a Step 9 Flying Geese unit and sew together. Press the seam allowance toward the Step 8 Flying Geese unit as shown below (top two images). 

Repeat using a Step 8 and a Step 10 Flying Geese unit (bottom two images).

Sandhills Star 11

Step 12:

Repeat Step 11 for a total of two EACH of the Middle units as shown in the picture below.

Sandhills Star 12

newsletter signupPutting It All Together:

Step 13:

Lay out the center Hourglass unit, the four Corner units, and the four Middle units as shown in the picture below. From here the block goes together like a basic Nine Patch block.

sandhills star 13 

Step 14:

First, you will sew the units into three rows as shown.

sandhills star 14

Step 15:

And press the seam allowances toward the Middle units.

sandhills star 15

Step 16:

Then sew the three rows together to complete the block! All done except for the pressing.

sandhills star 16

Step 17:

Press the seam allowances away from the center of the block as shown in the picture below.
sandhills star 17

Layout Ideas:

Here is the basic 4 x 4 layout. The blocks create a lovely secondary design where they come together.
quilt 1
In this example, I've added in narrow sashing and cornerstones to give separation to each block. (It also eliminates having to match up points!)
quilt 2
For this layout, I changed up the color placement and added in an alternating chain block. I think this is my favorite!
quilt 3
And for this example we have an on-point layout with sashing and cornerstones in a complimentary color. Additionally, the setting triangles are the same fabric as the light color in the block.
quilt 4

Conclusion:

The Sandhills Star block was easy enough to sew together and creates a star block that is a little different with the four squares in the center of it. I had fun picking out colors and seeing that by changing the background to a medium color, a really different-looking block was created! All in all, a fun block to play with! You should give it a try.

If you liked this post and want to see more quilting tutorials, simply click HERE to sign up for my newsletter and also receive a free PDF downloadable pattern called "Chained Weathervane".

Happy Quilting!

Elaine

P.S. Looking for more star quilt blocks? Check out this roundup post: https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/30-of-the-best-star-quilt-block-patterns

P.P.S. Need a quilt pattern in a hurry? Check out my easy downloadable PDF patterns at https://fabric406.etsy.com


Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →