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.

Diamonds Quilt – Completed At Last

I never thought I’d actually finish this quilt. When I started back on Jan 1 (that’s when I brought out the first set of batik strips and considered using them to make diamonds) I had something completely different in mind. A month later on Feb 3 that first effort died. I didn’t pick up the project again until Mar 11 – it’s taken me three weeks to reimagine, rebuild, and complete this quilt. The photo doesn’t do the fabrics justice – the colours blend and just pop. The graduated border continues the flow nicely as well.

Quilt Top Finished

I used a ton of small scraps from the diamonds to construct a 12″ wide crazy quilt strip on the back which I sashed with the same turquoise I used to frame the diamonds on the front.

Finished Quilt Back

I used a hidden binding on the quilt – I hand stitched it down last night (using a small leather patch to protect the hole in my third finger).

Detail of Border Quilting

In the end I decided to quilt the borders fairly densely. I created a swirl motif which I used on the narrow border; I widened it for the wide border.

I quilted most of the borders using the same dark blue variegated thread I used on the back of the quilt. However, when I reached the lighter colours, I switched to another which had pale blue values. You can’t really see where I made the transition – I was lucky that I could blend the lightest colour of the dark thread with the darkest colour of the light thread.

Detail of Narrow Border Quilting

Now, if you can believe it – I’m about to tackle another diamonds quilt – this time using my Kaffe Fassett fabric collection. Wild large prints in way-out colours. The diamonds will be larger and there will be fewer of them. What I’m planning at the moment would need 111 diamonds with bordering half elements. I don’t have 111 fabrics but I bet I have between 50 and 60. So the first thing I need to do is count the fabrics and begin planning from there.

Why diamonds, again? Well, I’m reasonably technically proficient with squares, rectangles,, flying geese, drunkards path blocks, etc. I figure I should also be good at diamonds – the only way to get there is to keep working at it.

Diamonds Quilt Top – Finished!

This is the finished diamonds quilt top.

It took me three hours today to build that bottom border – I must have spent an hour searching through boxes to look for bits of fabric large enough and in the colour range I needed. Then each piece had to be cut separately because the triangles at the bottom (inside the turquoise border) are all slightly different sizes. I had to measure and cut each piece, attach it to the previous piece, test the running length, then add the next piece.

Diamonds Quilt Top – Finished!

I’d say the border came out all right! It reflects the colour flow on the top and right side pretty well. The turquoise sashing is perfect – separating but not interfering with the inner panel and the outer border.

I’m happy with the diamonds on the left. They could be lowered another two inches but I’m leaving them where they are. They invite the viewer to look for the turquoise, purple and the yellow. They say “look around, see what you can find here.”

From a disaster I’ve ended up with an interesting piece that I’m willing to put on display in the summer Parrsboro showing.

Now to gather up all the scraps and see what I can construct from them. I have a few diamonds among the bits and pieces but I think I’m going to crazy quilt a wide strip to insert into the back. I’m using the dotted dark blue for the backing and I will sash the strip insertion with the turquoise to offset it from the backing.

It’s interesting how the few original diamonds blend with the overall flow. You have to look hard to find them. I used mostly the darker ones although there are two of the original lighter ones – I have to stand right in front of the panel to actually find them, they blend so well.

I can’t imagine trying to make a quilt like this from a kit – how on earth would the directions make any sense? It’s the problem solving in a project like this that keeps me interesting in creating. I never know how the final product will turn out.

For a long while I thought this diamond project had taken me to a dead end, but after letting the problem percolate for a couple of weeks, I was able to break out of the original box and build something colourful and interesting.

Diamonds Quilt – Outer Border

I started the morning by repositioning the three diamonds in the left wide border 3″ lower – I’m happier with the position although I see I could drop them another 2″ with the bottom border still to be added. I’ll probably leave them as they are.

Then I started scrounging for leftover scraps. I was able to find enough pieces for the top border but I spent a ton of time trying to come up with batiks to work along the right side. Turns out, in order to maintain the diagonal lines I needed scraps at least 16″ long and I don’t have many lighter blue/turquoise batiks to choose from. In the end I managed to set up a gradient that works.

Outer Border – Almost Completed

Now for the bottom border. It’s going to be a challenge….

Bottom Border – Auditioning Fabrics

I have very few scraps left in the right shades large enough to insert. I need one brighter magenta (not sure I have anything in the stash) then two more turquoise/light blue pieces (I need to go through the scrap boxes one more time). These pieces on the bottom end are quite a bit smaller so I might be able to find something.

I see from the photograph I need to angle the bottom border pieces in the same direction as the top so the illusion is maintained of the rows carrying through the panel. My inclination would have been to angle them toward the bottom right corner and they need to be toward the bottom left. Good to have caught that.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to finishing the quilt top.

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 Finished

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 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,


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


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….