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 III – The Mess

In case you harbour any illusions that I work in a tidy way – I wish to share the chaos on my cutting table!

Creating a textile wall art piece is an exercise in mess! It may start out looking orderly, but it quickly degenerates into piles of tiny scraps of fabric scattered everywhere; some so small I need fine tweezers to pick them up and place them.

The Mess!

Step 1 is to guesstimate the size of the piece of fabric (leaving enough for me to trim my way to the shape I intend), then Step 2 is adding fusible web to the back. I use a silicon sheet when pressing to be sure I’m not sticking fusible web to my ironing board.

Step 3 – I cut out whatever small shape I need and carefully place it on the background (which is already fused to the muslin base). Sometimes to get a shape, I cut that element from the paper printout of the scene – that’s what I’ve done with Ruby – I’m using my paper cutout to help me position all the other elements. Ultimately, I’m going to print the Ruby enlargement (~115%) on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of prepared fabric (for her to fit the size of this piece I’ve had to crop and enlarge various parts of the photo to get the overall magnification right).

After establishing a position for my horizon, I work from distant background to foreground – carefully layering the bits of fabric and pressing the cutouts into place, waiting for them to cool before adding the next bit. At this point, I’m also trying to visualize where I’ll be thread-painting to build texture and detail to the scene – in the case of the mud flat at low tide, the brown bits of fabric will be stitched with light blue thread, the water will be stitched with brown thread to blur the boundaries of water and mud.

I just thought you’d find the mess I work with interesting. I use both course and fine permanent markers to adjust colour, sometimes I’m even able to cut bits from previous projects printed on fabric sheets to provide a bit of added detail. I was looking at the rocky beach from a fabric print-out of Black Rock Beach but the pebbles are too large to be useful for the gravel path in front of the bench at Five Islands Park. I will use a bit of Stonehenge fabric and thread-paint it to get the effect I want.

Now to do more on this project….

Diamonds – 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 – Updating

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 – Laid Out

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.

Comet Quilt – Completed

Finally finished. Yesterday I attached the hidden binding (mitring the corners) and hand stitched it to the back.

Comet Quilt - Top

Comet Quilt – Top

I’m happy with the colour flow from top left to bottom right. The bronze “sparkle” in the background fabric shows nicely, as well – I didn’t see that as a possibility when I ordered the fabric. There’s also a blue speckle which is brought out by the medium blue shades in the brighter blocks.

The back turned out nicely, as well.  I was able to incorporate the single pink triangle there. In the photo, the blocks look darker than they are – that’s because in a brighter light (it’s a dark cloudy day today – a large snowstorm is forecast to start around noon) the bronze sparkle in the blocks from the background fabric do show.

Just about every scrap of fabric I had leftover from the front got used in that strip. I was lucky to be able to complete the 125 blocks I needed for the stripe.

When I was making the quilt back  made sure I’d have enough fabric from the offcuts to be able to make the hidden binding. I like how the elements of the back come to the edge of the quilt that way rather than being interrupted by a conventional binding.

Comet Quilt – Back

This morning I pulled out two complementary jellyroll packages from the stash. Now I have to figure out some way to use them in a quilt. That’s my next project.

Comet Quilt – V

Here is the quilt top – finished – borders in place. Final size ~ 50″ x 70″ (I’ll measure it when it’s finished).

Quilt Top – Completed

It has taken a lot of fiddling, and looking at the photograph I can see spots where I could make more block swaps – but this is it. No more replacing blocks – I’ve done enough. I’m prepared to live with this outcome. Besides, the quilting will integrate the blocks; I will use some kind of variegated thread that both blends but contrasts with the fabrics.

Leftovers from remade blocks

I realized quite early on the bright blue blocks were going to be too bright so I remade almost all of them, substituting darker fabrics, particularly in the upper right quadrant. I haven’t counted them – I don’t want to know how much extra work I actually did. I’m happy with the reconstructed blocks, I was able to make enough to distribute throughout the panels surrounding the central panel.

I was keeping one eye on the Moda quilt pattern as I worked and that was a mistake – I thought it would make the process simpler (give me an idea about how many blocks to make, what pairings to set up) – it made it more difficult. Because I wasn’t using the suggested fabrics I had to reconsider and rework selections/pairings I’d made even after large sections were stitched. The quilt pattern uses large blocks in the outer regions – those elements turned out to be difficult to incorporate and keep the whole flat – I would have been better off to have constructed the quilt from 3 1/2″ blocks throughout. Next time I attempt something freeform like this, I will put the stimulus photo away and work from scratch basing decisions on the fabrics and the colour movement I want to achieve.

Now onto the back – I have absolutely no idea what to do with that. I think I’ll take the top to the fabric shop to see what I can find. I know, without looking, I have nothing in my stash that will suit the quilt top.

Comet Quilt – IV

Comet Quilt – More sections added

It’s a dull day today, hard to get a good photo without more daylight, but this image does give a sense of how this quilt is building out.

I added a row at the top and along the left side, a panel across the bottom and another (built from two smaller panels) to the right. Along the way, I found myself taking bits apart and changing out blocks to better the colour movement down and to the right.

The next section is a panel, constructed from segments of the background with just a few HST dotted here and there. This panel will extend the length of the whole by about a foot giving a good throw quilt size.

The final borders are constructed from background fabric – and I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough. With a bit of luck the yard I bought online the other day will arrive soon.

Comet Quilt – III

Central Panel – Done!

There it is. I’ve just finished assembling the central panel.

It took a careful, precise pairing of blocks in rows, making sure I pressed the seams in an appropriate direction so I could juxtapose the blocks when stitching the rows. Not a task for the disorganized. Fortunately I’d taken lots of photos of the arrangement on the floor so I could refer to them as I was painstakingly sewing these blocks together.

I’m happy with this layout – I got rid of a lot of the “squareness” in the pattern and what’s left will be dulled when I add the darker bordering elements which are all much darker.

I also managed to align the points pretty well (not perfectly – I can see a few small irregularities) – even another quilter would have to have an eagle eye to spot them.

So, tomorrow – since there is no aquafit (the pool is closed for the next 10 days – probably longer – COVID-19 precautions, right? We’re all working hard here in NS to keep the lid on the virus – we’re getting spread but so far it’s not escalating exponentially…). I have NOTHING else on my calendar. I’ll be able to get up and get to work on the next set of bordering panels.

[BTW: The pink bit in the lower right corner is a post-it note saying “Bottom Right” so I had a reference point to keep me oriented as I was assembling the panel (I built up the panel starting at the bottom rows simply because I could reach them more easily without having to worry about inadvertently shifting blocks).]

[BTW 2: Yesterday I bought some of the striped fabrics specified in the original quilt pattern – I’m thinking it might be interesting to try this quilt again as a “postage stamp” quilt ending up with 1 1/2″ blocks. That’ll be a challenge because the HST will be very small – same number of blocks, however. I think those striped fabrics were an interesting aspect of the original design and I want to see if I can make them work without following the pattern!]