This week I finished Part 1 of the mystery quilt featured in the latest issue of American Quilter magazine. When you make a mystery quilt, you choose your fabric and follow directions without knowing how the finished quilt will look. This quilt seemed challenging and I had some pretty new fabric, so I jumped in. The fabric that inspired me is at the left below; on the right is a chart of the 12 fabrics I chose—dark, medium, and light according to the directions. (More about fabric choice tomorrow.)
The first step was to make 7 focus blocks, 4 to be set straight and 3 on point. I thought my fabric looked like aspen leaves (I had just been to Colorado), so I designed blocks with aspen leaves of various sizes, which I planned to appliqué to the background. But I just couldn’t resolve the aspen leaf theme with the pink in the fabric. Then Danica, my granddaughter who will be 5 in December, told me she wanted a quilt with pink butterflies on it. That did it. I redesigned the blocks. Where there are butterflies, there are flowers, of course, so I had a great time appliquéing butterflies, flowers and leaves. I thread-painted in a few details.
I use Steam-a-Seam 2 for appliqué. First I fuse it to the fabric, then draw the shapes on the paper-covered backing with the aid of a light box. (Yes, we have a light box. My husband bought it to view photo slides, but I think I use it more for tracing patterns on fabric. You can also tape your pattern and fabric to a sunny window. That method works just as well—the pattern shows right through, backlit by bright sunlight.) I cut out my butterflies and flowers, then removed the paper backing and fused them to the background squares. See my appliqué shapes below.
I used a satin stitch for the appliqué, stabilizing the block with Stitch & Tear on the back. When I painted in the details with thread, I used Sulky brand water-soluble stabilizer on top and a wash-away foundation paper on the back. I had to soak the blocks in warm water to get all that stuff out. They looked a little bedraggled, but when dried, ironed, and trimmed, they turned out just fine. My 7 finished focus blocks are below.
Tomorrow: The four finished blocks from Part 1.