The great reveal

Almost half the year gone already…and winter is upon us! For some,  this means donning an extra layer or three of woolly warmers, but for others just a light cardi to complement our normal uniform of shorts and slops (No, Clementine, NOT everyone can say “Life’s a beach”!).

Bearing in mind that the Pietermaritzburg Garden Show is  early this year and there will only be 2 weeks to complete your quilt after the August meeting, instead of having a month, there is great incentive to stay indoors and quilt.

So with perfect timing – as the Mystery Quilt Challenge draws to a close, all is revealed.

These 2 blocks are simple,  though can be made more complicated if you so choose.

Crazy patch stitching

And, although these are not the last blocks to do I am including a link for the layout of the mystery quilt so the quilt-as-you-go can begin!

Block #11

Image result for Cathedral window patchwork

Cathedral window patchwork

Number required: 2

Method: Cathedral window or Crazy patch (Or you may do one of each)

Design size: 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″

Final dimensions: 8″ x 8″

On page 14 of Online Quilt Magazine: oqm-2010-12  you will find instructions to make the cathedral window squares. The size of the blocks in the instructions are different to the size required for our mystery quilt.  You will need 4 x 8″ x 8″ blocks of background fabric and 4 x 3 5/8″ x 3 5/8″ of patterned fabric for the centre square. You may follow the rest of the instructions given for completing the block.

The block layout for the Mystery Quilt-as-you-go can be downloaded: Mystery QAYG block placement

This is only a guideline so feel free to arrange the blocks as you choose, particularly if you have made a bigger quilt than I have given instructions for.


#5 is here!

The best laid plans of mice and men….

Sometimes life gets in the way, unplanned and unexpected circumstances cause us to stop our busy-ness, reassess our focus and decide what is actually important, urgent, or absolutely necessary!

So my apologies. I am late with this email and set of instructions – hopefully it won’t happen again …..though no promises!;)

Block #9:

Number required: 1

Technique: Flying geese

Design size: 3 1/2″ x 11 1/2″

Final dimensions including seam allowances: 4″ x 12″

Method: Paper foundation piecing. I have attached a PDF doc which you can print out for your foundation. As the size is slightly irregular the first and last triangles are slightly larger then the rest.

Flying geese


I have attached a very simple process of making flying geese if you are need 4 or multiples of 4 – Sew Easy: Quick-pieced flying geese as shown in YouTube video below.

An alternative to flying geese: (You will need to work out the size of your squares to make it fit the required dimensions. Though you could use the process shown above to make your 4 units!))

For 3-dimensional flying geese:

Blocks #10:

Number required: 2

Technique: Kaleidoscope

Design size:  7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″

Final dimensions including seam allowances: 8″ x 8″

Method: Accurate cutting and piecing. The triangles are 45 degree angles.

Here are PDF files for both a 71/2″ kaleidoscope pattern (large) and a 13/4″ pattern (small) When you print please make sure the key is 1″ long – print actual size.

large kaleidoscope pattern

small kaleiscope pattern

The small kaleidoscope pattern is one of four that would need to be made to become the 71/2″ square.

Here is a link to a fussy cut kaleidoscope


Last month Mary-Ann spoke about Free-motion quilting. Here is the first of the series of YouTube videos that Leah Day does. She is really good!



Nearly half way!

Related image

…..and Autumn is upon us!  Here on the farm, the evenings are getting crisper, and each morning the mist lies upon the field and shrouds each hilltop with its own pale scarf.

It seems fitting then, as we stand on the cusp of the equinox, that with this set of blocks we will be half way through constructing the blocks for the Mystery Quilt!

Blocks #7:

Number required: 2

Technique: Half square triangles

Design size: 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″

Final dimensions including seam allowances: 8″ x 8″

Method: You will start with squares that measure 4 3/4″ x 4 3/4″. Once sewn trim to 4 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ each if you are only making a block of 4 squares.

If you want to make a block of 16 squares you will need to cut 3″ x 3″ squares and once sewn trim them to 2 3/8″ x 2 3/8″

If you’ve done 4 squares then arrange in a pattern of your choice.

If you’ve done 16 squares, you may also arrange in a pattern

of your choice though here  are some options:

Block #8:

Number required: 1

Technique: Card trick

Design size: 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″

Final dimensions including seam allowances: 8″ x 8″


From each of the 4 colours you are using,  cut 1 square  3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″

From the same 4 colours, cut 1 square  2 3/4″ x 2 3/4″

Cut 2   squares  in background fabric:  3 1/2″ x 31/2″

Cut 1  square in background fabric:  3 1/4″ x 3 1/4″

Then follow instructions in the video:

 And that is that for now. Unless you’re needing to catch up, then this is a good month to do so with only 3 blocks to do!

