The Challenge of a Lone Star Quilt

For a successful Lone Star Quilt, accuracy is essential when cutting the strips, stitching the diamonds, and pressing the seams. 

Sewing an accurate and consistent 1/4-inch seam allowance is a must for this quilt.



If the angles of the diamonds are off by even a fraction, or the pieces are not assembled accurately, the quilt top will curl or buckle as it is stitched and no amount of pulling or tugging will correct the problem.

A single mistake can destroy the balance of the Lone Star Quilt which is also known as the Radiant Star, Star of Bethlehem or Texas Star design.

lone star quilt

This eight pointed star is one of my favorite quilt ideas. Following the steps outlined below made it easy and extremely accurate. 

Your choice of colors add to the success of this Lone Star Quilt. The choices should include combinations of lights, mediums and darks that contrast sharply to achieve the radiating effect.

The colors need to pulse from the radiant point of the design (middle-center) to the very most central point and then back to the outermost points to achieve the vibrancy of this Lone Star Quilt as shown in the free lone star 8-point markup guide.

The first fabric choice starts with the radiant point (middle-center)of the star and is repeated on the outermost tips of the star. For our middle-center and outer points we chose a dark maroon.

For the central point we chose a vibrant yellow. You will need six colors to make a queen or king size quilt plus a background color; only four for a twin coverlet plus your background and borders.

The Lone Star Quilt also has one other unique characteristic.

In the large, plain blocks in the corners, in the triangles between the star points, and along the borders, there is ample space for the elegant quilting motifs frequently characterized by the Amish quilters who are noted for their elaborate stitching backgrounds.

We also provide a few ideas throughout this site for quilting a Lone Star Quilt or any quilt - Continuous Line Quilting and Machine Quilting Patterns.

Lone Star Quilt Mark-up Guide

I made my first Lone Star Quilt from reading and studying the pattern that was published in the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine describing how to make a quilt.

They warned that it would be a challenge but they also made it very easy. Since then I have made several.

In our example there are eight points in the Lone Star Quilt; each point has 64 individual diamonds that are arranged in eight rows with eight diamonds in each row.

You will need to organize your fabrics if you make a Lone Star Quilt. This free pattern will do just that.

Print the PDF file and glue your fabric snippets on the Color Layout page.

Once this has been done you are ready to develop one of the eight points for your lone star quilt. In our example the letter A is always yellow; the letter B is always dark blue (also the background); and so on.

how to make a quilt

If you are making a queen or king size Lone Star Quilt you will need the following strips:

  • All strips will be cut 2 1/2 inches wide
  • Cut 16 strips of (A) Yellow-
  • Cut 10 strips of (B) Dark Blue (background)
  • Cut 11 strips of (C) Light Blue
  • Cut 9 strips of (D) Medium Pink
  • Cut 6 strips of (E) Light Pink
  • Cut 8 strips of (F) Maroon
  • Cut 4 strips of (G) Lavender

The strips will be approximately 22-inches long (45-inches when unfolded) so you will have to stretch to cut across the fabric.

The ruler tends to slip as you advance toward the far end. If this happens, stop the cutter and move your left hand up so that it is even with the rotary cutter.

Recheck to make sure the ruler markings are still lined up on the fabric.

It is important that you are extremely accurate with the cutting and don't let the ruler slip.

Remember just a fraction of an inch can throw the whole diamond block off.

What You Need to Know Before
Cutting, Sewing and Pressing

How to make a quilt is made easy with charts, good tools and lots of pictures to follow. To learn how much fabric you will need, refer to the Yardage Chart in the Mark-up Guide.

Our quilt is approximately 92-inches by 100-inches (queen size). I always buy a little extra whenever I purchase fabric just to give me a little assurance against mishaps, wrong calculations, etc.

We will be using a strip sewing method to sew the strips together. This is fast and accurate.

Straighten the edge of each piece of fabric by making a small cut on the edge and tear your fabric from selvage to selvage which is the straight of the grain.

After the tear, press the edge, as it will curl under.

Match the torn edge (not the selvage as most likely it will not be straight) and fold the fabric in half.

With the fabric laying to the right (reverse if you are left-handed) line up the quarter inch line on the ruler with the torn edge of the fabric and trim the raw edges with the rotary cutter making a nice even finish on the fabric.

