Diamonds IV – Time To Quit!

We had a snow storm yesterday – a good day for sewing. I managed to get half of the diamond blocks assembled but then I faced reality – if I aligned the left side and the top square on my cutting board I had a seriously wobbly diagonal that can’t be repaired easily! I’ll explain….

Half Of The Top Panel Assembled

I worked hard at getting precise diamond points and I was successful to a great extent. Laid out on batting the slight irregularities in the diamonds would smooth out as the cotton adhered to the batting.

Closeup Of The Diamonds

However the diagonal edge is about 2 1/2″ – 3″ too long!

The Problem With The Diagonal

I could take the whole assembled panel apart and try shaving small amounts from each diamond but then aligning the points would be very difficult.

Wobbly Diagonal

Even with the “dart” the further diagonal edge is still wobbly.

Second Side Of Panel Started

You can see how the wobble is beginning here on the second side – the problem at this point seems limited to the edge triangles but I suspect were I to replace those elements and continue adding rows I’d find the problem with the diagonal developing as the diagonal gets longer.

This has not been my favourite project – it’s been a fight from the beginning. I think it’s time to call it quits. That means actually throwing out the whole thing, not keeping it around as a U(n) F(finished) O(object). Just forget it.

I was thinking about axing the project at 6:00 am after I’d rolled over to register online for an aquafit class next Wednesday and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I was thinking maybe I should just slice the quilt, cut out the fullness, sew a seam across the diamonds, trim the diagonal, then continue working on the second half, maybe do the same thing there if I needed to.

I have a name for the project – “At War With Itself” – I’m doing fine with regard to COVID-19, the mess in the US has had me transfixed for five years. I think this quilt has been a reflection of that angst – my inner harmony seems lost. Do I want to quickly finish the piece with all it’s ugliness? Or should I simply get rid of it and start afresh? I suppose if I’m going to throw it away I might have a go at the splice and see how awful it looks – maybe awful is OK?

Diamonds III

I’d no sooner posted earlier this morning when my friend Deb texted me “Saw your post and have a few brighter fabrics if you want me to bring them up to audition? ”  “Sure, I said.” and within a few minutes Deb was at my door with a small pile of fabrics she thought might fit into my array.

I choose a couple, then went through my stash again, this time not worrying about “Dots” but just looking for fabrics in shades that might work with the diamonds in my layout.

Layout With Edges

I cut out a number of diamonds in bold colours and dropped them into the layout on my floor. Looking at my pile of unused diamonds it’s obvious I’ve removed most of the very pale diamonds and substituted much stronger colours.

While I was rummaging in the stash, I came across a “dots” fabric I thought would be dark enough to blend with the rest so I cut out half diamonds for the sides, top/bottom, and corners. The dots are much further apart but the pattern is soft enough that it isn’t distracting from the main panel, just framing it. I will need more borders but I’ll deal with that when I have this all assembled (I may have just enough of the dots left for a narrow border and I will add a narrow turquoise border I think; what else, I’m not sure yet).

My layout is complete. I can tell by looking at the photo I should still move a few diamonds but I’m now reasonably happy with what I have.

Assembly Beginning

I began assembling diamonds starting in what will become the bottom right corner (or upper left – I’ll see later which way I think the quilt will work best).

I’ll carry on with setting up the diagonal rows and attaching them to one another – painstaking work, because I want the points to align – that takes careful pinning at the joins before I sew. However, I’ve managed to align the points in these two rows reasonably well, hoping to be able to continue as I go along.

What I’ve realized is my decision to use the tiny dots jellyroll for this diamond project was a problem from the start – the strips were too narrow to make diamonds themselves and stitching them together set up conflicts I wasn’t able to resolve. That kept me stuck, not knowing how to move ahead. Stepping away from the lighter diamonds and deciding to use stronger colours freed me to explore my stash and consider other possibilities.

Diamonds II

I finished sewing the strip pairs, then cut out the diamonds and when I laid them out this is what I had – definitely DULL!

First Layout

I do believe even if I had set up the strip pairs differently my outcome would have been the same – too many lights and darks and very few medium. The colour differences turned out to be much too subtle to allow me to do anything more with them.

Possible Substitutes

I felt I needed to add more colour – I grabbed some Grunge fabrics and some Fossil Fern to brighten the layout…

Definitely Brighter

I found myself removing the light diamonds and substituting the other fabrics – this is my layout for the moment. From here, I need to pick up the diagonal rows, and press all the pieces before sewing those rows together. I should also add another row to the bottom so that my row ends with full diamonds on the two bottom corners (at the moment I’m place holding with half diamonds – I have enough light diamonds that I pulled out to move pieces around and reinsert 10 diamonds. That will allow me half diamonds on all the edges with the corners being the ones belonging to the set.

The other question I’m pondering is whether to try finding another fabric in a very different colour for a central focus – I don’t have one at this point. I’d intended the turquoise to be my focal colour but with all the other colours now added that’s not happening. I could make one large turquoise diamond but I think it would overpower the rest, particularly since there aren’t clusters of very small diamonds in the array (which I really don’t want to do) to offset the ones I have.

I also ave no idea what fabric to use for the border half diamonds! Should it blend? Should it contrast? I have lots of turquoise Grunge – my original thoughts were to use that for the bordering, but now I’m not so sure. I may have to shop for a dark dots fabric that will blend with what I have; pretty sure I don’t want anything too bright.

I’ll simply carry on for now, pressing and assembling the diagonal rows….

Diamonds – Finally…

After weeks of walking around these forty 2 1/2″ fabric strips, I finally managed to get started.

Remember, I’m trying to create a quilt based on diamonds, from a jellyroll of 2 1/2″ strips.  I came up with a way of combining strips to end up with a reasonable size diamond and a possibly pleasing colour flow.

I paired up strips close in colour, then sewed three pairs along one edge. I stopped to create a diamond template based on the 4 1/2″ width (twice as tall as wide) using a file folder (for stiffness) and cut out three diamonds from the sewn dark pair, which left me with six half diamonds from the off-cuts. I laid the diamonds out on the two other uncut strips to see how the this would look.

Dark Diamonds On Uncut Strips

I could immediately see that if I stitched the second side of each pair, when I cut out a diamond, the off-cut would also be a stitched diamond (same size) that I could open and press rather than trying to sew two half diamonds (which is difficult!). So I sewed the second side of the medium and light pairs and cut them into diamonds:

Diamonds From Three Strip Pairs

The contrast between the light/medium/dark was stark so I introduced the turquoise Grunge fabric I was intending to use as a contrast – as half diamonds and as a full diamond (If I decide to use full diamonds in turquoise I will cut them as diamonds, not as half-diamonds).

Before sewing more strip pairs together I made a better template using quilting template plastic, backed it with file folder cardboard, marked the seam line along one edge as a reference and included the end cuts so I don’t have to cut a gazillion dog-ears from the diamonds after I’ve cut them all.

I stitched two more pairs, this time on both sides of the strips, cut them into diamonds and added them to the array.

Now you can start to see how I might be able to work on colour flow since the remaining 14 pairs are an array of light/medium/dark hues.

Jellyroll Collection

It’ll be interesting to see how much colour flow I can actually manage from this collection of fabrics – I won’t know until I’ve stitched all the remaining pairs, cut out the diamonds and start laying them on the floor (I don’t have a design wall – I don’t have a spare wall in my apartment studio to accommodate one).

Let you know how it goes once I’ve got a layout.