Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Star Quilt from Alabama

Donna Pyle had a pattern question.
She's been restoring this quilt from Alabama.

"I've just been given several quilts from a family I did a restoration for last year and one of the quilts is quite remarkable. I've made an exhaustive search of your Encyclopedia and haven't found a block like it. "

"The quilt was made in Alabama by the current owner's great grandmother who was born in 1848. She said that her great-grandfather may have taken it off to war with him during the Civil War. The quilt is in remarkable shape, but it was so dirty that it looked overall like a dark brown quilt. I've spent considerable time cleaning the quilt and am flabbergasted at the large number of beautiful fabrics in it."  
 The fabrics do look Civil-War-era. Lots of madders and some Prussian blue and buff prints.

It's more difficult to figure out the repeat.

But I tried drawing it in EQ7 and this is how I'd construct it.
A star with a star in the center and star points in the corners.

It's not in my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns or BlockBase. The closest I can come is BlockBase #3592 "Star of Texas," printed in the Ladies' Home Journal in 1912.

I imported it into Electric Quilt 7 and recolored it in my Baltimore Blues line.

If you go to the Moda page called Future Groups this week you'll see a preview of the fall fabric collection.

BlockBase #3592 "Star of Texas"
It's the same sort of star with an octagon in the center.

The Alabama quilt is a lot more complicated: A star in the center with the same sized star in the corners. I couldn't get it drawn right. At least to the correct proportions.

But here's how my drawing would repeat.
A very interesting quilt.
"Unknown Star from Alabama."

Jeanneke from the Netherlands drew a pattern in Illustrator.

See Jeanneke's pattern with pdfs here:

I blew her drawing up to an 8" block and added one seam line (piece E) so it's a square block instead of an all over mosaic.
Print the jpg below out. I drew it to be 7-7/8" so it will fit on an 8-1/2" wide sheet of paper.
No rotary cutting instructions---


Here's the printing calculator to tell you that
if you want an approximately 12" block you need to adjust your printer to print the picture 152%.

It's a collaboration.
For people who are working with different measurement systems, different size paper and different time zones, we are doing pretty good.
I'd paper piece this one just like Becky's been doing the Morris hexathons.

Thanks for the pictures, Donna.
And for the suggestions in the comments.
More ideas?


  1. And thanks for sharing the quilt with us! The maker seemed well aware of which fabrics she was using in the center of the Texas Star and which she was using in the stars she set between them-- Such a remarkable quilt, an amazing survivor. Your Baltimore Blues fabrics are such a pretty blue - they would make a very special new version!

  2. Barbara,
    Try hollowing out the opening of your "Star of Texas". In the original quilt, there's only a small place where the star arms (blades? points?) connect to the next (maybe about 1/5 of the length of the star arm). In your example, they are connected for about a 3rd of the length. Doing so will make the opening larger, so you could get a bigger star in there.

    Very cool quilt to have that history!

  3. I have drafted what I think is a pretty accurate drawing of the block in EQ7. I always feel that hand piecing and quilting will distort the block a little for VERY accurate tracing or drawing on a grid, but using some perceived proportions, I think I came very close. Is there somewhere I could post the picture of the block and/or the EQ7 file with the block? I'd be happy to share with the disclaimer that I came as CLOSE as I could to the original block in the quilt as far as shape and proportions go.

  4. Beautiful quilt and interesting story to it. Thanks for sharing,

  5. I agree Barb. I've got a quilt my grandmother made and some blocks are noticeably smaller than the others, enough so that she had to add a few bits of fabric around the edge. She sewed all of her own clothing(and the children's when they were small) and then used the scraps in her quilts. I doubt she used purchased fabrics other than for backings. I know that she traced around cardboard templates and when I compared one of those templates with the quilt, I realized the blocks got smaller as the templates wore down from the tracing. So I know you were saying about distorted piecing.

    I thought though, that you were lamenting that the 8 pointed star quarters would be bigger than the ones in the middle and I simply offered a suggest way to make the inside ones bigger so they'd be closer to the same size. I too made an EQ file, but while they were bigger, they still weren't big enough. You're welcome to send anything to the email address for this account, I've checked the box for follow up comments. While I have a blog for my personal use only, I don't know what options you have to use as far as whether you can use the email listed with this account.

  6. Barb Vlack---I figured you could do it. Why don't you email me a file at
    materialcult@gmail.com with templates and I'll update the post here. I knew there would be
    people who wanted the exact pattern. It is such an interesting design.

  7. Hi Barbara,
    what a beautiful quilt, lóve the pattern and colours.
    I made a drawing of this quilt in Adobe Illustrator, very accurate. I'm pleased to share it with you if you like.
    I will send a PDF file to your gmail.


  8. What a wonderful treasure! I love the design. It was clearly a labour of love by a very accomplished needlewoman! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Jeanneke
    Do send, please.

  10. What an amazing quilt. I can't wait to see the EQ file.

  11. Thanks Barbara for posting this lovely quilt. I am with Denniele would love to have EQ file....... Cheers Mandy from Australia

  12. Wow, What team work. Great quilt. I am struggling with a hand pieced block I created that did distort!. This one I am going to try , for me that is where all the fun is in the challenge. As always thanks for sharing Barb.

  13. If you try your hand or your machine at piecing this email me a picture. We can have a Quiltalong. Jeanneke is working on the pattern.

  14. Hi Barbara,
    you can find the free PDF pattern on my blog at http://www.jeanneke.com/#post172
    Sounds great, a Quiltalong!


  15. Oh WOW! Just what I need, another gorgeous Star quilt project to add to all my other Works In Progress! This quilt is absolutely fantastically beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!!!!

  16. Fascinating design. Will Barb Vlack's EQ file become available? hh

  17. It is amazing and scares this new quilter. I would love to do it with your new fabric. The blues are delightful. The math not so much. I am thankful for people like you and Jeanneke and Ms. Vlack.

  18. I bought the stamps Jeanneke designed to make this lovely quilt. You mentioned a SewAlong, when would that be? This is going to be slightly challenging, would make a fun group project! Thanks, Amie