May: Amish Quilters – Modern Center Diamond Block

Amish women embraced the American craft of quilting and their focus on simplicity, utility and promoting community is an undeniable influence on the Modern Quilting  Movement of the last 10 years. Examples of Amish made quilts can be found from as early as the mid-1800’s, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that “Amish Quilts” gained an identity. While Amish quilts incorporate many quilting techniques and patterns; a simple design ascetic, which focuses on piecing geometric shapes with a bold use of solid color fabric, is the hallmark of “Amish Quilts” which inspired quilters and collectors in late 20th century and helped renew interest in quilting.

 The large scale Center Diamond (aka Diamond In A Square) pattern is one of the earliest Amish quilt designs. It is typically made in a medallion layout and can be seen in many  variations, from most simple in two colors and plain sashing to multiple colors with cornerstones or sawtooth borders and insets. 

This month’s block is an updated version of the design with a modern twist. It incorporates a 60-degree diamond set inside a 90degree pieced diamond set in a square background. No worries about points not matching up because the diamond points do not intersect the square, so it can be cut with precision or improvisation. These instructions are for an 8” block with an option for 9”, but it can easily be scaled up or down to accommodate any size block you would like to make. 

8-inch “Modern Diamond In A Square” Block

Select & Cut Fabrics

Step 1: Fabric Cuts for 8” Block 

  • Solid for A:  (1) 3.5” x 6.5” rectangle or 3.5” strip to make multiple blocks
  • Print for B1a & B1b: (1) 4”  x 5” rectangle
  • Print for B2a & B2b: (1) 4” x 6.5” rectangle
  • Solid for C1a & C1b: (1) 5.5” square
  • Solid for C2a & C2b: (1) 5.5” square

 Block Variation: Cut 6” squares for C1 & C2 sections to make a 9” block using the same size diamond unit

Step 2: Cut 60-degree Diamond A

  • From 3.5” x 6” rectangle or 3.5” strip align long edge of fabric with 60-degree line on cutting template and cut right edge (see photo Step 2a)
  • With the long fabric edge still on 60 degree line, align newly cut edge with the 3.5” line on your template (it is helpful to mark the line with tape) and cut left edge (see photo Step 2b)
  • Press or mark center of all four edges of the diamond
Step 2a
Step 2b

 Step 3: Cut B1a & B1b from 5”  x 4” Rectangle

  • Place B1 rectangle on cutting mat oriented 5” H x 4” W
  • Along top edge mark 1.25” in from from left edge
  • Along bottom edge mark 1.25” from right edge
  • Cut diagonal line between the points (upper left to lower right) to create sections B1a & B1b
  • Press or mark center of diagonal edges of B1a & B1b
Left B1a – Right B1b

Step 4: Cut B2a & B2b from 6.5”  x 4” Rectangle

  • Place B2 rectangle on cutting mat oriented 6.5” H x 4” W 
  • Along top edge mark 1.25” in from from right edge
  • Along bottom edge mark 1.25” from left edge
  • Cut diagonal line between the points (upper right to lower left) to create sections B2a & B2b
Left B2b – Right B2a

Step 5: Cut C1 & C2 sections from 5.5” Squares

  • Cut two half square triangles (HST) from each 5.5” square 
  • Press or mark center of the diagonal edge of each HST

Create the Diamond Unit

Hint:  the narrow ends of the B1 & B2 sections all orient toward the points on the long axis of A and the wide ends of the B1 & B2 sections all orient toward the points on the short axis of A.

Step 6A: Attach B1 Sections to A 

  • Position Diamond patch A so it is oriented 7” high & 4” wide (long axis is vertical)
  • Match centers of lower right edge of A and B1a, sew together
  • Match centers of upper left edge A and B1b, sew together
  • Press seams toward B1a & B1b
  • Trim both sides even with A

Step 6B: Attach B2 Sections to A/B1 Unit

  • Position A/B1 Unit as in step 6A
  • Match lower left edge of A/B1 Unit and B2a, sew together
  • Match upper right edge ofA/B1 Unit and B2b, sew together
  • Press seams toward B2 sections

Step 6C: Square-Up Diamond Unit

Note: It may be helpful to mark the center point of patch A and a reference for the center & edges of the diamond unit on your cutting template

  • Trim Diamond Unit to 5.5” square 
  • Press or mark centers of the four sides of the Diamond Unit
Squared-up 5.5″ Diamond Unit

Add Square Around Diamond Unit

Step 7A: Attach C1 Sections to Diamond Unit

  • Position the Diamond Unit with the long A axis vertical
  • Match centers of C1a and lower right edge of Diamond Unit, sew together
  • Match centers of C1b and upper left edge of Diamond Unit, sew together
  • Press seams toward C1 sections
  • Trim on both edges even with Diamond Unit

Step 7B: Attach C2 Sections to Diamond Unit

  • Position the Diamond Unit with the long A axis vertical
  • Match centers of C2a and lower left edge of Diamond Unit, sew together
  • Match centers of C2b and upper right edge of Diamond Unit, sew together
  • Press seams toward C2 sections

Step 8: Square-Up Block to Size

Note: It may be helpful to mark the center point of patch A and a reference for the center & edges of the diamond unit on your cutting template

  • Trim block to 8.5” square (or 9.5” if making 9” block)
Completed Block

And finally. . . a few ideas for using the Modern Diamond In A Square block