Mystery Quilt Challenge #3

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” 
― John Lubbock


Some respite!

Perhaps not from the heat of late summer, nor the drought that is in everyone’s thoughts, but from the frenetic planning and rushing of the December holidays and the “back to school” drama of stationery lists, lunchboxes and sport practice for those of us who still have school age children.

So here is a chance to take a deep breath, mop your brow, and take  the time  this month to do some quilting catch-up.

And if you are up to date and would like a challenge – scroll down!

6. Completing the border strips.

Number required: 4

Design: Checkerboard

Method: Strip piecing to make a 4-patch checkerboard

Design size: 4″ x 39.5″

Final dimensions including seam allowances: 4 1/2″ x 40″

Here is a link for a YouTube video on making a 4 patch:

You will be cutting 2 1/2″ strips to make a 4 patch that fits the requirements for your border strips, as per video instructions.

Cutting requirements: If using 2 colours the strips will need to be 2 1/2″ x 32″ x 8 in each colour. The strips must the be cut into 2 1/2″ pieces, making a border that is 4 1/2″ wide.

Or you could sew a double 4 patch.

Once you have sewn up these strips, join them to the border strips #5 from the previous month, sandwich and quilt your borders. Once these are attached to the 4″ border of last month it will make an 8″ wide border. The #5 strips will measure 3 3/4″ wide, and the #6 strips will measure 4 1/4″ wide.

And that- Clementine – is that!


For those that would like a challenge:

This is a 16 patch with a border, then strip pieced triangles setting the 16 patch on point. You will need 5 of these per border strip, making it  a total of 20 squares. The strip pieces triangles are cut from #5 last month.

Step #1:

Make a 16 patch using 1 1/2″ strips, 6″ long. Once these are sewn and trimmed the block will be 4 1/2″ square. Make 20 of these.

16 patch quilt block pattern

Step #2:

Sew a border around each block – the border is 1 1/8″ wide. Cut 40 x 1 1/8″ x 4 1/2″ for the sides of the block, then 40 x 1 1/8″ x 5 3/4″ for the other 2 sides of the block. Your block should now measure 5 3/4″ square.

Step #3:

Now set them on point by cutting triangles from the border strips you sewed up last month. (You will need to sew more of the strips from Block #5 though). Sew these triangles to each side. Trim to 8″ square.

Step #4:

Join 5 squares to make up one border length.

So there we are….another step closer to the final product. Happy quilting


Nicky Hunter-Smith has been helping produce samples each month to show MQG members what next! These are her 5 applique blocks which she designed herself and quilted on her embroidery machine

This quilt has been intended as a scrap quilt, here Nicky shows how she has used her scraps to sew the backing for her blocks

My applique blocks. I had patterns by McKenna Ryan which I adapted to fit. I have then densely quilted each block.using Aurifil Threads.


The mystery continues……….

A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.   Leo Buscaglia


The mystery continues….

Hopefully by now, you’ve all completed your applique blocks and are ready for the next set of instructions.

This month’s technique is foundation piecing, which is one of the of the many types of piecing*. According to Wikipedia, this technique may have been used as long ago as the 15th Century for a cushion known as the “Impruneta cushion”.

Although the finished product looks complex, it’s almost a “paint by number” method which can be used with great effect.

* For interest’s sake, others are: English paper piecing – a hand piecing technique, strip piecing or string piecing (at least two of these we’ll also be doing – be patient Clementine!)


  1. Third block:

Number Required: 1

Design:  #3

Method:  This is a “Friendship braid” using strip piecing or foundation piecing, you can decide the method you would prefer to use. Below is a link to a free Craftsy class showing a friendship braid using strip piecing.

Design Size: 15.5” x 3.5” (this is without seam allowance)

Final Dimensions: 16” x 4” (this includes the seam allowance)

Finishing:  Sandwich and quilt to the edge of the block

I’m not going to specify the pattern as its pretty simple, though you may also decide the width of the strips that make up the braid. As always, the colour scheme is your own.

Instructions for the strip piecing technique may be found here:

How to Make a French Braid Quilt: Two Ways!


  1. Fourth block:

Number Required: 2

Design:  #4

Method: Foundation piecing

Design Size: 11.5” x 11.5” (this is without seam allowance)

Final Dimensions: 12” x 12” (this includes the seam allowance)

Finishing:  Sandwich and quilt to the edge of the square


  1. Fifth block:

Number Required: 4

Design:  #5

Method: Strip or string piecing

Design Size: 3.5” x 39.5” (this is without seam allowance)

Final Dimensions: 4” x 40” (this includes the seam allowance)

Finishing:  DO NOT quilt the 5th block strips (sorry for shouting, but this will avoid heartache later).

