28 March 2012

Diamond Stack Block - Tutorial

This quarter, for the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee, I decided to experiment with a new shape: the diamond, without templates or paper-piecing.  I wrote a little bit more about how the bee works here.  This time, I asked for scrappy, saturated, multi-color blocks. 

This was my test block!  I think it's much easier to make than it looks, but you do have to be consistent with your cutting and piecing.

Materials to make one 12.5-inch square block: 

9 1.75" x 3.5" pieces (these will become the little diamonds) in colors of your choice
6 1.5" x 3.25" pieces white (or other background fabric)
2 1.5" x 9" pieces white (or other background fabric)
4 1" x 8" pieces for the lattice between little diamonds, in coordinating colors
2  roughly 7-8"x 11-12" rectangles white (or other background fabric)*

*these could theoretically be much smaller, or maybe you can think of a better way to fill out the background, but this is what I used to make sure I had enough area covered.

Get going!

To start, cut up the nine 1.75" x 3.5" pieces into diamonds. 
Line up the 60-degree line of your ruler along the top of the fabric, so that the line your ruler intersects with the bottom right corner of the fabric. Cut!

Keeping your ruler's angle and the fabric as-is, with the 60-degree mark along the top, slide the ruler over 2 inches from the (new) top right corner of the fabric.  It helps to use the 30-degree angle line (pictured above, but it doesn't show the 30-degree label... it's the one that makes a right angle with the 60-degree line) on your ruler lined up with the vertical cutting mat lines.  

Cut!  You can stack your rectangles and do a few at once, or go one at a time, if you like. Here, I did three at a time.  You can also continue cutting diamonds at 2-inch intervals from one long strip of 1.75" fabric.

Arrange your diamonds in a 3x3 grid!

Pair up six of the diamonds with one 1.5" x 3.25" strip as pictured.

Position the white strips so that there is about a 1/4-inch overlap of white extending beyond the diamond's edge.

Sew, (using a 1/4-inch seam), press, and trim top and bottom, using the edge of the diamond piece as a guide.  For the entire block, I pressed my seams away from the diamonds, but you can do whatever you like best. 

You'll end up with 6 of these suckers!

Match them up with a lonely diamond, and sew together each line of three units so that you have three pieced diamond strips.  

As you piece together the diamonds, make sure you leave little tails (measuring a scant 1/4-inch) on both sides.  This will help the edges of the diamonds line up.  

Do the same thing if you're just adding on a diamond to a white piece, don't forget the tails!

You'll end up with three strips. Don't worry too much if they're not lining up perfectly, but they should look pretty decent.  

Trim off the little tails!

Attach the the two 1.5" x 9" white strips to the first two lines of pieced diamonds.  Make sure to leave an inch or so of white overhang on either side, so that there will be fabric in the right spot when you trim along the sides of the diamonds. 

Be gentle when you sew, since you're sewing along the bias-edge of the diamonds. Press open and trim, following the angles of the diamonds again.  

Connect the two strips that have a strip of white (pins really help at this point!) and press open.

And attach the final line of pieced diamonds.  Press open.  (See those little triangle tails sticking out?)

Trim 'em.

Now you have this. It would be pretty on it's own, or you can go ahead and insert lattice strips!

I think this is my favorite part!  Using your ruler, line up the 1/2 inch mark along the edge of one of the white strips, and cut, dividing it along the middle. This will create the effect of having stitched on tiny 1/4-inch white borders around each diamond, without having to work with a bunch of tiny pieces.  

Do it again on the parallel white strip, to create three pieced diamond strips again.

Now you can connect them with colorful lattice strips, just like you did with the white strips earlier.

Take two of your 1" x 8" lattice strips and sew them to the side that has white of two of the pieced diamond strips. I definitely use pins at this point, especially, because the lattice strips are so narrow. 

Sew both, press, and trim.

Attach the two pieced strips that have lattice strips sewn on.

And attach the final diamond strip.  

Slice again, in the other direction!

Sew the final two lattice strips on, press, and trim.  (err, not trimmed yet in the picture...)

Attach them all together, and you have your diamond!

Trim off all the tails, perhaps taking a little fabric off with them to straighten up your edges.  Just a bit, because sashing can make up for any slight unevenness.  

At this point, you can sash the blocks however you like to reach your desired finished size.  I think they'd look great as rectangles, but for this bee, I had to get them to 12.5 inches square. 

