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The door is WIDE open and I hope you will enjoy your visit to Provence, France during the next several weeks as each clue of our En Provence mystery is released.
One day – just one day – was all that I had to explore this region, and it left an impression that I won’t soon forget.
The colors of Provence are legendary. And everywhere you go the sight, the smell, even the taste of lavender is present.
I took this photo of a random doorway in Aix en Provence –neutral on neutral and of course the inner quilter inside of me was thrilled to death to see something as recognizable as 8 pointed stars, simple squares, and a twisted cable border.
There was quilting inspiration every where we turned, from the colors of the buildings adorned with ancient wood shuttered windows, to the side walk cafes and fountains at intersections.
And don't forget the beauty to be found in centuries old churches and cathedrals. It's a feast for the eyes!
Provence. You were a dream come true!
This is Levande en Provence!
Situated on the cliffs above the Mediterranean sea, the neutral tones of the stucco houses and churches reflect the brilliant sunlight, making all of the other surrounding colors even richer. Check out that green, blue and magenta!
For our first clue, we are going to start simple with NEUTRALS. I have heard from many of you that this is your first mystery experience. Or that you consider yourself a new or novice quilter. No worries!
If you slow down and follow each clue as it is presented, watching how you cut, measuring units and adjusting seam allowance as you sew, you won’t have any trouble with this project, and I hope that you will learn a ton along the way.
Stone farmhouse with lavender.
Do you see the important role that the neutral areas add to this photo? The house? The space between the lavender rows. The shed to the upper right. Same with our quilt.
3’’ finished Neutral 4-patches – SCRAPPY!
Time to pull out the neutrals and PLAY!
We are going to start with cutting.
Cutting is something we’ve all taken for granted, and we tend to blame the 1/4’’ foot for why things aren’t measuring correctly, but it really does go back to the whole equation of what happens when we cut and sew and press. Cutting is important. And you need to give yourself the full width of the strip if your seam is going to work as well. We will be cutting 2” strips for 4-patches that measure 3 1/2’’ from side to side, and finish at 3’’ in the quilt.
When cutting, do NOT leave the line you are measuring by on the mat NEXT to your fabric. Get it UP ON THE FABRIC. Here you can see I’ve got the 2’’ line a bit right of the fabric edge after trimming for a nice straight edge.
I start right and slide left to be sure the line is ON the fabric, not next to it. Don’t leave the line on the mat.
Line on, Not line off! full 2’’ cuts!
Sew many many scrappy pairs!
But do a seam test first.
When you sew 2’’ strips side by side with the correct seam allowance, you should have a strip set that is 3 1/2’’ across. THIS IS! Sew one pair, and measure. Strip set too narrow? Skinny down that seam allowance until it measures correctly. Is your test unit too wide? That seam allowance needs to fatten up a bit. FIX the seam allowance so that things fit together easily throughout the quilt.
I like to sew with SHORT strip sets, building my variety with the pairs as I go. Press the pairs one direction and then to speed up the cutting assembly, do this:
Place two sets right sides together before cutting!
Nest the seams on two strip sets and cut into 2’’ sub sections. Remember you’ll need to cut 221 matched PAIRS of units. Cutting them this way is actually HALF the cutting than if you cut each strip set individually. Otherwise you’d need 442 individual twosies. Who wants to waste time matching that many to each other?
If you use an accuquilt or other die cutting machine, think of matching your strip sets BEFORE sub-cutting as well. I do all of the matching of what is going to end up next to what in the cutting process, so when I get to the machine I can just sew.
Feeding the pairs through.
Many of you have heard me say this again and again, but when it comes to 4-patches, and spinning seams (Yes we are going to spin them) you need to feed them through the machine a certain way. Look at the direction of the red arrows as these are fed through the machine. The top seam allowance is pointing UP toward the needle so the feed dogs don’t flip and fight the seam allowance on the underneath side. The action of the feed dogs will bring these nested seams closer together. If I sewed the other way they’d slip apart. Give it a try!
And then do this:
Spin the seams on the back!
This not only eliminates the bulk on the back side of the units, but helps them to nest with other units down the road. If you have never spun the seams on the back of a 4 patch, check out my tutorial HERE.
Make 221 4 patches from 2” strips.
Units will measure 3 1/2’’ unfinished and finish at 3’’ in the quilt.
Make them as neutrally scrappy as possible!
Feed them through the machine with top seam pointed UP toward the needle.
All seams will spin CLOCKWISE!
What about those folks who are NOT going scrappy? You have a couple of options I want to talk to you about.
If you are SET on using one fabric as background, there is no need to make all of these 4 patches out of one fabric. For this stage you can cut 45 3 1/2’’ squares. I will give you other solid units to cut later.
OR: How about this (which would be my choice) as it keeps the quilt REALLY interesting with a lot more depth and light to it:
How about working with TWO neutrals instead of one?
As a scrappy girl, I assumed most would go scrappy also, but some of you aren’t. If you WANT to keep the feel of En Provence and sew along with the rest of those who ARE going scrappy, why not throw a second neutral in with what you’ve already got?
Choose something either a bit lighter, or a bit darker than what you are using. Combine the two fabrics as shown and make ALL 221 4 patches identical. You will also spin the seams the same way the scrappy folks are. If you need to purchase the extra contrasting neutral to go with your other neutral, plan on 1 1/2 yards.
You can go white/pale grey or you could go white/cream. You could go light cream/darker cream. The choice is up to you. Your two-toned 4 patches are going to make a significant statement in your quilt!
Lavender may be purple, or blue, but did you know it also comes in WHITE?
Celebrate your neutrals this weekend as you sew up Clue #1.
And come back here on Monday morning to participate in our Linky Party here on the blog! If you’ve participated with previous mysteries, you’ll already know what to do. For those who don’t, If you do not have a blog, you can link to a public Instagram post, google+ post, Flickr photo or even a Pinterest photo. You can’t link to Facebook. And we’ll have more instruction for you on Monday’s post so you can join in. I look forward to seeing what fabrics you are working with!
Quiltville Quote of the Day!
Happy Black Friday, everyone!
You’ll find me tucked into a hotel room in Key Largo, Florida – binding away on a certain something and binging on Gilmore Girls new episodes on Netflix! It’s a keeper for sure!
Diamond 9 patch shared by our own Kevin H!