Tips for Constructing a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 2

FinaleditIn my last post, I shared some tips for drafting and cutting pieces for a Tumbling Diamonds quilt block. As some of you suggested in the comments, it may have been easier to paper-piece this pattern. This may certainly be the case, for those of you who enjoy paper piecing. You will however, need to start with the drafted pattern and then cut into sections required for paper piecing. For those of you, like myself, who like traditional piecing, I am including some tips for construction of this block. the more I work and play with it, the more I just love it. I can see it in many fabric and design options.

Here’s the block, now let’s get started.

Tumbling Diamonds quilt block
Tumbling Diamonds quilt block.

If you missed my previous post and would like to follow along, click here to get all of the cutting instructions.

Step One: Sew the A-1 and A-2 strips together lengthwise. To avoid waste when cutting, offset the strips 2″, as shown.

Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.
Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.

Step 2: Use the 45-degree angle marking on your ruler to cut diamond units. The cut width of the units is the same measurement used to cut the individual strips. The photo shows a 2″ wide cut.
















Step 3: Place the diamond units exactly as shown, and then use pins to secure at the center and near the ends. Be consistent with the placement of the fabrics in all four pieced diamond units. In my sample, the navy fabric is always at the ends. Sew two units together. It is important to note that the stitching line begins and ends where the two units touch. Press the seam first on the wrong and then right side to complete the pieced diamond.




Step 4: Sew the pieced diamonds to the fabric B triangles. Note the exact placement of the pieces when stitching, as there should be extensions on both ends.



Step 5: Sew the new units to the fabric C center square. It is important to begin and end the stitching line 1/4″ from the edge of the C square, as shown and indicated by the pencil line on the fabric. Take a few backstitches at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Repeat with all four sides.



Step 6: The final block construction joins the side pieces at the corners….yeah, y-seams!! The most important thing to remember in this construction is to never stitch beyond the 1/4″ lines, as shown.



Step 7: Give your completed block a final press, first on the wrong and then right side.

Let’s look at some design options for this block. 

Without having to make multiple blocks, you can preview what four will look like together. Often times, the secondary designs formed where blocks are joined can be just as interesting or perhaps even more so that the original block. I used two mirror squares that are taped together to form a hinge. I am just loving this block and plan to play with more colors and fabric options.


Two mirrors joined together.
Two mirrors joined together.


4block mirror


Here’s what the block looks like if side triangles are added. An alternate block is created joining them together. I think it would be fun to use a variety of fabrics for the corner triangles.

Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.
Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.


I think I need to play more with this block. I hope you might feel the same. Up next, Pati will share her interpretation of this blocks, using the same fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. Be sure to join us.

In the meantime, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

Problem Solving Tips for Drafting a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 1

Hello Readers,

In my last post, I included  a short video that Pati and I recently made.  In the video I suggest to Pati that we share with you some of the steps we each use in designing our quilts. I looked through the very first quilting book I ever purchased, “The Quilters” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Buferd and was intrigued by an image of the quilt labeled as “Tumbling Diamonds”. The credit indicates the quilt is from Texas around 1910 and in the Cooper and Buferd Collection. I suggested to Pati that we use this pattern and challenge ourselves to make blocks using some current fabrics.

"Tumbling Diamonds" quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.
“Tumbling Diamonds” quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.

Here are the 5 new fabrics that I selected for our projects. Since I failed to include the names of the fabric manufacturers and designers on the video, I am adding them here, just in case you are interested in adding some of these beauties to your stash.


  1. White multi-print – “London Calling” (Spice) by Robert Kaufman
  2. Black floral – “London Calling” (orchid) by Robert Kaufman
  3. Pink with bowls – “Zephyr” by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton and Steel
  4. Green/Yellow geometric – “Birch Farm – Chicken Coop” by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit
  5. Navy with letters – “Playful” by Melody Miller for Cotton and Steel

Often we find patterns or inspiration in a book, magazine or an online source. Making a traditional pieced block without a pattern or instructions can be a bit challenging. It’s nice to at least have a starting point so I consulted my two usual resource books.  I was not successful in finding this exact block. I did however, find one in Jinny Beyer’s book that is very close. It is called “Roads to Berlin” and listed under the 4-patch category of blocks. I could easily draft a block similar to Tumbling Diamonds using the diagram shown. But my stubborn self likes a challenge so I decide to attempt drafting it as close to the original as possible Note that the diamonds are both long and not pieced, as shown in the quilt pattern.


