Friday, November 29, 2019

Frolic Mystery, Part 1!

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Happy November 29th, everyone!

I hope that those of you who are stateside in the USA had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Last year we were doing our first post for Good Fortune on November 23rd.  This year with the way that Thanksgiving and Black Friday fell, we are starting 6 days later.  This might just mean that we push into January a bit as well – I don’t want to short-sheet anyone on mystery quilt time!

For those who don’t celebrate our American Thanksgiving, I hope you can still feel a sense of gratitude and holiday festivity coming your way from those of us who do celebrate.

We all have so much to be grateful for, no matter what time of year it is and we don’t need a designated day to focus on that gratitude.

I am so very excited and very grateful to have the opportunity to once again share a terrifically fun mystery quilt with you and I want to thank you for making my holidays what they are.  My heart is full and I just can’t wait to get this ball rolling!

If you are just joining us, we’ve already released our introductory post including the colors of this year’s mystery and the yardage requirements.  You’ll find that post under the Frolic Mystery tab at the top of my blog.  Catch up there.  It’s not too late to join in!

All posts that relate to our Frolic Mystery will be linked under that tab, so it is good to take some time, locate the tab and know where it is should you find yourself missing a part, needing a refresher, or helping someone ELSE know where to come find the info.

Our first clue is an easy one – but NECESSARY!  It not only gets us going, but helps us get that seam allowance where it needs to be so that our units turn out the correct size, ensuring that they will play nicely together.

If you are NEW to our Quiltville Winter Mystery series, there is one thing I want everyone to take away from our experience together.  Focusing on the seam allowance is great, but if it doesn’t bring you to the correct unit size, your seam allowance effort is futile.  The ONLY correct seam is the one that brings you to unit size.  Got me?

Who is ready for some 4-patches?

144 of them to be exact!

It’s an easy unit to start with, but an important one.  This simple 4-patch lays the foundation for all of the rest of our piecing.  If it doesn’t come out the right size, nothing else is going to fit and you are going to struggle.

Before you can be a great piecer, you need to become a better cutter.

When cutting, do NOT leave the ruler line you are measuring by on the mat NEXT to your fabric.  Get it UP ON THE FABRIC.  Be sure the line is ON the fabric, not next to it.  Don’t leave the line on the mat.

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.  It's important to give yourself the full width of the strip if your seam is going to work as well.

We will be cutting 1 1/2” strips for 4-patches that measure 2 1/2’’ from side to side, and finish at 2’’ in the quilt.

I’ve talked about this many times before, but I know we have many newbies who are joining us for the first time.  Please read my article on Making the Cut which includes photos and more instruction to help you.

When going scrappy, I work with short strip sets to increase my variety as much as possible.  No number of strip sets to cut and sew is given as scrap strips vary in length.  What matters is the number of sub-cuts you get from the strip sets you’ve sewn.

Cut a bunch of raspberry and both dark and lighter blue fabrics into 1 1/2'' strips.  You may even hit your Scrap User's System to see if you have any of these colors in this size on hand. 

For this step I didn’t pay attention to the light or dark of the blue – blue is blue – mix them in at random, but use some of both shades when paired with your raspberry. It adds sparkle and depth!

Stitch a short raspberry strip to a short blue strip.  Press seam toward the blue.

Press and measure!  The numbers do not lie!

These strip sets need to measure 2 1/2’’ wide.  If they don’t, readjust your seam allowance and give it another go.

Make several strip sets, enough to get 144 sub-cuts – but don’t sub-cut yet.  Wait for it, wait for it…..

Sub-cutting into already matched pairs!

Adventures in Speed Slicing!

Match a raspberry/blue strip set with another raspberry/blue strip set with right sides together.  You’ll feel the seams nest.  Nested seams actually help hold the strip sets steady!

Make 144 sub-cuts at 1 1/2’’ wide. Since the pairs are right sides together, they will be ready to sew. You save 1/2 of the cutting time this way, and there is zero time spent matching unit to unit as they are already paired.  It's a win/win!

