Creative articles about quilting

Old Block Quilt-Along, Part 29: Tennessee Star

Today I’m going to show you a fantastic new star block as part of our Old Block Quilt-Along! This is the 29th block. It is called the Tennessee Star.

The Tennessee Star is attributed to Nancy Cabot, who described the block in her column for the Chicago Tribune around 1930. However, her version of the Tennessee Star had an appliquéd central section, as shown in the following newspaper cutting from the “Kansas City Star”:

However, according to an article on the website “Appalachian Quilt Trail“, this patchwork design existed much earlier. According to this, the design was already very popular at the end of the 18th and start of the 19th centuries. The website refers to so-called barn quilts, which are quilt designs drawn onto barns. However, it can be assumed that the pattern was also used as a patchwork block at the same time.

(Source: barn quilter on Flickr, “Tennessee Star”)

We are sewing the “Tennessee Star” patchwork block

The Tennessee Star patchwork block measures 10″ (10.5″ including the seam allowance) and is made using pattern templates.

Cutting out the pattern pieces

For cutting out, I have created three PDF documents to download:

  • The first is a coloring sheet. This allows you to try out colors and designs for this block to see what they look like.
  • and on the second you will find the pattern templates.

On the PDF with the pattern templates, I have put a control square with a side length of 1 inch so that you can check whether your printout of the templates is the right size. It is important to set your print options to “Actual size”.

Here are the downloads:

Coloring sheet “Tennessee Star”

Templates “Tennessee Star”

Cutting out the pattern pieces

You will need to cut out the following number of pieces:

  • Template A: 4 x background fabric 
  • Template B: 4 x background fabric
  • Template C: 8 x patterned fabric
  • Template D: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template E: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template F: 4 x patterned fabric
  • Template G: 4 x patterned fabric

Sewing the “Tennessee Star” patchwork block

The blocks are now starting to show some similarities. So you should be really familiar with everything now, right? But don’t worry, this time the Y-seams are not too tricky and it’s easy to assemble!

This beautiful star block is made up of many individual pieces, which you can first lay out as usual to get an overview.

It is made by assembling four block sections that are then sewn together. Each of these consists of two C pieces and one piece each of the other pattern pieces. If you look at the block pattern on the template printout, you can see these 4 block pieces clearly and you can also understand exactly how to allocate the pattern pieces (at least I hope so 😉).

First, sew together star piece F and background piece B, star piece C and star piece E, star piece C and star piece D, and star piece G and background piece A. This gives you the following layout:

Now it is best to mark the points of intersection of the seam allowances, as shown in the following picture:

Before you close the panel seams, decide whether you want to close the seam in one go or whether (as I decided) it is better to sew up to the panel seam, stop there and secure it…

…so that you start the next seam from this panel seam.

This is what it should look like if you sew as described above:

The next step is logical: close the panel seam between the two halves of the block. Repeat these steps for each of the three subsequent block quarters.

You will then have four identical block sections.

First, sew the two top and bottom block sections together…

…then close the middle panel seam.

And this is the final result of this beautiful star block! This block should be easy for you to sew after everything you have already accomplished during this quilt-along.

I’m sure it won’t be long before the first examples start appearing here on the Bernina blog in the Community area, on Instagram and on Facebook! Don’t forget to tag your picture on social media with the hashtag #BERNINAOldBlockSampler!

Variations of the “Tennessee Star” patchwork block

I found the following images of the different versions while doing my online research. Of course they are not exactly the same as Tennessee Star block, but they are very similar to the structure of the block. 

(Source: joomoolynn on Flickr, “Tennessee Star”)

(Source: Wombat Quilt, April 22, 2013 / from the book: 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars by Carol Doak)

New here?

Have you only just discovered the quilt-along? No problem! You can join at any time. Registration is not required, and you can win a BERNINA 570 QE! All the posts will remain permanently available:

In the first post, which was the invitation to participate in the quilt-along, you will find the important initial information about our joint project:

Old Block Quilt-Along – who’s in?

You can find the rest of the blocks from the quilt-along that have already been published here:

Old Block Quilt-Along – overview of all the posts

Have fun with this block and I look forward to seeing you for the next one!

Until then,


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  • Una Knight EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Can you break up this pattern onto 2 pages. for some reason it wont save to Adobe Acrobat so I cant get it to print to an inch scale. This is the first pattern I’ve had trouble printing in a while,  It says its only printing at 60% size and still cuts off the bottom of the page.

    • ramonawirth EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Dear Una,
      There might be some strange settings in your printing options of Adobe Acrobat. I will send you the pattern as a word file. I am not able to split the pattern on two pages, but I hope printing it with another programm will solve the problem.

      Kind regards, Ramona from BERNINA International

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