Rings of diamonds

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Call this type of star a "Lone Star" and most people will know what you mean. They do have specific names, however—more accurately, overlapping groups of names—based on the number of rings of diamonds from center to tip. For 8-point stars with 1 to 3 rows of diamonds, click here: For whole-quilt stars, read on.

Star of Hope

5-ring star
Star of Hope (1906)
The Ship's Wheel/Ship's Wheel/Harvest Sun/Prairie Star/Patty's Star/Star Bouquet/ Shower of Stars/Stars of Alabama/Star Upon Stars/Triple Star/Virginia Star/Virginia's Star

The name Star of Hope is from Clara Stone's 1906 booklet Practical Needlework. The next five names are from Ruth Finley's Old Patchwork Quilts (1929) and Carrie Hall's The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America (1935). Hall also called it Virginia Star and Star Upon Stars. The Kansas City Star called it Virginia Star. For the other 5 names, we thank Jinny Beyer and her Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns (2009), which lists the names with their sources.

Stars Upon Stars
7-ring star
Stars Upon Stars (1897)
Glitter Star/Rainbow Star/Star Upon Star Quilt/Sunburst Star 

The 7-ring star's first publication seems to have been in the Ladies Art Company catalog of 1897 (#211).
9 Rings  Glittering Star (1932)
Glitter Star, Rainbow Star, Star upon Star Quilt, Sunburst Star, and Rising Sun

Click on the "Make it!" icon for a video from McCall's Quilting on making larger stars.  

Lone Star
11-ring star
Lone Star (1928)
Bethlehem Star

The 11-ring star, Lone Star, is from the LAC's 1928 catalog (#530). We show a modern interpretation, a Spiral Lone Star, below.

Tiny little seams

The smaller the diamonds, the more crowded the seams of a diamond-star quilt, especially in the center, where eight patches meet in a single point.

The seam allowance is the fabric on each seam that doesn't show on the front of the quilt.

A typical seam allowance for quilt patches is 1/4", but experienced quilters often use 1/8", and all quilters trim excess fabric from the points where patches are joined (pieced).

Even so, quilters delight in stretching their skills, and one way is by stitching up miniatures. To make, say, a Glittering Star in a 16-inch block is a bravura display of piecing.

Then there are the fresh ideas, which appear like black swans even after a pattern has been around for centuries. See a few variations on this page, below.
13 Rings   Texas Star (1932).
17 Rings  Bethlehem Star  Also known as Rising Sun.

Star of Bethlehem
19 rings or more (above, 21 rings)
Star of Bethlehem

If a pioneer woman made a quilt as detailed as the Bethlehem Star at left—that is, a star of 19 or more rings—she was probably buried in it after dying of quilt pox. The star at left has 21 rings.

The rotary cutter (invented in 1979), along with new techniques like strip piecing, swept away the petty limitations that time once imposed on quilters. Nowadays, people can actually make quilts like this Bethlehem Star and live to tell about it.

Broken Star
Broken Star

A Broken Star is a single Lone-Star style star surrounded by broken-off sections of 3 other stars just like it.

The frame around the single star is made of 24 of the same tip-to-center segments that make up the 8-point center star.

There are variations of the Broken Star, including an exquisite whole-quilt Mariner's Compass, that we'll add as time goes on. You may notice that the outline above looks much like a Carpenter's Star (aka Square A), which is made of single diamond-shaped pieces rather than the multitudes above. To see one, click here:

Spiral Lone Star
Spiral Lone Star

A spiral pattern adds an order of magnitude to the difficulty of a diamond star quilt, but as this mockup of an 11-ring, 8-color spiral star suggests, the result is gorgeous.

The originator of the Spiral Lone Star was Jan Krentz, who describes how to make them in her book Lone Star Quilts & Beyond (2001). She's been teaching other quilters how to make them ever since.