Friday, February 21, 2014

Diamond Star Playtime Sew-Along -- choosing templates -- Part II

This is a review of Marti Michell's multi-size tools that can be used for cutting and marking pieces during the Diamond Star Playtime Sew-Along. 

Marti introduced the 60 Degree Diamond multi-sized template as part of her One-derful One-Patch template line.  It includes sizes from 2" through 4 1/2" in 1/2" increments plus a bonus size of 2 1/4".  With the tool you can cut 60 degree diamonds and matching equilateral triangles.  It comes with a 24 page booklet of detailed cutting instructions and basic piecing guidelines.
The advantage of working with this tool over one of the template sets is that you can create very LARGE scale stars.  A six-pointed star made with 3 1/2" diamonds will measure 13" flat side to flat side and 14" point to point.  The 4" diamond will make a star that is 14 3/4" flat side to flat side and 16" point to point.  The largest size diamond is 4 1/2" and the stars made with it will be 15 1/2" flat side to flat side and 18" point to point.
The disadvantage of using this tool for a sampler of blocks such as we'll be doing during the Sew-Along is that you won't have the diversity of shapes in pre-made templates.  Being able to cut matching equilateral triangles (half a 60 degree diamond) will give you some flexibility but you won't have the built-in variations of the long skinny half diamonds or the cone-head.
Marti’s Favorite Hexagon Ruler is a useful companion tool that features six sizes of hexagons in ½” increments beginning with 2” up through 4½” -- the same size range as the 60 Degree Diamond template.  Those measurements represent the length of each side finished. 

Basic instructions are included with each tool that include a step by step illustrated explanation of how to cut with the tool and the finished measurements of each size hexagon (point to point and flat side to flat side).   The cute little pink gizmo that keeps it attached can be easily undone and redone to keep this card with the tool, so if you buy one, don’t cut the pink gizmo!!
It is also a useful companion tool with Sets G and H -- I used the hexagon tool with Set G because it enabled me to cut the large filler hexagons accurately that I used in several places in Pieceful Constellations.  (Edit: Marti has since introduced a Multi-size Half Hexagon Ruler as a companion to this tool.)

Below are the six sizes (2" through 4 1/2" in 1/2" increments) of hexagons, 60 degree diamonds, and equilateral triangles that can be cut with these two tools.  The hexagons are laying on a 9 1/2" square ruler. 
This Sew-Along is based on my workshop to introduce quilters to these templates but I know some are reluctant to try templates.  I understand that position because I was hesitant in the beginning myself.  But I’m like a reformed smoker these days – I love the results that I get using them.  And I want everyone to try them, too.

If you just can’t make that step, there is one more tool – the Deluxe Corner Trimmer.  It’s a queer looking tool but you never cut all the way around it.  It is used to trim off corners of a variety of geometric shapes in addition to providing a series of holes for marking corners and stitching lines that are a perfect ¼”.  A 12 page booklet is included which reviews all the uses for the tool. 

Trimming corners before stitching eliminates bulk (which we often go back and trim out); saves you from the frustration of having fabric points sucked down into the zigzag needle hole of your machine’s throat plate; and simplifies the matching process.  For this Sew Along, trimming off the sharp points of the 60 degree diamonds means they will align accurately and quickly with the flatter (120 degree) corners of those same shapes. 
Transferring stop and start dots is the key to set-in piecing and this tool allows to you do that with any size diamond or hexagon.  So if you prefer to cut diamonds with a rotary ruler, you can still incorporate the advantages of the trimming and the ease of marking the necessary dots by using this tool.

In conclusion, I enjoy the flexibility and accuracy of working with Set G or Set H since there is a variety of related shapes with no calculations needed to cut the right sizes.   Eliminating those frustrations or challenges (depending on your viewpoint) gives you the energy to focus on playing with the fabric and the shapes.   Those are the aspects of this group of shapes that attracts me to them and helps me maintain momentum and interest in the project.  My cutting is more consistent with templates and that is the first step to accurate piecing. 
So what do you think?  Are you going to give this a try?   Leave me a comment below and let me know where you stand!
During the course of the Sew-Along, we make basic 6-pointed stars and then explore variations through fabric placement and breaking the basic diamond down into related shapes.  You'll be encouraged to make at least one of each design idea but I hope you'll want to make more of each one.  We'll explore setting options and filler blocks.  You decide how small or large your version will be and I'll share quilting ideas to help you finish this piece. 
The possibilities that will open up to you by joining in this Sew-Along will be exciting and you will no longer be intimidated by set-in piecing!  Think about that this week, decide which templates you'll use and search your stash for a starter fabric -- something exciting and wonderful.  Next week I'll share fabric guidelines so you'll have a week to organize a pile before the Sew-Along begins.

Mary Huey

All material Copyrighted by Mary Huey Quilts!

While I don't have an on-line shop that sells the templates, I do stock all of them for my workshops.  So if you are having trouble finding them, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at and I'm happy to sell them to you directly.

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