How to Cut Strips in the Mark-up Guide provides a good visual. Hold the ruler tight so that it does not slip as you advance with the rotary cutter.

After you trim away the torn ragged edge, reposition your ruler to the right and line-up the 2 1/2 inch mark on the ruler with the clean edge of your fabric.

Using a sharp rotary blade, cut and stack the required amount of strips from each color including the background color. Refer to the Yardage Chart in the Mark-up Guide for the number of strips you will need for each color.

There will be a total of 64 strips when you finish cutting the 2 1/2-inch strips.

Apply a good bit of strength as you push the rotary cutter away from you when cutting your strips.

If you have to apply excessive pressure, your blade may be dull. A dull blade is your worst enemy and not worth getting hurt over.

If you have to make a clean edge because the ruler slipped, do so!

Check your strips often to make sure they are 2 1/2 inches wide. Open the strips periodically to make sure the strips do not have a bend at the fold line.

Generally, a bend in any strip is caused by letting your ruler slip.

how to make a quilt

Accurate Seam Allowance are a
Must for the Lone Star Quilt

It is time to pause to reflect on the importance of a perfect 1/4-inch seam allowance before we actually start to sew the strips together.

Most likely the width of your presser foot is 1/4-inch wide. If you are not sure about this, line the edges of a scrap piece of fabric with the edge of the presser foot and sew a few stitches. Stop and measure the seam allowance.

If it is 1/4-inch place a 3-inch magnetic seam guide just ahead and on the right of the presser foot. The right side of the presser foot and the left side of the magnetic strip forms a perfect and consistent line when sewing a Quarter Inch seam as shown in our Mark-up Guide

easy quilt pattern

The magnetic strip that I use is the same thing that I put on the back of picture frames that holds my display of pictures on my refrigerator.

You can also use something called Moleskin that has an adhesive backing and can be cut into strips.

This is a Dr Scholl product used for protecting tender feet. Look for it in generic brands such as Kroger.

Of course a piece of masking tape is another alternative. However, the masking tape does not have a ridge.

It will take more effort to hold the fabric tight against the edge of the tape and not allow it to overlap the tape causing an irregular quarter-inch seam.

Investing in a seam guide is another excellent tip especially when sewing a Lone Star Quilt...any quilt for that matter!

Layout, Stitching and Pressing of Strips

Color Layout: The 2 1/2-inch strips you just cut are ready to be sewn together.

The order in which you sew the strips together and the alignment of the top edge of the strips is very important.

The strips must be sewn in the right to left order (opposite the way you are reading this page).

In our Mark-up Guide we show you the Color Chart for sewing the eight units together which will in turn be cut again to form the eight individual points.

Start by laying the first strip on top of the second strip with the first strip extending 2-inches past the top of the second strip.

In other words, the strips will be offset by 2-inches at the top with the first strip being the longest. Be sure the right sides are together.

Sewing Layout: With the second strip on the bottom and the first strip on the top sew the two strips together.

Be extra careful not to pull or stretch your strips as you sew them. Each new strip must be placed under the previous strip, and down 2-inches from the top. This 2-inch offset will be trimmed away later.

Take a look at our Sewing Layout in our Mark-up Guide. Strips are always sewn right sides together.

To prevent the need to backstitch each strip, set your sewing machine at 15 stitches per inch which is a very tight stitch. If your machine has a stitch selection move the dial to the number-2 setting.

star quilt pattern

When sewn together, your strips will look similar to the image shown here.

You will be making seven more units with each unit having a different color layout as shown on the color chart.

Once the first unit has been sewn together mark the unit as number one with a piece of masking tape.

Lay the unit aside and repeat the process to make units 2 through 8 for your Radiant Star.

Each unit will be unique as shown on the 8-Point Color Chart in the Mark-up Guide. Be sure and label each section as you finish it before you lay it aside.

Pressing Procedure: Once all 8-units have been completed, press the seams gently so as not to distort the seams.

Always press across the width of the strips rather than the length of the strips.

Use an up and down motion rather than a back and forth motion. Pressing back and forth may stretch the units.

Begin on the wrong side to set the seam. Open the strips and press on the right side gently pushing the seam away from you and make sure there are no folds at the seam lines.

Remember use an up and down motion not back and forth. If the strips bow slightly when laid flat, you may have stretched when pressing or stitching the seam.

