Saturday, January 30, 2016

diamond mosiac

*This is a long'n. Might want to grab a cup of joe ;-)*
(this is a quilt post, I promise...)

Long before her stroke, and subsequent memory loss,
Gramma Joyce and Tyler were deep in conversation
during one of her visits.
He was relaying how he felt broken and battered, 
and really, 
rather useless in The Kingdom.

As was normal in those days,
we had several candles lit,
one of them in a PartyLite Mosaic bowl. 

The mosaic candle holders were all different,
but they all had one thing in common;
they cast the most beautiful shadows,
due to all of the lead swirls
and hand painted stained glass.

Gramma looked at the Mosaic candle on the mantle and gently told Tyler,
"You see the reflection from that candle?
It's not beautiful in spite of the cracks,
it's beautiful because of them."


I am so excited to finally get to share
Diamond Mosaic,
in fabric.

You may remember,
(but it's been more than a couple of years, so - you may not)
 that I was collecting grey fabrics for a quilt for TJ
but we ended up going in a totally different direction for his quilt.
Which means that I still had the stack of fabrics
I'd been collecting....

As soon as I finished Matt and Marin's quilt,
(or maybe even when I wasn't even quite finished yet)
I sent Keri a text
"What color do you like with grey?"
("assuming you like grey...")

She replied that grey was actually her favorite color
and that she liked it best with purple
or maybe black.

Which was absolutely perfect!
Because I had lots of black,
and a decent amount of purple, leftover from the quilt for my sister in law.

I added some more purples
and several more greys,
along with 2 yards of steel yarn dyed essex linen,
and started cutting.

I cut a couple of WoF strips anywhere from 1 1/2 - 3 inches wide
from all of the prints
and 1 1/2" strips from the essex, which were sub-cut in thirds.

when I began collecting the grey fabrics,
the quilt I had in mind 
was basically going to be a huge version of a dress
that I snapped a picture of after church one Sunday,
after being completely distracted by it during the service.
I just knew it would be perfect for TJ
and was trying to wrap my mind around how it would work.


My friend told me 
- and I quote -
it "couldn't be done in fabric,
maybe in yarn,
but definitely not fabric."

If you know me at all - them's fighting words  ;-)

I did figure out how to replicate the design on the dress
in fabric

But I also know myself well enough 
to know that 
the angled seam matching would have gotten really tedious
long before I had enough blocks to make a quilt.
So I opted to simply use the dress as 'inspiration'.

but instead of using paper as my foundation,
I used bamboo batting
and did a quilt as you go style.
more accurately,
what I did was quilt-as-you-piece,
as the only additional quilting that was added
beyond the piecing
was hand-stitching in the wider strips
and minimal quilting after the backing was added, which we'll get to in a bit.

The first 50 blocks or so were fun,
and after I added each fabric,
it was exciting to see more of what the block would become.

T has always had a fondness for watches ~ I was so tickled when I stumbled on this print

After that
I started considering if maybe a throw size would be nice?!?

I really wanted it to be queen sized, though,
so they could use it for their bed if they wanted to.
If they didn't,
it'd be a ginormous quilt for snuggling under 
on the couch.
So I persevered.

And ordered more grey fabrics.


Keri is an accountant, so the architextures print was a no-brainer :-)

I started playing games with myself
to keep the piecing from becoming too monotonous.
(am I the only one who does this?)
I'd add a fabric strip to 10 blocks,
run to the iron and press,
put any completed blocks in the basket of finished (but untrimmed) blocks
then hustle back to the machine and do 15,
and so on.

I spent weeks on the piecing.
a couple of hours a day,
a few days a week....
I considered breaking it up with trimming the blocks,
but thought it might be best if I did all the trimming at the same time.

I comforted myself with the knowledge that
once all my blocks were complete,
the quilt would be almost finished!

When all 110 blocks were finished,
I trimmed 'em.

In my naivete, I'd planned to simply trim around the batting,
let's just say some of the batting got pretty wonky
throughout the whole piecing process
and I had to cut each block,
batting and all
to 9" x 10.5" 
(from the 9.5 x 11 inches they'd started out at)
so my finished quilt ended up being a few inches shorter in each direction than I'd planned.

