Diamonds III – Top Finished

I’ve been working steadily on the quilt top. Yesterday I completed the 8th row of tumbling cubes – leaving just a row of diamonds to complete the top row.

Diamonds III - Tumbling Blocks
Diamonds III – Tumbling Blocks

I trimmed the diamonds on each end and then began working on the quilt back.

I had already set up seven hexagons from leftover triangles I’d cut previously when working on the Diamonds II quilt. I auditioned them against a backing fabric I found in one of my drawers (didn’t have to go buy more fabric!) – the questions was whether to place them on-point or lay them flat. I decided, on-point was more interesting.

I cut a strip of backing fabric wide enough to cut triangles to fill in the spaces, sewed the strip together then set the insert strip into the backing fabric.

Diamonds III - Quilt Back
Quilt Back

Because of the cubes on the top of the quilt, these hexagons imply cubes when you look at them.

The quilt sandwich is now pinned together and ready to be quilted. I’ll work away at that over the weekend and next week. I just have to create an embroidery design to fit each cube and then I’m ready to quilt.

Memories Of Australia

A friend of mine is turning 80 and his daughter, planning a collective gift, asked me to share a memory of Gerry. I’ve known him since 1976 – 45 years, not yesterday. I thought about my early days at Dalhousie’s Department of Education where we shared office space and often argued on the same side in department political skirmishes.

Then I remembered one of my trips to Australia – I was on sabbatical, in the country for close to three months. Gerry and his family were then living outside Melbourne where he was headmaster of a private school. It was early in the trip when I visited them. Terrific hosts, I was taken to various significant locations you must see when in that part of the country.

One of our stops was in Mornington – at a gallery which showcased contemporary Australian artists. The art was interesting. One particular piece – a large 21″ ceramic plate called out to me:

Bryan Trueman - Ceramic - Gum Trees

Bryan Trueman – Ceramic – Gum Trees

I’d have bought it instantly if I could have figured out either how to ship it back to Halifax so it would arrive intact or how to package it so I could carry it as carry-on luggage for the remainder of my travels.

That was Friday afternoon – I left the gallery without the ceramic. However, I wanted to see it again, so late Saturday morning the whole family and I returned to the gallery and I stood in front of the plate and still couldn’t make the purchase. Once more, I left without it.

That evening, Gerry and his wife and I were at a dinner gathering of friends of theirs and everybody at the party knew the plate. There was a lot of conversation about it and encouragement for me to buy the damn thing and then figure out how to travel with it.

So once again, Sunday morning, Gerry took me back to Mornington where I finally bought the plate. The gallery packed it for me in a huge wooden crate – definitely not carry-on baggage.

I took the crate with me the next day when I returned to Melbourne – by car. I was staying with an acquaintance and we discussed alternative ways I might pack the plate so I could travel with it. Finally decided on bubble wrap and a typically Australian woven plastic zippered shopping bag large enough to hold the bubble-wrapped plate.

Next day I ended up at the post office to purchase bubble wrap. Standing in line I starting kibitzing with the woman in front of me. When she learned what I was looking for she invited me to accompany her home – she’d just had a large parcel arrive from England and had a lot of bubble wrap she could give me.

I went with her, had a nice cup of tea, returned to where I was staying, unpacked the crate, rewrapped the plate, put all my lecture notes and study materials in my checked bag (praying my luggage would arrive with me) and headed to the airport. I kept the plate with me as carry-on when I boarded the small plane to Wagga Wagga. I carried the plate with me on each subsequent flight, and I did finally get it back home in one piece.

The Bryan Trueman ceramic hangs in a prominent place in my apartment, and I think of Gerry and that visit to Melbourne each time I glance at it.

Diamonds III – Assembly

I did a bit of searching before starting to sew my diamonds together – I wanted to see how people generally stitch their diamonds/cubes/hexagons together for the Tumbling Blocks design. The cube/hexagon, as I learned with the previous quilt, is created using Y-seams with three diamonds. I’m getting relatively good at that, so that wasn’t my question – I wanted to know how people put the cubes together. Turns out they do what you’d expect – create each cube then butt the blocks together, but most of them are working with three fabrics (a dark, medium, light) and it’s possible to start in the centre of the project and work your way out from there.

