Friday, November 18, 2011


Do you know how long it has been since I’ve participated in an “AT HOME RETREAT” with a bunch of Internet Quilters? This feels like THAT!

You know, I had a hard time explaining to others who didn’t “GET IT”-- What was the difference between sewing at home on my own --- and participating in an “at home retreat” with a bunch of other quilters all over the globe who were also just basically at home, sewing at home, doing what they usually do……

But there is a difference in feeling isn’t there? Like we ARE participating in something TOGETHER…instead of being in our own bubble at home all alone.

THIS is why I have to wait for November to do this!

I want to be here...I want to read your excitement, and field whatever questions I can and share in your joys and triumphs and struggles and even fears and frustrations!

I know step 1 is a whammy....but I figure if I start with THIS unit, no one will say "Oh, this is so easy, let's do TWO of them!" LOL!!

Those of you just joining us and wondering where to find the other parts if you’ve missed some? Look up! There in the tabs at the top of the blog, just look for the tab that says ORCA BAY MYSTERY and you will find the previous parts there.

For those with blogs --- I'm thinking of doing a "Mr Linky Monday" during this mystery so that you can show progress on your units! Would you like that? I hope so! Be watching for that post on my blog this coming Monday, November 21st!

Those who HAVE done the Mr Linky thing...any words of advice? I've not set one up before!

I hope you'll participate! It will be great to see what everyone is up to through this Mystery!

You are also welcome to post your photos over on our Quiltville Friends Facebook Page, simply click LIKE on the widget in my right hand side bar over there and we’ll show up in your news feed! I know some of you aren’t facebook users, and that’s fine too –just happy to have you following along here!

One thing I'm having trouble with is answering comments like these:

There are so many things I don't understand. String piecing on paper then remove the paper????? How to sub our color choices for what you are using???? I don't want reds, blues and blacks, but blues, purples and greens. Please take into consideration that some of us aren't experienced quilters and don't know the "lingo" as well as experienced quilters would.

This person commented as ANONYMOUS. No way to answer back. And if she had left a way, I would have directed her to the INTRO page where it said that if you didn't want my colors, you could choose your own. Where I use black, substitute what you are using instead of my black, where I use blue, substitue what you chose instead of blue....but it isn't really UP to me to decide which of your fabrics goes where if you deviate into a different path of your own. That's why it's called a MYSTERY, folks!

If you are inexperienced...either wait until you see the steps unfold, or email me so I have a way to reply. And please read ALL the steps up there in the Mystery Tab to see if the questions are already answered there. Chances are, they probably will be!

That said, if you are a rank beginner, or have only been quilting a little bit, maybe you want to wait it out anyway to see if something this intricate is really what you want to cut your teeth on. In writing this, I'm assuming that everyone have some basic knowledge of rotary cutting, quilting terms, 1/4" seam allowances and general quilting experience including knowledge of the lingo.

Now let's get sewing!

PS. I know some people get "fed up" with blogs that are posted too often! However, when I have information to get out in a timely manner, this is the best way for me to do it. You can easily skim over the posts that don't apply to you. Just know that during Mystery time, this is the best way for me to answer questions that might be beneficial to everyone, or if I think of additional info that I could have explained better -- etc. In other words...I may be more verbose than usual, but bear with me please!


  1. You are so newsy that I could never get fed up with you. Some people think they have to post often and have nothing to say. Those people need to get betgter stuff to write about.

  2. I started the mystery quilt, it is my first time. I didn't have the right ruler and I was going crazy, now I am doing well. I am checking my squares. I am having dinner quest tomorrow so today is the day and then on Tuesday. I just need to shut the door, I don't give tours of my house.