Fortunately, though,
I was aiming for a very generous queen size,
so it's all fine.

Once I had the blocks trimmed,
I spent about 2 weeks
adding hand quilting (as I mentioned)
down the center of every fabric strip that was 1 7/8" or wider

When that was done, it was time to lay out the quilt.

Laying out a quilt has never been my favorite part,
but some quilts are easier than others.

was not one of those quilts.

First I hung my bedspread on the wall, thinking the batting would stick to it,
but no.

So I took that down
and opened a package of king size batting
(remember this is a queen sized quilt,
the blocks,
laid out in an 11 x 10 arrangement
would be 99 inches by 105 inches!)
and had Brandon help me tack it to the wall
but the batting (of the blocks) didn't stick to the batting (on the wall)
all that nicely either.

I had to use the floor.

After moving furniture,
the largest floor space in the house
is in the living room
(which is in the center of the house
and contains the only external door )
and measures
about 110 inches square, at best.

I'd pieced the blocks randomly,
but the one thing that was consistent,
besides the center strip of essex,
was that I added one purple strip
in the 2nd-from-center position
in each block.
Because the widths were different though,
those purple strips weren't all in the same spot,
if that makes sense.

When I first started laying out the quilt
(for the 3rd time...)
I oriented all blocks with the purple to the north of the center strip.
But it wasn't accomplishing the look I wanted at all.
What I wanted
was for the purples to band together and create secondary diamonds.
So I started flipping blocks around
until my head was absolutely spinning.

I just knew I was going to screw up the whole quilt.

I printed off a copy of my quilt design
and beginning with my (off) center diamond,
went around and around, coloring in the purple strips,
until I knew how every block needed to be turned
to create those secondary diamonds I was after.

Then I went, row by row and turned the blocks that I'd already laid out
and added more blocks to fill the row.
By this point, the girls were helping me.

We had several things to consider in the block placement.

First - the blocks were made with the center grey strips
going two different directions;
these went on opposite ends of the quilt.
(A block that could be used in the top left section
could also be used in the bottom right.
but not the top right, or bottom left...)
We also had to consider fabric placement;
there were an average of 11 fabrics in each block,
and we didn't want any fabric awkwardly close to a twin.
Or to a fabric too similarly colored...
And then, there was orientation.
Most of the fabrics could go either way, but some,
like the glasses, the tigers, and the Paris fabric
had a definite 'this side up'.

It was very much like putting a puzzle together,
only we didn't have an exact picture of what the puzzle
was supposed to look like,
and we'd think we had the pieces in the right spot, only to discover that
we had tigers with their legs in the air.
or two of the same purples too near each other
or some other unacceptable nonsense.

The girls helped for an hour or so
until they had to go to TKD
then I continued on my own.

Using my phone helped a ton at this stage;
I could take a picture and see
what was 'off',
then figure out what to swap around to fix it,
then snap another shot...

I could also text a picture to my sewing buddy
and get her feedback on things, too.

I continued with the
climb on the stool take a pic,
climb down,
crawl around and fix,
climb on the stool routine for another hour or so
'til Tyler arrived home
and started moving my blocks around - 'trying something'.

haha ~ it just dawned on me that my jacket was a hand-me-down from TJ

After my initial shock,
I kinda liked what he was doing
which was, creating more diamonds,
so I was all
if we're going to do this,
we'll have to make 5 extra diamonds
(because Keri has 5 kids.   Wouldn't that be clever?!...)

Since the blocks had been constructed for my specific diamond arrangement,
and I hadn't made any extras
no amount of moving around blocks and finagling
would create what he was trying to accomplish,
so we had to
put everything back like it was
(or close to it...)

Then it was back to the stool and camera again
until I was pleased.

All together
not counting the first failed attempts at laying out the quilt on the wall,
I spent 6 hours laying out this quilt.
Which beat my previous record long time by 2 hours!


I divided the quilt into 4 sections
then Tyler and I stacked each section individually
so the blocks could be joined 'chainmail / curtain style'.
When all of the sections were pieced and pressed,
I sewed them all together
and ended up with an 8 lb,
92 x 98 inch quilt
sans backing.

