Welcome to the second stop on the Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts Blog Book Tour! Several weeks before the wedding, Mary Elizabeth Kinch contacted me to ask if I would be willing to participate in the tour and do a review of her (and Biz Storms') new book. Considering I was just finishing up a queen sized quilt top with over 3,500 pieces, you might think I would have backed away slowly from that request. However, I'm a huge fan of Mary Elizabeth and Biz's first book on the same topic...quilts with small pieces inspired by antique quilts...so I happily accepted the invitation. The review book arrived and I put it aside until the last of the guests departed last week.
I had decided early on that as part of my review I would make a block or small piece from the book. I admit I'm a bit of a magpie when it comes to quilt books, often ignoring the text to focus on the photos, but first I sat down and read Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts cover to cover. No matter your level of sewing expertise, you'll find new nuggets of helpful information in this book. I gleaned some new pressing tips and found the authors to be fellow champions of the pin!
On to my project. Big confession. I have consciously avoided piecing diamonds all of the many years I've been quilting. The center of one of the book's featured projects, Across the Pond, is comprised of them so I decided to jump in the deep end and give them a try. I made a little plastic template from the book's pattern and pulled repro prints from my scrap basket. I know this looks daunting to many of you, but really, it's not. In fact, it's quite a bit of fun.
When you piece diamonds into a block, you sew the strips diagonally. This does result in a bit of skewing, but surprisingly, it was quite manageable. At this point I was thinking, 'Hey, why have I been avoiding this for so long?!' Contrary to the book's suggestion, I did find it helpful to do a slight pressing after sewing each row, but nothing heavy handed. As the authors stress, it's easy to distort the small pieces with steam!
After assembling my diamonds and doing a final pressing, I noticed that the piece still had a tendency to 'pull in'...think 'accordian'. Hmmm. Going back to my knitting experience, I tried something that worked quite well, blocking. I stretched the piece out, side to side, and pinned it out flat to the design board. Then I sprayed it lightly with water and left it to dry. Voila! It worked! My intention was to present my little block in the post but you know me. Once I get started...
I had to add a row of triangles. Oh, I like that red! How about some black? In my haste, I assembled the first black triangle strip in the wrong direction. I considered my original plan..just post the diamond block...but I couldn't leave it alone. That's how it is with these little pieces. They're like gumdrops. You find yourself returning to the candy dish in spite of yourself. So over the last 24 hours, I've played with it. Turned strips this way and that. Added a dash of cheddar. More red triangles.
Such fun! Although the book presents page after page of the most wonderful bed-sized quilts made from small pieces, it's also an excellent resource for those who might not choose to take on such a challenge. I'm sure you've noticed more and more quilters recently making doll and child-sized quilts. If you're one of them, you should definitely consider adding this book to your library!
And lucky you! If you're reading this post, by simply leaving a comment, you'll be entered in a drawing at the end of the week for a copy of Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts. There will be eight more stops on the blog tour, one each week, which will offer tutorials, reviews, Q&A, antique quilts and more spectacular interpretations of featured projects. Each will offer a chance to win a copy of the book if you aren't lucky this week. Sew,Mama,Sew! hosted the first stop, which featured a small seam tutorial by Mary Elizabeth herself. Wonky World (Bill Volckening) is up next...be sure to check it out.
July 31 ~ Wonky World
August 10 ~ See How We Sew
Aug 13 ~ Quiltsalott
Aug 20 ~ Amy's Creative Side
Aug 29 ~ Supergoof
Sept 3 ~ Quilts in the Barn
Sept 11 ~ Stitch This/Martingale
Sept 17 ~ Quilting with the Past
So here's my final piece. I rushed to get some borders on it this morning and now I'm rethinking the color. I'm afraid black is my recent fallback. Maybe by the time I choose a book winner, it will look a little different!