Diamonds Quilt Top – Nearly There

This is as far as I’ve got – I’ve sewn all the diamonds together and the resulting panel isn’t half bad! I sashed it with a 1/2″ turquoise strip and widened the panel with a 5 1/2″ strip which includes three diamonds on point – I’m not sure I have those diamonds positioned right – I have a feeling I should bring them closer to the bottom of the panel by about 3″. If I do that, I will have to extend the other end – which means another seam in that strip.

I aiming for a finished size of ~ 48″ x 64″.

Quilt Top – Nearly There

To achieve that I need three 3 1/4″ border strips – one each on top and bottom and one on the right side.

The question is whether I want to use the dotted dark blue fabric I’ve used on the dark side of the panel for the remaining three borders, or whether I want to piece it to reflect the changing colour of the panel – that’s the question. If I piece the border, I will make mitre joins to carry on the flow of the diamonds; those joins need to be at the same 45° angle as the diamonds.

I now need to dig through my fabric stash to see what I have that could work as a border.

Gettin’ There

I’m doing better than I feared I would. I now have the panel to a point where I the top edge (at the bottom of the photo) is completed (it measures 39″ in width).

Panel Partially Assembled

I can see from the photo I should have discarded ALL the original diamonds constructed from the jellyroll strips. When the panel is completed they’re not going to stick out because they’re mostly clustered in the dark upper corner but I’m aware of them and see the vertical lines they add. When the panel is quilted they will be obscured further (but I will know they are there).

I have the bottom left corner compiled leaving one section remaining to be assembled and inserted.

One Strip Still To Do

I’ve picked up all the remaining diamonds from the floor in order of stitching. I’ll sew them over the next day or two.

Diamonds Laid Out For Sewing

I’ve changed my construction method: instead of doing a single diagonal row at a time, I’m finding I get a more stable strip if I put together three diamonds at a time which is how I’ve laid them out, then stitch each short row and add it to the growing strip. This approach seems to keep the bias edges from losing shape better.

As the closeup below shows, I’m getting the points to align pretty closely and when I draped the panel across the cutting table the diamonds lay quite a bit flatter which means when I place the panel on batting and hoop each section the diamonds will be taut when I quilt them!

Detail Showing Alignment Of The Points

I’m feeling more confident about the outcome as the panel gets closer to being finished. There is no way the edges are going to be square – I am going to have to trim all four sides which means the diamonds at the edges are not going to be complete, but on the other hand the panel will be reasonably flat.

I am considering a narrow (3/8 – 1/2″) turquoise inner sashing/binding to mark the outer limit of the panel, then I’m not sure what will happen with the outer border. The top width at this point is ~39″ – about 3″ narrower than I was hoping for. I could piece a narrowish sashing for each side or I could offset the panel within a backing as I did on the Charm Quilt I made a year ago February – now there’s a thought….

I bought backing fabric the other day, now I have to round up all my scraps to see what I can make from them to extend the width of the backing.

The Fight Is On…

Now I’m fighting the panel. I was so careful when I cut the diamonds – they really are all the same size with 45° and 135° angles at the corners. I’ve been so careful about sewing 1/4″ seams and getting the points to align – and I’m close, but the panel isn’t quite cooperating!

Shaping The Evolving Panel

I’ve taped the side and top edges to my cutting board so those two sides are square. I’ve set up the diagonal straight. However there’s now a slight buckle along the diagonal edge which gets worse with each additional row. So I’ve sprayed the hell out of the diagonal edge, laid rulers on top of the fabric, and now I will let it dry thoroughly. Tomorrow I’ll steam that edge before adding more rows.

I’ve reached the bottom right corner – that’s the length of the panel (at the top left of the photo); there are another five rows to reach the second top corner which will be on the right (that’s the width of the piece). I’m ending up with a length of 58″; I expect the finished width will be close to 42″. the proportions of the panel are not too bad – close to  6 x 9. That means a 3″ border around the panel will give me a final size of approximately 48″ x 64″.

In the meantime, I’m struggling to maintain a square piece that lays flat! It’s probably time to start at the opposite corner and begin building toward this diagonal. That will leave four diagonal rows between the two corners to be fit between. That’s probably a better plan than trying to continue building out from the section I have completed.

This afternoon I was able to keep the two diagonal rows I worked on straight. The problem I ran into was with the slight diagonal fullness in the corner segment I joined them to – adding two more rows just increased the misalignment, which is why I’m trying to “flatten” the diagonal. I know I can incorporate a bit of play when I lay the panel on batting – I can pin out some of the fullness to make it less obvious. Nevertheless, I do want my corners to be square. That’s what I’m fighting to achieve right now.

