Latest Socks

I finished these socks last evening:

Latest Socks

A bit more bland than usual – I had turned the heel on the first sock before I realized I’d forgotten to change the yarn to the solid! No point in taking out the heel so I carried on. I decided to just continue with the toe as well.

I actually prefer the contrasting heel/toe sock. I’ll try to remember on the new pair I started last evening.

This pair has been added to the stash to give away.

Diamonds II – Quilt Sandwich

I just figured out something I should have figured out a long time ago!

Batting On Backing

When assembling the quilt sandwich, I’ve always used three 6′ pieces of 1 x 3 pine. (I prefer the boards to pool noodles because their weight makes smoothing the fabric/batting easier). I roll up each layer on a board, then open out some backing, position and roll out some batting, then position the quilt top on top.

Today, I realized what I should be doing is uniting the batting and backing into a single layer which allows me to smooth the backing on the batting before rolling the one layer onto a board! Before adding the quilt top, I know my backing is smooth. Now, why didn’t I figure that out before?

Once I have the smoothed backing/batting layer on a board, I can start rolling it out, then position the quilt top and start pinning.

Creating The Sandwich

Creating the sandwich this way means I’m not struggling to keep the backing smooth when I’m pinning because it’s already been “attached” to the batting and all I have to worry about is the pieced top.

I now have my quilt sandwich pinned and ready to quilt. First, stitch in the ditch, then embroider each diamond. I can’t group the diamonds to be able to do fewer embroideries because each is 9 1/2″ vertical length and double that is much too large for any embroidery hoop available. So it’s one diamond at a time, I’m afraid, for all 200+ diamonds. The design I’ve created is a simple single run design – it’s purpose is just to hold the layers together. Each embroidery will go reasonably quickly.

I also want to share a video I came across today from the Missouri Quilt Company – Seam Ripping 101. In the video Natalie Earnheart “walks through what a seam ripper looks like, how it works, and how to use it.” Take a few minutes to watch; you’ll discover things you didn’t know about ripping out seams.

Now back to work.

Diamonds II – Assembled

Here it is – the Diamonds II quilt top fully assembled:

Diamonds II – Assembled

The sewing process did get much easier as I went along. Once I’d figured out the sub-assembly groupings and sewed each segment, the parts went together very easily. I did very little taking apart and restitching.

I find it interesting that my original star in the centre is almost invisible. I chose to set up a star with those fabrics because there were three each of the solids and the leaf ombre – I couldn’t see where else to use them. However, although the colour of those diamonds is strong, it’s overpowered by the other fabrics and what pops out when you’re not looking at cubes are the two red six-point stars; you almost don’t see the star in the middle.

In any case, this is how the top is going to stay. If I trimmed the side diamonds I’d be able to get away with a single length of backing fabric (provided I find a fabric that complements the wild colour range of the top). Of course, I can always add a single strip with end to end diamonds which I would need to do were I to make the panel wider.

I just measured the finished dimensions: Length = 66.5″ (that’s a reasonable length for a throw or wall hanging); width = 43.5″ if I trim the outlying diamonds. If I add half diamonds in those spaces I can grow the width to 49.5″.

I think I have to add the half-diamonds. Which fabrics? Gotta think about that a bit.

Lots of decisions remain.

Diamonds II – Bottom Half Done

The assembling is becoming easier. I’m doing the obvious diamond strip joins then nesting pieces and doing the Y seams. I’m finding I just have to mark the strategic corners with a tiny dot where I have to remember not to sew to the edge. My Y seams are pressing nice and flat.

Bottom Half Assembled

I incorporated the side elements; next I will assemble the top extended hexagon, fit that into the bottom segment and then all I have left to do are the four top segments.

The sewing isn’t taking as long as I thought it would but it will likely take another day to stitch all the remaining blocks.

I’m just carrying on (glad I printed out a photo – I’ve needed it to keep the colour placement consistent)….

Diamonds II – Assembly

I stumbled around yesterday trying to figure out how to assemble this quilt top panel – sewing some staggered diamond seams and some Y seams to get a small portion together (the point being to have as few Y seams as possible). I did three Y seams yesterday – today I can see how to put that grouping of diamonds together with just one!

Left Corner Assembly

I picked up today where I left off and began adding diamonds on the right side of the bottom, making mistakes with the orientation of the cube, and having to redo quite a few seams. The Y seam – turns out it isn’t terribly difficult – I’m managing to get a nice flat join; the challenge is seeing some kind of logical way to assemble these various elements.

I think I have finally figured it out:

Assembling Units

I now have the bottom assembled. When I stood back and looked at the array on the floor, I decided I could put the side diamonds together into more or less a triangle shape; so I did that.

I then grouped the block elements for the top part of the panel which leaves the middle in two symmetrical 6-sided shapes (which are still side-by-side on the floor).

Here’s how I plan to proceed – start by putting together the centre diamond in the bottom half of the centre block (khaki/blue, blue/red); next the four “diamonds” laying on their sides; finally put those five pieces together and attach them to the bottom piece – that gets me the full bottom half of the panel completed. All I have to do is repeat the process for the top. The final assembly involves adding the two side pieces (which can be accomplished with a single Y seam, each).

