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The History of the Ohio Star Quilt

An intricate variation on the traditional Ohio Star quilt pattern

Simple in design, yet elegant, the Ohio Star quilt block pattern has been in use since the early 1800s, surged in popularity in the 1930s and is discovered by each new generation of quilters and quilt enthusiasts.

Identification

Ohio Star blocks are recognized by their three rows of squares: a top and bottom row comprised of a square of fabric, a middle square made up of quarter-cut triangles, and another square. The middle row is made up of a quarter-cut triangle square, a square and another quarter-cut triangle square. When sewn together, they create a star shape.

Types

The Ohio Star quilt block pattern, like most traditional patchwork quilt patterns, grew from an undocumented origin and evolved over time to become a standard design today. Ohio Star patterns also have many adaptations, including using a diamond within the center square and infinite color combinations. Some of the earliest Ohio Star quilts created solid stars on light colored backgrounds.

History

Ohio Star quilts have been dated back to the early 1800s. The Michigan State University Quilt Project collection includes a large quilt made entirely of Ohio Stars from the 1870s.

Development

Traditional patchwork quilt patterns were prized for using up fabric scraps

Ohio Stars, like other patchwork patterns, gained popularity from the ability to create them using scraps of fabrics. The Ohio Star quilt block appeared regularly in Depression era and post-Depression quilts of the 1930s. It was a popular pattern among Scottish and Irish immigrants in the Midwest and frequently used by Amish quilters.

Popularity

As quilting experienced a contemporary renaissance in the 1980s, the Ohio Star pattern became popular as an easy pattern for novice quilters and for its adaptability in quilts using many types of patchwork blocks.

About the Author

Jan Day’s career as a writer and editor started in 1978 in Tennessee and continued through her work with major news organizations, including "The Denver Post" and Bloomberg News. She now focuses on travel, fitness, wine and food writing. She holds a Master of Arts in journalism from Pennsylvania State University.