Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! (LONG!)

It definitely IS the day before the Mystery here....Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's great for reflection. For slowing down...other than cooking, it is basically stress free. Feed the guys, let them watch football, I get the turkey soup going in the crockpot from the leftovers of dinner, and voila! I get to sew.

For those with questions, let me see if I can answer them off the top of my head. I'm getting dozens and dozens of emails a day, so pardon me if some of this stuff is a repeat, I just want to make sure that people have the info.

Wonder Cut Ruler....I have it, I've used it, it was designed by friends of mine from when I lived in Idaho. I like it for many things, but it leaves bias edges on the outside of my units. I have to cut very strange measurements to work with this ruler (My strips are cut on the inch and half inch, and they don't work with the wonder cut ruler) But if you don't mind, and your units come out the right size, you are free to use it. Yes, you can cut your yardage into BIAS STRIPS so that your units turn out on the straight of grain, but who wants to? Just my opinion.

You can use whatever method you want to use to give you the units that measure the right size. I will post the size they need to be.

In talking with my friend Carol yesterday in a gmail chat, I realized that I "DO" do some things differently. (Go figure!) And she said if we looked back a couple of years she would be in the same boat of having to have everything matchy matchy, all the same fabric, planned out from start to finish including borders, backing and binding before she even started the project. Does this sound like some of you? :c) (This is what I call "control oriented" by the way, and it is neither right nor wrong....it's like being right handed or left handed, right brained or left brained....but we can work with that!)

After letting go, releasing the control and letting things happen, she has now turned into a whirlwind scrap quilter and is having so much more fun than she ever imagined! (Right Carol?!)

I also had an email from another friend yesterday asking how I know "what to do" with bunches of left over 4 patches or bonus triangles that have been squared down.....that she is afraid to start putting them together in case they are muddy or don't work. Does this sound like you?

In fact, her words are so perfect that I'm going to quote her here. I hope she forgives me, I won't mention names! She writes:
"I know this may sound like a silly question, but - here goes:

How does one go from mindlessly sewing four patches/half-square triangles together to actually putting them into a quilt? I spent three hours today sewing together those little cut-off triangles. Now they are all pressed and ready to be sized. Then, as I have ALWAYS done, I put them into ziploc bags by size. Then I browse magazines, get books from the library, search quilting blogs, but NEVER put anything together because I can't seem to BEGIN. What if the colors won't work, the blocks be muddled, or worst of all " I might need this in Bonnie's next mystery".

How ever do you BEGIN? I am sure that I could just begin, but where?

I have bags and bags of squares and triangles, boxes of cut strips, but I can't BEGIN. I got a yard of lime green to do alternate squares of four-patches, but my minds says what if: it isn't enough, I don't like it, etc. I buy more fabric as a "focus" and then don't ever use it because it might not work out."

And this is my reply:

Usually I just start playing with blocks that will use the sizes of triangles I have. I generally work scrappy, so it isn't a problem for me. Instead of thinking of a whole quilt, I'll make a hand full of blocks and just start playing....I never plan things out all the way to the end, I kind of play with options as I go and decide on settings or alternate blocks and sashings as I work... borders come last.

I think you have to allow yourself the time to play and not worry about muddled blocks or colors...because how are you going to find out what works if you don't allow yourself the opportunity to MAKE mistakes? It's the only way to learn...live dangerously..you might be surprised at the results!

So how does this fit in with this mystery? I'm very relaxed as I piece. I've separated my fabrics into color families. Reds, greens, neutrals...with that one gold piece that is going to be the constant. I don't worry about how MANY reds or how MANY greens. Just a bunch. I started by going to my 2.5" pre cut bins and pulling what I had there for starters. From there I went to the containers of cut up shirt parts, and FQs to pull more to round out what I needed. While cutting things like 1/2 square triangles...I'd just cut as many from a strip as I could until the strip was gone, then move on to the next strip. If the strip comes out of the bin...I use it up! I don't want to put anything back INTO the bin....It might not give me an equal number of each kind of green triangle...but they are all green. I don't over think things.

In my fabric choices....I've got plaids, stripes, prints from recycled clothing in reds and greens and neutrals....but I needed some more variety as it was looking very plaid-sy so I went to the 2.5" scrap bin and started pulling some other reds and greens....in the reds i even chose some very dated (or out dated!) Christmas fabrics to throw in for good measure. Some of you who have been quilting a long time will remember a red background fabric with ducks on it? scattered holly? OH yes, and cattails? That fabric has been around since the late 80s I think....well, it was already cut into 2.5" strips....it was a vibrant red that I needed, and what other quilt would I want to put it in? So I put it in.