In this case, press again with steam and block them into straight lines; very important. Do not distort the seams.

Cutting the Lone Star Quilt
  Into Diamond Strips

After all eight units of the Lone Star Quilt have been sewn together and pressed you are ready to cut the eight units into diamond strips.

Start by making a clean crisp 45-degree starting edge on each of the eight units you just sewed together.

In the Mark-up Guide we show you how to cut the 45-degree angle on the Cutting Diamond Strips page.

Move the ruler to line up the 2-1/2 inch line on the ruler with the clean edge that you just made.

Make sure that the 45-degree line is parallel with the lines on the gridded cutting board.

Cut, applying enough pressure to make sure the ruler does not slip.

After making two or three cuts, check to make sure the angle is still correct.

Do this by turning the ruler around and realign the ruler's 45-degree line across the top straight edge at the left end of the strip and make another nice even cut, if necessary.

Carefully and accurately cut a total of eight diamond strips 2 1/2-inches wide from Unit One.

Try not to handle the strips excessively. Stack the strips and label the stack as Section One before laying aside.

You will have excess strips which you can use in case you make a cutting error or you can use in the borders that go around the Lone Star Quilt center.

how to make a quilt

The remainder of the sections (2 through 8) are cut in the same manner.

Be sure and label each stack, and then lay aside. Once all units have been cut into 2 1/2-inch diamond strips you are ready to assemble the 8-points.

VERY IMPORTANT: select one diamond strip from each of the eight stacks keeping the strips in order from number one to number eight.

In other words you will have gathered one strip of section one, one strip of section 2, one strip of section 3, etc.

This exercise will put the sections in a different color arrangement and will create the proper color lineup for each of the eight points.

Match & Sew Diamonds
The Easy Way For Your Lone Star Quilt

The first stack of strips for your Lone Star Quilt should be in order by section number, with one on top and eight on bottom.

Select strip one and two from the stack and draw your seam allowance on the wrong side of section two and on the right side of section one.

Back your ruler off just enough to allow for the pencil lead width. Repeat this marking for strip 3 and 4; 5 and 6; 7and 8.

Position section one and section two with right sides together and with the tip of section two approximately 1/4-inch above section one (the seam allowance).

Pin match seams, Seat Seams baste seams and then sew seams.

Pick up the next two strips( strips 3 and 4) and repeat this process until all 8 strips in section one has been joined. You will now have four sets of strips in section one.

Repeat this process again by joining strips one/two to three/four and five/six to seven/eight.

Repeat one more time and join strips one/two/three/four to strips five/six/seven/eight. Refer to our diagram in the Mark-up Guide, Matching Seams.

Match the points where the seam allowance pencil lines cross the stitched seams.

Push a pin through the first matching point on section two to the match point on section one underneath. The seams should seat together.

Match all points with pins in this manner. Baste this set. Your needle and stitching line MUST cross the match point exactly.

If they don't, remove your basting stitches, press and try again. It may take a couple of times to master the technique, but you will.

You will now have one complete Lone Star Quilt point completed. Repeat this process seven more times to form the other seven points.

Warning: the less you rip out seams, the less distorted the diamonds will be.

Handle the diamond strips gently and as little as possible. If you use your sewing machine to do the basting, set the stitch length to 10-stitches per inch and remove your pins one stitch before you sew over the match.

This is a slow process and you can't hurry it. You must cross the match point exactly.

Sewing the Eight Points of the
Lone Star Quilt Together

Pick up the first two points and join them from the radiant point (deep blue color) down to the star center (yellow) leaving the 1/4-inch seam allowance at the radiant point loose.

Repeat this with two more points, then join the two sections leaving a 1/4-inch allowance at the Radiant point.

You will now have one half of the Lone Star Quilt sewn together and should look something like this.

Be sure and trim the tip from the seam allowance along the center line to reduce bulk. For a clear picture of this go to our Mark-up Guide Joining Points.

Repeat this process to form the second half of the Lone Star Quilt. It is important that the center edges form a straight line.

Carefully match and pin the center point, pushing the seams in opposite directions. Using a basting stitch sew across the center for about 5-inches and then check to make sure the center diamonds line up perfectly.

The center must lie flat. If it does not remove the stitches and make adjustments.

Continue to sew the two halves together from the center outward stopping 1/4-inch on the outside edges.

This will make it easier to add the square corners and half square triangles for the sides.

