Start Your Star Quilt Patterns Today

Star Quilt

 Star Quilt Patterns Today

Star quilt patterns are among the most popular and well-known quilt patterns in existence. Quilts depicting this motif have been popular since Colonial times. The popularity of this symbol in American quilt patterns since the end of the eighteenth century might be explained by the adoption of stars as part of the United States flag in 1777, when the Second Continental Congress passed the “Flag Resolution”.

Star patterns were used throughout the nineteenth century, both as individual patchwork blocks assembled together to make a quilt top and as an overall design covering the entire surface of the quilt, medallion style.

In general, star blocks require a certain level of skill in sewing to be pieced together successfully. These patterns can be made with square and half-square triangle patches, these being easier to piece than the ones sewn with diamond patches. In both cases, the number of seams and intersections with many points, working with bias edges and the need to keep the points sharp make the this pattern not really suitable for beginner quiltmakers. Accuracy when cutting and sewing are a must when piecing medallion star quilts, to keep the quilt top flat.

Best of the Best

Quilts depicting large stars were normally stitched as “best quilts”; they weren’t made for every day use, but reserved for special occasions or made simply to be stored as a symbol of the quilt-maker’s ability to piece a complex pattern. As a result, many of these quilts have survived in nearly perfect condition.

Well-Known Star Quilts

Although there are many star quilt patterns, perhaps the best known is the eight- pointed one made with diamond patches, named Star of Lemoyne or Lemon Star. It is named after the brothers LeMoyne, early settlers of the Louisiana Territory and founders of the city of New Orleans in 1781. The block is pieced together with eight diamond pieces in the center, four square pieces in the corners and four triangle pieces in the outer center edges.

Star Quilt Types

Star of Bethelehem

This pattern became more complex, as quiltmakers started sewing diamond patches into eight large diamond shaped units that covered the entire quilt top. The careful placement of color created a kaleidoscopic effect, radiating from the center. Bands of dark and light colors make this pattern seem to pulsate with energy. The large non-pieced square and triangle plain pieces became the perfect background for intricate appliqué work or elaborate quilting, often times repeated on the quilt borders. The pattern became known as Star of Bethlehem, and as it traveled westward, Lone Star in reference to the state of Texas.

Sunburst Star

Another variation of this quilt pattern is the Sunburst Star, similar to the Star of Bethlehem, except for the fact that it doesn’t use plain fabric square patches or triangles in the outer edges; diamond pieces cover the entire surface of the quilt. The placement of color in this quilt pattern is in concentric bands.

Broken Star

One of the most complex forms of the pattern based on the Star of Bethlehem quilt is the Broken Star. A central star is surrounded with a crown of diamond units, creating a bold, very strong quilt design. The placement of color on this challenging pattern is important. The same sequence of color, radiating from the center out is repeated on the crown.

Sentimental Value of Star Quilts

Star quilt patterns have deep significance in Native American culture, especially for the Lakota tribe. The star symbol has deep significance in many Native American groups, so when missionaries introduced native women to patchwork and quilting during the middle of the nineteenth century, this type of pattern became a favorite. It was renamed “Morning Star”, because of the spiritual importance of Venus in their belief system as a guide. Star quilts are widely used in ceremonial occasions and given as gifts in many tribes.

Amish and Mennonite quilt makers also favored star patterns. Amish quilts are known for their striking use of color and very fine and elaborate quilting. Bold colors paired with dark backgrounds, all in plain fabric (as printed fabric use is not allowed in many Amish groups due to religious customs), are the distinguishing characteristics of Amish quilts. The Amish dynamic color combinations work very well with these quilt patterns, both in the medallion style and pieced star blocks.

Today’s Eases

Patterns depicting stars have traditionally been made using templates to individually mark and cut the patches needed, then sewing them by hand. The process of marking and cutting pieces has been greatly simplified by the use of the rotary cutter. Strip piecing techniques and machine sewing have been applied to the construction of the blocks, reducing the time involved in sewing this quilt pattern. Don’t be intimidated by this pattern. There are blocks depicting stars that are easy enough for a beginner to piece. Try piecing a Friendship Star or Farmer’s Daughter quilt block. If your sewing skills are intermediate, an Ohio Star or Flower Star, both a little more challenging.

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