Sunday, July 22, 2012

Star Spangled Banners/Feathered Stars

Here's a spectacular feathered star quilt that was offered at auction earlier this year.

This block may be the fanciest feathered star of them all with it's pieced center---a Railroad Crossing or Flying Geese block. Adding applique is icing on the cake.

I have a similar antique block from about the same time
 1840-1860, so the quilt above caught my eye.

From the Quilt Engagement Calendar

The pattern was surprisingly popular. It's #2268 in BlockBase, my digital pattern program.

The published name is Star Spangled Banner, a name given a quilt in the collection of Vermont's Shelburne Museum.
You might want to rotate the BlockBase pattern like this when you set it

BlockBase has been out of print for about a year while the people at Electric Quilt updated the program. It's back in print so you can make a Star Spangled Banner---or any pieced quilt you'd like.
The program prints patterns for templates, rotary cutting or paper piecing, which might be the way to go with the Star Spangled Banner.

I've only seen that Shelburne quilt, the source for the name Star Spangled Banner, published once. It's in black and white in this 1957 catalog from the Museum.

The quilt with a strip border and fringed edge is signed and dated
"Alexander Cramndin, Jr. made by his mother 1840."
The center block is different from the corner blocks.
They called it the Star Spangled Banner because at least one verse from the song is quilted into the white areas below an eagle.

As far as I can make out from the photo it says:

"Star Spangled Banner
Between their loved home and the war's desolation
Blessd with victory & peace may???
Praise the Lord that hath made
and preserved us a nation"

Which are words from the last verse of Francis Scott Key's song.

I would guess many of these feathered stars are constructed in pieced modules rather than as star blocks.

Your design wall might look like this while you were working on the red and white quilt above.

Here's a block in an Ohio quilt in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, made by Eliza Smith Barber in Akron. See the whole quilt by clicking here:
Click on the picture there to see details and more information. The border is clever.

We can assume this is the same Eliza Smith Barber (1817-1899) mentioned on this page about Akron women. She was born in Canton.

Eliza's husband George and her son
whose name was Ohio Columbus Barber

A somewhat simpler version of the pattern, one of a pair of quilts made by sisters Rachel Rich McLaughlin and Nancy McLaughlin Miller in Noble County, Ohio.
See more about the quilt above here:

It's twin was on the cover of this catalog from the Canton Art Institute. Perhaps the pattern was passed around in Ohio.

A late 19th century version,
a slightly different pattern, constructed as a block.

View a similar set in the International Quilt Study Center & Museum collection (#1997.007.0288)

Red and Green Stars
Joy Swartz, 2010
45" Square
Joy entered this quilt in the American Quilt Study Group 2010 Quilt Study when the theme was 19th Century Stars. Joy copied a quilt in her collection at a smaller scale.
Read more here:

See another contemporary version by Debra Wagner at the Quilt Index here:
Dealer Stella Rubin has one

Another from the IQSC collection (#1997.007.0367)
Despite the red and white coloring and the stuffed work quilting it's dated as 1930s or 40s.

It may look intimidating but with BlockBase you can print the pattern any size: I'd be thinking 36".


  1. Wow! what an eye candy! Red and Green quilts are so timeless. Thanks for the links.

  2. I've still been going back to look at the Garden Quilts and now this!

    These Star Spangled Banner Feathered Stars are show stoppers!

    Thank you.

  3. Love this post! The quilts with the Star Spangled Banner block are certainly showstoppers. It always amazes me how complex some of the designs were and how well they finished without all our modern gadgets.

  4. Beautiful quilts! I have and love your Block Base program. How is the "updated" version different from the original?

  5. What a great post, I continue to learn from your blog, keep up the great work. Yes, I'd be thinking 36" too.

  6. Love this design! So glad to see block base is back in print. I had the original but three moves and multiple hard-drive crashes...well, let's just say it is time for an update!

  7. Gorgeous quilts! Always love red and green together.

  8. I haven't seen the new version. I don't worry my pretty little head about programming, but I am guessing the major changes are in the adaptability to new PC operating systems. You know they like to change them all the time.

  9. Love this block but probably I don't have the patience or the skill. However, your idea of a 36" block, maybe just the one, as a center block, is very tempting. It could be surrounded with something much easier. And then I'd have made one feathered star. That would be just enough. Thanks!

  10. It is an amazing design, but I tend to get lost when I have to piece so many things together and then put them together, lol.


  11. Advice Needed!! I am making a seamless arc double wedding ring quilt with the William Morris Bachelor Button Aqua fabric for my soon-to-be daughter-in-law. I am having trouble finding a coordinating fabric for the backing and would love any suggestions. Thank you very much.

  12. Beth-there's a new line of William Morris prints called The Morris Apprentice coming out in November. Greens, grays and blues with some red and pink---but no acqua. Sorry.
    I'd look at the Moda Basics maybe the Moda Marbles to find a coordinating shade.

  13. Oh I just found you and am thrilled! Feathered stars / goose track stars remind me of snowflakes - they make a person smile (or is it just me?) I love the history you provide along with the quilt. I have the last quilt-top my great great gma worked on and recently found a picture of her. Also, I love all the links and book inspirations. I now have a list I want to add to my library:) Thank you for sharing. I just added you as a blog I follow on my own blog - mostly antiques and quilts. You are welcome to take a peek.