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MJ
Kinman

Diamonds & Drama Queens
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October 2021: “The Duke Diamond” Gem Block

787b3022e64c3f8b5fc2817ceda9bd15 doris duke circle of friends
Doris Duke, our inspiration for October’s gem block

The Inspiration

The inspiration for our October gem block is Doris Duke. The gem that I’ve chosen for this month’s pattern is a square antique French-cut diamond ring. I’d like to think that it’s similar to one given to Doris’ mother by her father, James Buchanan Duke, or perhaps given to Doris in 1947 by her new husband, Argentinian playboy Porfiro “Rubi” Rubirosa.

French Cut Diamond and Onyx Engagement Ring 12203
French-Cut Diamond and
Onyx Engagement Ring
Duke Diamond JPG
Duke Diamond Chart
Duke Diamond Diamond Colorway JPG
Duke Diamond pattern in Diamond Colorway

Doris Duke lived in luxury all her life. When her elderly father and tobacco magnate Buck Duke died in 1925, she became the richest 12-year-old in the world. Doris lived life on her own terms. She sought to preserve her father’s legacy, create her own career, manage multiple love affairs and marriages, and give generously to causes that mattered to her. Yet she remained an enigma, aloof and aloft from those who wished to own her.

The French-cut faceting pattern evolved from the table-cut faceting pattern, one of the very first faceting patterns for diamonds. The French-cut regained popularity in the 1920’s in response to a need for a simply, yet spectacular, faceting pattern for small stones.

Duke Diamond Colorway Collage REV
Duke Diamond pattern in 5 colorways

The Pattern

Colorways

To access the downloadable PDF file for the colorway chart and list of suggested fabrics for each color, click the button below:

9″ Block

12″ Block

18″ Block

The Story

I hope you enjoy learning more about Doris Duke and her amazing life!


September 2021: “The Countess” Gem Block

Bismarck Sapphire 2
Bismarck Sapphire

The Inspiration

Our Diamonds & Drama Queens pattern for September is inspired by the Bismarck Sapphire, a 98.57-carat Burmese sapphire. It’s exceptional for its outstanding clarity, rich blue color, and the fact that it is one of the largest and finest sapphires of its kind.

Historical records suggest that it was acquired by the Countess von Bismarck (nee Frances “Mona” Strader) who was born in Louisville, Kentucky and raised near Lexington, Kentucky. She likely acquired it in India while on her year-long honeymoon with husband #2, Harrison Williams. Harrison was her senior by 24 years and known as the richest man in America.

After Harrison’s death in 1953, Mona married Count Edward von Bismarck (grandson of Germany’s “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck) that same year. It was during her marriage to the Count that she decided to donate her fabulous sapphire to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 1967.

Mona portrait3
Mona von Bismarck
Mona portrait 2
Mona von Bismarck
Mona Drama Queen 1
Mona von Bismarck

The Pattern

The pattern showcases the oval sapphire’s lovely faceting. You’ll notice that the colorways emphasize the glowing hue of the gem. Please note that the Diamond colorway inverts the value progression — the “A” code is black and the “G” code is white. There are 8 colors in this pattern, one more than in previous patterns.

Bismarck Sapphire Codes Completed JPG
The Countess with Codes
The Countess Collage on White
The Countess Collage on White
The Countess Collage on Black
The Countess Collage on Black

Colorways

To access the downloadable PDF file for the colorway chart and list of suggested fabrics for each color, click the button below:

To access the downloadable PDF file for the charts in 9″, 12″ & 18″, click one of the buttons below:

9″ Block

12″ Block

18″ Block

The Story

I hope you enjoy learning about the magnificent Mona von Bismarck, the elegant woman who defined the art of living well in the 20th Century.


August 2021: “Maximilian’s Folly” Gem Block

Maximilian Emerald
Maximilian Emerald

The Inspiration

Our Diamonds & Drama Queens pattern for August is inspired by the Maximilian Emerald, a 21.04-carat Columbian emerald. It was allegedly owned by Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, archduke of Austria. Maximilian was persuaded by Napoleon III to depose the existing emperor of Mexico, Benito Juarez, and take his place. Maximilian and his wife Carlotta were crowned Emperor and Empress of Mexico in 1864. He was executed by troops loyal to Juarez just three years later when Juarez retook Mexico City.

The gem came into possession of the Cartier brothers who set it with baguette diamonds on either side. Marjorie Merriweather post purchased it in 1929 and later donated it to the Smithsonian in 1964.

