Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Lights Part 1!

Click Here for printable pdf version!

*Note* You must have adobe reader installed to view and print this file. You may have to right click to save it, and then click to open it again before printing!

Quilt Size: 67" X 79 3/4"
Finished Block Size: 9"
Finished Unit Size: 3"

Last year, Quiltmaker Magazine published a 3 part Mystery that I designed called Christmas Lights! It's been on my mind to re-release it here on my blog for those who either never got to participate, or for those who never finished it!

Though it won't really be written as a mystery, more of a Sew-Along, you will find the steps here just for you! I am presenting this in 3 Parts to keep the posts not overly long. I'm posting each part as I complete it, so check back for part 2 and 3 to come soon! You will also find these linked in the Christmas Lights tab above, which will probably be moved eventually to the tutorials tab. For right now, we want to keep things easy for you to find!

Yardage Requirements:


Assorted Neutral Prints: 1 1/4 yard

Assorted Colored prints: 5/8 yard

Black Print #1: 5/8 yard

Red Tone-on-Tone #1: 1 1 /8 yard

Green print: 1/2 yard

Gold Tone-on-Tone: 1 3/8 yard for blocks AND Setting triangles


Black Print #2: 1/2 yard for border #1

Red Tone-on-Tone #2: 5/8 yard for border #2

Red/Green paisley print: 2 1/4 yards for border #3 and binding.

Backing: 5 1/4 Yards

Batting: 75" X 88"

Making the Units!

Unit 1: 4 Patches!

If you know me at all, or have followed me over the years, you know how I am always using pre-cut pieces as leaders & enders between my lines of chain piecing. This gives me buckets and boxes of pre-sewn parts that can be easily utilized in scrap quilt making! My favorite? 2" squares that are quickly sewn into 4 patches between the lines of chain piecing other things. I stock pile these! They are so cute and versatile and were the jumping off point for this quilt. This little basket is just FULL of leader/ender 4 patches. I pin them together in stacks of 10 so I always know how many I have...it's easy to count that way.

You will need 52 4 patches for this quilt, made with either individual 2" squares, or strip-pieced from 2" strips. Each 4 patch has 2 colored squares, and 2 neutral squares, totally scrappy!

My 4 patches include ALL COLORS, not just red/green Christmas fabrics. I like colored lights on my tree! I like many colors of wrapping paper beneath the tree too! Christmas is NOT just a celebration of red and green at my house, my ornaments have all colors as well...I'm a color girl! I love how the many colors make this quilt sparkle!

Make 52 4 patches. They will measure 3.5" square and finish in the quilt at 3".

Unit 2! Half-Square Triangles!

I use the Easy Angle ruler A LOT for half square triangles. The biggest benefit is that it works with the sizes of scrap strips that I already keep on hand. This way it is easy to pair a light strip with a dark strip and cut my triangle pairs already matched with right sides together...I just cut and Sew! These triangles finish at 3", so if you are using any other method, take that into consideration. For instance, if you prefer to cut a 3 7/8" square, draw a diagonal line, and stitch 1/4" on each side of the center line, you can do it that way. You just have to know what size to start with to give you a triangle square that is going to finish at 3".

My directions will include use of the Easy Angle ruler!

Match a 3 1/2" strip of Black print #1 with a 3 1/2" strip of Scrappy Neutral, right sides together! Using the 3 1/2" marking on the Easy Angle ruler, cut 40 matched triangle pairs. My neutrals varied throughout the process. I'd get as many as I could from one strip, and then work with another one, and another one. If you want variety, go for shorter strip lengths in your neutrals to give you more to play with! For Instance, a short strip length of 9", one in neutral--one in black--will give you a set of 4 triangle pairs.

Stitch pairs on the diagonal and press seams to the black. You will have 40 half square triangle units. **Hint** It is a good idea to sew one, and measure one..just to make sure it is coming out at 3 1/2" square. Adjust seam width if necessary.

Unit 3! MORE Half-Square Triangles!

This time you will be matching a 3 1/2" Gold strip with a 3 1/2" random neutral strip! Cut 48 gold/neutral triangle pairs using the easy angle ruler. Stitch. Press seams toward the gold triangle.

Got them done? 40 black/neutral Triangle Squares and 48 gold/neutral triangle squares!

Unit 4: Quarter-Half Triangles!

The next unit is a bit trickier, we need half of them in Mirror Image! But that is easy to do with the Companion Angle Ruler!

Pair a 2" strip from black print #1 with a random neutral 2" strip, right sides together. Using the 2" line on the Companion Angle ruler, cut 48 matched pairs. To create the Mirror Image, so that the black will be on the right side in half the units, and the left side on the other half, simply sew half the pairs with the light on top, and the other half with the dark on top! Press seams to the black triangle. Trim dog ears! Make 2 stacks of pairs, one left, and one right.

If you don't have the Companion Angle ruler, and want to cut these the "regular" way, you will need (12) 4 1/4" squares of black print #1, and (12) 4 1/4" squares of random neutrals.