That's what took the most trial and error for me.  I had to figure out how to "block out" the diamond to make a square 12.5-inch block.  It's possible my fabric size suggestions might be too high for you, but I like to have a little wiggle room.  Nothing's worse than sewing something up and realizing it's just a quarter inch too small. Yikes.

Basically, I cut two rectangles diagonally, using the 60-degree line on my ruler, echoing the angle of the diamond, and sewed the 4 resulting triangles to the edges of the diamond to make a square.  I did this various ways, depending what fabric I had on hand. There's likely a better way, but here are a couple of diagrams of how I did it.

They're not to scale, and don't line up perfectly in real life. There was a lot of trimming involved after the pieces were attached to the big diamond.  

In this case, I cut a long skinny rectangle into two pieces that would fit in the top right and bottom left corners. 

Then I cut another rectangle, below, into two big, long triangles that would fill the other corners, overlapping with the other corner pieces. 

(In this case, you have to trim off the excess from the first two pieces before pressing open) You could also do four long skinny triangles like these, with not much more fabric waste.  Y-seams?  Sure, but that seemed more complicated to me.  Because I don't know how to do them.

I do know that it's all about the tails, right to the end.  

And a 12.5-inch ruler saves the day when squaring up, every time.  

Here are all my finished blocks, in the colors requested by my hive-mates.  See that gray one (bottom middle)?  I didn't have pieces of ash that were big enough for the huge triangles treatment, so I just used smaller ones and strips to fill the space. Another option!  

You can see all my blocks up close here, where I write a bit more about my color choices and placement. 

Pin It!

4x5 Q1 2012 - Finished Blocks!

This quarter, for the 4x5 bee, which I love, I decided to experiment with diamonds.  (If you're interested, I wrote up a full tutorial to make one of these 12.5-inch square blocks, available here.) 

While making these blocks, I got to play around with color placement, my favorite! In this bee, I see each block as an opportunity to make one design into a unique creation just by switching up fabrics and colors.  

Requested colors: aqua, teal, yellow, lime.
I loved using a crazy print for the lattice strips in this one!  I also kept the layout quite symmetrical.

 Requested colors: pink
What to do with a monochromatic request?  I switched up intensity, value, and pattern for contrast, using some of my all-time favorite fabrics.

Requested colors: Aqua, yellow, gray, with gray background
This is one of my all-time favorite color combinations!  I really liked seeing how changing just the background color makes a big difference.  

Requested colors: red and aqua
This one has a rather unique layout, with three vertical aqua diamonds surrounded by red.  I also used a solid for the lattice strips to add a bit more aqua to the mix and balance the block.  

Requested colors: apple green, aqua, hint of red.
I love this one!  Something about the sharp contrast of red in the center, with the cool aqua and green tones around it, makes me very happy.  Also, I'll use any excuse to get those DS Quilts dots in a project.  

My test block:  I requested scrappy and bright, saturated colors, so I did the same for my block.  
I'm REALLY into scrappy projects right now, and had A LOT of fun with this block.  Instead of inserting the lattice pieces in parallel lines like a hash mark, I did these overlapping ones by cutting one white strip open at a time, sewing it back up with a lattice strip, and cutting the next one clockwise.  So, I inserted the orange dots first, then the DS Quilts aqua flower tiles, then the seahorses, and finally the LouLouthi stripy piece.

I have so many projects waiting to be finished that I'm not sure if I can commit to this bee next quarter-- I always imagine it will take less time than it does, and I can't help myself and just dive into these fun blocks!
Pin It!

26 March 2012

Feature Quilt

When I saw this quilt at Film in the Fridge, I knew just what to do with some of the gorgeous hand-printed linen scraps my friend Lynn of South Street Linen gave me to play with!

Along with the linen scraps, I used white, ash, cream, and Kona Tangerine in simple borders radiating off the corner square.  The widths of each layer were sort of randomly chosen and improvised as I went along.   I love how it turned out-- using all solids is a great way to spotlight some really special fabric.

Lynn is an amazing artist, and making some of the softest, prettiest linens (scarves, table linens, and more!) you can imagine.  

I quilted it in straight lines echoing the corner square, and then in L's, varying the density of the straight lines as fabrics changed.  

I pieced a sweet little improv block for the back out of leftover scraps.  I love putting a surprise back there!

It's bound in medium gray, and I gave it some lovely tangerine x details in a corner. Yum!

Pin It!