Escher Quilt – 4

I just finished the first column pair using all 16 triangles (twice):

I will end up with an almost square quilt top – 48 wide x ~ 52 long. I can’t add more elements to lengthen each column because I’ve run out of some of the fabrics. So this is it. I could change the width/length ratio by assembling just 7 columns instead of 8; that’s a possibility – and then add a dark 3 1/2″ border to extend the size. I’ll make that decision after I have the 128 triangles sewn together.

I’m more pleased than I thought I would be – the Escher illusion works better than I expected it to, given I wasn’t completely lucky with my fabric colour placement – but the interwoven branching columns stand out clearly.

So, just carry on.

Escher Quilt – 3

I just finished the last set of the 16 triangles for this quilt top. The connections now all work – after taking apart four block sets yesterday and rebuilding them clockwise this morning!

IMG_ 0764
16 Sets of Completed Triangles

It’s hard to tell from the photo how the connections flow (I just realized looking at the photo closely, that I will have to redo that final set on the top left – it’s going counterclockwise! #$^%!)

I was expecting the triangles to align in a single long strip, but instead the connections form a double set of four pairs which will repeat twice to form the strip – the fabrics at the top matching the ones at the bottom.

I’m now seeing some significant differences with what I was trying to do and what I now have. The original Escher Quilt by Chris Weinhold, uses Kaffe Fassett small prints – my fabrics are mostly large scale prints – makes a difference – the small scale prints show the matching better. Also, while I’ve figured out the blocks and how they go together, I didn’t take into account the actual colour flow well enough. We’ll see how this all looks once I’ve sewn the top together but the illusion may not work as well as I expected it to.

Now it’s just a matter of sewing triangles together in columns, then sewing the columns together.

I’ll start that tomorrow – AFTER I take apart the last triangle and remake it!

I was being So careful!

As I worked away at the triangle blocks for the Escher quilt I ran into a snag – I could line up the first few blocks but then I had trouble finding the next in the series. I’m pretty sure my numbers will work – but I certainly had a problem somewhere.

I could align the dark circle fabric from the first to the second triangle, I could also align the join with the yellow fabric on the right (the 2nd and 3rd stack), and even match up the red fabric above that on the left, but I reached an impasse after the 5th block! The next matching block took me back to stack A at the bottom – which it shouldn’t have done. The stacks should line up in a continuous line – all 16 of them.

Stacks Of Stitched Blocks

I finally figured out, after spending a large part of the morning pouring over pictures of the Escher quilt and checking that I’d set up the stacks according to the table I’d been able to create from what another quilter had posted, that the third set of blocks from the bottom was pieced counterclockwise instead of clockwise!

It turns out that four of the five finished stacks of triangles which build with the triangle on the right were sewn together counterclockwise – light strip attached to triangle, medium strip to that seam, dark strip to the remaining side – NOPE – should have been light attached to triangle, DARK next, and finally the medium – to give a clockwise rotation.

quilting blocks
Two (of 4) Stacks Taken Apart Ready to Redo!

Out came my seam ripper. I disassembled four sets of (8) triangles; I restitched one. I’ll get to the remaining three tomorrow. I have my fingers crossed the numbers in the table I generated from photos are correct, and once I’ve resewn those three sets of triangles with the correct rotation, the remaining unsewn blocks (6) will align correctly once I’ve assesmbled them.

Here’s hoping!

The Escher Quilt 2

Yesterday I organized my fabric into eight sets of three groupings – light, medium, dark. I cut 2″ strips from each and cut the trapezoid shapes (16 from each fabric) plus the small dark triangles for the centre of the block. (In a couple of blocks I ran out of fabric and had to fill in a couple of trapezoids with as close a colour match as I could – it will be interesting to see where they show up in the layout).

Fabric Cut Into Trapezoids

Next step was to group these trapezoids into groups of three for each block (a dark, a medium, a light). Before I did that I spent quite a bit of time looking at photos of the the quilt in progress which I found online in order to sort out the groupings. Then I set up the blocks – two sets – one which starts with the triangle on the right side of the light piece; the other with the triangle on the left side of the light piece.

Pieces For Each Block Gathered

These are the blocks with the triangle on the right. There is a complementary set with the triangle on the left.

In the afternoon I stitched block “A”, then block “B” and placed them together so the dark fabric forms the wide 120° angle – the two triangles at the bottom of the stack below. I also did the “C” stack but that triangle fits in somewhere else.

Stacks Of Stitched Blocks

The next triangle needed to join the light vertical on the “B” block turned out to be block “M” followed by “L”, then “K”.

To see how this array would look like sewn together I stitched one of each together.

Start Of Column 1

You can’t really see the optical illusion yet – I need to construct the second column and join it to column #1. At the moment I’ll continue constructing all the blocks then lay out the first column (it uses all 16 triangle blocks). I don’t yet know where the second column actually begins – the order of the blocks will be the same, but it will start at another place and until I get all the blocks stitched, I’m not going to know where column #2 begins.

In any case, I’ve set up a chart showing the fabrics in each triangle block – there are no duplicates, but the linkages become apparent. It will be a matter of just laying out the matching pieces to create the structure of the interlocked elements.

Now, it’s just a matter of carrying on with block construction. I’ve got six block sets done – that leaves a dozen to go and then I can set up the columns….

Next Quilt – The “Escher” Quilt

After I had the third diamond quilt underway I came across what’s called the “Escher” Quilt.

There are a lot of examples of this quilt online – I don’t know who developed the idea originally. The assembly creates the illusion of impossible interlocked elements. The quilter who’s photo I’ve shown below (whom I know only as “chiquitatarita”) posted photos of her quilt top in progress (she’d bought a kit using Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics)- here she had two columns assembled where you can see the construction clearly. I even have quite a few of those particular fabrics!

