Tag Archives: Diamond-in-a-square

A Gift for My Friend BJ

Recently I mentioned I’ll be giving away a few quilts. I sent off two on Friday, and yesterday (Saturday) the first one arrived for its new owner!

In July and August I had a few quilts displayed in a local quilt shop. One day my friend BJ met me there to take a look, and to enjoy some time together. BJ and I met 18 years ago (MY GOODNESS!) at the bank where we both worked. We worked closely for several years prior to her retirement, and we’ve remained friends since then.

BJ is a sports fan, and while there were a couple of the quilts she especially liked, I thought this one suited her well. It is named Play Ball! and is 46″ x 56″.

This fun little quilt started from a pillow panel. Several years ago, on my first excursion into our local Mennonite thrift shop, I found two square pillow covers. With their vintage baseball theme and strong blues, reds, and greens, likely they were used in a boy’s bedroom. Besides the square(ish) panels on the front, the envelope closures on the back were lined with small baseballs on navy blue.

I used one panel to inspire a baby quilt for my youngest grandchild. (He is going on 5 now, so not a baby anymore.) It uses the Burgoyne Surrounded block on the front and the pillow panel to center the back.

But I still had one panel left. With a nice range of color and value, I continued the baseball and All-American theme.

The dark green tone-on-tone framed the panel to represent the grass of the infield, and then I mimicked the baseline and bases in the corners with cream and tan. Spark and movement comes from the simple border of 4-patches and half-square triangles.

The busy stars print frames all that, followed by borders only on top and bottom to elongate the quilt. This border uses the “economy” block, or square-in-a-square, described in this tutorial. I was able to use four of the fussy-cut baseballs for the corner blocks. Finally I framed the whole thing with red. This gives a balance between the red, navy, and green in the center panel.

I enjoyed making this quilt. I have a feeling BJ will enjoy watching her baseball playoff games and quite a lot of football snuggled under this lap quilt.

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Playing with Color and Value Placement

Recently I showed you a block that uses the economy block as the center. It’s called “Union Square,” or “Contrary Wife Variation.”

Union Square block

I showed you two different versions of it. Here is the straight set with sashing.

Union Square straight set

Union Square or Contrary Wife variation, straight set with sashing.

What a difference it makes to remove the sashing. If you’re like me, your eye starts to focus on the dark shapes rather than on the blocks. In fact, you might start to see T blocks.

Union Square unsashed

Union Square unsashed

And one more change, putting some subtle color in the blocks’ corner patches. For me, this really blurs the block outlines.

Union Square unsashed 2

Union Square unsashed, with color/value variation

Now let’s try placing the values differently. Different colors, here, too.

Union Square unsashed 3

Union Square unsashed variation

Honest to Pete, it’s the same blocks. Putting the darkest value in the corners and their adjacent wedges takes the eye directly to them. In other words, the visual weight is where the dark values are. That is accentuated by using the pale yellow to create squares on point between the dark segments.

The lesson in this, if there is one, is that the way you see a pattern or design first is not the only way it can be done. Most of us are used to using our own preferred colors. But values can be placed differently, too. Experiment with designs to see how color and value placement changes the look.


 

If you’d like to see my other posts on economy blocks, the first post showed you how to make the economy block ANY SIZE with my tutorial and cheat sheet. The second showed you 17 different arrangements of the block with alternate blocks. They range from simple to fairly complex. The third is linked at the top of this post. It is on blocks that use the economy block as their center.

 

More Fun with the Economy Block

I keep playing with the economy block, which I first wrote about in January 2014. Apparently other people do, too. It’s my most-viewed post by far, with at least several hits every day. In fact if you google “economy block”, this is the result:

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 9.31.52 AM

Yep. Two hundred and six MILLION results, and mine is number one. Okay, now that I’ve bragged…

The first post showed you how to make the economy block ANY SIZE with my tutorial and cheat sheet. The second showed you 17 different arrangements of the block with alternate blocks. They range from simple to fairly complex.

This week I’ve played with the economy block as the center of a bigger block. Below are two blocks. Each is sized to be 1.5 times the size of the economy block in the center. For example, with a white center below of 4″, the economy block is 8″. The points on the outside add another 4″ (2″ on each side). The total finished block size is 8″ x 1.5 = 12″.

Here is a block EQ7 calls a “Contrary Wife Variation.” I’ve also seen it called Union Square. Wouldn’t it look great as the center of a medallion quilt? 😉

Union Square block

Union Square straight set

Union Square or Contrary Wife variation, straight set with sashing.

Union Square on point

Union Square or Contrary Wife variation, set on point with sashing.

EQ7 calls this one the “Double X, No. 4” block. I think it looks a little more delicate than the one above. Also the cornerstone in the sashing helps create a wonderful secondary design.

Double X block

Double X No. 4 block

Double X str set

Double X straight setting

Double X on point

Double X on point setting

I’ve shown these in one color set, but it’s easy to imagine them in a range of colors, with more than three colors per block, or using lots of fabrics (scraps.)

There’s a lot more, but this is enough for today.

Economy Block | Square in a Square

This morning the Quilt Alliance posted about Two Altheas and a Square Within a Square. The Altheas are American tennis champion Althea Gibson, and quilter Althea Orr Diament. Diament pieced and quilted the lovely quilt shown in the blog post. Please take a look.

I note this in particular because my all-time most viewed post is Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet). There must be some romance to this block that has made it so popular. Its graphic simplicity allows a sparkle as the primary block or an accent in a quilt.

And it’s easy to make using my instructions, though the trimming is a little fiddly.

Certainly there are many more ways to set it than side-by-side across the vast array of a quilt. If you didn’t look at the Quilt Alliance post yet, please do. The setting there is interesting and fresh. And my post showing seventeen ways to set economy blocks should spur a quilter’s thinking for more ideas.

Here is the baseball medallion that uses the block above.

Have you made a quilt using this block? Was it the primary block, an alternate, or an accent?

Economy Block 17 Free Designs

The economy block has quilters excited! As I wrote in January, quilters have found the fun in this square-in-a-square, or diamond-in-a-square block. It’s a great way to showcase novelty prints with fussy cutting, or just enjoy the color play between patches.

Once you’ve made a few of these great blocks, what should you do with them? For some ideas, take a moment to google Images for economy block quilts. I’ll wait…

Yeah. Not much variety there in design, huh? Almost every picture has an array of economy blocks side by side. The only difference is coloring.

As terrific as they look, there is more you can do with them than that. Here are SEVENTEEN ideas. They all use the same coloring, so you can focus on the secondary designs instead of color differences.

And remember, you can make the economy block ANY SIZE with my tutorial and cheat sheet.

The first one uses an unpieced alternate block. They get more complex — and more interesting — after that!

Unpieced alternate blocks

Hourglasses, turned in alternate rows

Click here to see 15 more designs!