——–

It’s evening and the panel has dried – the top right corner is square; the diagonal is straight (the whole panel needs a good steam pressing)

From The Bottom Right Corner

Doin’ OK!

So far, I’m doing fine! You can see I’m managing to retain the corner right angle – the diagonal is remaining flat and the points are aligning as they should!

Five Rows…

I’ve had to redo a couple of the rows because the points were slightly out of alignment but the last row worked out correctly on the first go! Maybe I’ve begun to get the hang of how to position and pin the diamond joins so the points position precisely. Unlike the previous attempt when I ended up with a mess.

Wobbly Diagonal

Diamonds Quilt – Further Along

Just about there. I’ve spent the past day and a half moving diamonds around, then moving them some more. When I was more or less happy with the layout, I had to make a decision about how to border the piece.

My original thought was to make a uniform half-diamonds border with the dotted dark teal fabric I had planned on using with the original layout,

Border-1

but I wasn’t happy with how the dark edge cut off the colour flow. I positioned the half-diamonds on the darker side:

Border-2

The dotted dark teal blended much better both along that side and the top. I thought about trying to find a single fabric to border the rest but the colour variation is too great (from darker magenta pale blue/turquoise) – I decided to create border elements to extend the colour flow to the edge:

Just About There!

I am much happier with how this feels. I might be just about ready to start sewing the diagonal rows.

There are 215 pieces in this quilt top; I didn’t count as I was cutting – I must have used 90+ different fabrics, two diamonds for most of them, but I used a few fabrics three times and a few other just once. There’s huge colour variation in each diamond – I’ve positioned those with the highest contrast in strategic positions as I try to move the eye around. The photos don’t do justice to the vibrant colour I now have.

This is a very different piece from the original concept:

Layout With Borders

The challenge still remains: will I be able to sew these diamonds together and still have the panel stay flat!

I’m ready to start sewing….

Diamonds Quilt – Reimagined

Here I am back again. I began with the unused diamonds leftover from my first attempt and recut them – this time making sure I had a 45° angle at the top/bottom apex. The length of the diamonds remained 8 1/2″, the width, however narrowed to 3 1/2″. That gave me 76 diamonds – I needed at least 150 in total, so I had to cut another ~75+ diamonds (turns out I actually needed 173).

I went to my stash – I collected a pile of batiks – more gold, added magenta, and a variety of pale blue, turquoise, and purple fabrics. I also looked through my scrap boxes to scrounge what I could.

I spent the morning cutting diamonds until I had enough. Here they are laid out on the floor:

Diamonds – Restart!

I was aiming for a colour flow from dark in the upper left to light in the bottom right. Now comes the moving around to balance the colour better. With all 173 diamonds laid out I can see what I have and can improve on the flow and establish a couple of accent blocks in strategic spots.

Yesterday I picked up another metre of the “inner border” fabric from which I will cut half diamonds to fill in the outer edges. I may then add a second narrow border in that same fabric (say 1″ or 1 1/2″). I’m sure that won’t be enough for a good sized lap quilt/throw. I will need another outer border but I don’t know what that is at this point or how wide it should be. I have to get these rows sewn together with the end half-triangles; then I can start auditioning fabrics for an outer border. And the quilt back? Not thinking about that yet.

If you look closely you will see what remains of the original half-triangle diamonds from the jelly roll; I wasn’t able to use a lot of them because they weren’t long enough – my original cutting was at issue. This time, however, I tried being very precise – so fingers crossed this version will lay flat after I’ve stitched it together.

I plan on cutting up the previous constructed half panel (where the points matched perfectly) to make a couple of zippered bags!

At Five Islands – Completed

I finally finished the wall art piece yesterday. It took some time to do the careful hand stitching – to tack down the mitred corners, and the hidden binding and hanging sleeve on the back of the piece. It’s now done.

At Five Islands – Completed

The piece turned out to be a bit smaller than I was originally thinking about it: 21.5″ x 18.5″ – but it’s still a good size. Now to find a place to hang it in my place until it goes into the Art Labs exhibition during the summer.

It’s hard to tell from the photo that the grunge blue framing strengthens the blues of the sky and water and brings out the greens of the bank in front of Ruby. If you click on the photo you’ll be able to see the thread painting more clearly.