I could make this simple and enrol in a class or I could buy a kit (which includes fabric, a pattern and instructions), but I decided to try on my own to see what I can construct using a relatively simple block.

Next I came across another blogger who also described how she worked with the kit she’d bought:

First we made a chart, and laid out all the fabrics, from one to eight down, and L/M/D across.  After cutting, we needed to then pair up the pieces according to the chart.  Each piece has a light, a medium, and a dark bar, but they’re different depending upon their relative location in the row.

This helps me figure out how to go through my fabrics and set up an 8 x 3 array as Sue describes above.

So I set out to create the basic block – it took several attempts to establish a size for the block using paper and pencil. Then I cut out bits of fabric to see if my calculations worked – they didn’t – not at first. However, I did finally manage to work out a reasonable size block which went together pretty well.

Triangle Unit
Triangle Unit 1

This block is one of a pair – the second one assembles in the opposite direction which lets you put the triangles together to form a connected “diamond” where the same fabric abuts to form a wide angle – you can see two in the photo below – one in brown, the second in green (I’m just working with scraps to see if I could set up a couple of blocks):

Three Triangle Units Sewn Together
Three Triangle Units Sewn Together

The precision issues won’t be with my cutting – I now have the dimensions I know will work. It’s my sewing that will create issues – I will have to be extremely careful to sew a “scant” 1/4″ seam. When I attach the triangle to the first trapezoid I need to stitch a partial seam – which is completed when I add the third trapezoid. Then I need to carefully press each resulting triangle so the centre triangle seams are pressed outward. Finally, I will need to press the block-joining seams open, so the assembly will lay flat. I also have to remember to create my blocks in pairs – one block having the small triangle at the left of the first trapezoid, the second having it at the right end!

Now it’s time to go through my fabrics – I want 24 – set up in eight sets of Light, Medium, and Dark. I don’t have complete colour ways sets of three but I’m sure I have enough variety in my collection of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics to make something that will work.

Diamonds III – Completed

Finished the quilt yesterday – at least for the moment I’m considering the quilt done. I’m still contemplating quilting the seams in the ditch but pressing has flattened the 6-point joins reasonably well – I may leave well enough alone.

Diamonds III - Finished Top
Diamonds III – Finished Top

Finished size: 47″ x 66″.

It’s hard to see in the photo but I finished with a 1/4″ binding using what scraps I could scrounge from the backing cut-offs (it was close – I have nothing left over!). In this case I stitched the binding to the front, hand stitched on the back (I usually stitch a binding to the back, fold over, and use a decorative stitch on the front). Stitching to the front with this quilt made sure I had an even 1/4″ dark edge to the quilt top.

Diamonds III - Finished Back
Diamonds III – Finished Back

This is the seventh quilt finished since last August – I have time to work on one more for the showing in Parrsboro, scheduled to happen through July this summer. I have more than enough of the Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric to work with – no point in saving it because I have more KFC fabric ordered to arrive sometime in June.

I signed up for the July/August “Kaffe Quilt Along – Gathering No Moss” online workshop being offered through Hyggeligt Fabrics in St. Mary’s ON. It was the colour of the blue collection that caught my eye. I don’t expect I will construct the suggest quilt – if I do work on that quilt block, I won’t make it using just those fabrics – the blues need some kind of an accent to liven the array. I registered because I’m interested in seeing what Fassett has to say about choosing colour and planning layout.

I knew of Kaffe Fassett’s work through his knitting books and even tried a couple of his sweaters – first time I tried intarsia knitting (not my favourite kind of knitting – too fiddly).

From Fassett’s 1985 book “Glorious Knitting”

Then I as a novice quilter I came across the You Tube videos of his Tampa weekend workshop Oct 17/18 2008.

I watched all three sessions and learned a lot about colour flow. (Here is another video where he discusses colour.)

Over the next year or two I did a series of quilts with batiks (as well as large scale print fabrics) using what I’d picked up from watching the workshop videos. So I’m curious to see what he will have to say this time as people work through four different colour arrangements of the designated quilt.

Diamonds III – Diamonds Quilted

I just finished quilting all ~135 diamonds (I haven’t actually counted them). It took me four days to stitch/embroider all the diamonds – somewhere in the vicinity of 16 hours.

Yesterday I learned two new things.

First – I use the Precise Positioning feature on my Pfaff Icon embroidery machine – however, in all these years I’ve been quilting my quilts I’ve used the left/right up/down feature but except when I was learning what Precise Positioning could do, I have never used the rotate feature! This set of diamonds and positioning a design within each block required I also rotate the design slightly to make sure the end of the design finished in the right position.

Second – When I’m quilting, I bring the bottom thread to the top before I start stitching. Sometimes when the machine starts the top thread gets pulled beneath the quilt sandwich, often leaving a bit of a bird’s nest below. Yesterday, I found out why that was happening! I discovered when I bring the bottom thread to the top, I have to make sure the needle position is rotated past the highest point. If I’m careful about that, my top thread stays where it is.

Diamonds III - Quilted
Diamonds III – Quilted

There are lots of things you can’t tell from the photo which looks a lot busier than the quilt does “in person”. You can’t see that I change thread for each block to minimize the impact of the quilting. You can’t see that I’ve embedded all thread ends from the start and stop of each embroidery. You do see the overall effect of the precise positioning of each quilting embroidery.

I still have the edge half-diamonds at the top and bottom to quilt, as well as the triangles along each side. I’ll get to that tomorrow; it won’t take long. Then, as I did on the Diamonds II quilt, I will stitch in the ditch over the entire quilt to give definition to each diamond/cube.

Still lots of work to do here.

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.

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.


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.