Feathered Star Quilt Block Part 1


My 19th Century Sampler Quilt would not be complete without a Feathered Star.   This block is 14 1/2 inches unfinished and since I am using sashing on my 12 1/2 inches blocks to bring them up to 15 1/2 inches.  I am going to sash with unbleached muslin.  I used this as the background fabric for this star.  This will be in the center of my quilt.   I chose the unbleached muslin for a couple of reasons.  It was the choice of many antique quilts that were samplers and because Kona Cream is too heavy to work with in a pattern like the feathered star that has one inch half squares.  The feathered part of this block was papered pieced.  Kona Cotton was just too bulky.  I have used this brand of muslin for years and have been happy with it.

I still have some work to do on this block.  I need to go back and fix some intersections.  I was rushed for time to get this done for another blog and just left it as it was.  I haven’t pulled the paper off of it yet so I can reline things up a little better.

The feathered star was one of the few named quilt blocks in the 19th century.  It was a very early pattern and was copied by many quilters for good quilts.  The pattern took some skill to draft this block and to sew all the tiny pieces.  It was also a good way to use up tiny scraps of expensive printed fabric.  Good dressmakers could show off their skills on their beds when company came.   When guests would come to visit they would spend the night because travel took awhile.  The best quilts and bed lines would be used for the company.  We see some excellent examples of this quilt in museums to day and this pattern is highly prized by quilt collectors.

Many of the complicated patterns were paper pieced using newspaper or wrapping paper in the 19th century.  Patterns was usually copied on newspaper to share and drawings and templates.   Many times a quilter would see a quilt at a fair or raffle and take time to draw the pattern or would reproduce it from memory.   Not many patterns were published until the last 2 decades of the 19th century.  Collectors today know there are regions in this country that are known for certain patterns.   That was because that pattern was shared among neighbors.

I found this feathered star on line at McCall’s Quilting.  It is a free PDF file that you can down load.  The pattern is called Tribute to York County.   York County Pennsylvania is were many of the very early patterns and quilts have been found.   They used to publish a Vintage Quilt Magazine and this pattern came from their Spring Issue in 2005.  I have some of them and kept them for reference.  Here is the link to the pattern:


In my next blog I will give you the cutting instruction and how I paper pieced it.  It isn’t that difficult of the block when it is papered pieced.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo says:

    Cannot wait to see the finished product!


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      Thanks. I am getting down to the final 5 blocks and then I will start the quilting. I am going to do it in sections and put them together. I don’t have the money for someone else to quilt it. I would not do that even if I had the money. I like that part of making quilts.


      1. Jo says:

        Oh land you have done well! Be sure and post a pic for us to see.


  2. averyclaire says:

    This is a GREAT block…love the colors too….and I don’t see any off seams! Thanks too for the link to the vintage quilts. I used to LOVE that magazine. Thank you too for the bit of information regarding the block. Nice.


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      The off seams are there. It is the magic of the photo graph software and the angle of the camera. I took a lot of pictures of it in hope of having a good one. Did some minor fixes on the computer and went with it.
      I loved vintage McCall’s Quilting. I was disappointed when they stopped that special issue. I kept the ones I bought. I went through my magazines and cut out the patterns that were worth keeping and stored them in a couple of boxes that laptops came in. I also kept all the early issues of Quilt that I had. I liked the back section of old vintage patterns that the magazine used to do. There was a period where the magazines where dependent on the fabric companies to submit patterns featuring their fabric lines. So the patterns were all big blocks designed around a fabric line. It was during that time that they dropped the vintage quilt magazine. They should bring back a special issue of vintage quilts. These young quilters would probably like the depression quilts redone in the current pastel prints showing the Then and Now that they used to do.


  3. knitnkwilt says:

    The feathered star block is beautiful and deserves to be the center of your sampler! I almost took a class with Marsha McClosky on feathered stars; however, weather intervened and the class was rescheduled when i was not available. Still on my “someday” list.


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      You know there is a video on you tube on her method. I watched it trying to decide if I wanted to try that. I settled for paper piecing because I was only doing the one block. It actually took more time to cut the little blocks out and figure out the pattern then to make it . It went fairly fast after I got over my confusion of the instructions. I have a few places to fix so I left the paper in. I had to get this done for another blog that was on Sunday evening on line quilt group.. Now I can fiddle with it and make it show quality.

      What I have learned so far is that sampler quilts take a lot more time to do. A lot of thought and looking at books to figure out what blocks will work together. Then you have to pull out your colors from scraps and think that through and cut the pieces out. It is not speed strip quilting. I can see why our grandmothers enjoyed this process. I haven’t got board with it and it is cost effective. I also thought I would put a big dent in my reproduction fabric scraps and it seems to be just as much as ever in that box. Do you think this stuff grows while we aren’t looking?

      Thanks for your comment. .


      1. knitnkwilt says:

        I agree on both points: scraps don’t seem to decrease and samplers take longer! Make that three. It isn’t boring.

        Very little chain piecing. Certainly minimal strip piecing. It is for the process.

        Thanks for the heads up on the YOuTube video


  4. KerryCan says:

    I like this block a lot–but it looks hard! Such precision! I really need to learn paper piecing–I’ve never even tried it.


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      It is not that hard. Paper piecing is easy after you get the hang of it. That is just a little practice with some scraps. About 10 years ago it was the thing to do with quilting. You know quilting has it’s fads. It was the mini quilts that brought back paper piecing. I don’t see many patterns now that offer a paper pieced pattern. Paper piecing is also very messy. I still have all those little trimmed pieces to sweep up. Also peeling off the paper creates lots of confetti on the floor.

      If you like the block. I would go ahead and down load the PDF file and save it. I don’t know how long McCall’s will keep this pattern up. I printed it out for my note book. I may do this one again. I was thinking in shades of blue and white.

      Thanks for stopping in and commenting.


  5. Quiltmouse says:

    Beautiful block! It will be very striking as the center of the quilt.


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