Looks like my panel is going to measure ~ 45″ wide – not quite wide enough. I can extend it a wee bit if I add in another set of diamonds down each side. I already have 75 diamonds cut out (which I’m planning to incorporate into a second version of this quilt top); or I could put a 2 1/2″ – 3″ border around the finished, trimmed panel – the question is what would I use as “framing” fabric – no idea at this point. Any decisions about how to extend the width/length of the panel will have to wait until I have the panel assembled and just before I trim the sides.

Depending on how long the panel turns out to be – I may have to remove the triangles at the top/bottom edges replacing them with diamonds which would let me to extend the length as well. Again, that decision will have to wait until the panel is fully assembled.

Y-Seams

In all my years of quilting I’ve never had to sew a Y-seam! Well this assembly is going to require a combination of diamond overlap joins and Y-seams.

Assembly Started!

I did a bit of research to find out how to put this collection of diamonds together. The objective is to assemble the various hexagons where they occur (the cubes) using a Y-seam to add the third element; then joining diamonds in the usual way with the 1/4″ overlap. 

This is what I’ve managed to assemble so far. I started with the cube with the yellow dots, then added the two edge triangles, next the pair of diamonds on the left, followed by the pair of diamonds with corner triangle that creates the left corner (half the triangle will be trimmed away when the sewing is finished), and finally adding the trio of diamonds immediately above with a Y-seam.

No doubt about it – it is finicky work – I’m assuming as I do more I’ll get better, and the sewing will go faster. The trick is marking the 1/4″ seam allowance join positions before sewing so you can run a pin through the dots to secure the overlap, then stitching “from dot to dot” as various people have suggested I do. 

My 1/4″ eye is actually pretty good – I have marked some of the “dot” positions in what I’ve assembled so far, but I think I can do reasonably well by aligning a pin in the precise location I want to start sewing and finish sewing – I’ll see as I go along. The difficulty with marking dots on each diamond is that I don’t have a 60° diamond template with small holes in the corner start/stop seam allowance positions so I’m having to improvise using a ruler which is very cumbersome and time consuming.

I did print out a copy of the layout to work from – makes it much easier to keep track of where I’ve picked up blocks, how to align them, and then put them back where they belong.

This assembly is going to take a number of days because there are a lot of diamonds to put together but I’m underway.

Oh, and BTW, I cut 76 diamonds from the leftover 5 1/4″ strips (along with 45 triangles), colour sorted each pile, and put both aside. I try working on just one project at a time so I can actually finish it.

Diamonds II

I’ve collected Kaffe Fassett fabrics over the years, made several quilts using them, but still had more than enough fabric remaining in my stash to use for many other projects.

Recently I bought three KF Collective fat quarter sets from Hyggeligt Fabrics in St. Mary’s ON to add to my collection. A month or so ago I also purchased a few more 1/2m pieces and another fat quarter bundle from Heidi Wulfraat’s woolworks studio in Mahone Bay (she carries the complete Free Spirit collection with quite a few out of print fabrics).

I spent most of yesterday pressing, then cutting a 5 1/4″ strip from each of the 98 KF fabrics I now have – the strip is long enough for at least 2 diamonds and a triangle.

Today, I cut out a single diamond from each fabric and began laying them out. I could have just placed diamonds in a row and then filled in below that row, but I decided to start with a “star” and work from the centre out. To begin with I had just a single 6-diamond star in the centre, but as the layout grew, I decided to add another star above and below the original star.

Then I filled in the remaining space.

Stars / Tumbling Blocks

The fabrics fell into several categories: there were “leaf ombre” and “solid” diamonds; there were large scale floral, fruit, wood, circle designs; there were a number of “dot” fabrics; and I had a lot of “paper weight” prints in a wide range of colours.

I used the three ombre/three solids as the centre star, then clustered six strong/similar coloured diamonds above and below that star. From there I filled in with the florals/fruit/wood patterns, finally I used the paper weight prints on the outer edges.

I’ve moved quite a few diamonds around already. To fill in the edges I had to cut 18 triangles and 12 more diamonds from some of the strips so there are some duplicate prints but in the centre of the panel each diamond is unique! The outer diamonds on the sides will be trimmed once the panel is sewn together – I don’t need the added width inserting half-diamonds would give me.

I didn’t try creating any kind of colour flow in this layout, although I could have. Instead, I just wanted to let each fabric speak for itself. What I find so interesting is the stars set up an optical illusion of tumbling cubes. When I look at the photo I can pick out the three stars; but as I look at the quilt, stacks of tumbling cubes keep popping out at me! The array of cubes keeps changing, the longer I look. I wasn’t expecting that to happen. 

I like the optical activity this arrangement provides – I’m going to leave it pretty much as it is, I think. However, what I might do next is cut another set of diamonds from the remaining strips (and recut a few more strips from the pieces I put back into the stash) to develop a second array where I start with the stars but colour sort the fabrics to see what illusion might emerge. Wouldn’t take long at all.