Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Diamond Collaboration

As many of you know, Julie is my best friend. We have traded quilts, and made each other quilts, and we inspire each other. We have different ways of working, and we get along very well.  At least once a month we have a long at least one hour long phone chat.

When I posted the tutorial for the Diamond Quilts last week, Julie left this reply:


Now, Julie lives in Tennessee, and I live in New Hampshire, some 1200 miles away. It may be spring at Julie's house, but we had received over 20" of snow the day I wrote that post, and the only blooming daffodils in my area were ones at a florist's.

I thought Julie's suggestion sounded really pretty, and told her so. Nevertheless, two days later as I lay down in bed I thought, "I should make the quilt for Julie. It would be so pretty."  So I sat up, turned on the light and typed a quick email on my phone and sent it off.

"You want a diamond quilt in those springy colors? You buy the fabrics, I'll make the quilt."

Despite the time zone difference, I usually get to bed later than Julie does, so the last thing I expected was to hear my phone ding with a reply.

"Are you serious? I love Jewel Box... How much do you think the fabrics would cost? (Not sure how much you need since you and I are both stash shoppers and we have leftovers."
No kidding do I have a stash and leftovers! I replied immediately:

"...We'd have to discuss the giants and maybe shop together. I may have most of the medium fabrics and most of the tiny brights.... But yeah, I'd love to do that... We'll talk later."
 The next morning I got up, found Julie's comment about the colors she wanted (above) and went to eQuilter and started going through their categories, one at a time, adding fabrics I thought would be good for the giants into my wish list. (because you can share a wish list, but not a shopping cart.) By the time I had worked my way through the whole store I had perhaps 42 fabrics in the cart. I texted Julie and told her to call me when she was ready.

We spent the next hour going through my selections. We needed at least 9 different fabrics, and eventually settled on these 13. You can see there are some with straight lines (the seed packets and the European currency), some florals with sunflowers, poppies, lotus leaves, hydrangeas and irises, at least one wild modern print and a couple of others. We figured out how much I'd need of each, then placed the order. The fabrics arrived at Julie's house yesterday and we are both thrilled with our selections.

Once we had all the fabrics in front of us, we could then focus on the fabric that would be the linchpin of the quilt - the background fabric of the four patch diamonds. Julie pulled some greys and creams and sent me a picture. What about these?

Um. No. Do you have a pale pale green? I asked.

Julie replied that she didn't buy pastels.  OK, we'll go shopping again.

While my dinner heated up in the oven I went to eQuilter and put a few more things in my wishlist, told Julie to transfer them to her cart and then go to the design board to see how they played with each other.

It was immediately clear to both of us that this watery green would do the trick. It didn't overpower any of the big prints, and settled into the background quite nicely. Bright colors next to it would pop, and neither of us think we'll have to worry about a butterfly marching band.    

Once that decision was made I told Julie to go through her stash to find fabrics for the bright tiny diamonds that are the way into this quilt. "Go back to read your comment about what you wanted this quilt to be," I said to Julie.

"You want a SPRING quilt, and those little diamonds need to be SPRING-Y, but not necessarily too dark. Put the ones you think will be good next to the giants, and take your inspiration from those."

But your tiny diamonds shouldn't be too dark, because Spring is all about lightness. Look at the lovely lavenders of that rose, and the green leaves next to the hummingbird,

and those blue forget-me-nots. 

So Julie will look for those in her stash, and then she'll find some fabrics she thinks will work for the medium sized diamonds, then she'll ship the fabrics to me for the next step.       

Julie and I are VERY excited about this quilt. You can read about the next steps on her blog on Monday.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Dairy Cream with Sprinkles!

A couple of weeks ago my Mom made a bid for my pink diamonds quilt, Tickled Pink. I told her that wasn't happening, but that I'd see what I could do.

This quilt got started with the leftover pieces from the Tickled Pink quilt, but as all my quilts do, it took another direction.

I'm calling it Dairy Cream with Sprinkles.

I picked a nice flowery backing for it. (I found it at eQuilter)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Twenty-Eight Quilts

I spoke to the ladies of the Bedford Friendship Quilt Guild yesterday, at their meeting room in the basement of the Bedford Presbytarian Church, pictured above. And if there is a more iconic New England image than a tall white church on a hill, I don't know what it is.

