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Monday, March 2, 2015

Diamonds are Trump

Well, the original name of this pattern is "Must Stash," by Kelly Biscopink, but I took my own twist on it, so I thought it was worthy of a new name.  This quilt is for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  My in-laws taught me the card game Euchre, so I thought the name was apt.  Well, here it is:

It's not perfect, but I am very proud of this quilt.  Not only is it the first quilt of its size that I have completed, but I learned a lot while making it, and I don't think I executed my new techniques all that poorly. 

The pattern came from Modern Designs for Classic Quilts: 12 Traditionally Inspired Patterns Made New by Kelly Biscopink and Andrea Johnson. 

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the cover quilt.  I might have to attempt that particular quilt soon!  But for today, we're looking at the "Must Stash" (get it?) pattern:

Cool quilt!  Kelly arranged the diamonds in this quilt in rainbow order on a gray background.  I wanted to mix it up and used a beige polka dot as my background, and arranged the diamonds in a somewhat random order. 

Well, my husband did:

Mark was super-involved in the making of this quilt.  Kelly used one print per diamond.  To simplify things, we opted to repeat each print three times.  Mark spent quite a bit of time combing through my stash to find the colors he thought my brother-in-law and sister-in-law would appreciate the most.  As you can see above, he painstakingly arranged the diamonds to his liking.  You know what?  I didn't touch it after he arranged it!

I took a photo after he arranged all of the diamonds for reference.  Boy, do I recommend doing this!  I came home one night to find that most of the diamonds had fallen off of my design wall (don't worry, I got a new one that works better!), so it was a huge time saver to have a photo to refer to while I was piecing it. 

A few notes about the pattern:

I opted to make a diamond template from clear plastic, as suggested by the authors.  That was a big deal, because it enabled me to fussy cut from my fabrics fairly accurately. 

My diamonds did not end up the same size, and I attribute that to rushing during cutting.  Don't be like me, and take your time when you make this quilt! 

I also tried to save time by stacking the background fabric when cutting diamonds for the edges:

That worked okay, but once again, I probably rushed it a bit more than I should have. 

Step 3 on page 103 involved attaching some sashing.  One thing I learned was that you should press your seams before you cut:

If you don't, this will happen to you.  I realized that the only spacing concerns for Step 3 involve the first and last diamond sewn to the strip.  I would leave a few inches open on each end.  The diamonds themselves can be bunched together fairly closely, as long as you press those seams before you cut!

Step 6 on page 103 has a typo:  The sashing strips are cut at 1.5", not 11.5".  I know it's obvious, but this is why you should always read the entire pattern before you blindly follow instructions. 

The most useful technique I learned was how to match up the diamonds diagonally,  The authors really did a great job of illustrating the technique, and it's one I'm sure I'll use in the future.  My diamonds lined up pretty well, don't you think?

While my rows might look just fine from afar, they didn't quite line up, so squaring up my quilt top was a bit of a challenge.  Man to the rescue again:

Yes, we use a rabbit ear antenna!

It occurred to me that masking tape might be a helpful way to mark my cut lines.  This is Mark helping me make sure the corners ended up measuring 90 degrees.

I brought out my cutting mat and simply cut along the marked lines. 

As you can see, I used the back side of my mat.  It's always a good idea to use the unmarked side of your mat whenever you're not using the grid lines.  I feel like this will help prolong the life of my cutting mat by not repeatedly using the same side.  I have an Olfa mat, and it worked fine.  Just make sure that your cutting mat is double sided before you try it, though! 

It ended up nice and squared:

Kelly quilted her sashing and her diamonds.  I'm not quite there yet, so I opted to only quilt the diamonds.  I wanted the quilting to look similar to Kelly's, so I traced curves with a saucer. 

I used a Frixion pen, and it took forever!  It was worth it, though, because as a beginner quilter, having a line to follow is super helpful.

After all of the lines were drawn, I spray basted the quilt sandwich:

I taped packaging paper to the floor to protect my linoleum, and that worked fine for the most part.  I'm still not a huge fan of spray basting, but it might grow on me.  I used Dritz basting spray, so maybe next time I'll buy the good stuff to see if I like it better.

Now for the quilting:  I made a little practice quilt sandwich just to get a feel for it. 

Then I tackled free motion quilting for the very first time on the real deal!!  You guys have no idea how nervous I was.  My neck and shoulders were so tense, it made for an unpleasant experience at first.  After I got a feel for the motion I was using, it ended up being a lot of fun. 

Yes, I use a Singer, and I love it!

The pattern called for 2.25" binding instead of the usual 2.5", so that was fun to discover. I tacked on the binding by hand, as usual.  
I hand embroidered a label onto one of the leftover diamonds:
The label originally had a lot more information on it, but I opted to stop with the basics. 
A few notes about this particular quilt:
Fabrics used: My stash.  Many came from the MaryJo's Sewing Room collection from Connecting Threads.  The backing fabric is "Around Town," also by Connecting Threads. 
Thread used: The quilt was pieced with Gutermann polyester thread, and quilted with Essential Quilting Thread in Cream from Connecting Threads.  (Clearly, I do not have a problem mixing polyester with cotton.)
Batting used: Soft n Crafty 80/20 cotton/poly blend purchased at Joann.   
A note about the Frixion pen: Yes, I liberally used both red and black Frixion pens all over this quilt.  I've heard mixed reviews about it, so I decided to run the quilt through the wash before I mailed it to Maine (where surely, it's cold enough for the lines to reappear).  I'm glad to report that it didn't fall apart!  I'm hoping that will have washed out most of the ink.  If not, well....they're family and won't give me a hard time about it (I hope). 
Now for the photo shoot:
I was in the middle of laughing in this pic, but Mark insisted that I use it.

He was very excited to hold the finished product!
Sorry about the crease lines! 

What do you think?  I've got a lot more coming your way, so stay tuned!  God bless y'all. 

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  1. I think you and the hubby did an awesome job!!! I have a hard time doing diamonds and getting things to be even! I am impressed :-) looking forward to more!

    1. Well, thank you! I've got another quilt top almost ready to go, so the wait won't be long...


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