Each diamond point will have a stretchy side (cut on the bias) and a stable side (cut on the grain). It is important to determine which is which.

In our Mark-up Guide we show you what the Bias Grain image looks like.

Lay the Lone Star Quilt right side up on a flat surface. I use my large cutting table to save my back. Locate the eight stable sides of all diamonds (on the right side) and mark with a small piece of masking tape.

Next measure the length of each stable side from tip to tip (that portion that has not been seamed). Be sure to include the seam allowance.

Mark the length of each measurement on the piece of masking tape converting the measurements to a decimal.

The formula to convert a fraction to a decimal is to divide the number on top by the number on the bottom.

Next, using your calculator, multiply the longest stable diamond side measurement by 1.414 (or the square root of 2) and round to the next 1/4-inch. Example: 18-3/8 converts to 18.375 X 1.414 equals 25.98 or 26-inches.

Cutting & Sewing Corners and
Triangles of the Lone Star Quilt

Cut the one large square for the side triangles. In our example the 26-inch square will be cut into four triangles to form the side triangles.

Fold the square on the diagonals twice to make four triangles. Press to form creases, open and cut on the creases.

Add a pencil dot on the 90-degree angle exactly 1/4-inch from each edge on the wrong side.

You will use your background fabric for this square. Of course, you will do the math and make the size of square required for your quilt size.

When sewing in the side triangles the stretchy diamond side (left side) is sewn first with the diamonds on the bottom and the square on the top.

Push a pin through both the square and the diamond exactly at the point where the 1/4-inch dot comes together with the 1/4-inch seam allowance on the 8-point star.

If the diamond side is longer than the triangle, ease it in by lifting the diamond upward from underneath and patting it to fit the triangle.

You can work in any fullness by using pins to ease in the excess. Make a seam from the point in which you inserted the pin and sew outward with the diamond on the bottom. It is very important not to stretch excessively.

Now, flip the star so that the diamonds are now on the top with the wrong side up. At precisely the same 1/4-inch point match and pin the outside edges of the triangle to the diamonds and stitch outward.

Press the seams toward the diamond. Sew in the other three triangles in this manner.

Cut the four corners. Use the measurement you got when you measured the stable side of the diamond points.

In our example this will be 18 1/4-inches. These four squares will be cut from the background fabric. The four corners will require elaborate quilting as we have done here.

Alice uses a longarm machine and designs her own quilting patterns. Lovely, don't you think?

Make a small pencil dot on the back side of each corner square precisely at 1/4-inch from the outside edges.

Flip the square to the left, right sides together to the diamond. Push a pin through the penciled dot on the corner square at the 1/4-inch point and where the seam allowance ended on the diamonds.

Sew from the 1/4-inch point outward with the diamonds on the bottom, easing the diamond in as you stitch. Do not stretch any more than necessary.

Flip the star in half so that the diamonds are now on the top with the wrong side up.

Match and sew in the second side. Sew in the other three corner squares in this manner.

Once all four corners and triangles have been added lay the star on your mat and check which sides may need to be squared using the cutting grid as a guide.

Be careful not to trim off the star points and seam allowance, or distort the square shape of the star. Only sliver trim as necessary to straighten beyond the seam allowance.

Adding Borders to Your Lone Star Quilt

Next, cut the border strips you will need. In our case we are making a Queen/King size quilt so we will need 7-inch wide strips.

We finished our top and bottom borders with a very easy quilt pattern called Lone Star Quilt Pattern.

You will need four maroon stars to anchor the corners and ten yellow stars across the top and bottom.

To get the desired size of the overall quilt we added yet another strip of background fabric all the way around and added our binding using maroon fabric.

The quilt was quilted by Alice. She created her own design using a wonderful fill star pattern in all the stars and 'Digi Tech' patterns on the corners and triangles as well as the borders. She is good, don't you think. Give her a try on your next quilt.

This quilt goes by several names: Lone Star, Radiant Star, Star of Bethlehem, Texas Star or Lemoyne Star.

These steps on how to make a quilt are easy. Feel free to print this page and keep the free quilting instructions for your use. Or better yet, put this in your favorites and come back often.

Look around and you will find many, many free quilting instructions on this site! Be sure and visit our Machine Quilting Patterns and Continuous Line Quilting Patterns for quilting ideas on quilting quilts.


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