  3. Anonymous2:53 PM EST

    I'll admit I am horrible at picking out fabrics and hate the unknown, but one thing I learned from your last mystery was...Just go for it!! I'm still not 50% sure about my background choice of using black and white fabrics, instead of just black. I'm sure, in some way, it will all work out, or so I hope. :)

  4. Bonnie this is so fun!! I spent the morning cutting 3.25 squares of black, did not cut half when I looked at the clock and saw the time. I have carpets to clean and well...you know...WORK! I did sew two units together dark/light to see if I can do it! And I did!!! Even took pics of the mess in progress!! A link would be great. I'd hope others would share their messy work space and let me feel like I am not the only one! This weekend...I'll be at my featherweight....working away!! Thanks again for inspiring and exposing the things I don't think I can do....I am learning I can...one little step at a time!!!

  5. Thank you so much, Bonnie! See, everyone is so busy sewing that noone had time to comment yet.
    Keep posting - we love it.

  6. I noticed that we will be using a phone book for the strings. My phone book is a downsized version. I wondered if anyone had any other ideas as to what I can use that is inexpensive? I have thought about taping the pages but was afraid it might gum up my machine. Any ideas are greatly appreciated. Thank you soooo much Bonnie for all your time and talents you share with us.

  7. Is it my computer? I just printed the printer friendly version of the mystery and the whole first page came out as gibberish~ lots of numbers, letters and symbols.... any ideas why?

  8. Thanks for the first part of the mystery.
    I skimmed and thought QSTs, I can do that. Then I re-read and realised how small they finish ... gulp ... but I'm sure I can do it. I'll do a couple of test pilots tomorrow and decide which method will work for me. Here we go :)

  9. Mariel, you can buy big pads of large, and I mean large newsprint that works very well in paper piecing.

    Bonnie, you are our QUEEN and we love you! Kevin, on the other hand is kinda slacking on this mystery..get him!

  10. @ Mariel, I used tissue paper for the first mystery. It worked out well for me. I don't know where you'd get the large newsprint, I might look into that when I run out of the tissue paper.

  11. Anonymous3:48 PM EST

    FOR SANDY -CALL ME CRAZY about your printer, sometimes mine does this as well. Try printing a second time, mine has worked that way.

    FOR MARIEL - I use tissue paper for my foundation work. Working on Bonnie's Jamestown Landing in Tuesday night class and this is working well for me. Sew strings on larger than the cut size and trim square to desired size when complete.

    Bonnie, I am way too busy right now to do this quilt but am printing instructions as you suggest, I wouldn't want to miss ONE of your fabulous quilts. I am not dissatisfied that the "mystery" will be out before I can start, that is never a problem with your quilts as I 99% of the time love your designs. Thanks loads.
    Faye Bushey

  12. Anonymous3:56 PM EST

    To those who are new to quilting or want to give up because of the 1 1/2 " strip, I strongly recomend Thangles! Get the 2.5 and look for the included instructions to do hourglass blocks. Much easier and faster if you don't mind ripping off the paper. You get to cut your strips 3"

  13. I can't imagine anyone ever feeling that you posted too often. When you post more than once a day it's a treat!


  14. Anonymous4:03 PM EST

    I love your blog! You are a very upbeat person and have lots of interesting stories to share. Not to mention your FABULOUS quilts!

    Amy in KY

  15. Mariel, I have also gotten paper pads of thin paper in the kids craft section at WM. I have used it for different types of paper piecing and it is what I plan to use for the strings unless our new phone book happens to arrive soon - LOL. The one I have is called the Doodle Pad and it is made by Crayola and is with the other crayola stuff - crayons, etc... less than $3.00 for 60 9x12 sheets

  16. I use mr linky for my Rainbow Scrap Challenge post every Saturday and it is VERY easy to use. There is a small anual fee and then a wizard walks you through your choices. Then a tiny section of HTML code pops up that you just paste into your post. Judy at patchwork times uses a super cute photo linky that I think only comes with a premium membership. Thanks again for another great mystery! I'm just home from work and ready to jump in. I even have a kindly neighbor who is bringing supper for the family as payment for a top that I quilted for her. Talk about excellent quilt kharma!