I am using the Simple Folded Corners Mini ruler to easily manage this sub-cutting.  A small ruler is going to be your friend at this point.  A ruler that is too big will slide.  This one is just right for cutting across small strip sets.  The Simple Folded Corners rulers are for much more than just cutting stitch-n-flip corners.  You’ll see as we go along just what else we can do with them for this mystery!

How many strip sets do you need?  Scrap strips vary in length, and I am not using width of fabric yardage.  If you are - see what you can get from one strip set and do some simple math to figure out how many strip sets YOU need to get the 144 sub-cuts. I just kept sewing strip sets until I had enough.  Plus a few extra is always good in case some turn out less-than-desirable!

I love that there is no matching time involved! They are ready to roll!

**HINT**  If you use an Accuquilt or other die cutting apparatus, consider marking parallel lines with a silver sharpie across the blades of your die.  Line up the strip sets with right sides together and crank them through, making multiple cuts effortlessly.  I love sub-cutting strip sets with my Accuquilt.

Chain feed these through the machine -

Notice that all of the BLUE squares are going under the needle first, and that the top seam allowance is pointing up toward the needle?  THIS IS IMPORTANT!

We want all of the seams of the 4-patches to circle or spin on the back side of the 4-patch in the SAME DIRECTION.  That means they all need to go under the needle in the same orientation.

The feed dogs will work in your favor if you send them “BLUE Square Leading.”
Make 144  raspberry/blue four-patches. Units will measure 2 1/2’’ and finish at 2’’ in the quilt.

But we aren’t done yet!

We need to spin those seams.

Hold the 4-patch between your fingers like this with the center seam going across.

Take a good look at the seams on the top and the bottom of the 4-patch.  The top and bottom seams are anchored by the center seam that goes across.  We can’t change the direction that these two are already going because they are stitched in place.

Imagine you are looking at a clock face.  The top seam is 12, to the right and below is 3, the bottom is 6 and the left side is 9.

Hold both layers of 3 o’clock DOWN with your thumb.

LIFT both layers of 9 o’clock , reverse pressing half of the long center seam.

A few stitches into the seam allowance will open in the center, blossoming those little seams into a mini 4-patch in the center.  Press.  Repeat for all 4-patches.

Now, no matter where these 4-patches fall in the quilt (And you don’t know where or how!) seams will nest with each other and play nicely with other patches in the quilt.

All 144!

And yes, I included the Y2K Millennium fabric!

Our family moved to Texas (Our inspiration State for this year's Frolic quilt!) in June of 1999.  The Y2K fabric swapping craze for making “millennium” quilts containing 2,000 different fabrics was in full swing.  The internet was a-buzz with quilters, the new medium of socially connecting with others through our computers and dial-up modems was AMAZING!  And so many of us may still have Y2K fabrics in our stashes.

You know what I say? “If it’s still ugly, you just didn’t cut it small enough!”  This is a great place to use it – throw it into your blues if you have some in the blue color ranges.

I remember sitting up near midnight in our Texas rental house when 1999 turned to 2000, just wondering if the computer would work the next day, and pondering over what I would do if I lost touch with the online community we were so busy building.

We didn’t know we were part of something so important.  We only knew we were having fun!

This quilt is a journey – not a race.  We are starting out with this unit because of the busy holiday weekend.  I am aware that many of us have family members around who need our time and we have other hectic, time consuming things going on.  144 is a lot of 4-patches. But fewer than previous years! It's do-able!

If things are extremely busy in your world, shoot for a dozen for now.  And next Friday, with the release of clue #2, do the same.  Try to do SOME of each unit each week so it is easy for you to pick back up after New Year's.

As for me – I’m headed off to Germany on Sunday with my Quiltville Goes to Bavaria group, hosted by Craftours.com!  I will be on the road for a couple of our upcoming Mystery Monday Link-Up days, and the release of Part #2 will happen while I am in Germany traveling.  It’s going to be an easy one – I need it to be because it is going live while I am gone!

A couple of reminders:

DO NOT post unit sizes, or unit/piece counts in your posts. This is a MYSTERY quilt, those participating in it already KNOW the size of the unit, and how many there are to make.

