Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wonky Diamonds [Tutorial and Work in Progress]

I  am home from Savannah! Home again! Home again!

Also, on Saturday, I am going to Portland to visit my parents. Yay! I have not been home in 2 years and I have not lived in Oregon since I was 18 (ten years!). If anyone reading this lives in Portland, OR, and wants to pass on recommendations for your favorite bars, restaurants and fabric stores, that would really make me smile.

I got a bit of sewing done while I was in Savannah, honestly, there was not much else to do in the evenings. Some of my projects are secret and some of them are just not photographed yet. Today I want to write out the tutorial I finished while I was in Savannah.

It is my first tutorial (ever), so do not be too hard on me if I made a mistake. I am trying to learn, so let me know and I will fix it. If you have a question, send me a little note in the comments and I will get right back to you.

I put this together for my Simply Solids Bee [Gamboge Group]. This is going to be your April block; fabric will be on its way in March sometime. Each block will be unique and bright. I am so excited about this bright, happy quilt and to putting it together with everyone's blocks.

I am calling this block "wonky diamond." 

It is inspired by so many fabulous people and quilts. The colors really remind me of old school improvisational quilts like this Gee's Bend quilt. Denyse Schmidt's Crazy Star quilt from her Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration book really got me started with the wonky angles. Then I made a baby version of that, and I have not quite gotten those blocks out of my system.

My technique was inspired by this terrific string block tutorial from Ashley at Film in the Fridge.  Karen from Blooming Poppies has another tutorial where she explains how to do this as a half square triangle with a muslin base. My block is just a slight variation building on the work of these lovely ladies (and I am sure a ton of uncredited people out there). Thanks!

Also, I love rainbows. So, the colors make me happy. Btw, the pictures are terrible... It is so dark at night, I am trying to work on that, but for now I am sorry.

- Strips of varying lengths and widths. (I used rainbow solids, but I elected to make it totally random)
- 2 9" x 9" squares of background fabric (I used white, but anything goes)
- Four sheets of scrap paper cut to 8" x 8"
- Ruler, rotary cutter, scissors, cutting mat
- Glue stick
- Pencil

(1/4" inch seams, I reduce my stitch length to 1 for the paper piecing)

1. Use your ruler and pencil to draw a straight line from corner to corner on your 8" x 8" paper squares. 

2. Cut your background 9" x 9" fabric squares from corner to corner to make 4 half square triangles. 

3. Using a few dabs of glue, stick a white triangle to the side of the paper you did not draw the line on (see picture), make sure it covers half of the paper and goes over all of the edges, including the center line by at least 1/4". 

4. Pick your first strip. Just make sure it is long enough to cover the length of the diagonal. Place the strip on the diagonal. It does not matter too much if the strip is exactly parallel to the white side. 

5. Flip your paper over and sew along the pencil line you drew on the paper. This makes a perfect line between the white and colored side of the block. Flip the colored fabric over and press it using a hot, dry iron. Trim the excess colored fabric on the end, leaving a little overhanging to trim at the end. Also, trim the stitched line down to about 1/4" away from the seam. Save the scraps, you might be able to use them later.

6. Pick your next colored strip and place it over the first strip. Now, this is where we get wonky. Do not line up your two strips, place the next strip at an odd angle and at a narrow or wide distance. There are no rules. Sew the strip down, 1/4" from the edge of the new strips edge.

7. Use scissors to trim the excess down to 1/4", press the strip over, and then trim the ends.

8. Continue to sew down strip until the paper is covered. Keep using crazy angles and irregular distances. I like to make sure I have 5-6 strips in each rainbow half. It should look something like the second picture from the back.

9. After the paper is covered with strips, use your rotary cutter and ruler to trim the block to the size of the paper. I like to give it one more pressing with a hot iron at this point. It should look something like this.

10. Carefully remove the paper. Then press the block again (you can use steam now). Be careful not to stretch the fabric.

11. Make three more blocks the same way for a total of four blocks (Steps 3 through 10).

12. Line up two of the blocks, colored sides together to form half of the diamond, careful to match the corners. Sew the two blocks together. I actually used pins for this part to make sure my corners lined up. Do this with the other two blocks as well. Press seams open.

13. Sew both of the block pairs together to make the completed diamond, being sure to line up the center seam and edges. Press with heat and steam to flatten the bulky seams.

The finished block should measure 14.5"x14.5"

This is a work in progress right? A lovely bee quilt! Linking up to the fun.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


  1. What fun and versatile block. Could be fun to make diamonds using different fabrics in the same color and then do a bunch of colors to make the rainbow that way. hmm wheels are turning.
    The only things I could say about Portland would be due to me watching Portlandia and I am not sure that makes me an expert! Just put a bird on it.

  2. Beautiful block! I look forward to seeing more of it on the Simply Solids Flickr -- I'm in the Puce group. As for Portland, I was just up there yesterday, visiting one of my most favorite fabric shops. You absolutely must go to Cool Cottons! And they are having a special sale right now with another great shop called Bolt -- if you spend more than $25 at one, they will give you a coupon for the other. Pretty sweet little deal! There is also Fabric Depot, which is HUGE. I personally like the smaller shops... nicer people and better fabrics. Have a nice trip!

  3. Looks great! Happy and bright, I love string blocks, can't wait to try this for your block!


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