From the Sewing Room: Jewel Tone Diamonds

The Jewel Tone Diamonds Quilt Design: My first quilt to be made from Colour Inspiration Tuesday!

A few days ago I was playing around with an idea that arose from Colour Inspiration Tuesday. Remember this?!

Jewel Tone Triangles-inspired quilt layout: Jewel Tone Diamonds
Jewel Tone Diamonds quilt design from Colour Inspiration Tuesday

If not, you can find the origins of this quilt idea in this post here – Colour Inspiration Tuesday – Jewel Tone Triangles. Briefly, I used a fascinating photo by Ferdinand Stöhr at to generate a colour palette I loved. In addition, the photo itself is very geometric. It immediately brought to mind a quilt of 3D triangular pyramids in sweeping colour changes of purples and blue-greens.

Originally I was just going to create the colour scheme and serve it up for Colour Inspiration Tuesday as per usual. But the urge to design a quilt in this colour scheme was too strong. So I ended up using the Jewel Tone Triangle colours, plus two more related tones, to mock up a quick example of a tumbling blocks quilt. This was the original Jewel Tone Diamonds quilt design above. And that should have been the end of that!

But I am a sucker for: pretty colours, new quilt ideas and my daughter……

As it happened, my daughter wandered past as I was finishing that post, and said she really liked That design for Her bed…..**batting eyelids here** AND I was already considering taking a project with me while we travelled for a week for Paul’s work…… AND a local store is having it’s annual sale which means that Prima solid colour flat fats (50cmx52cm pre-cuts) are $1 each, which is 75% off…..

Flat Fats for Jewel Tone Diamonds quilt
Fabrics for Jewel Tone Diamonds quilt

So, the Voice in my head that must be obeyed said “If I take some fabric with me, I could have a quilt cut out and ready to sew when we get home next week….”

Then the same Voice said “And with fabric at $4 per metre, it is a Very good time to be experimenting with a new design. Even if said fabric is not the best quality that money can buy”.

And I don’t argue with the Voice. :). The Voice is also right about the very average fabric quality, but this can be a bonus when it comes to cutting time… It is sooooo much harder to make that first cut into a beautiful print or batik, especially on an unproven design!! These will be perfect.

Anyway, to cut a long story short…..

I bought 11 different solid colour 100% cotton fabrics in the colour range covered by the Jewel Tone Triangles colour scheme. This is quite a few more colours than in the original colour scheme of 7, I know. But this is what happens when you use something as an ideas springboard and start quilting your own story!

I started with the basic colours of the colour scheme and expanded the colour set with what looked good in the store. The new colour scheme (Jewel Tone Diamonds) now looks like this:

Jewel Tone Diamonds color scheme

These colours are slightly brighter than the original design, but that’s fine, my daughter and I love bright. More colours gives me more options for variety in the tumbling blocks, and enough fabric to expand the pattern to a single bed size. Brilliant!

Expanding the Jewel Tone Diamonds Quilt design and cutting the diamonds

We have spent this week in Arkaroola, an oasis in the South Australian Outback. So, I have been admiring this view out the laundry door while ironing my pretties ready for cutting!  Much nicer than the dismal suburban winter at home!!


Child using GO! cutter
It is great being able to share the cutting with my daughter. The GO! cutter allows her to be involved even though she is too young to use a rotary cutter!

I re-designed the Jewel Tone Diamonds quilt to accommodate my 11 fabric colours and to be single-bed sized. I worked out that if I used my Diamonds 4×4 GO! Die, a single bed top would require about 6 diamonds across and 12 rows of tumbling blocks along the length. Then my daughter and I used my GO! cutter to cut out 20 diamonds in each colour for her new quilt and she and I did a test layout of the pieces together.

Passing on the love

My daughter is just beginning to show an interest in quilting, so this project is perfect for her to start participating. Because I have designed this quilt with the diamond GO! cutter die in mind, she is able to help with the cutting. She loves to help cut the pieces by winding the handle. I also got some “help” laying out the pieces. However, since I like to make adjustments on the fly, this is a slightly trickier process to share with my new apprentice!

Diamonds cut out, ready for layout.
Diamonds cut out and ready for layout.
Starting to layout the Jewel Tone Diamonds.
Jewel Tone Diamonds






Once we had an idea of the number of pieces we would need for each particular colour, we cut more diamonds as needed. This is what our current layout looks like:

Jewel Tone Diamonds quilt trial layout
In the end we were pretty pleased with our expanded Jewel Tone Diamonds design. So pretty!

Colour Value and the Tumbling Block quilt design

Here’s the most important tip for tumbling block quilts…… It is important to pay absolute attention to the colour values of your fabrics and where you place them. To begin with, you must decide which of the three faces of the “cube” you want to be the lightest, which will be the darkest and which will have an intermediate colour value. Then you have to stick to this decision for each set of three pieces that make up a block. Otherwise the 3D illusion of this design does not work. 

My daughter actually grasped this concept pretty well. To help us keep to our chosen regime of lightest value on the top of each cube, medium value on the left and darkest value on the right, we took occasional photos in black and white. This is the easiest way to judge colour value.

Black and white photo of Jewel Tone Diamonds
To easily judge the colour value of your quilts, take photos in black and white.

A problem and the solution:

Black and white color value comparison
The two fabrics on the left and right of this cube unit are actually quite different greens but with the same colour values.

In our colour palette there are two fabrics that I have struggled to differentiate as to which has the darker value. One is fairly saturated in colour (is a hue), and the other is a tone. The toned fabric has been darkened with black, but also diluted with white. So the two fabrics have ended up a similar colour value. 

In the end, I have designated the more saturated colour to be the “darker” fabric so that we can be consistent with our layout. Then, when it comes to quilting time, I can help maintain the 3D illusion by quilting the toned fabric with a light thread and the saturated fabric with a dark thread. The overall effect of this will be to darken the perceived value of the saturated fabric and to lighten the toned fabric, preserving the 3D tumbling block design. Sometimes you just can’t get enough absolutely perfect fabric colours when you are shopping for a quilt….. Don’t despair, just think about what else you can do to get the effect you want!

Heading home to sew Jewel Tone Diamonds

Cutting pieces for a quilt, walks in the bush, campfire cooking with the kids and helping with the local war on a Mexican Poppy infestation….. It has been a lovely time away.

Mexican poppy
Exotic Mexican Poppy weeds are a threat to the Arkaroola ecosystem. 
Arkaroola is a beautiful rugged landscape and home to the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby.

It will also be nice to be back at the sewing machine next week. Although…. now that I have all those diamonds cut and laid out, I can see just how many Y-seams I have! Just for the record, I haven’t sewn Y-seams before….. this could be interesting! Anyway, my adorable daughter is being quite insistent that she should sew them. Never mind she has never even sewn a basic seam yet! I have promised to help her to learn how to make a quilt, but obviously (and to her disgust) we will start with something beginner friendly. Now that she is finally showing some interest in sewing, I want her to love quilting….. I’ll keep you posted on that journey too.

blue Clever Chameleon logoIn the meantime, we have 680 km to cover to get home. Then I get to have a day at the South Australian Quilters’ Guild Festival of Quilts. The day after that I plan to visit a Tentmakers of Cairo display. What a lovely week to look forward to!

I’ll definitely be checking out lots of quilting stories this week!

Update: you can find my progress on the Jewel Tone Diamonds Quilt, including a new tutorial on how to sew Y-seams here.

Now it's your turn.... what do you think?