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.


stitchinpenny said...

I love your diamond quilts, but the way you are able to see color combinations is the real secret to their beauty. Thanks for the tutorial, but I still don't have your color sense.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Outstanding post!! These quilts really showcase your masterful use of color, scale, texture, and intensity. I think you need to make one in greens (etc. - like lilacs, daffodils, tulips, forsythia, and pink, white, and redbud trees) in honor of the fresh growing things we love about spring/early summer without the icky pollen (grin).

Millie said...

Julie that sounds really pretty.

Just Ducky said...

Mum is getting all goose bumpy from the next to last picture. Dark Majesty?

Purrs to you and Millie.

Millie said...

Yes Ducky. That’s the one.

Duchess B said...

Oh Lynn, this is a marvelous theory post that everyone should read! I may never make one of these diamond quilts even though they are so gorgeous to look at but the theory behind the creation will be very helpful in putting together a tessellated maple leaf quilt to be made in memory of Kirby, a cat who adopted us and had such a fun personality. He was named Kirby for the way he ate his food, he just inhaled it. I don't think he even chewed but he never threw it back up. He was hit by a car and his injuries were to extensive to repair. I know Webster (my other cat) looked for him for weeks after he was put down, and we both missed him very much.

Sewing Up A Storm said...

Thanks for the great tutorial! I am going to get the hex n more ruler. I have several other quilts I want to make that use diamonds so that will be a good ruler to have.

lynn bourgeois said...

Thank you Lynne for taking your time and energy to supply us with great information. I've been revisiting your posts many times admiring your work and wondering if I will at some point feel comfortable attempting a diamond quilt. Today's post gives me clear direction in the process for decision making related to colour. Thanks again

Sewing Up A Storm said...

I just got the ruler!!!! So excited. I needed a ruler to make diamonds for another project but I am now excited to make my own version of your diamond quilt you so graciously did the tutorial for. I just need to dive into the focus fabrics and pick some out and go from there.

Millie said...

Good luck and please let me know how you do!