Over the course of working on the quilt,
I'd periodically look for backing fabric,
but never found anything that really spoke to me.
In the end, I went with the gradient (haha  ~ graydient) design
that had been in my head all along,
but choose Kona cottons
instead of the lawn or voile I originally wanted.
I was concerned about the voile being too thin,
and that seam allowances would be seen through it.

Turns out, that was a valid concern.

One of the things I wondered about
during the making of this QAYG top
was those blasted seam allowances.
All of my research showed that people said you really don't notice them in the finished quilts.
I really couldn't see how that was true,
but I was banking on the knowledge of those who've done this before.

All I can say is.
they lie.
Either that, or I have superior sense of touch
 and sight...

Not only can I feel the extra thickness around all of the seams
(that were pressed as flat as possible using my magic dowel rod method)
but you can see them through the  silver Kona.

I was okay with feeling them - at least they are uniform and even...
but seeing that color
through the backing fabric?!
It made me momentarily sick to my stomach.

But then I thought about my son.
The boy who loved to take things apart to see the inner workings,
and I thought,
he might actually appreciate seeing the insides!
And I hoped that Keri wouldn't mind them too terribly much.
So we proceeded with the basting,
being very careful to keep the seam allowances where they belonged.

Using Superior Bottom Line thread (gray, #622)
in both the needle and the bobbin,
to secure the backing to the quilted top,
I stitched in the ditch
(again with the ditch quilting!)
between all 110 blocks.

To further secure the layers,
and tie in the front with the back,
I then machine stitched down the center of all of the 3/4" strips of steel essex
which created concentric diamonds on the back,
but is mostly invisible on the front
thanks to the 60 wt thread.

I trimmed the backing
just a few days before heading to CA
and finally settled on the binding.

The binding had me stumped me, ya'll.

I really wanted a purple,
more specifically a purple with silver or grey.

The problem was,
I had so many shades of purple in the quilt,
that to use just one of them for the binding didn't look right at all.

A scrappy binding wasn't right either.
what to do?
what to do....

Between in-person and online shopping,
I probably spent at least 5 hours hunting for the perfect binding,
but it turns out
 I had it in my possession
all along!

Widescreen, in black.

As soon as I tossed Mom and Bill's quilt in the washer,
I got started on the binding.
I sewed the final stitch early Wednesday afternoon, 2 days before Christmas.

A 'first Christmas present' quilt for my son and his wife.
Mission. Accomplished.

I'm so pleased that I didn't go with my original plan
of only greys.

It would have been lovely,
I'm sure,
but it's so much more colorful and vibrant this way.

Better together.

TJ and Keri, 
I love you.
Two perfectly 'cracked'  people,  joined together as one.
I can't wait to see all of the beauty that God makes
out of your lives.

linking up with Lee,
because this post includes the (whole, ridiculously long) entire process
of while this quilt was a work in progress ;-)
and Amanda Jean


  1. Sometimes it is the hardest won prize that matters the most. What a work of love... and beauty. And I'll keep in mind that those QAYG seams might fib a bit.

  2. This looks gorgeous! Great job sticking with it all the way through.

  3. Oh my goodness! What a beautiful quilt! Thanks for sharing the story of its design origins, fabric choices, piecing and quilting! So thoughtful! Have to say my favorite part of the story and picture is the dress in church! Now, that's funny! A very special quilt that will be very loved I am sure!

  4. What a gorgeous quilt, and I love the inspiration behind it at the start. I'm sure they must have loved it just in itself nevermind for all the love and care and time you poured into it.

  5. This quilt is stunning! Thank you for sharing so many of the details. I'd love to make one just like it, but I'm not sure I could achieve what you have done. Fabulous!!

  6. Brava!!! *Clap, clap, clap!* I enjoyed this post very much - thank you for sharing the process as well as the finish. Where on Earth were you taking pictures? The industrial feel of the backdrop sets off the quilt perfectly, and I did enjoy catching a glimpse of one of your helpers up top, smiling and holding the quilt. I also appreciated your Gramma J's wise words about cracks and beauty. So true.

  7. Awesome! Thanks for sharing info about the process too.

  8. Determined to help husbands are the best. Thank you for sharing your story with me. It's a good one indeed! And it was worth it. That was a nice photo!

  9. Quite a story! Gorgeous quilt!


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