I am especially pointing out posts that give the unit size or the count or say things like "200 done, 40 to go..."

Please do not share this technical info in your social media posts, rather direct folks to the mystery on my blog where they can find that information.

DO NOT rewrite my directions as you make your own blog or social media posts – We’ve had this happen before.  People’s blog posts are nearly a duplicate of mine, showing how they cut their units, what size they are, how many to make.  This is a limited edition mystery – reader appreciation is what started it all.  Please share your fabrics and your units.  Just leave out the details.  Do not give sizes (Yes, I’m saying it again because it bears repeating!) and don’t mention how many of each unit you need to make.  KEEP IT A MYSTERY FOR ALL!

We are revamping the whole “Mystery Monday Link-Up” situation.  When the change of policy with in-linkz and what folks need to do to participate (Having to fill out a form and prove their identity, etc.) our participation was down drastically.  Yes, I know many of our participants are of “a certain age.”  I know that people don’t like doing new things.  But since it became hard to participate in the linky, or people just didn’t want to fill out forms the first time they participate, I have made the executive decision to link up through hashtags on Instagram only.  If you have a blog you want people to visit, then include that information in your Instagram post and/or profile so they can find you.

You will post your shares of your progress to Instagram and I will link to the hashtag grouping in our Mystery Monday Link-Up post so folks can scroll through and see what has been posted using those tags and find you.  In your Instagram post, please link back to me @quiltville_bonnie.

Our quilting community on Instagram is vibrant and alive, and is a great way to share your progress with others. I am giving you the heads up in case you wish to participate in our hashtag link up.  Get an Instagram profile.  It’s free.  Start following folks. You can see who is already using the #quiltvillemystery and #frolicquilt hash tags!

We also welcome your shares through our Quiltville’s Open Studio group page on Facebook.

For the LAST TWO DAYS of November, you can find my Garlic Knots digital pattern 50% off in the Quiltville Store!

For the month of November only -
Garlic Knots PDF Pattern $4.00!
No Coupon Needed!

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Vintage signature quilt shared by Kevin the Quilter.

I've always loved what the Dalai Lama said about ripples. "Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects."

When I look at names on signature quilts time stops in its tracks and I love to think of the lives - the men, the women, the children and all they were to each other and how the way they treated each other has reached out into our time with these same ripples, or fingerprints.

Make sure the fingerprints you leave are happy, loving ones. 

Have a wonderful Black Friday, folks!

This mystery is given for personal use only.  No part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying for sharing, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

Please no uploading and saving of this file with intent to share, email or distribute, either digitally or in hard copy. NOT FOR RESALE.

Please send your friends to my blog to print their clues. Thank you!


  1. Thank you Bonnie! Let the Frolic begin!

  2. Thank you Bonnie! You make this time of year soooo much fun!

  3. That raspberry and blue combination is yummy! I'm off to the sewing room to begin cutting strip. Yippee!! Thanks for all you do.

  4. I’m up early in Arizona and Frolic part 1 has been posted. Thank you! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  5. Let the fun begin. My husband is making breakfast and as soon I eat I'll be headed to mt sewing room. So excited to begin this adventure. Thank you Bonnie for providing this mystery.

  6. All giddy like it’s a Christmas morning for a little girl.... Thank you AGAIN Bonnie for sharing your life with all us Quiltvillians😍🥰👏🏻👍🏻

  7. Yea, My favorite block, spinning the seams!! It takes me back to my Midnight Flight. I used pinks and blues for the 4-patches. Maybe I still have a few in my leftover box to add in here, lol. Ready, Set & Sew. I am up early in the PNW, I can take a nap later. Thank you!

  8. I can't believe I am only #5 to comment. I slept until 6:30CST! Now it is 7:15 -- coffee at hand, Friday laundry begun -- and I've printed out Clue #1. Let the frolic begin!!!

  9. ....I meant to add: THANK YOU for your creativity and your patience with all of us .

  10. Tysm, Bonnie! I also made the executive decision to stick with Instagram this week. It's just so convenient! And it's great for deadline-challenged quilters like me, cause we can share whenever we're done! Happy trails!

