I’ve thought about this a lot lately, and am still trying to decide if I agree. I’ve been quilting for three decades but until I made Bursting Star recently, I had never pieced a quilt from diamonds.
I can’t tell you how much fun it was and how much I learned in the process. I think Marilyn would be proud.
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Rewind to October 2014, when the McCall’s Quilting Nov/Dec issue arrived.
I was enamored with Cindy Lammon’s design for a 42.5″ Bursting Star wall quilt and its easy construction techniques.
The Moda Fabrics “Miss Kate” collection by Bonnie and Camille looked great. And to top it off, there were helpful how-to videos detailing the process. Bursting Star went immediately onto my “Must Make” list.
So when it recently became my turn to write “I Love This Quilt” for McCall’s, I jumped at the opportunity. You’ll find this feature on the inside back page of regular issues—it’s where a staff member takes a McCall’s design, makes it her own and blogs about it to inspire others. We provide the pattern to readers at no charge. What could be more fun?!
I decided on a few things up front. I’d sew only from my stash and would make it scrappy. I’d make four stars to (hopefully) work together. I wanted a softly washed, vintage look, and I vowed to use fabrics that were unlikely partners.
There were some highlights. There were some lowlights. And I had quite a bit of fun along the way.
I have learned the hard way that it’s essential to audition fabrics on a vertical surface from across the room. We’re in the habit of looking at our fabrics close up, when what we really need to do is to back away. Go across the room for the best and most realistic view.
Pressing is always important, but on this quilt, press or die. Press gently so the strips remain straight, but make sure there are no folds along the seamlines. Use the edge of your iron, and tug gently on the raw edges with your other hand, so that everything is pressed flat.
When I started cutting the diamond strips, my ruler insisted on sliding around. I decided to put my whole arm on the ruler to keep it in place—and it worked.
After every third cut or so, take time to realign the 45-degree line with a seamline and cut a new edge as shown below. I didn’t do this at first, and I paid the price later.
I’m going to show you these mess-ups not to discourage you from making this quilt, but so that you know how to avoid them. If I had just taken a little more time to realign my ruler…
…I could have avoided wonky shapes like this one. If I’d just been a little more careful with those bias edges…
…I wouldn’t have gotten those tucks that had to be ripped out.
Maybe if I’d looked more closely at the diagrams, which are actually really great, I wouldn’t have sewn the first strips together incorrectly.
For me the saving grace was that you can actually manipulate bias edges quite easily. Yes, they’re tricky to handle, but that same stretch can work in your favor. I did some fudging but I think that overall, the quilt is going to be just fine.
When I put those first sections on the wall, it was such a surprise—it looked nothing like I thought it would, but I loved it. It was definitely worth that steep learning curve.
I added the corners and then, over the next several weeks, made two more stars. Right now I’m working on the final star. I have three sections finished, and I can see how it’s shaping up. It’s going to be more like the first one, which is my favorite of the four.
Can you see that the bottom right star doesn’t lie flat at all? I’m not sure what I’ll do about that. To be honest, I have many questions at this point.
- Do the stars really all work together?
- Would I be happier if I just made four separate small quilts, one from each star?
- What possessed me to add that purple color? I don’t really like it in this piece.
- Should I consider sashing of some kind, and what about a border?
These things aren’t earth shattering or life altering or even that consequential in the grand scheme of life, but they’re taking up space in my head right now. I’ll figure it out as I go, which is always how I work. And I’ve decided that yes, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
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- Be sure your fabrics have some contrast so you can see each successive ring of diamonds. Contrast means there is a difference in the fabrics.
- Use prints in different scales (that’s the size of the print); medium- and large-scale prints work surprisingly well
- Before cutting, use spray starch on your fabrics to help the bias edges stay put
- Make peace with imperfection as you’re learning how to sew diamonds
Get the free pattern for Bursting Star and start your own quilt right away.