I fell in love with this emerald’s bluish green hue that includes flashes of bright acid green. The special Maximilian Emerald green colorway is therefore an analogous colorway that blends colors on both the blue-side and the yellow-side of green. I also thought you all might need a bit of a piecing break; this pattern only has 44 facets.

The Pattern

The pattern showcases the long edges of an emerald-cut gemstone. To be sure your facets are straight after sewing, be sure to place those long edges on the straight of grain (the grainline parallel to the selvedge).

Maximilians Folly rev V2 FINAL CHART
Maximilians Folly Chart
Maximilians Folly Collage Black Background
Maximilians Folly Collage Black Background
Maximilians Folly Collage White Background 1
Maximilians Folly Collage White Background

Colorways

To access the downloadable PDF file for the colorway chart and list of suggested fabrics for each color, click the button below:

To access the downloadable PDF file for the charts in 9″, 12″ & 18″, click one of the buttons below:

9″ Block

12″ Block

18″ Block

The Story

Enjoy learning about the Maximilian Emerald from its reputed origins in Columbia to its forever home the Smithsonian as part of the National Gem Collection — thanks to Marjorie Merriweather Post.


July 2021: “Polaris” Gem Block

Polar Star Diamond
Polar Star Diamond (1st image)
the polar star diamond new solo
The Polar Star Diamond (2nd image)

The Inspiration

Our Diamonds & Drama Queens pattern for July is inspired by the Polar Star Diamond, a 41.28-carat, pillow-shaped, brilliant-cut “Golconda” diamond. It’s been called “the brightest diamond ever seen.”  It derives its name from the 8-pointed star cut on its pavilion. And it’s said to be so perfectly cut that it can be balanced on its culet.

I really enjoyed sharing the story of this lovely gemstone with you because of all the amazing personalities that have come into contact with it over the centuries. There’s no shortage of drama queens (and kings) with this piece of ice! I’ve tried to share as much as I can about it and them in the video below.

The Pattern

The pattern showcases the 8-pointed star cut on the Polar Star’s culet. While it looks like there are a bunch of set-in seams, I assure you, there are none.

Polar Star Chart FINAL jpg
Polaris Chart
Polar Star DDQ Collage
Polaris Colorways

To access the downloadable PDF file for the colorway chart and list of suggested fabrics for each color, click the button below:

To access the downloadable PDF file for the charts in 9″, 12″ & 18″, click one of the buttons below:

9″ Block

12″ Block

18″ Block

The Story

Enjoy learning about the Polar Star and the characters who were part of its history!


June 2021: “Peggy’s Skating Rink” Gem Block

20672 Portuguese Diamond
The Portuguese Diamond
once owned by Peggy Hopkins Joyce

Our Diamonds & Drama Queens pattern for June is inspired by the Portuguese Diamond, a spectacular 127-carat, octagonal-cut diamond owned by former Ziegfeld Follies girl and collector of husbands, Peggy Hopkins Joyce. Some claimed that Peggy’s married lover, Walter Chrysler (the car guy), presented the gem to her during their affair.

PHJ8
Scan 20210531
Peggy Hopkins Joyce
PHJ16

When Peggy sold the gem to Harry Winston in 1951, he concocted a story that suggested its mysterious haze was indicative of the finest Brazilian diamonds. He reasoned that since all the important colonial Brazilian diamonds had become the property of the Portuguese Crown, it was likely that this diamond was a former crown jewel.

Diamond feature
The Portuguese Diamond featuring it’s soft yellow hue (graded “M” by the GIA)

None of the stories above are true. In reality, the diamond was discovered in South Africa about 1910 and was acquired by the venerable jewelry house Black, Starr & Frost. Peggy bought the diamond for herself by exchanging it for a $350,000 string of pearls and $23,000 in cash – a total of about $5.7 million in today’s dollars.

Peggys Prize June 2021 Fully Charted REV RESIZED
The Chart for “Peggy’s Skating Rink”

The pattern above showcases the octagonal shape and step cuts radiating outward from the culet. To ensure lovely, straight facets, be sure to place the long edges parallel with the straight of grain.

IMPORTANT: I admit this is a challenging pattern due to the small pieces, so I have some modifications for you to consider if you wish. They’re in the instructions AND I show you how to make them in the video below. After I talk about the pattern and the modifications to avoid dealing with the itty-bitty facets in the center, I go on to share Peggy’s story with you. Enjoy making June’s gem!

