Okay, We’re Sticking With Diamonds. Now What?

big and small IMG_2627 compressedAfter scrapping the strips of diamonds and dots I had previously sewn for a wall quilt for DH, I was back at the drawing board cutting table. One thing I knew for sure was the diamonds had to be more delicate, so I  cut narrower diamonds making the top and bottom angles 30° instead of 60°. In the thumbnail to the right, the bottom two diamonds are the original size and the top is the new, smaller size. They’re a bit wonky because they haven’t all been sewn together and the bias edges have stretched a bit.

Original, larger diamonds, looking lonely by themselves

Original, large-size diamonds, looking lonely by themselves

Reluctantly, I acknowledged that with the shrinking of the diamonds the circles/dots would have to be dropped from the pattern, otherwise they’d have to be scaled down too much to be an effective design element. The rest of my plan remained intact: colourful diamonds against silver Kona cotton in columns of varying lengths.

Now, to my eye, the chains of larger diamonds (left) look sparse. And with the four strips measuring a total of 12 inches across, I couldn’t imagine using this layout with smaller diamonds. My first approach to adding width was to sew thin, straight strips of different fabrics between the diamonds (below left). I don’t know about you, but I think this solution sucks out all of the energy the diamonds bring to the design. My second attempt was to swap out the straight strips for curved strips (below right) and I am really happy with the effect.

I switched from straight strips (left) to wavy strips (right)

I switched from straight strips (left) to wavy strips (right).

After auditioning various colours of strips and stitching the winning combinations together, I played with the layout. Here are examples of six; six of about 20. The right-most layout in the photo immediately below, is what I had in mind when I first designed this quilt, not counting the curvy strips, of course.

Trust me when I say I started going cross-eyed looking at all these options. Most of them I like, which makes it all the more difficult to decide on just one. Although it is tempting to make up a few with different layouts, I’m not sure I’ll have the patience to make this quilt more than once.

Now I have to figure out which layout I like best and see if I can incorporate the last of my original design objectives: significant amount of negative space and asymmetry.

To read the final post about this quilt, click here.

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A Quilt for a Fan

3 greenAwhile back I offered to make a quilt for DH and he asked that I make a wall quilt in an original design <groan>. Not that I had a specific pattern in mind when I first made the offer, but I didn’t have an original design begging to be born, either.

From the start I knew what I did and didn’t want: did want – a significant amount of negative space; didn’t want – symmetry. For the design itself I wanted to incorporate both diamonds and circles because I like how they look juxtaposed against each other, sort of harlequin- or jester-esque. I opted for chains of diamonds connected by circles, and planned for the chains to be of various lengths. The photo to the left is one of those chains.

My bundle of 16 hand-dyed FQs

My bundle of 16 hand-dyed FQs

My other design decisions were that the feature fabrics would be my hand-dyes from Elaine Quehl’s class, and the background fabric would be a solid commercial fabric. White was too stark a contrast and I needed a neutral to let the colours speak for themselves, so I decided to go with grey. Luckily Kona has two wonderful two light-grey fabrics, shadow and silver, so I had options.

Two diamonds with a circle template to gauge the fit.

Two diamonds with a circle template to gauge the fit.

Because I had no size limitations I could make the quilt as large or small as needed to get the design just right. Having this flexibility was wonderful. In the end, the circles dictated the size of everything else. I wanted them to be appliqued, not embroidered, and they had to be large enough for me to handle with relative ease; so about 5/8” in diameter. To get the look or balance to the pattern that I wanted, I then had to make the diamonds 4.75” high by 3.25” wide.

Once I had a few chains assembled I took pictures of each one, transferred the photos to my computer, and moved them around on the screen. It was a lot faster to test different layouts this way than using my design wall, and that’s why there’s a bright white background for two of the pictures below.

3 layouts

Three potential layouts for the diamond and dot quilt.

Next I took a little time away from the sewing room and computer so I could come back to this with fresh eyes. Ultimately, none of the layouts satisfied me. Do you know why? I found the triangles too heavy and clunky. Did I want to remake these chains? No. But there was no way I was going to compromise on the design. It’s one thing to make a quilt for the learning experience or because I’m simply itching to sew something. In those cases good enough is good enough. But an original design for my most loyal fan?  That had to be the best I could do. Back to the cutting table.

To read the second post about this quilt, click here.

To read the final post about this quilt, click here.