  11. I have the blues, the raspberries and a busy household of grandsons and other family, but I will sneak away for a bit of cutting fabric then sewing tomorrow! Have a wonderful trip and testing of the Inn today..

  12. Hooray! Can't wait to get started. Thanks, Bonnie, for this gift to us all.

  13. Going to print out all the clues, but no time to sew as I will be in Virginia at the daughters through most of December. Raising a glass to your soft opening of the Quiltville Inn!

  14. Hoping to dive into my scraps later today. Thanks for the beginning of what is sure to be another wonderful mystery quilt!

  15. So excited- can’t wait to get started !!

  16. Here we go. Have fun everyone. Thanks Bonnie!

  17. So excited to start. Thank you!

  18. Love this color combination

  19. Here we go. Let the fun begin. Thanks Bonnie

  20. I couldn't get the 'print friendly' button to print. Is there another way to print your directions?

  21. So excited to start my first BH mystery quilt! Thank you!!

  22. Thanks for giving us something on "Black Friday" in place of mad dashing and spending $. I've never participated and watched in horror some of the news reports of the insanity and avarice!!! I love a bargain better than anyone, but BFriday seems to bring out the worst in most of us. Thankful, as always, for you and your contribution (fingerprints?)on my life. Cats in raining raining Carlsbad CA

  23. Thank you Bonnie!!
    Oh, Cats, I feel for you in the rain!!!
    It's sunny and cold up here in PNW, and like Mary I was up early like a kid on Christmas morning!
    Have fun everyone and congratulations on your beta test at the lovely Quiltville Inn, Bonnie, we're all so happy for you!!!
    Safe travels and lotsa love, Sharon in Seattle

  24. Ohhh the raspberry and blue - lovely. Thinking of our 2005 Double Delight mystery. Oh what fun it is!

  25. Part one saved to the BH file on my pc and the cutting will commence after my coffee is done! Thank you so much for this annual gift that brings such joy to our quilting community. I imagine that your first group of guests to the Quiltville Inn are filled with quilty happiness as their stay progresses and you evaluate any areas that might need tweaking. I so enjoy reading about you making your dream happen.

  26. So... you don't have to use yardage then? You can go totally scrappy with this quilt; as long as you have the same values ?

    I have some of the Texas bluebonnet line of fabrics - wonder how that would look... blues, yellow, reds ,greens , creams

    Have fun on your trip! I sent you something that will drive Monday at qpo. Hint; Africa themed .

  27. Thank you Bonnie for offering such a different and nice way to start into the Advent season. I had to look up the meaning of "frolic", because it isn't a word one hears often - and also because I suspected that it shares the root with the German word "fröhlich", same meaning but isn't a verb. I wish you a "fröhliche Zeit" in Germany.

  28. this is my first mystery with you and I am sew excited to begin. I hope I can find all the colors in my stash. Thank you

  29. Yay! I have waited and looked all morning for Part 1 !!! Still need to do some clean-up from yesterday, but, THEN, I am retreating to cut fabric and start sewing!!!

  30. Are these four patches made from dress blues, scanda blues or a combination of them both? It would be helpful if you told us which blue to use. I may have missed that in the instructions. I will have another look. Let the "Frolic" begin!

  31. Found the answer......

  32. Hi Bonnie: I'm really looking forward to this new Project! Love the colors, Maybe someday We will take a trip to Texas and see the fields of BLUE bonnets.
    Have a wonderful trio to Germany.

  33. Hurray for a new mystery..."Frolic" we will go...

  34. Morning Everyone :) :)
    I just love to make 4-patches (and 9-patches) you can never have enough can you. Thanks Bonnie for this new mystery quilt and thanks everyone for sharing on the Monday link up. It's so fun to see what fabrics all are using and to see if I have that fabric in my stash.

  35. Thank you Bonnie! I love your tips for accurate seams and how to spin the seams to lie flat. It was great meeting you when you taught in San Luis Obispo last summer. Bonnie, you are an excellent teacher as well as a great designer.

  36. This is my first mystery quilt with Bonnie. Just about done with Part I and am wondering when Part II will be available. Can't wait


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