In this post I will share with you how I drafted the Tumbling Diamonds block and then determined the cutting sizes of the fabric shapes. My next post will include tips on block construction as well as some fun setting options. I hope you might be tempted and inspired to play along and make one for yourself.

"Tumbling Diamonds"
“Tumbling Diamonds”

I did play with this pattern on graph paper, but found the sizes to be challenging, especially when working with the pieced diamonds. So, rather than working in the traditional way of marking a finished size block onto graph paper and then filling in the shapes, I decided to start by drafting the pieced diamonds and build from there to complete the block. This is definitely not my usual way, but it worked great for this block and I too learned something along the way.

My goal was to both use easy to cut measurements and strip-piece the two fabrics together that are used for the diamonds. I randomly decided to make make each small diamond 1″ finished, and started the drafting process, as shown. I know that many of you skilled with design programs can do this much quicker and easier than this, but I’m one of those old-school girl types! I enjoy working with graph paper and pencil. Either way, I hope you might give this a try.

Step One: Mark a corner of the block, then a 45-degree angle line from the corner into the center. Finally, mark two parallel lines, 1″ apart, as shown.


Step Two: Mark two additional diagonal lines, as shown. This completes one pieced diamond.



Step Three: Use the 45-degree marking on your ruler to add more lines, as shown. These lines determine the finished size of the quilt block. This one is 6-7/8″ x 6-7/8″.



Step Four: Refer to the photos to continue marking lines to complete the shapes in this block.



Step Five: This photo includes all the markings needed to define the shapes in the block. The shapes are labeled, A, B & C and cutting measurements included. Note that the A diamonds are labeled 1 & @ to indicate that two fabrics are used.




Here’s an easy reference chart for cutting fabric shapes to make one Tumbling Diamonds block. I am also including cutting measurements for a 10-3/8″ finished block, just in case you are interested in making a larger block but want to avoid the drafting process ; ). Get your fabrics out and start cutting. I know you will enjoy the process.


To make one 6-7/8″ x 6-7/8″ finished block

A-1 & A-2: One 1-1/2″ x 42″ strip, from each of two fabrics

B: One 5-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice, into quarters diagonally.

C: One 3-3/8″ square


To make one 10-3/8″ x 10-3/8″ finished block

A-1 & A-2: One 2″ x 42″ strip, from each of two fabrics

B: One 7-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice, into quarters diagonally.

C: One 4-7/8″ square.

Be sure to check back as my next post will include helpful hints for construction and setting options. Following that, Pati will share her block using the same inspiration pattern and fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, and hope you will feel the same.


Laura Signature


















New Tutorial Series Launches at SHWS: Inspiration and Helpful Tips for Quilters

Pati and I are excited to share with you our first, of hopefully many video tutorials. In keeping with our blog name, we want you to actually “see” how we work with fabric, color, design and inspiration. Please check back with us as we have fun sharing our teaching tips on many subjects.


Take care everyone and enjoy!

Laura Signature




Cutting and Sewing Curves – The Advanced Lesson

Making Waves Quilt by See How We SewWow! What a great response we have had to our video tutorial, Cutting and Sewing Curves. Based on all the comments received,  I think it may have taken the fear out of sewing curves for some of you.

I absolutely love adapting curves to the improvisational piecing that I have been experimenting with lately. Now that we have discussed the basics of this in Laura’s post last week, I thought I would share some tips and tricks that I have found helpful, along with , here we go – sewing curves into your curves. Think of this as Advanced Curves 101. It’s not really hard, you just need to get in there and give it a try! Come on now, embrace your curves!

Advanced Curves 1 SHWS

Let’s start with your basic curved piece section. What if you don’t like what you made? What if there is just too much of one fabric, or you want just a sliver of something else added in? Want to do some experimenting?

Advanced Curves 2 SHWS

When I teach classes on the Making Waves Quilt, sometimes a student decides there is a little too much of one fabric in a section of their waves.  This is where the fun begins! Determine which fabric is too heavy and slice right into the section that is bothering you. By inserting a new fabric, you are not only taking out the weight, but also adding movement and interest. Introduce a new shape to your curve, or slice into more than one section, and you will be adding a whole new level of design.

Advanced Curves 3 SHWS

Move your sections around to decide how large of a section to insert. The piece you are inserting could be just a small sliver . . .Advanced Curves 4 SHWS

or a big chunk of fabric. Trust your judgment. You probably already know what you need it to do.Advanced Curves 5 SHWS

If not, you could be like me and just do the opposite of what seems most obvious. I guess I like to stir things up.