Peggys Prize June 2021 Blue Colorway
Peggy’s Skating Rink (June 2021 Blue Colorway)
Peggys Prize June 2021 Yellow Colorway
Peggy’s Skating Rink (June 2021 Yellow Colorway)
Peggys Prize June 2021 Pink Colorway
Peggy’s Skating Rink (June 2021 Pink Colorway)
Peggys Prize June 2021 ruby Colorway
Peggy’s Skating Rink (June 2021 Ruby Colorway)
Peggys Prize June 2021 Diamond Colorway JPG black bkgrd
Peggy’s Skating Rink (June 2021 Diamond Colorway)

Here are two examples of what my suggested modifications to this block look like. Notice that the center facet (the culet) disappears and is replaced instead by a dramatic Iron Cross shape. It’s dramatic and a whole lot easier to manage than those tiny central pieces.

Peggys Prize June 2021 Blue Colorway No culet jpg
Peggys Prize June 2021 Blue Colorway No culet jpg
Peggys Prize June 2021 ruby Colorway no culet jpg
Peggys Prize June 2021 ruby Colorway no culet jpg

To access the downloadable PDF file for the colorway chart and list of suggested fabrics for each color, click the button below:

To access the downloadable PDF file for the charts in 9″, 12″ & 18″, click one of the buttons below:

9″ Block

12″ Block

18″ Block

May 2021: “The Clark Pink” Gem Block

Our Diamonds & Drama Queens pattern for May is inspired by the Clark Pink, a spectacular 9-carat, Belle Epoque cushion-cut, fancy vivid purplish-pink diamond owned by Huguette Clark. The fancy vivid  purplish-pink diamond was the star of the show when Christie’s auctioned it in 2012. Expected to fetch $6-8 million, the winning bid was $15.7 million, making it the most valuable pink diamond ever sold in the United States

The Clark Pink

The pattern below showcases the cushion shape with pavilion facets radiating outward from the culet. As with the April pattern, I took some liberties with the number of facets and placement of value and color. I designed this pattern so that it didn’t overwhelm with color choices, so you’ll find just 6 colors within the gem plus a black background. Just 7 fabrics in total! I created 2 versions of 2 different colorways: a pink diamond with a black background and a white background, and a white diamond with a black background and a white background. The 2 colorways with a white background are shown below. Be sure to check out the Colorway Chart below (see the last “Download” button below) to see how different the gems look on a black background.

If you’re new to freezer paper piecing, I’ve provided 6 short tutorial videos to help you get familiar with the techniques. (Scroll down to the very end of this page where the 6 videos live. This is traditional piecing using freezer paper as your template. If you can put two pieces of fabric together with a quarter-inch seam allowance, YOU CAN DO THIS! Check out the videos below. They were made for last year’s Elizabeth Sew-Along, so while the pattern is different, the techniques are the same.

And I also provide guidance at the end of the video I created about Huguette, so please continue to watch for that instruction after I finish with Huguette’s story. I walk you through the cutting process and setting up the facets into your “Piece Plan”. I wasn’t able to start the assembly process this month before I had to go in for carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand, but will work on my own block over the coming weeks, sharing progress as I go. Please feel free to do the same on our Facebook page! Have FUN!

You’ll find 3 pattern sizes: 9″, 12″ and 18″. I’ve also created a colorway document that lists suggested fabrics from 3 different manufacturers: KONA Cotton solids, Moda Bella solids, and Painter’s Palette solids from Paintbrush Studio Fabrics. Have fun with this pattern this month…and don’t forget to post your questions, insights, and progress pictures on our private Facebook Group page!

To access the downloadable PDF file for the size block you want, click on the options below:

To access the downloadable PDF file for the colorway chart and list of suggested fabrics for each color, click the button below:

Introducing Huguette Clark, the “Reclusive Heiress”

From the moment I read about Huguette Clark, I was intrigued.

Huguette Clark (pronounced “oo-get”) was one of the last heiresses of the Gilded Age when she died in 2011, just a week shy of her 105th birthday. Her father, William A. Clark, built his fortune on mining and banking. While his contribution to American history is great, his story is largely forgotten likely because of a spectacularly corrupt political campaign he ran at the turn of the century.

Huguette’s own history was unknown for most of her life…and she liked it that way. A deeply private person, she loved art, illustration, and music. She cared little for the trappings of wealth, preferring instead to live a quiet life devoted to commissioning detailed miniature houses for her collection of porcelain dolls and Japanese figurines. She was smart, generous, and independent.


