Monday, July 18, 2016

Seven Stars in a Circle

I spent some time looking at the symbolism in the pattern we call Seven Sisters. See three posts here at my Civil War Quilts Blog


I didn't find any real reference to any symbolism or to that name in print until the 1930s---but I certainly found many examples of seven star quilts made before that date. One of the side trips was a file of quilts with seven stars in a circle.

Melinda Hall Kelly from Quilts of Tennessee and the Quilt Index

I am dismayed to find this pattern is not in BlockBase or my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

It ought to be in the 3700-3734 numbers but none of these designs with seven stars in a circle are there.

Block made by Maria Snipes in Alabama,
from the Michigan project
and the Quilt Index
A complicated version with a ring of diamonds around the stars.

"An Old-Time 'Seven Star' "

Was Maria's inspiration this February, 1912, picture from the Ladies' Home Journal?

In the article Elizabeth Daingerfield showed some "Kentucky Mountain Quilt" designs, emphasizing their Southern regionalism .
From Joanna Rose's collection
of red and white quilts.

Recently quilted, found on Pinterest.
The design would require a good pattern and skilled piecing.
It's not often seen

Variation with triangles in the ring rather than diamonds.

Even without the outer ring I'm still impressed by
seven stars pieced into a circle. This quilt is from
the Pilgrim Roy collection.

Now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

An example from about 1900 shown at the Deep South
Quilt Study group.

From a Spinning Spools publication.
The stars may be appliqued.

Mary Ann Rouse Thomas
from the Cargo Collection at the Birmingham Museum of Art

You do get the feeling that the seven stars in a circle design is a Southern pattern as Daingerfield indicated. The solid color, the fan quilting, the wide sashings look regional.

This is one of the earliest I've seen of the seven stars in a circle
with fabric that look to be mid-19th rather than late-19th century

By Mary Rita Long. Her family called it "Little Star"
A twentieth-century version from the North Carolina
project and the Quilt Index

By Mrs. Thomas J. Hunter, place unknown,
Arizona project, from the Quilt Index

Possibly early twentieth century?

Complex stars.

Same star from Brunk Auctions, perhaps a little older,
probably Southern.

New version by master repro quiltmaker Michelle Yeo.
See more pictures here:

Here are some new numbers to paste in your Encyclopedia, page 449.


  1. It's interesting to look at the different shapes that go between the stars: diamonds, regular hexagons with six equal sides, or odd hexagons with longer sides alternating with shorter sides.

  2. I hadn't even noticed that. There is a variety.