The group had their show and tell first, and the ladies who took the bird class two weeks ago were asked to come to the front of the room and show off their creations. As you can see, Judy, second from the right, has been busy since the class. I think she has made a dozen birds.  One lady in the audience asked "Those are paper-pieced, right?"  I was more than happy to say a resounding "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"

After the guild had their business meeting I gave a trunk show. I brought 28 quilts with me. How much room does 28 quilts take up?

About 8 bags.

When I was getting the talk ready over the weekend I was a bit freaked out that I had ONLY 28 quilts at home, but it turned out to be a good thing, because 28 quilts is a lot of quilts.

I had a grand time, and the group was wonderful. While I answered questions after my talk, guild members folded up all my quilts, packed them in bags, took the quilt stand apart, packed that, and then asked for my keys where they then went out into the parking lot trying to find the car that unlocked when they clicked the remote, and then carefully packed my car for me.

Comments that made my day:

[told to the Program Director and then relayed to me] "I think that was the best speaker we ever had."

"I don't belong to this guild, I'm just a GUEST, but YOU!  YOU are WONDERFUL! I haven't had as much fun in a long time as I had sitting here listening to you talk. Where are you from? [here] Can you come to my guild [a town an hour's drive away] and talk? Oh good!"

"Where did you grow up?" [New Hampshire] A frown. "Really? Because you don't sound like it. I mean, you have such confidence and such personality, I thought you were from New York. I mean that as a compliment." [I took it that way]

"You're still WORKING?" [most of the ladies were retired.] "How do you DO it all?"

"Have you got a tutorial for the letters?" [Um, no.] "Well HURRY UP!" [accompanied by laughter]

Yeah, it was a great morning. I actually didn't mind going to work afterwards.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lies, Lies, Lies!

Remember this quilt? It's Wavelength, the scrap slab quilt I made in January.

Ostensibly, this was the inspiration for the quilt.

That was a lie.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED... was that my brother, the retired guy who lives in his van and spends his winters in Mexico kitesurfing... wanted me to make a quilt [as a surprise] for a woman he wanted to be his girlfriend.

He wanted me to make a quilt based on the colors of her workout clothes - hot pink, purple, teal blue and lime green.  BUT!  I couldn't tell that story because he told the woman about me and my blog, and she followed it for a while. I couldn't tell the real story, or she might figure it out.

So when my pal Julie sent me the picture of her grandson's Winkel toy, I knew I had a plausible substitute.


The other night I got a text message from said brother. "Ha! Well don't ask but it looks like I'll be giving that quilt to someone else."


Now he wants the quilt ASAP so he can give it the new person (who lives in Mexico) and there is a friend who will be driving down to Mexico in a particular date range (I have a week after I pick it up from Janet-Lee, who is quilting it) to get the finished quilt (somewhere) where said friend can get it in time before (she/he?) leaves the US and travels down to Mexico with quilt for the new person.


It's a damn good thing I love my brother!

What a story THIS quilt has! I wonder if he'll ever tell the person he's giving it to?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

And Sew She Goes

Once I have designed a diamonds quilt, I make sure I have a good photograph, and then I start sewing it together using the photo as reference. I work one diagonal row at a time. I sew the mini four patches to the medium sized diamonds to make diamonds as big as the giants.

I like the edges of this quilt to be outside of a row of the tiny colored four patch diamonds, so I have to add fabric to do that. So there is an additional medium sized diamond sewn to one end of those diamonds.

At the bottom of the quilt, I'll trim off the points of these diamonds after it is quilted. I could cut these as triangles, but why bother?

Then it's sew the rows together.

I'll lay the rows out on the floor before I pin them together. It's easier to keep them organized, easier to handle them, and leaving them on the floor helps keep them from stretching.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Oh Lynne, Can you please...

I have now heard it at least five or six times...

"Oh Lynne, can you please write a tutorial for the Diamond Quilts, because I would love to make one."

The mechanics of the quilt are easy. They are 60-degree diamonds

I cut them out using this ruler. And yes, I cut around one end, flipped the ruler over, and cut the last point.

Yes also, the big diamonds are all fussy cut. Like I said the other day, when you cut diamonds this size, make them look beautiful. The big diamonds in this quilt NEED equally BIG prints.

