Friday, November 26, 2021

Rhododendron Trail Mystery - Part One!

Let's take a hike on the Rhododendron Trail!

I know you are ready.  I've been watching your fabric pulls coming through social media for weeks!

I could feel the excitement building - and it is at peak levels here too as I get ready to hit publish on this post that will launch us into this year's Quiltville Winter Mystery!

Many of you have Thanksgiving leftovers for days tupper-wared away in your fridges.

Crockpots may be simmering for others, making for easy meals as we kick into mystery release Fridays through the holiday season.

Let's do this!

Click Here for Printer Friendly PDF.

Part One is sets of pink/neutral half-square triangles!

Make 31 sets of 4 matching.

Units will measure 2 1/2'' unfinished and finish at 2'' in the quilt.

There are many ways to make half-square triangle units and you are welcome to use any method you wish - just keep in mind the unfinished unit size.

If you are using traditional rotary cutting methods, you would start with 2 7/8'' squares of pink and neutral.  Place the pink and neutral squares with right sides together and slice from corner to corner on the diagonal to yield 2 matching triangle pairs ready to sew.

From this point on, the sewing is the same as with my Essential Triangle Tool method below.

Cutting table model Lola is ready and eager to help you!

Instead of working with 2 7/8'' squares (or going larger to 3'' to trim everything down later) I started with 2 1/2'' strips and cut my triangle pairs with right sides together ready to sew with my Essential Triangle Tool.

The Essential Triangle Tool makes working from Scrap User's System strips (that I already have on hand) so easy!

I can get by with 2 1/2'' instead of 2 7/8'' because we cut with one dog ear already trimmed, saving fabric and time.

Place a pink and a neutral 2 1/2'' strip with right sides together.  Square off one end.

Using the 3rd red line for 2'' finished half-square triangles, place the ruler as shown with the hang-hole toward you.  Notice that the red line is ON the fabric, at the top edge of the strip set, but the line is not above the fabric sitting on the mat.

Learn to cut with the line you are measuring by up on your fabric. If the line is left on the mat, your triangles will be one line-width too small.  It all adds up.

Make one cut.

Pivot the ruler to make second cut.

This time place that 3rd red line for 2'' finished half-square triangles at the bottom edge of the strip set with the line ON the fabric, not below it on the mat.  Make second cut.

Continue this process to cut 4 matching triangles from each strip pairing you decide to use. You may duplicate fabrics if you wish - or use all the same from yardage. The choice is yours as to how scrappy you make this.

I juxtapose my 4-pair sets for easy counting and moving to my machine.

Before stitching, let's test your seam allowance.

From the scraps created when cutting above, cut 2 squares 2 1/2''.  (They can be the same fabric...this is just a seam test.)

Stitch the two fabrics together with your best 1/4'' seam allowance.  Press to one side and measure.

Two 2 1/2'' squares sewn side by side should give you a unit measuring 2 1/2'' X 4 1/2''.  If you do not reach the 4 1/2'' measurement, adjust your seam allowance until you've got it.

Do this BEFORE sewing triangles - you just may be surprised.

*HINT*  NEVER measure the seam allowance by itself.  It doesn't tell you anything.  You need to measure the whole unit to tell you if the seam allowance is doing the correct job bringing you to unit size.  Thickness of fabric, and of thread, and how we cut, and where we sew all work together to bring us to unit size.

Now sew the 31 sets of 4, stopping after the first few have been sewn.

Press seams toward the pink triangles.  Remove all dog ears.  ALWAYS.  Dog ears belong on the dogs, not in the quilt.

Do a self check. 

Is the seam allowance working for you?

Are things squirrely? Look at how straight your seam is.  Does it taper, wiggle, curve or lean?

Instead of guiding triangles from the front of the presser foot only, use your left hand with fingers curled at the left of your presser foot on top of the triangle pair to help steer the triangles all the way past the needle.  Don't let them free-wheel themselves. 

The correct placement of my fingers helps me get seams that are straight and even.