April 2021: “Evelyn`s Envy” Gem Block

Welcome to our very first month of Diamonds & Drama Queens Block of the Month! Our pattern for April is inspired by the McLean Diamond, a spectacular 31.26-carat cushion-cut diamond owned by Evelyn Walsh McLean. Ms. McLean also owned the famous Hope Diamond. After Ms. McLean sold the diamond, it was obtained by the Duchess of Windsor who was formerly known as Wallis Simpson before she married the King of England. King Edward VIII eventually abdicated so that he could marry “the woman he loved”. I enjoyed learning more about Ms. McLean for the video I created all about her life and adventures (check it out below).

The pattern I created from the inspiration of this lovely diamond showcases the square shape with rounded edges and four facets radiating from the center culet of the gem. I also wanted to emphasize the chevron shapes marching from the center toward the edges As I was designing the quilt block pattern, I took some liberties with the number of facets and placement of value and color. I designed this pattern so that it didn’t overwhelm with color choices, so you’ll find just 6 colors within the gem plus a black background. Just 7 fabrics in total!

If you’re new to freezer paper piecing, I’ve provided 6 short tutorial videos to help you get familiar with the techniques. This is traditional piecing using freezer paper as your template. If you can put two pieces of fabric together with a quarter-inch seam allowance, YOU CAN DO THIS! Check out the videos below. They were made for last year’s Elizabeth Sew-Along, so while the pattern is different, the techniques are the same. And I also provide guidance at the end of the video about Ms. McLean below and will continue to post tips and tricks about making THIS pattern throughout the coming days. So no worries….have FUN!

You’ll find 3 pattern sizes: 9″, 12″ and 18″. I’ve also created a colorway document that lists suggested fabrics from 3 different manufacturers: KONA Cotton solids, Moda Bella solids, and Painter’s Palette solids from Paintbrush Studio Fabrics. Have fun with this pattern this month…and don’t forget to post your questions, insights, and progress pictures on our private Facebook Group page!

To access the downloadable PDF file for the size block you want, click on the options below:

To access the downloadable PDF file for the colorway chart and list of suggested fabrics for each color, click the button below:


Introducing Evelyn Walsh McLean, the “Queen of Diamonds”

I had such a great time researching our first “drama queen”. Evelyn Walsh McLean is truly the “Queen of Diamonds”. By the end of her life, she had amassed a spectacular collection of jewels, including four that were named: the Hope, the Star of the East, the Star of the South, and the McLean.

Evelyn spent the early years of her life among the fearless and adventurous women and men of Colorado. Her family lived in the southwest part of the state where her father struck gold at his Camp Bird Mine high in the Rockies above Ouray. Evelyn’s love of life and adventure blossomed here in the rugged and sometimes brutal terrain of her home. We’ll circle back to Evelyn’s story at least one more time during our “Diamonds & Drama Queens” series. Her giant gems and her giant personality deserve the attention.



Tutorials Demonstrating Freezer Paper Piecing

For those of you who haven’t made one of my patterns before, I want to be sure to give you as much support as you need. To that end, here are several videos I made all about the various aspects of freezer paper piecing.

The videos below are tutorials that I created last summer for my Elizabeth Sew-Along project. The pattern is different, but the technique is the SAME — just on a slightly smaller scale! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email at [email protected] or at 502-287-3034 (Eastern Standard Time).

The 6 videos below are about 5 – 7 minutes each in length. You’ll learn how to read the codes on the pattern, cut up your freezer paper pattern, organize your fabric and facets, cutting your fabric around the freezer paper facets, get an introduction to the step-by-step strategy for piecing the facets together that I call the “Piece Plan”, and finally how to sew your facets together by matching up the hashmarks. The last video shows you some trouble-shooting tips if you have gaps or tucks in your seams.

Enjoy the adventure…we’re just getting started!

Elizabeth Sew-Along (Week #1): Intro to the Pattern

Elizabeth Sew-Along (Week #1): Cutting Out Your Facets

Elizabeth Sew-Along (Week #2): Fabric & Facets

Elizabeth Sew-Along (Week #2): Cutting Pieces From Your Fabric

Elizabeth Sew-Along (Week #3): Part I – Intro to the “Piece Plan”

Elizabeth Sew-Along (Week #3): Part II – Piecing Your Facets