Mystery Quilts and the sometimes quilting problems

I first posted a picture of this mystery quilt last year when I completed it.  I has been in my studio since then; sometimes hanging around, other times folded up and put away but in all that time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to quilt it.

mystery quilt

Chocolate brown, beige, dark and light turquoise.  I really like the colours but the longer I stared at this top the harder it was to decide how to quilt it.  There was just something about it that was rubbing me the wrong way.

I started an on-line machine quilting course at MQResourse (really, really recommend this site!) with Carla Barrett for learning to ‘read’ the quilt tops and develop custom quilting designs.  Fabulous course but when we were asked to send in problem quilt tops this is the one I thought of and immediately sent in and worked with.

I did agonize over this one.  I realized that even though I liked the colours they were too stark – too much contrast – one of the problems with a mystery quilt.  All you can do is follow  ‘light, medium, dark’ and then you are at the mercy of the pattern.

Ok – beyond the fabric what was wrong?  Too many little pieces!  I like the overall design of the blocks all together but when I try to break it down into areas my eyes just jump all over the place.  Another “too much”.  Funnily enough, I did manage to discover stars in the layout!  If you look at the lower left block layout there is an eight point star formed by the turquoise 1/2 sq. triangles.

see the star?

I really wanted to use that in the quilting design but seeing as I was doing this in January I was already a bit late for Christmas 2009!  Well, I had to get it quilted and there is nothing like a deadline to push one into completing a task!

The top is too small for anything more than a very small lap quilt so I decided to add a hanging sleeve.  This also meant that I could quilt fairly densely as the resulting stiffness wouldn’t matter.

I sketched in the spine for a feather border along the top (and bottom) and had it droop down (up) the corners.

Feather border

At the sides I simply did a feather motif in the centre and quilted a background fill around it all to have the feathers pop.

Side feather motif

I must really apologize for the pictures – lately I can’t seem to take anything that isn’t a tad blurry.

Even though I wanted to emphasize the star I found I was too chicken to simply use a turquoise thread and fill in the area – in other words use turquoise thread over the beige – so I decided to use a simple stipple background fill in the beige areas and put a little fun motif in the turquoise area.  I left the turquoise (I’m getting good at typing that word!) triangles alone and that was my concession to the star LOL



Other block

I did the continues curves in the small diamonds.

All in all I’m happy with how it turned out and I guess more importantly the recipients like it!


One thought on “Mystery Quilts and the sometimes quilting problems

  1. Christine C says:

    I agree with you about mystery quilts, but they really are fun. That said, I really think your quilting added a lot to this quilt. It softened up the contrast between the colors and I think it turned out quite pretty.

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