Tag Archives: Harlequin

Harlequin Diamonds — Beginning

I’ve showed you inspirations for my new project, and I’ve told you a bit about my plan. Today I’ll show you the beginning of my construction process.

Here is the EQ7 drawing for the quilt. It will finish at something like 86″ x 90″. It has 15 9-patches and 8 4-patches. In addition there are setting triangles along the top and bottom, sides, and in the corners. The colors will focus on turquoises and purples, but will include greens, pinks, and oranges for spark. The mock-up below isn’t intended to be a placement chart for the colors.

Harlequin Diamonds

When I first drew this plan I used all 9-patches, rather than a mix of 9- and 4-patches. It looked too dense to me, and I thought it might be hard to get the fabrics separated so no two touching patches were of the same fabric. That matters less with the mix of sizes. Also, construction should be easier with the mix, with fewer seams to match. That will be important with all the bias edges.

Originally I also figured the setting triangles would be pieced, rather than whole. But I like the frame created by the unpieced triangles, and again, construction will be much simpler. I hope to find a great print to use for them that will tie it all together. Though I don’t use batiks a lot, this might be the right place.

I used the same layout, colored differently, to find the estimated fabric needed. The 9-patches need about 4.5 yards; the 4-patches need about 2.5 yards; and the setting triangles need about 2 yards.

Harlequin Diamonds 2

I pulled from my stash for the 9-patches. I chose based on color and made no attempt to deal with value differences, as they simply aren’t important to define the pattern. I cut 5.5″ strips to begin making the strip sets.

When I cut strips, I cut along the selvage when possible. This gives me a more stable piece with less stretch. When sewing long strips together, the greater stability helps to keep the pieced segment from warping. However, since most pieces in my stash are smallish, I have cut across the grain where needed. A few of my strips are short, and when I’ve had multiples of the same fabric, I’ve pieced them to make longer strips. This gives a little less waste.

I haven’t finished any of the 9-patches yet, but I do have the 3-patch segments for 12 of them. I need to cut more 5.5″ strips to finish the 15.


Then comes the 4-patches. I will have to buy more fabric, as those will take larger pieces, and I’m almost out of purples.

Harlequin Diamonds

Last time I showed you some inspirations for a new quilt. The first spur for my interest came from a blog post that showed a lovely quilt from diamonds. Unlike what we often see, the diamonds did not radiate from a central point to create a star. Instead they ran in interlocking lines from top to bottom.

I asked the blogger if she had strip-pieced it, as is often recommended for Lone Star patterns. She said no, she had cut each of the diamonds individually. I wondered if strip-piecing would even work. When I made the diamonds for my UFO project, I strip-pieced. (That means, I cut long strips from each of the fabrics and sewed the strips together in sets of three. After pressing well, I cross-cut the 3-strip piece at a 60° angle. Once I had three units, I sewed them together to get an angled 9-patch.) Here are those diamonds arrayed as a star. The star uses six 9-patch units.


Here they are again, arrayed in a top-to-bottom line. (Use your imagination to fill in the upper corners.) It works in theory, though of course the color/value arrangement is poor.


I talked to Jim about the size of a diamond. If I use a symmetrical diamond from a strip that finishes at 5″, how big is the diamond from point to point? He drew the picture and did the math for me. In the picture below, h is the height, or finished width of the strip. d1 is the distance from point to point, across the narrow direction, and d2 is the distance across the long direction.


If I use 5″ finish strips, the long dimension through the diamond is 10″ from point to point, and the short dimension is 5/.866 = 5.77″, or about 5.75″.

I was able to use these dimensions to draw an example in EQ7. I used blocks that finish at 30″ tall and 17.25″ wide. It gives me a little more flexibility for design. For example, I can use a 9-patch block in that space with 10″ x 5.75″ patches. Or I can use a 4-patch, with patches measuring 15″ x 8.625″, using 7.5″ strips for the strip-piecing.

Harlequin Diamonds

This arrangement of blocks on point, with 5 across and 3 down, will create a quilt that is about 86″ wide by 90″ long.

I’ve pulled about everything from stash that will work for this and started cutting. Next time I’ll talk about the start of construction.

Inspirations for a New Project

I’m still working on big-stitch hand-quilting of Untied. It is slow, almost by definition.

For the last few weeks, though, I’ve been thinking about a new project, and I finally started it last week. My thinking was inspired by a blogger who used diamonds to create a quilt. (I’m sorry I don’t remember whose blog that was.) Of course diamonds have been used almost as long as patchwork has been around. An old configuration is the Lone Star or Star of Bethlehem quilt form.

The Star of Bethlehem quilt uses 45° parallelograms radiating from the center to create an eight-pointed star. Here is an especially beautiful version from around 1850. This photo is courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


Because of the angle, this creates a relatively narrow shape, which is why eight segments or points fit around the center. (See some of Barbara Brackman’s many posts on using diamonds. This one shows several fine Star of Bethlehem quilts. And for more fun take a look here and here.) 

I want to use 60° diamonds instead. These make a wider parallelogram than the 45° version. Here is a photo of a quilt block I made using 60° angles to create a star:

African fabrics. I pieced the star and appliqued it onto the background.

The blog that inspired me, however, didn’t use these patches to make a star. It simply ran the patches in interlocking lines, top to bottom. This reminded me more of a harlequin pattern. Pablo Picasso painted several pictures of harlequins, pantomimes wearing costumes covered with diamonds.

Picasso boy 2

Picasso boy

Picasso man

Inspired yet? More next time…