As I was cutting the pieces I needed....when I get down to the end of the strip set, I cut any remainders into 2.5", 2" or 1.5" squares. Anything less than that either became a crumb for the pineapple blocks I'm making or tossed (yes! tossed! If it's less than 3/4" I don't save it....you have to stop somewhere!)so that entire strip was annihilated. Gone. I'm not putting 1/2 a strip back into that drawer!

So where does this leave us? The more variety in a scrap quilt the better. If you run out of something it is not a crucial point. If you get to the point where nothing in your stash works for borders, you get to go shopping!

Because it was already November when I decided that this brewing project would make a good mystery, and because I am only working a few steps ahead of you (I'm hoping to get the center sewn today!) I haven't gotten as far as planning borders yet. I'm going to let it happen. This way it is a mystery for me too! Many people might find this quilt large enough and intensive enough as it is without having to go on piecing borders for it and a plain border will suffice. It really will.

The best part of this quilt for me....is that I have always wanted a Christmas quilt for MY BED. So there you go. That was the beginning of everything. Of the color choices, the fabric choices, the size, everything. It's time I had a Christmas quilt for my bed!

I plan on clearing out a lot of old Christmas fabrics from my stash in a scrappy back for this quilt. Will I piece a pattern for the back? maybe...we'll see!

Most of all, I'm just enjoying playing with the fabrics, the blocks, the colors.....and I am REALLY REALLY loving how this is coming together, and I hope you will too.

As far as WHEN the first clue will go live? I've got to get the pages complete, so look for them tomorrow morning. I'm a morning person, so chances are, it should be ready when most of the US is waking up if not earlier :c)


  1. Thanks for letting us now your way to work with your fabric! It's quite like the way I work.... the keyword is: enjoy!! And don't be afraid to start over.....
    Have fun with your Christmas-quilt! I'm looking forward for tomorrow...
    (hope my english is understandable....... 8D)) ..)
    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  2. Thank you Bonnie! I am very excited! And since doing mysteries with you, I am not at all worried about my choices...it's all FUN! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. You are the best! I'm so looking forward to this! Thanks for sharing with us!
    Louise in Sweden

  4. Thank you for taking the time out of your Thanksgiving day to expand on how you work. How blessed we are to be able to share your creativity with you. Happy Thanksgiving Bonnie! See you on the flip side of this mystery!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Relax and enjoy your day....LindaMay

  6. Thank you, Bonnie. That post teaches some great stuff about the ART of quilting. You are so amazing and giving. I hope your Thanksgiving is ~lovely~.
    Lucy in IN~

  7. that was a great explanation of how you work/think. I'm the same way, but would have a hard time expressing it as well as you did!
    looking forward to your mystery!

  8. I'll be there bright and early to check on the "mystery", in the meantime have a wonderful Thanksgiving day.

  9. Bonnie, you are so wonderful! Since I have found your website, I have trouble quilting the "other" way. Now when I try to make a controlled quilt I worry about if I will have enough to finish. With your quilts, there is never a worry about running out of anything.

    My kids picked the colors for this mystery from the paint chips at Lowes. It may be a bright one.

  10. I think I was a passenger in Carol's boat a couple years ago! But thanks to you I have abandoned that ship. And I didn't realize just how "freeing" working with scraps could be.

    And just an fyi -- SOME of us don't function in the a.m. and live on the west coast so my morning is your noon....but since I'm not home anyway, I guess I'll just have to play catch up. But I did travel to my brother's with both Tobacco Road & Christmas Lights to keep me warm.

  11. Looking forward to the mystery. We are four girls that will do this together. It is my friends first mystery and it is a good oppotunity for all of us to practise sewing and English all at once. Maria from Sweden

  12. Anonymous2:37 PM EST

    Thank you so much for your efforts....and especailly taking the time to encourage and inspire with your relaxed approach!
    Looking forward to some fun!

  13. I am afraid I won't have the time to join in, which I am very sad about as I have been wanting to start one for ages. I love your mystery's. So I will be following you all closely and you never know...

  14. Right Bonnie!! I am so excited about getting this started.
    LizA..are you glad you 'jumped ship'?
    It is amazing when the light goes off and it all falls into place. I'm glad we found another boat to jump in :)

  15. Thanks so much Bonnie - lots of really great advice (as usual) and I really really appreciate it!

    Hugs - Shari

  16. You LIVE for keeping us in suspense don't you!! ;O hahahah I love it!!
    Can't wait for step 2 and cannot wait to see your finalized borders. thank you for all you do
    <3, a very appreciative quilter.

  17. I am curious as to if there is anything I need to join to be a part of the mystery quilt group. I love mysteries, but have never done one on-line, only at quilt shops. This one sounds like great fun and I look forward to doing it.


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