A few ladies have sent me questions about the Dazzling Diamonds book over the past few months; so I was thinking this morning that maybe some more of you would like to "understand" the general idea behind the quilts in this book.
If you have followed me for a while, you know that my life is so full of "stuff to do" that I'm always looking for quicker ways to create blocks, etc. that give me the same (or sometimes better) results. That is what happened to me regarding the techniques in this book.
The first item which influenced it was a Water Soluble & Printable foundation sheet. This comes in a variety of brands...but the one I used for the book (and still think is the best) is sold by C&T called "Wash-Away Stitch Stabilizer".
When I bought this my intial thought was "wonder if I could design a block with seams included...print the design...then stitch". If so, there would be no need for templates, tracing, etc.". Now, the concept is not without challenges...like having to remove this product which means "wetting" the block. Normally, I don't like to wet my crazy quilt blocks.
But, my next thought was "What if I add a larger seam allowance; just in case the block shrinks when wet...and not include anything but the embroidery".
So, here's what I did...and you can do too.
First came the block design. I was tired of sewing hexagons...so thought that a diamond might be a fun shape to play with. I included the patchwork (note dashed lines) for the seams when piecing the block and included the sewing sequence (1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4) along with the Block #1 in the quilt.
Second was the inclusion of the BASE Embroidery on the seams. Since I was working with my Adobe Illustrator software; it was easy to create the seam ideas. You could to the same thing with graph paper and pencil of course.
I printed the entire design on to paper and cut it out along the dashed lines to create pattern pieces for sewing the block.
The next task was to put the block together and attach it to a muslin backing. I traced the outline and seam lines on to the muslin and used the "flip'n'sew" piecing method to assemble the block. Now, I was ready for the embroidery layer...so printed the design directly to the Water Soluble product next.
Oh, this is a good time to point out the double seam allowances in the design. The final block without seam allowance is the solid black line. The next line would be the cutting line at normal seam allowance, and the outer line would be the line to use if you wanted to trim before getting wet. Now, in reality...we can't really "control" the amount of shrinkage this precisely...but these lines serve as a good reminder that the extra seam allowance will be needed. Directions in the book recommend that you cut a plastic shape (diamond) that is the same size as the finished block (with seam allowance). This is used to lay on top of the embroidery phase (while the block is flat) so a future trim line can be marked on the block.
Here is the block with the BASE Embroidery stitched. I've trimmed away as much of the water soluble as possible just to reduce the amount of "gunk" that needed to wash away. It was off to the kitchen sink where I submerged the entire block (face down) into some warm water...and held it in place with a couple of coffee cups. After about ten minutes, I picked it back up and ran water through the block from the back to the front. It might not have mattered how I held the block; but my "logic" was that with the water soluble on the bottom it would just go down the drain better...rather than being washed off and on to the fabric if it was facing upwards.
When it all was washed away, I placed the block on a few paper towels, rolled it up and squeezed as much water out as possible. Then I ironed (on reverse side) until almost dry...added spray starch...and pressed until completely dry.
The photo above shows the block AFTER the base embroidery has been completed...soaked in water to remove the water soluble...pressed/starched (on back). It lays nice and flat and was easy to place the plastic template shape on and trace around.
At this point, the block simply needs to be finished. So, the second layer of embroidery was stitched; silk ribbon embroidery stitched; and beads/sequins/etc. were added. Lastly I took my scissors and cut along the drawn line to get the finished block to the correct size and shape.
It's ready to take it's place in the quilt layout.
I hope that this helps you feel more comfortable in creating the wall-hanging size quilt in the Dazzling Diamonds book.
BTW, I purposefully kept the block size small enough to print on a single sheet of paper; and included a direct link to the PDF file in the book so you don't have to "scan" each page. You can do that too...but I did try to make the file downloads as easy as possible. It's just easier when each block is full size to begin with. Plus the layout for the block includes the design for embroidery of every seam automatically...so no real "thinking" involved. You still have total freedom in choosing your embroidery threads, colors, types of beads, etc. so no quilt will look just like another if using the pattern.
I also created the quilt myself twice...in Spring colors (pastels) and in Autumn colors (mediums) so folks would get a good idea of now different colors might look.
Hope you that have the book will give the quilt a try!
Of course, if you don't want to go the "water soluble" way...that's fine. The book designs can be used as a guide to trace or just inspire you if you want to "do your own thing".