The instructions will be given next month for completing and quilting them. These form part of the border.

Until the next time…..


Video Tutorial Links:

Foundation piecing to make a string quilt:

Scrappy string piecing:

Use Your Scraps: String Quilt Block Tutorial

Foundation piecing/paper piecing:



Strip piecing:


Pattern links:

Foundation piecing patterns:

and of course:

As always, there are many more so feel free to google to your hearts’  content. Don’t do what I do and get so caught up in finding ideas that I accomplish nothing!!!

If you are stuck, needing more info, wanting advice or simply uncertain of any of the instructions, please  contact me.

Mystery Sampler Quilt

Life’s little mysteries….

Daily life is constantly full of mysteries, such as where you left your car keys, or why the fridge is empty when you did shopping yesterday or how to dispose of all those fabric scraps in the spare room that are threatening to gain a life of their own and take over the house.

So I propose “A Mystery Sampler Quilt-As-You-Go” project. You supply the scraps, the colour scheme and theme and I will provide dimensions and technique for each block.

Each month I will post instructions giving the sizes of the blocks with specific techniques to be used. You then make them up, sandwich and quilt. The blocks are small and can easily be done on a domestic machine*. The quilt does not require advanced quilting skills, but if you are a novice (or even a seasoned) quilter I have provided Internet links at the end of this post that you may find helpful.

Finally, when all is said and done we will put it together and the “Mystery  Quilt” will be revealed in September 2018. The size of the finished quilt will be56″ x 56″/ 142cm x 142cm

*I strongly recommend that you have a walking foot for your machine as this is invaluable for quilting and making binding. (Suggest to your family that it would make an ideal birthday gift.)


  1. First blocks: Corners

Number Required: 4

Design:  #1

Method: Applique

Design Size: 7.5 X 7.5”

Final Dimensions: 8 X8”

  1. Second block:

Number Required: 1

Design:  #2

Method: Applique

Design Size: 23.5 X3 .5 “

Final Dimensions: 24” x 4″

Finishing:  All blocks to be sandwiched and quilted to the edge of the piece

Personal Note:

I like to work with my block slightly bigger than the final size but with my appliqué fitted into the correct design dimension. I sandwich and quilt and then trim the excess off. So, for the 8X8” block I will start with a 9” square and then trim the excess off. I have found that the quilting process distorts the fabric, and the extra margin means that your block can be trimmed into a nice even shape.

I trust this will be a great learning experience to polish and expand your skills.

Make it as easy or as complicated as you wish, and I hope you enjoy making it as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

Video Tutorial Links:

The quilt-as-you-go method:

Fusible web raw-edge applique

Apliquick method of applique:

Applique using freezer paper: (In this video the stitching is done by hand though you may choose to stitch by machine instead.)

Invisible machine stitching

Hand needle turn applique

Hand reverse applique:

Obviously there are a multitude of videos on each of these topics, so if what I have posted here is confusing please go ahead and find others on google

Designs for Appliqué:


These are only a few examples, please google for more!

Quilt to exhibit, it’s worthwhile!

Whether you quilt for business or pleasure it is always worthwhile entering in quilt exhibitions, shows or contests. Not only are there prizes to be won from exhibiting your quilts, but it also generates awareness of this addictive hobby, displaying the art and skill of quilters. It can also be rather satisfying winning a prize!

If you have made a particularly good quilt, show it off at the next quilt exhibition. Send it to as many exhibitions as you can find (cost of postage and entry considered, though a win may cover that cost.)

Christa Watson wrote an article that’s worth a read on entering quilts for show, as well as some tips to prepare your quilt for exhibition, as well as tips from award-winning quilter Cory Allender

2016 IQA Prizewinners:

International Quilt Association Journal of Quilts International Quilt Festival in Houston 2016.
The prizewinning quilts are incredible. Well worth a look and certainly inspiring!

Reflections of Cape Town by Cynthia England. Handi Quilter Best of Show Award, Houston 2016

The entry deadline for online submission for the 2017 International Quilt Festival in Houston is 26 May 2017.

Upcoming Quilt Exhibitions and Festivals:

Siyadala Quilt Festival in Port Elizabeth from 3 – 8 July 2017. Bookings for classes are still open.

Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.

Entry forms for this competition are due by 2 June 2017

International Quilt Festival in Houston from 2-5 November 2017

International Quilt Show in Dubai  from 6-10 March 2018

There are numerous quilt exhibitions, shows and contests around the world and throughout the year. The American Quilt Society has a calendar available for their Quilt Weeks and deadlines.