Lone stars ***
Tiny Little Seams, or What quilters
with mad skills do when they're bored
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All the stars below have specific names. Still, if you can them "Lone Stars," most people will know what you mean. Quilt purists and museums seem to prefer calling them "Star of Bethlehem" or "Bethlehem Star."

We call them Lone Stars when we're in sneakers and Stars of Bethlehem when we're in heels.

For eight-point stars with one to three rows of diamonds, click here:
For Mariner's Compass stars, click here:


Star of Hope
Virginia Star
Virginia Stars
Lone Star
Stars Upon Stars
Glittering Star
Lone Star
Texas Star
Lone/Beth-lehem Star
Bethlehem Star
Star of Bethlehem
19 and up
Spiral Lone Star (Jan Krenz)
Broken Star

Star of Hope (5 rings)

Star of Hope

The Ship's Wheel/Ship's Wheel/Harvest Sun/Prairie Star/Patty's Star/Stars Upon Stars/Star Bouquet/ Shower of Stars/Stars of Alabama/Triple Star

Star of Hope is the earliest published name for this five-ring star. It's from Clara Stone's 1906 booklet Practical Needlework. Stone's illustration included a narrow pieced border as well.

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.

For the other names, we thank Jinny Beyer and her Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns (2009) and Barbara Brackman and her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

If you're a very precise quilter, making these blocks is not hard. You sew together strips of each color, and, using a rotary cutter, slice across them at a 45-degree angle. Use the resulting multicolor strips to make each diamond-shaped star point. Got it? Good. Read on.

Brackman has more names for stars with patterns in the corners. All presume that the quilt will have multiple stars as individual blocks. One variation from the Kansas City Star came with an entire quilt setting and was called Virginia Star. The blocks on point within a three-bar grid, like the mockup at left. Brackman adds two more: Virginia Stars (Country Life), and The Lone Star, clipped from an unidentified newspaper. All three are pictured below.
Virginia Star (whole) KCS

Virginia Star
Virginia Stars
Country Life
Lone Star

Finley: The Ship's Wheel, Harvest Sun Hall: Prairie Star/Patty's Star Snow (Gr. Dexter): Star Bouquet Orlovsky: Shower of Stars Mtn Mist Book of Quilts: Stars of Alabama Prairie Farmer: Triple Star McKim (KCS): Virginia Star Ickes: Virginia's Star. Per Brackman # 3773 Stars Upon Stars(Home Art) and says Shower of Stars is from Taylor Bedding; Virginia Stars from Country Life; The Lone Star is from an unidentified clipping

Stars Upon Stars (7 rings)

Stars Upon Stars

Glitter Star/Rainbow Star/Star of Bethlehem

The seven-ring star's first publication seems to have been in the Ladies Art Company catalog of 1897 (#211).

Brackman's Encyclopedia cites Capper's Weekly, a Topeka, Kansas-based magazine, for Glitter Star and Carrie Hall for Rainbow Star.

The name Star of Bethlehem is from Marguerite Ickes's 1949 Standard Book of Quiltmaking and Collecting. Nowadays, Star of Bethlehem is also a catchall for eight-point diamond star quilts in general.

Glittering Star (1932): 9 Rings

Glitter Star/Rainbow Star/Star Upon Star Quilt/Sunburst Star/Rising Sun

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 that doesn't show on the front of the quilt.

A typical seam allowance for quilt pieces 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. The Spiral Lone Star (below) is one of our favorites.

Lone Star (11 rings)

Lone Star

Bethlehem Star

The 11-ring star's name is from the LAC's 1928 catalog (#530).

Check out the modern Spiral Lone Star, below.


Texas Star (1932): 13 Rings

Lone Star/Bethlehem Star: 15 Rings

We haven't found a published name for the 15-ring star quilt, but we've found an example from an eBay seller known as French72. The photo at right is included courtesy of that seller. It can be called a Lone Star or Bethlehem Star, both of which are used generically for this type of design.

Bethlehem Star: 17 Rings

Rising Sun

The 15-ring Lone Star at right is from a quilt made in the 1910s or 1920s, according to eBay seller French72, who auctioned this quilt in about 2016.. We've enhanced the photo saturation by five percent to show the star more clearly.

Photo courtesy of eBay seller French72.

Bethlehem Star (19 rings or more)

Bethlehem Star

If a pioneer woman made a quilt as detailed as the Bethlehem Star — 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.

Spiral Lone Star

Spiral Lone Star (Jan Krenz)

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

The originator of the Spiral Lone Star is 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.

Broken Star

Bethlehem Star

A Broken Star is a single multi-ring diamond star surrounded by broken-off sections of three 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 eight-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 of Broken Star looks much like a Carpenter's Star (aka Square A):