Thursday, July 4, 2013

Five Pointed Stars on the Fourth

A pair of five-pointed star blocks from Baltimore samplers.
Above from a quilt in the collection
of Colonial Williamsburg...

And this one from the collection of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
Both are from the 1840s and probably reflect the Mexican War
and acquisition of Texas.

On the Fourth of July when we are charged with considering the idea of Liberty, we can also consider the idea of the five-pointed star, our national symbol, in quilts.

Five-pointed stars are relatively rare in quilts. One is much likelier to see 8-points or 6.

After the Civil War we find some in samplers.
Above, two blocks in a New Jersey album quilt from the Quilt Index.
Their rarity may be because they are hard to pattern.

Even though we are built on a base five
we would rather think in fours, sixes and eights.

One place you see 5-point stars is in quilts with a Masonic theme

Because the 5-pointed star is an important Masonic symbol.
Above "O.E.S," Order of the Eastern Star, 1965

Masonic quilt in the Museum of the Scottish Rite.

A good pattern for piecing is necessary.
Here's a World War I commemorative
from the WWI Museum in Kansas City.

This is probably from a published pattern about 1950.

But this is not, a
pretty amazing feat of 19th-century drafting and sewing.

Quilt dated 1853

In the 20th century people had more access to published patterns.

In my BlockBase program I found 16 pieced patterns in the category Five Pointed stars.

Which you can also use to make applique designs,
like this wonderful 19th-century quilt that Julie Silber
photographed at a quilt ID event. See more of the quilt by clicking here:

I did a post on how to cut a five-pointed star by folding a circle:

Happy Fourth!


  1. I hadn't thought about how rare 5-point stars are! Thanks for sharing these photos. My favorite is of the little girl in her patriotic dress.
    Have a happy 4th!

  2. thought you might like to see this.
    I knew it was rare, so glad to have you confirm this.

  3. Wonderful photos and history of star quilts. I do love doing the multi pointed stars. I hope you and your family have a wonderful fourth of July.