  17. Thank you Faye for the suggestion. And thank you too Bonnie for the note~ I got it all printed now.

    As for paper piecing paper~ I buy the scribble pads at the dollar store too. Or use cheap muslin (wash it)~ no ripping off paper and it really doesn't change the quilt any. ;)

  18. I am loving this mystery already, because you read my mind and started with one and a half inch strips. I pulled out one and a half inch strips when I started gathering fabric for this mystery, how convenient. Thanks!

  19. Anonymous7:16 PM EST

    If people don't like a blog with too many posts they can take it off their reader! LOL, some of us look forward to everything you have to say! SMILE! I have 36 units done (short sewing time today) and I enjoyed every minute of my retreat with you and the other Orca Bay Mystery Quilters!! AzAndee@cox.net

  20. I love the idea of linking up on Mondays! I couldn't resist and had to make a test unit - it came out perfectly! Thanks, Bonnie! I'm going to post my photos on my blog tomorrow. AND I do it LEFT-HANDED if anyone wants to see. ;))

  21. I "get it" and I also think the monday mystery linky would be wonderful! Then we can watch others quilts come together as well. Each quilt with the different color combinations look so different sometimes.

  22. I am starting my Orca Bay quilt and was wondering what color is the most prominent, if you know what I mean. I want to do this quilt for my son who loves black and red, and I am using yellow instead of your blue. You are using blue and red for the strings and I was wondering if I use the yellow in them will it be to much yellow in the quilt. Or can I maybe use the black and red in them even if I do black and white hourglass blocks. Ohh my I am really over thinking this ain't I,lol.

  23. To 'Anonymous' - if you don't understand about strip piecing and removing the paper I would suggest you click on Bonnie's Free Pattern tab at the top of her blog and look at her String Tutorial. I think reading through it would probably answer your questions and let you know what she has in store for us on this mystery..

  24. Love ya, Bonnie! but at my current rate, it is going to take me more than 12 hours to get 224 hourglass blocks. Did it take you that long????
    It is fun though!

  25. Thanks Bonnie! This is my first mystery with you and so I had to get my head around it after eagerly waiting for the first part. Have had companion ruler for a long time but never actually used it before, Sewed a test first just to make sure I got it right. Thank goodness, because I stupidly made a couple of mistakes. Now on the right track, I have chain pieced 140 pairs. Cutting the chains into groups of ten does make it easy to keep track of how many I've sewn. Also I have set up a page on my blog to record my journey through this great mystery!!

  26. Anonymous12:13 AM EST

    I'm not just "any mouse" - I don't have a blog. But thank you so much for all you energy put into this mystery! I wish we WERE all together - would be fun to see what quilting food people make! and watch their creativity!

  27. Anonymous1:30 AM EST

    Hi Bonnie, You can never write too much in my opinion. I look forward to your blog each day. There are four of us doing your mystery quilt and having a ball emailing back and forth as we work at home. It really feels like a "mystery retreat" to us. Thanks for all the fun you are providing. Ursula

  28. hi Bonnie, thank you so much for this new mystery. I have spent a happy afternoon perfecting my little blocks. Its so hot over here (in Sydney) but I have been enjoying the first part! best wishes from Gina in sunny Oz

  29. Love your blog! The more the better! Love your energy! I can't help but think of Rick Nelson's song "you can't please everyone so you've
    got to please yourself." Go for it Bonnie!

  30. Anonymous7:38 AM EST

    I read your post first thing this morning and ALMOST started cutting-then I remembered I have patches cut for TWO other quilts that I really should do first. So, I'm not going shopping, I'm staying home on retreat with Mozart and sewing along with the Orcas! (I dont want to be anonymous but according to Google I don't exist today!)


If you are commenting as "anonymous" please leave your name at the end of your comment.

Did you know that ad space on this blog provides for all of the free patterns and free mysteries and challenges at no cost to you? Without ads, this blog would not be possible.

Thank you for understanding the many hours that go into this blog 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year. :)