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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