Match a neutral square with a black square with right sides together and slice twice on the diagonal with an X to yield 4 triangle pairs from each set of matched squares. You will have 48 matched pairs as above. Proceed to sew as previously shown, with half of the pairs with the light fabric on top, and the other half with the black fabric on top to give you the mirror image units required.

Using the Easy Angle Ruler, cut 48 Green base triangles from 3 1/2" strips of Green Print, using the 3 1/2" line on the ruler as a guide.

If you are sewing without the Easy Angle, cut (24) 3 7/8" squares from the green print. Slice squares on the diagonal from corner to corner to give you 48 green base triangles.

With right sides together, match a green triangle to each of the black/neutral triangle pairs. Stitch. Press seam toward the Green. Trim dog ears.

Assembly will begin in Christmas Lights, Part 2!


  1. I have all the blocks done for this quilt....I just never put them all together. :( Its a UFO languishing on the bookcase in my room. I think that I should get it out and finish it! Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Wow, I think you deserve a special category: there is Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now we have to add Bonnie's Blog Sunday Freebie or BBSF! Sharing your creations with us after they went through publication: Thanks so much! My smaller Christmas Lights top / diff. setting is done, so is the backing and I will get it quilted this X-mas. That's the goal!
    Happy Sewing on Sunday - and get well wishes to your husband. I have not (yet) had the courage to do back surgery - and maybe I can live without it.

  3. I actually have this on the back of my couch now! I love this quilt. I did it last year with the magazine and it was fun.

  4. Thank you, thank you, Bonnie! I am missing issue #1 of the magazine so this is a wonderful Christmas present for me. Also, even though I have the other two issues, I just love the teaching style you use online. So I'll be printing out all of the steps.

  5. Thank you Bonnie, I was just looking in the yahoo files last night and was disappointed to fine the plans were incomplete.

    I'm enjoying my first mystery so far. I've only changed my backgrounds and constants 3 times so far...No doubt you'll soon pin us to the wall and make us choose.

    All the best, Sharyn in Kalama

  6. Thanks so much for re-releasing this one. I have parts 1 and 3 but somehow missed 2. Can't wait to start it. Dori

  7. I followed along in the magazine but the magazine whittled down the instructions so much it was hard to stay focused. I appreciate your detailed instructions. Love your mystery quilts!

  8. Thank you so much for this! I hadn't seen this quilt before and it is lovely. I appreciate (so much) your willingness to share and to keep piecing and helping others. Thanks again!

  9. I followed your mystery and played right along but can't find the first installment with the fabric requirements so I can make it again some time. I have the top all finished, just waiting to get it quilted. Thank you so much for posting this!!

  10. Thank you! I have all three magazines- somewhere in this sewing zone. It is much easier to read them on your BLOG, That should keep everybody happy for the week. Hope you get a little rest and down time from your busy teaching and travel schedule this Holiday season.

  11. Can you take a break now please. When do you expect me to sleep when you keep posting new quilts, ideas and mysteries? I only recently discovered your blog but I am already wondering whether this is such a good idea!!

  12. I could just kiss you for re-posting this - I've wanted to do this quilt especially after seeing other's finished masterpieces. Thanks so much

  13. Thanks so much for this!!! I was able to get the 1st issue but the other 2 issues were all gone by the time I could get around to going out and shopping for them. I was heart broken over this. It is one beautiful quilt which I was hoping to do to have a Christmas quilt on the bed. Thanks Bonnie! God bless!

  14. Thank you, thank you!! I too was one that tried to collect the magazines but failed and was hoping this would re-appear some day! Thank you Bonnie :)

  15. This is wonderful... I was missing one of the magazine issues. Thank You!

  16. Bonnie, just like everyone else I am so thankful that you posted step 1 for Christmas lights!! You are so generous!! I searched for the magazine but could not find it...sold out quickly here. The other day I posted an email to hte yahoo group about being "gluttin" (still don't remember how to spell it) for punishment! I'm working on your mystery, DD and now I will cut fabrics/scraps for this quilt....Thank you again...oh this is kind of funy....I was cutting fabrics for the class I was teaching (French Braid Runner) and I had cut all my pieces for my FB to become a full size quilt....I could not figure out what I had done with 2 sets of braids....where in the world did they go? I know I cut them all out...could not find them for nuthin' so I cut two more sets....found the originals last night when I picked up the fabric...I had placed my basket on top of them! Bummer! I cut 48 extra pieces....sheesh!
    Have a wonderful day and thank you again for your generosity! We love ya!
    Nancy McNally (nancy.mcnally@comcast.net)

  17. Thanks so much for doing this Miss Bonnie. I love the pdf files, and I love being able to save them in a folder on my laptop. I usually misplace the magazines.


  18. Thank you for doing this Bonnie. I've admired this quilt and wished I could try to make it. Now I can...when I have time. I have printed it and put it in plastic sheet protectors. Mahalo!

  19. Thanks so much for putting this one on the blog. I started my QM subscription when they announced you were going to do a monthly column but by the time my first issue came, this series quilt was already finishing up and I was sorry I had missed it. Knowing I will be able to get it now makes my week!


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