Advanced Curves 7 SHWS

This time, I chose to go with a tiny sliver, then offset it a bit. 
Advanced Curves 8 SHWS

I like the way it just peeks through. Especially the little intersection of the three fabrics. It seems graceful, doesn’t it?

Advanced Curves 9 SHWS

Hmmm, file that idea away for a future project. As I said, I like to stir things up, so I chose to crop them into 2 separate blocks. The possibilities are endless! Give it a try!

A few tips to keep in mind:

When cutting into a section – remember that you will be losing 1/4″ on either side of your cut.

Cutting through more than one section is encouraged. It will add interest to your final piece.

Watch your 1/4″ seam allowance when sewing. It is very easy to get off, which will affect your curve.

If your fabric starts to bunch up while sewing, lift your presser foot and try to readjust things. This usually helps. If not, you may have to take out a few of your last stitches, then proceed.

If your curve does not lay down properly after pressing, take out the stitches in problem area, pat the curve back into place correctly and pin accordingly. When you flip it over, trim off the excess so that the raw edges match, then re-sew new curve.

Notes on Hashmarks and Pinning:

A reader asked why we don’t mark on the right side of fabric (inside the seam allowance). Do what works best for you. I personally like to be able to make big hashmarks, so that I don’t have to spend much time looking for them. I also feel more comfortable pinning while the right sides are joined and facing each other. This way I can view the marks on the outer (wrong) sides, .

At some point, you will get comfortable and decide you don’t need to mark and pin. That is perfectly fine. I will warn you, though, that when I stop marking and pinning, my curves start to get a little wobbly and out of skew. If you want perfect, gracefully pieced curves, take the time to mark and pin. Especially when they are more than 8″ in length.


10_instagram 02_facebookShare your photos!

I am collecting photos for a blog post on Favorite Pincushions. If you have a favorite pincushion, take a photo and post it with on ourt SHWS Facebook page or share it on the SHWS Instagram account, #favoritepincushion, #seehowwesew.





Congratulations to Jean Stringfellow and Dee Carter for winning the Making Waves Quilt Pattern! We will be contacting you for your mailing information.









Cutting and Sewing Curves, a Video Tutorial & Giveaway

Beauty Shot 2

Several of our readers have asked for a tutorial on cutting and sewing curves without using a pattern. We have made a video tutorial showing how easy it is to add curves to your quilting projects. This is the technique we used on our Making Waves pattern.


It’s fun, it’s easy and if you haven’t ever done it, I suggest watching the video and give it a try. It will be permanently living in our How-To Videos page, which can be accessed through the button above. While you are there, be sure to check out some of our other helpful videos.



We are offering two copies of our pattern to two of our readers. Please leave a comment by end of day Friday, July 31st if you would like a chance to receive a pattern.

We will also have the video posted on our SHWS You Tube Channel Enjoy the show!

Laura Signature

Happy Little Placemats – Easier Than They Look with a Video and Free Downloadable Pattern

Earlier this week, I wrote in my post, A Little Happiness with Cotton Couture Solids, about the latest project I have been playing with. My paper pieced placemats were created to tell a color story using Michael Miller’s great collection of solids. As you can see, no two are alike, which made my job soooo much fun. It was as if I were making 4 different miniature quilts!

Happy Little Placemats by Pati Fried for See How We Sew
As complicated as they look – once I got the hang of it, they were actually quite easy. I thought it would be fun to share with you the process, a few tips, along with a free downloadable for you to play with and create your own paper pieced project.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics

Writing the instructions is definitely harder than making the actual project! I tend to work improvisationally, so it is always a challenge for me to translate my work into words. Since this is a free download, I am going to take a different approach today and simply talk you through the process – there will be more specific directions in the download.

So, put the rotary cutter down, grab a cup of coffee and let’s just walk through the steps together to make these little gems. I urge you give it a try, be open to experimenting and you will end up with your own unique creation.

You can print out the the free downloadable here:     Happy Little Placemats Instructions and Foundation Papers

I recommend printing them on a lightweight newsprint or specialty foundation paper. If you have never paper pieced before, Connecting Threads has a very thorough blog post on all things paper piecing. It also discusses the different types of paper to use.

My finished placemats are 12 x 18”, but both dimensions can be easily adjusted to make a pillow, tote bag, or whatever your heart desires.