Don't wimp out on these. They make up the backbone of the quilt. For the average quilt, you'll need 35 of these giant diamonds, arranged 7 across and five down, and you really should have at least nine different prints. These are the fabrics that will define the color story for this quilt, but their background is very important.

Because it's these little suckers...  It's these four patch diamonds...

that are the real stars of the diamond quilts.

and you will need a lot of them. You will need 80 of these four patch diamonds in your quilt, but you should make more. For ALL the colored mini diamonds, I chose blenders in intense colors that picked up the colors in the giant diamonds. For the newest diamonds quilt, I have fourteen different colors. I cut 2-1/2" strips of all the colors I wanted. Usually I cut two strips of whatever color I wanted. Each WOF strip pair made six four patch diamonds. You do the math.

 However it is the BACKGROUND color of the diamonds that is the most important color selection you will make. This fabric must disappear into the quilt itself, so if, as in Dairy Cream, the main color is whites and creams, the background diamonds should be cream (for each Diamond quilt I have made, I used two yards of this fabric). For Tickled Pink, the background had to be a light pinkish fabric. Search through this blog and then find photos and double click them to enlarge if you want to see what I used.  This is not a trivial decision, and will determine the success or failure of your quilt. I am not joking.

Once you get your giants cut, arrange them on your design wall the way I discussed in this post here.
Do your best, and take your time. It's fussy, but it's worth getting right. You will probably change at least one or two fabrics by the time you start sewing the quilt together. This (above) is the original layout of the giant diamonds for the Diamond Jubilee Quilt. Those dark diamonds got removed later.

Next, you'll fill in the spaces with the medium sized diamonds.

You'll need about 96 of them. I cut mine from a 4-1/2" strip of fabric, and I got 6, but sometimes 7 out of each strip.

 I used blue painter's tape to mark off the size of the medium diamonds.

Many of the medium sized diamonds in this photo never made it into the final quilt.
These fabrics need to support and compliment the big diamonds, but they shouldn't draw attention to themselves.

In the final version of Tickled Pink, I removed all the medium sized diamonds with cream backgrounds.

Although the four patch diamonds are stars, don't really design your quilt around them. Lay out the big diamonds first, fill in with the medium ones, and then place the small four patch diamonds in a way that makes the quilt sing.  

Take your time. We all know when it's right, and we know when it's wrong. Don't settle. Place your four patches, then step away (at least eight to ten feet) and look back. Take pictures. Sometimes you'll see something you don't like in a photo that you might not notice in real life. I've made several changes to Dairy Cream, above, since the photo I posted yesterday.

When the quilt is designed to your satisfaction, you can start sewing it up. I usually leave it on the design wall for a day to just look at it to make sure. One very important note: Because this quilt is made from a ruler/template, you MUST sew an accurate 1/4" seam, otherwise your points will not line up.

You'll sew the four patches to the medium diamonds to make diamonds as big as the giants, then you'll sew them all together. Because the blocks are diamonds, at least two edges will be on the bias, so be careful. This is a quilt I do not show off until it is quilted because I don't want it to stretch.


Like I said, the mechanics are "easy."  The hard part is the fabric selection, and this quilt's success will live or die based on the fabrics you choose. What I LIKE BEST about these quilts is the way the diamonds disappear and reappear, form larger ones, and break apart and I love the way the tiny four patch diamonds sparkle and dance.

When I designed Diamond Jubilee (above), I literally cut one medium sized diamond, placed it on the quilt, and then figured out what I wanted for the next one, looked through my stash, pulled a piece of fabric cut it out and placed it on the design wall.  I designed that quilt one piece at a time. I did NOT choose all my fabrics at the start.

Here it is obvious the cream background of the four patch diamonds is wrong. No marching butterflies!
 In EACH ONE of these quilts, I changed my mind, removed fabrics I originally loved, and replaced things I did not like. If you do not allow yourself to make changes like this, then you are doomed to fail. There is no way to adequately anticipate what happens when you start working. If it doesn't work, change it.

You can go back through my blog posts (I worked on Diamond Jubilee at the end of September 2015; made Jewel Box and Dark Majesty in the spring and summer of 2017 and Tickled Pink and Dairy Cream in February and March of 2018) and read what I was going through. There's a lot more detail in there, including a step by step process of making the four patch diamonds.

It may not be the easiest quilt you'll ever make, but when you get one that works, that knocks it out of the park, it's a damn good feeling.