Lone star pattern

These two quilts, created in Alabama almost 100 years apart, are outstanding examples of one of the most enduring patterns produced in the Southern U.S., the Lone Star. Many quilters and quilt lovers consider the successful Lone Star quilt to be a true tour de force, and a testament to the maker’s exceptional skill. The challenge in creating the Lone Star lies in the intricate assembly of the many small diamond-shaped pieces of cloth that radiate from the quilt’s center and terminate in the points of the star. Placed in the center of the quilt top, the star can be appliquéd down to the background or pieced in. Evidence abounds of the challenges in creating the Lone Star (in other parts of the country called Star of Bethlehem, or Rising Star): the center of the unsuccessful attempt, when laid flat, is cupped, and the sides are crooked. A high degree of practice and skill is needed to successfully complete these stars because every tiny diamond has bias edges and the triangles and corners are set in with the "Y" seam.


In the case of the ca. 1880s version of this pattern (left), the colors were chosen to form what appear to be radiating concentric circles. For this quilter, precision and craftsmanship were paramount, and the product is a demonstration of both her skill and her diligence. The twentieth-century Lone Star (right) attributed to Mary Duncan is a riot of multicolored and multi-patterned diamonds, assembled so that the fabrics and colors are scattered throughout the star. The irregular shapes in the quilt’s background disrupt the sense of regularity and balance, and the riot of color in the star creates the impression of spontaneity and visual excitement. Thus the Lone Star accommodates the more classic geometry of the nineteenth century, as well as the explosive expressiveness of twentieth-century style.


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