2015-03-22 10.41.14

I chose 6 colors of solids in small cuts, a white “sashing” for impact, and gray for the final edge, face binding and backing. Experimenting with mixing solids and prints to get the look you want. That’s what this is all about, right? Playing!

I cut strips of each color to make the variegated stripes. Don’t let the printout scare you. It is actually quite easy and a great way to practice paper piecing. It takes a little time, but you will soon get a rhythm going and you will never more perfect 1/4″ piecing than this!!!

2015-04-29 16.40.11

Paper piecing is one of those things that makes a lot more sense as you go through the motions. Do it once and you will get it forever. Once the sheet is filled with your lovely piecing, follow the directions on the printout to trim the sections out to the correct widths and tips on how to extend the lengths.2015-03-31 08.18.57

Now that you have some practice under your belt, try your hand at the triangle designs. I suggest you cut a 3″ x 9″ wide strips of fabric to start. The size you need will vary with each design. After one or two passes, you will know how big the rectangles need to be. Remember, stitch and flip, stitch and flip. More directions are listed on the printout. Believe me, you will knock them out in no time. If you like one design more than the others, try repeating it in a different color combination. Mix and match for a new look.

Once all your strips are pieced, it’s time to play with your design!!! Yay! That should make you happy. If not, hmmmm, maybe you need to watch my video:

Inspired to finish now? Great! Line up the strips to your liking. The width of the solid strip in the center is determined by the amount needed to reach your desired width. This is where you might be happy to have a little extra length to position your sections where you want them.2015-05-03 12.01.47

Time to sew your little gems together. Here is a hint: leave the foundation paper on until you have sewn all the white sashing in place. It will help keep your lines neat and straight. I cut my sashing oversized, stitched one side in place, then trimmed to 1/2″. I then stitched the next strip in place. It worked really well and kept the wavy seams away. I also decided to insert gray as the last few on each end and then finished with a 2 1/2″” strip as my edge. 2015-05-05 12.20.03

I kept the quilting very simple, in the ditch and not too much of it. I chose a Faced Binding, so as not to distract from the design. For more on Faced Bindings, read Jennifer’s Round’s post Infinity Edges in the Quilts.

2015-05-05 13.35.19

And there you have it! Happy Little Placemats for you to brighten your summer table with. I hope you share your finished projects with us on our SHWS Facebook Page or catch me on Instagramunnamed (1)

As always, thanks for reading! Have a great weekend.


Memory Board Game, A How-To-Make Tutorial

Since many of you have requested instructions on making the Memory Board Game I made in a previous post, I’ve decided to write a short tutorial giving the simple instructions. It’s a fun and easy project to make, using vinyl chalkboard fabric on the cover. It is a perfect “quiet” game doubling as both a drawing board and matching game board. Start collecting your favorite fun fabrics and  kid-type prints and get ready to create!  In case you missed the original post on this project, it was included here, with the review of Lisa Fulmer’s new book “Craft Your Stash”.

Screen shot 2014-10-26 at 7.56.34 PM

The finished size of the game board is 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″. It folds in half like a book and is secured on the side with a ribbon tie. You can certainly make your game board any size, in fact you may want to adjust it to accommodate the size of the picture squares, or rectangles. Just have fun with this one! Will make an adorable game for a special little one in your life.




Here’s what you will need:

10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ piece of vinyl chalkboard/blackboard fabric

Two 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ pieces of felt

Two 2-1/2″ x 10″ pieces of Timtex or Peltex (heavyweight stabilizer)

Twenty- four kid-prints or fun fabrics; dots, numbers and letters work well too.  May be more or less, depending on size of prints.

1/2 yard of fusible web

20″ piece of 1″ ribbon, cut in half

Thread & glue

Rotary cutter – I used a scalloped edge blade for added interest

A walking foot will be helpful for stitching through the layers.

Box of colored chalk

Fabric to make small pouch to store chalk and matching squares.



1. Press the fusible web onto the wrong side of all the kid prints.

2. Cut the fabrics into squares, using the rotary cutter. Need two squares of each image. Remove the paper backing from the fusible web.

3. Arrange one-half of the squares onto one piece of felt, leaving a larger space in the center to allow for folding in half.



4. Arrange the other (matching) set of picture squares onto the other piece of felt.

5. Press to secure the picture squares and then stitch both horizontally and vertically approximately 1/4″ from the edges of the squares.

