Block 2019: Ohio Star Variations


Welcome to the Block 2019 Creative Challenge! We’re exploring different classic quilt block each month all year long. Before we get to the Ohio Star variations, we want to be sure you get to see the Block 2019 Sampler Quilt!

It’s 72″ x 72″ and suitable for quilt-as-you-go. Get fabric requirements for the sampler or look at the kit. It’s another fun way to participate in Block 2019. Okay, back to Ohio Star variations!


Last week we met Ohio Star. This week, we’re going to play with variations of Ohio Star and learn along the way what essential parts from Ohio Star must exist in its variations. Let’s start by look at the original.

Surviving quilts featuring the block we now call the Ohio Star block date back into the 1800s, but according to Barbara Brackman in Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, the traditional Ohio Star block came by its name in 1935 when published in Carrie Hall’s book, The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt. Note the Quarter Square Triangle units which make an 8-point star, and how the coloration creates the illusion of a Square in a Square set on point in the center. The traditional block is an equal nine patch, meaning that it fits on an even 3 x 3 grid. The solid outer squares leave a lot of room to play, which is what we’ve done with the first Ohio Star variation.

Four Xs

This Ohio Star Variation maintains the star points created with four Quarter Square Triangles, and fits on an even 3 x 3 grid. It has added a Half Square Triangle to each corner. This creates a more rounded look and several blocks set together create a square on point, or a quarter square set on point if colored differently.


Like many quilters, blocks can take on personal significance, and love of Ohio Star and its variations have passed down through mine. The Honeymoon variation was my Great-Grandma Mary’s favorite Ohio Star variation. Two Half Square Triangles and two squares in each corner create what to me always look like little butterflies. The variation maintains the core elements we’ve discussed.

Variable Star/Aunt Eliza’s Star

This is my mom’s favorite Ohio Star variation. She likes the simplicity, the clean lines, and the delicate twist it gives the star points. This block is made just like a traditional Ohio Star, but with only a light and dark value fabric which visually erases the center square.

Ohio Star Chain

And this is my favorite Ohio Star variation. I’ve seen these with Four Patches in the corners instead, but I like the smaller squares created by a Nine Patch Chain. The real fun comes once set in a quilt.

The quilt is set with a sashing the same width as the aqua squares to connect the chains. If you straight set the blocks, the corners create a Four Patch which is fun to play with if the chain is scrappy.

One of my favorite ways to think of how to reinterpret a block is to consider how to use it in a quilt, and we have several wonderful example from QuiltWeek contest quilts.

STARGAZE by Susan Liimatta has Ohio Star blocks set on point with a solid setting blocks of printed fabric. Each star is made with the same background fabric and the star’s elements match within a block. This creates a scrappy quilt with lots of unity. The scrappy pieced border emphasizes this unity by using a limited color palette echoing the heavy use of pink in the quilt center.


THE COTHEALS AT HOME by Mayleen Vinson, pattern by Di Ford, is a Round Robin quilt, meaning it has a central square block surrounded by multiple borders, usually pieced or appliqued. This is a very traditional quilt using the traditional Ohio Star block, but in two different ways. In its first use, there are two rows of Ohio Star blocks sashed with a small strip and sashing squares which creates a subtle grid for the eye to follow, causing a relaxed, orderly feeling. In the outer border, Ohio Stars are showcased, each on point and displayed against a boldly patterned darker print. (Clarification: The outer Ohio Stars are a 4 x 4 grid which is also known as a Sawtooth Star but often cited as an Ohio Star in patterns. Its use in this quilt utilizes the illusion of perspective.) The outer border excites the eye by creating diagonal lines at each block and encourages the viewer to follow the border around and look at each Ohio Star.


THINGS TO SAY by Alice Tignor is another Round Robin that showcases its Ohio Star blocks by placing them on point. Note how Tignor uses two colors in the blocks, white and green, but by using different green fabrics in each block, she creates a varied and unified artwork.


FLORAL COLLABORATION by Elisabeth Polenze and Luise Kramer Polenz takes advantage of Ohio Star’s component parts and construction. Note how the Ohio Stars in this quilt are not constructed as blocks, but as sashing. This allows the quilters to set their nine embroidered motif blocks in what would otherwise be the corners of the Ohio Star blocks. Very clever and fun!


A TINY TREASURE by Barbara Perrin uses a classic, minimalist setting that’s hard to beat for visual impact. Nine high contrast red and white Ohio Stars are set with plain, white sashing. This is followed by a border of half square triangles the same colors and fabrics as the Ohio Star blocks. A wide, white border finishes out the quilt while providing lots of space for beautiful quilting. Using high contrast red and white, along with using the same fabric creates compelling unity. This Ohio Star is on a 4 x 4 grid, which is a kind of variation on a Sawtooth Star, but this shape is what you’d see if you turned an Ohio Star on point and is often cited in patterns as an Ohio Star.


Ready to make your own variation on Ohio Star? We have instructions for Ohio Star Chain to get you started, but there are many ways to take the elements of Ohio Star and reinterpret them your way!


Check back next week February 20th for quilt-as-you-go ideas for quilting your Ohio Star Block.


Show us your Ohio Star blocks and variations in the AQS Project Parade Facebook group, or use the hashtag #Block2019 and tag us @aqsonline because we can’t wait to see what you make!

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Betty Bradley

How can this be a 15” finished block if the sections are 6”? Isn’t it going to be 18” as published?


Are the border blocks on M Vinson’s quilt still Ohio Star even tho they are on a 4 by 4 grid?


What is the focus fabric in the ohio star chain? Where is it available?

Hi Susan, Here is the link to the fabric from Tula Pink’s All Stars collection: Thanks, Betsey