My challenge is each cube/hexagon is unique and I want a specific colour flow. The way to assemble the quilt top, I thought, was to carefully stack the diamonds in each cube keeping it in its exact row; stitch each cube, stitch each row, then join the rows to one another.

TOO FIDDLY!

I created rows 1 & 2 separately, and managed to join them, but getting the “star” joins, involving six points, took a great deal of time, and a lot of picking out of stitching, to get the points to match precisely. So that’s not the way to do this!

How else might I assemble sub units so I can join them with less effort?

I realized, as I was sewing row 2 to row 1, that if I set up half-star units, I might be able to get the 6-point join to work more easily.

Cube layout changed to 6-point star

In this layout I have two “simple” Y-joins at each end of the star with the 6-point join in the centre of a long flat seam, rather than struggling with two Y-seams to make that 6-point connection.

I’ve laid out the rest of row #3 that way, and I’ll sew it tomorrow.

Row 3 set up as “half-stars”

I still have to work with my carefully stacked rows of cubes – but before sewing cubes, I will lay out each row as half-stars, join those units, then connect them to the rest of the quilt top.

Let you know how well that works, tomorrow!

Diamonds III

I’ve just laid out the second pile of diamonds from the Kaffe Fassett Collective. I’d cut them from the strips I’d cut for Diamonds II and added a few more from fabrics I picked up at Woolworks just outside of Mahone Bay when I was in Lunenburg for my regular bone density scan.

Tumbling Blocks Layout

I began by colour sorting the diamonds then sorting again for intensity. I laid out the blocks so I could get a colour flow from the yellows in the top left to blues in the bottom right. I haven’t taken time yet to sit with this array – I did my best to keep the dark diamonds aligned on one side of each “cube”, lighter diamonds on the “light side” with a medium intensity for the “top” of each cube. I now need to spend some time checking that the flow allows each cube to stand out.

In actual fact I began the layout with the blue diamonds (in part because I had more blues than other colours) but once I had the layout I decided the colour flow works better from the yellow to the blue, rather than the other way around.

Reverse Layout

So now to begin assembling the quilt top.

New Lockdown in NS

The number of new COVID-19 cases is rising steeply here in NS – we’re seeing the effect of community spread with the highly transmissible B117 variant, so public health has imposed a new lockdown in an effort to slow the rate of infection.

However, we’re being encouraged to be outside to enjoy the spring weather – go walking, hiking, have small groups (of five people observing social distancing guidelines), just continue with the public health protocols.

Yesterday afternoon was lovely and sunny (if a bit windy) so the knitters/stitchers decided to get together for an hour or two outside.

We tried the grassy space beside the building where we gathered during the summer but the wind was strong and nippy so we retreated to Ruby’s patio – all five of us. Ruby couldn’t resist offering a snack!

Knitters At Work

Just getting out and laughing together was liberating.

Next week I hope the weather will be a bit warmer so more of us can gather on the large grassy space beside the building in clusters of five.

Diamonds II – Finished

Just finished the second Diamonds Quilt.

Diamonds II – Finished Quilt

In this quilt I wanted the quilting to provide texture but not detract from the strength of the individual fabrics. I began at one edge stitching-in-the-ditch but I didn’t get far because I could anticipate running into trouble with the backing not distributing evenly. I switched to quilting the individual diamonds (I still haven’t counted them – there’s approximately 130-140 pieces in the quilt including the triangles and half diamonds at the edges).

Because I was quilting-in-the-hoop, I had to hoop each diamond separately as well as change the thread for each diamond. I was able to use the same variegated thread for several diamonds but to make sure the backing remained flat I started in the middle – that meant I couldn’t quilt every similar coloured block one after the other because they were distributed throughout the quilt top and I needed to work my way from centre to edge making sure the backing was taut with each hooping.

Once I had all the diamonds quilted I resumed stitching-in-the-ditch which now was straight forward.

I finished the quilt (final size: 48″ x 64 1/2″) with a hidden binding because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the diamonds at the edge of the piece.

Diamonds II – Quilt Back

Added a hidden binding and a label and the quilt is finished.

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)….