So this project is now completed. On to something else. Yesterday I brought out the bag with the diamonds pieces and put it on my cutting board. I want to see if I can salvage that project in some way before scrapping it permanently and moving on to something else. I still need to make two more quilts and some other small pieces before July – there’s time, I’m not panicked and if I don’t make my goal, I do have a closet full of finished quilts I can bring back for the show. I’d just like to get more new projects in the works.

Finally Making Headway

I finally started stitching this piece yesterday. I filled in the sky and worked on the mud flat with blues/greys and brown/rusts (to really see what I’ve done, click on the image).

Under Construction

Today I worked on the land in the distance (still have the headland to work on). Then started in on the vegetation on the bank. First I had to modify some elaborate floral stitches on my machine to get the feel of the taller plants on the edge, next the long dried grass; after that the shorter dried grass next to the gravel (which I haven’t done anything to yet).

I’ve begun stitching the dark lines on the sun-bleached bench; I still have more to do there – just not sure which elements to try bringing out.

The gravel will present a bit of a challenge – I’ll probably use wandering straight stitching with a mixture of lighter and darker thread.

The most difficult element will be Ruby herself – I want to bring in the construction elements of her jacket – cuffs, the yoke and pockets, the collar. I think I’m just going to outline her hair, her face, and her hand, and leave the fine facial detail alone!

Maybe a bit more later this afternoon; if not, I’ll work on the piece again tomorrow.

What’s sticking out in the photo is my attempt to bring a bit of grey cloud to the upper right corner of the piece. I’m seriously thinking about taking out the grey thread and replacing it with the paler blue I used for the rest of the sky. The darker stitching seems a distraction. Retracing the stitching will have to be done v-e-r-y slowly so I can reuse the needle holes from the stitching I’ve taken out! Fingers crossed that it’s doable.

Grey Thread Removed From Sky

I did it – took out the grey stitching in the sky. Looks better. Check on the closeup (click on the image) and you’ll see the needle holes I now have to use as I stitch with lighter blue thread!

Yet More Socks

I finished this pair of socks a couple of evenings ago. I was using a second ball of this Opal yarn but this time I used turquoise as my accent colour rather than the navy I used in a previous pair.

Turquoise & Mauve

I was intending to keep this pair but for now it’s in the “give-away” pile. My sock drawer is full and unwashed these socks are a bit long in the foot for me even though I knit them with the same number of rows in the foot I always use. I may wash them to see how much they’ll tighten. If they firm up a bit smaller they may make it to my sock drawer.

As soon as I finished this pair, I set up the next using a synthetic lightweight sock yarn I bought at Michael’s a month or so ago. My friend Heather can’t wear wool so I’m trying this synthetic blend of viscose (from bamboo), acrylic, polyester to see if it works for her. I’m not liking how it knits – the fibre doesn’t have the same grip on the needles that wool does – I’m finding my hands tire when knitting with it. However, the pattern is a pretty one – I know the socks will look fine when they’re finished.

 

At Five Islands IV

I wasn’t going to work on the Five Islands piece today but after lunch I found myself at the cutting table tidying up and before I knew it, I was picking up the small scraps of fabric and adding fusible web to each piece, then cutting them into shapes, next fusing them in place. And of course the next step was to peel the plastic backing from the photo printed on fabric, adding fusible web, fussy cutting out Ruby and the bench and pressing them into place.

Appliqué Assembled

I moved on to selecting thread to use for the thread painting. While I was at it, I added a tiny bit of darkening to the sky with fabric pastels and pressing it to set the colours into the fabric. I might add a bit more grey in the upper right corner of the sky but not until I’ve done a bit of stitching, first.

Selecting Thread

The next step is always the challenging moment – up to this point I can always remove a bit of fabric and try something else, but once I start stitching, the fabric selection is set. In addition, I really only get one go at the stitching because after I’ve picked out the thread there are needle holes (subtle but nevertheless visible). So, it’s take a deep breath and gently hit the foot pedal.

I want to do a lot of thread painting on the mud flats – browns into the blue fabric, blues/greys into the browns to obscure the fabric edges (If I can). Actually, I’ll start with the sky and work my way down to the bottom of the piece, including quite a bit on the bench and the gravel it’s sitting on to blend the two together a bit more.

The last element will be a signature in the bottom left corner in a soft blue/grey so it can be seen but doesn’t jump out – that addition always scares me because I can end up ruining the piece after I’ve put in a lot of work. So far I’ve had no disasters signing a piece but you just never know when the embroidery machine won’t quite cooperate!

Tomorrow I have a “Quilting In The Hoop” class at Sew With Vision (a Pfaff/Husqvarna dealership nearby) for most of the day. However, my calendar is completely free Thursday….