6. With the right side of the chalkboard fabric facing out, layer with the pieces of stabilizer and then one piece of felt.

7. Insert one piece of ribbon on each side of the board, between the layers. Use a little glue to hold in place.

8. Stitch through all layers around the entire edge of the board.


9. Use the rotary cutter to cut around the picture squares which were stitched to the second piece of felt. These are used to match/cover the picture squares stitched to the board.
Here’s the final game, front and back.
Game board with matching pieces.
Game board with matching pieces.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
10. Consider making a small fabric pouch for storing the matching squares along with a box of colored chalk.
Hope you found this helpful. Until next time everyone, take care everyone.

Laura Signature



Blackbirds and Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along: The Birdhouse Blocks

This week it’s my turn to share my contribution to our Quilt-Along project, Blackbirds and Blossoms, Oh-La-La! If you have been following along with us, these pieces will complete the center of the quilt top. If you are newcomer to this fun group project, it’s certainly not too late to start. All of the instructions can be found in our Pattern Pages. Please join the fun!

Birdhouses complete our Quilt-Along.
The Birdhouses to complete our Quilt-Along.

I was given the task of designing a block for the corners of the quilt. The center floral designs seemed to call for the addition of birds. With this in mind, the idea of creating birdhouses to fit into the corners provided the perfect setting for a quartet of simple, whimsical birds. This is a super-easy-to-construct birdhouse block and it adds a nice corner element to the center floral medallion.

Here’s what you will need to make four Birdhouses:

House front: Four 6-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ pieces

House top: One 11-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice into quarters diagonally to yield four triangles.

Roof: Two 1-3/4″ x 42″ strips. Cut the strips to make four 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ pieces and four 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ pieces.

Background: Two 13″ squares. Cut each square twice into quarters diagonally to yield eight triangles.

Cut pieces for Birdhouses.
Cut pieces for Birdhouses.


1. Sew a Background triangle to each short side of the House Front pieces, aligning the bottom edges.

2. Use your cutting tools to remove the excess Background and straighten the top edge, as shown.


3. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ piece  of Roof fabric to one short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric even with the bottom edge of the House Top.


4. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ piece of Roof fabric to the adjoining short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric, as shown. This completes the top half of the Birdhouse.


5. Join the top and bottom sections together, matching seams where the House Front and House Top pieces intersect.


6. Press the seam in the direction of the bottom half of the birdhouse.

Easy enough? Yes, of course! Please join me on Friday as I give instructions and hints for adding the Birdhouse opening as well as the birds.

Until next time, enjoy!






Easy Mitered Corner Napkins, a Tutorial

It’s no surprise that my daughters know the difference between good fabric and the not-so good stuff. When my daughter Molly was ordering linens for her upcoming wedding, the choices she had for napkins were not up to her high standards. She thought it might be better to make rather than rent them. Makes sense, right? This way they will be hers to keepall 120 of them, I can’t argue with that one.

photo 1

We were both inspired by some beautiful linens at Pottery Barn and felt they looked best with mitered corners. So, off we went to the store. We were lucky enough to find a bolt of 54″ wide linen. I cut 18″ squares, making six napkins per yard.

Here’s how I made the napkins:

1.  Start at the center point of one side and press the raw edge 1/4″ to the backside (if there is one).  The corners will fold and miter more easily if you work and press in a counter clockwise direction. Note that the top right hand edge is left unpressed at this time. It will be turned and pressed after working completely around the napkin.


2. Turn and press again. I turned these 1″ as I prefer a wide hem. You can adjust to your liking.


3. Rotate the napkin and repeat the process, turning and pressing first 1/4″ and then 1″ to form the hem.



4. Take the napkins to the sewing machine and starting on one side, stitch close to the folded edge. Before reaching the corner, stop and turn the top fold under itself to form a miter.  A pin, tip end of small scissors, stiletto or seam ripper is helpful for this step.


5. Continue stitching to the inside corner. With the needle in the down position, raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric. Continue stitching, repeating the mitering treatment at each corner.

That is it.  It doesn’t get much easier. Now to decide how to fold them. Check out these fun options here. I made a few demonstration napkins using some Kaffe Fassett shot cottons. They work up beautifully and I especially like that the fabric is the same on both sides. Think I’ll be making some of these for myself. I’m sure you will agree that I deserve them!

I hope to show you the bridesmaids robes next month. It’s been pretty fun and creative here–hoping the same is true for you.