Mystery Quilt Step 1

Welcome to step one of my Blog’s first Mystery Quilt!! I am really looking forward to this! I know that mystery quilts are not always popular with everyone, I think it’s because there is such a lack of design control. Afterall there are a lot of decisions that go into quilting, and mystery quilts take those decisions away. However, think of this one as a personal “kit”. You get to pick your kit from your leftovers, which of course, makes it FREE and fabulous. The steps are simple and fun. You will have a great time piecing these blocks and your sewing studio will appreciate the extra room the de-cluttering has created!

So this quilt is meant to be scrappy, just lights and darks. No focus, no contrast, no mediums, no zingers. It’s also pretty simple, so it can be one of those nice, gentle projects that can be pieced while you are catching up on Sons of Anarchy or Gilmore Girls.

The reason I picked this project is because my “stash” is out of control. I try to be careful about what I keep and how I keep it, but about three times a year it is ready for a major purge. I work on so many projects for classes, the retreat center and the shop… and I have too many leftovers. I have a rule about what I keep and how it is all organized, and I will get into that in my next post, but for now… my sewing room looks like the above picture!!

I had to search for leftovers that I was ready to get rid of. Those little chunks left from pieced quilts, fat quarter stacks, jelly roll and layer cake bits, etc. That meant I had to go into my closet and open all of the little tubs. So fun to find forgotten gems…. but horror to realize anyone visiting my sewing room may call me a hoarder…. I should clarify… any NON-QUILTER would think I was a hoarder. Quilters would totally get me. 🙂

The bad news is I have about an hour of cleaning before I can sew. The good news is I have a massive stack of leftovers that will become a gorgeous queen sized quilt for the retreat house.

It is confession time. I, personally,  am not super crazy about super scrappy. I don’t know why. I like the scrappy look, I am crazy about asymmetrical, and I love a quilt with lots of color and texture. But when I am sewing it, I find I have some trouble with random and I always think that it has to be planned scrappy…. like Jo Morton scraps, or Kansas Trouble scraps, or Kaffe Fassett scraps.   It’s not that they cannot be mixed, they should be… it’s just that I have a hard time with it. Fortunately, I have a massive collection of “leftovers” and I can choose to make a scrappy Christmas, Batik, pastel, bright floral or 30’s quilt if I wanted….. so, horrible and non-scrappy as it may seem… I am choosing Kansas Troubles scrappy…. and just so you know… I am going to love it!

OK, so… here is a representative pile of my lights and darks, lets talk about how to select fabric for scrappy quilts (yes, I know what I’m talking about… I may not like it…. but I do know how to do it…)

IMG_1512[1]When you are choosing your fabrics, arrange them on a table so that just a little bit of each one shows, then stand back and have a look. First, eliminate any that do not contrast well enough with the background. They will be those pesky mediums and can also be a dark with a lark light motif. It is nice to have mixed lights as we can be so accustomed to one three yard piece for a background – more texture always reads more interesting.

Next, make sure you have enough variety. Remember they won’t all be touching each other so they don’t have to “match”. Be sure to include spots, florals, plaids and stripes, tone on tones and geometrics. It is also a good idea to add a few “off colors” and just a couple that are “too light” and “too dark”. Those odd pieces will give that interesting “sparkle” to a scrappy quilt. If you have seen it, you know what I mean. Some are very blended and plain, others are interesting with unexpected gems.

While you are picking your fabrics, mix lots of colors in your darks, in uneven amounts. For example, I have a little orange and red, a medium amount of blue and black, and a lot of  brown and green.

The amount of fabric you will need is determined by the size of quilt you want to end up with. Keep in mind when you are using leftovers it may be hard to estimate how much fabric you have in your pile, so be generous. Just throw all of those pieces in the pile!!

For a twin (72″ x 90″) you will want about 3 yards of lights and 4 yards of darks. For a queen (90″ x 90″) you will want about 5 yards of lights and 6 yards of darks.

That may seem like a lot, but it’s not, because unfortunately… you will have some leftover…

So go to your sewing rooms, dig through your stashes and put your “kits” together. Then take a few minutes and tidy things up. Step one is organizing your fabric, I will post step two in one week and in case you are planning, we will be done in time for Christmas gift giving!

One last comment about mystery quilts. We are hosting another Border Creek Station Mystery. She does a really nice job and features the Moda fabric ‘Atelier’ by Three Sisters. The pattern is a one time fee of $25 for the nine steps (one step mailed monthly) and the kit is $90 for the twin and $149 for the queen while supplies last (they can be ordered on our website by clicking on the link).

And, because I love love love the series, we are doing the Downton Abbey kits for the mystery designed by Ebony Love of Love Bug Designs. The mystery starts on January 4th with the first episode of the next season. The fabric will arrive in our shop in November and the kits will be mailed out by December 5th. We are only cutting six kits in each colorway and we expect them to sell out quickly as we are selling them for only $165. Click here for more information about this mystery… I am going to be doing mine in the “Cora” colorway!!


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