QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT By Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman Above: Moda's Baltimore Blues

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Few Feathered Stars: Radiant Star 2248

We tend to call this design Feathered Star,
a rather generic name that means a star
with serrated or feathered edges.

This particular quilt looks to be from about 1880-1920. The faded khaki, probably once green or blue, is a good clue to that time span. The pattern with it's octagonal center is older. I found the one below at FirstDibs. It looks to be mid-19th-century.

It's a spectacular example
with Turkey red prints in the star points.

How did mid-19th century quilters pass this design around?
I haven't seen any evidence that it was published until the early 1930s.

Yet there are many examples dating to the
late 19th century.

Quilt dated 1876 by Emma Mills Dabney.
This version has been floating around Pinterest.

In my BlockBase program the star with the octagonal center is #2248.

Three names were published in the 1930s.
Capper's Weekly from Topeka, Kansas, called it Star of Bethlehem. 
Aunt Martha's pattern company from Kansas City, Missouri called it Chestnut Burr or Radiant Star.

The Aunt Martha company sold a pattern through the mail in 1933.

Encouraging more quilters to try the design.

Since the pattern is in my BlockBase program for PC's you can print out templates any size.
Here's a snapshot of 2 pages of the 4 pages of templates for an 18" block.

Roseanne Smith did an almost identical star (I guess it would
be numbered 2248.1 in BlockBase) that she learned from the 
Queen of Feathered Stars: Marsha McCloskey.
Marsha with 2248.1

The square in question is pieced of two triangles in Marsha's. In the old quilts it's a single square.

She has books on feathered stars and this EQ software
for digitized pattern drawing.

Sandi Klop, Perennial Star

Sandi Klop at American Jane sells a similar pattern in Perennial Star,
 a few more points.

And Marti Michell has templates also for a star with a few more points.
Maybe this version should be numbered 2248.3

Feathered Star by Hortense Beck, 1990
Hortense Beck did a reproduction of an old quilt a few years ago that is in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. Go to:
And near the bottom of the page pull down the menu in Collections to see the 57 quilts by Hortense Horton Beck.

I'll show you a few more feathered star designs in the next few weeks.


Janet said...

My all time favorite block pattern. Maybe 2014 will be the year that I am brave enough to give it a try. These examples are wonderful - thanks for such an inspiring post!

Peggy Nagle said...

Thank you for all the research and effort you put into your blog posts. I enjoy them very much and look forward to new posts. You may have inspired me to try this design. I have been pondering a challenge for 2014.
Peggy Nagle
Elora, Ontario

Barbara Brackman said...

Send pix!

suzanne said...

I've thought that before printed patterns circulated commercially, people passed on patterns such as feathered star or Whig Rose, etc. either by obtaining or making a paper tracing or copy of the block or by making or receiving a sewn block in fabric as a pattern copied from someone else's quilt. I thought sampler quilts were kind of a reflection of this practice -- the blocks were made or received as patterns for potential quilts that might or might not get made. Just read "Book of Ages" in which an 18th C. letter is quoted which asks for a paper pattern for a part of a dress. One might think a block like this would have to have started with a very precise drawing on paper. Is there real evidence for any of this, such as might be found in diaries or letters?

Julie Fukuda said...

I have made a quilt of this pattern for a family member. I wanted to make a 12 inch block in this pattern, (like Marsha's with the half-square triangle) for my Quilter's Book Club block for December. I ended up drafting it myself but it turned out nicely.

Julie Fukuda said...

I have made a quilt of this pattern for a family member. I wanted to make a 12 inch block in this pattern, (like Marsha's with the half-square triangle) for my Quilter's Book Club block for December. I ended up drafting it myself but it turned out nicely.

Barbara Brackman said...

Suzanne- occasionally one does come across a mention in a letter of a paper quilt pattern. But we know very little about what the patterns looked like. It's amazing how consistent the designs are.

suzanne said...

Yes, the exact replication is amazing. For geometrical blocks like this pattern and mariner's compass, one wonders if the designs weren't taught in design or geometry books of the period which could have been an influence. Girls could have seen the boys' work even if girls' schooling didn't cover the topic.

Cathi said...

I made a red and white Feathered Star quilt using Inklingo to print the templates right on my fabrics - that made it very easy to get perfect feathers and was one of the most enjoyable blocks I've ever stitched.
So much so that I'm contemplating making another one.

Maria said...

Perfect timing! My daughter and son-in-law brought over an antique quilt just last night that was given to them as a wedding present. It is this exact pattern with a solid faded green just like your first example. Theirs has a double border on just one side and it has triple sashing between the blocks that form a lattice at the intersections. So nice to be able to point them to your website for more clues about their quilt.