For the consummate sliver-trimmers out there:  Remember you don't have to go BIG to sliver-trim into the oblivion of perfection.  When cutting -keeping the line on your ruler ON your fabric, instead leaving it sitting on the mat will help.  And you can scant your seam allowance a few threads and still leave yourself plenty of room to square everything if need be.


Half-square triangle sets.

31 sets of 4 matching.

Units will measure 2 1/2'' unfinished and finish at 2'' in the quilt.

If you are looking to enhance your stash for Rhododendron Trail - check out the fabric rolls at Cotton to Quilts!

We'll see you back here next Friday, 12/3/21 for Part Two!

In other exciting news, and since I have you here - 

If you are thinking hard on Electric Quilt Software for Christmas - EQ is hosting 25 days of 25% off at ElectricQuilt.com!

Remember to use code 25DAYS at ElectricQuilt.com.

And yes, the 25% off sale includes all software - and even Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, 3rd edition.

Along with a Rhododendron Trail blog badge for your own blog side bar, I'll be placing this info and the link in my own side bar for the next 25 days so you'll be able to come find it later.

There is so much you can do with EQ!

And because it's a Black Friday Mystery Kick Off Weekend -

All Digital Patterns in the Quiltville Store are 30% off using coupon code Digital30 at purchase.

Code must be used at purchase, is not retroactive, and is only good through Cyber Monday, 11/29/21.

And while you are at it - don't forget to enter the November '21 Quilty Box Gift-Away!  

It's full of fantastic goodies you are going to want to get your hands on.  Enter to win On That Post. Drawing to happen TOMORROW: Saturday 11/27/21.

Quiltville Quote of the Day

Phone a friend today. Not an email, not a text.

Nothing can compare to the sound of their voice and your laughter together. Make real contact.

Okay!  Get Sewing!

Have a lovely weekend everyone -



  1. Yay! I can't start right away, but I'll be watching everyone!

  2. An exciting beginning to this year's mystery quilt! Pink and neutral. Thank you so much, Bonnie!

  3. Thank you, Bonnie for this morning's wonderful surprise of an early clue! Hope you and your men had a great Thanksgiving.
    Anna in IL

  4. Up extra early this morning! Jappy to get stitching. Print first and away we go. THANKS for a New Mystery Friday!!

  5. Beautiful! I am so excited about this mystery! The colors are my favorites and I love learning from you with each new MQ! Thank YOU for all you do, for all the teaching and free patterns, and for all the great stuff in your store! I'll be checking out that 30% off on digital patterns today!! Just want to say 'thank you' and 'God bless you'. Have a wonderful day! I know I will!

  6. I got all the dishes done and put away so I could spend the day quilting!

  7. Done with Clue #1, thanks to a half square triangle swap we did at our guild last year (meeting outside, in empty parking lots, standing 6feet apart with masks!). Neutral will be all the same but there’s a lovely selection of pinks. Thanks for the mystery, Bonnie! I need some distraction right now. - Catie, your Columbus, Ohio, chauffeur.

  8. I have to laugh at Lola sitting on the cutting table. My cat, Nellie, will plop herself down right in the middle of what I’m doing and if I move her, she keeps coming right back. Thank you for the new mystery. Last year was my first year participating and I loved it!

  9. Happy day! Thanks for sharing with us! 🥰

  10. Thank you Bonnie! With my paint colors in my pocket. Now to quilt room to see what colors of pink I have.

  11. Thank you, Bonnie for all your hard work. It is much appreciated. Your patterns are the best. My mom and I have been doing the mystery quilt now for five years. Mom is nearly 94 and enjoys them as much as I do.

  12. Woohoo! Let's get this party started!!

  13. Thank you for another exciting mystery quilt.

  14. Unfortunately I'm in a splint, recovering from thumb surgery, but I'm saving the directions to one day soon make this Mystery quilt. I've made several quilts from your patterns and have learned new tips and tricks from you. I read your blog every day :-) Thank you for all you do!

  15. Thank you Bonnie for the start of a new mystery! Happy holidays!

  16. "...Sliver-trim into the oblivion of perfection." That is so true! Yes, measure and cut as accurately as you can, stitch as straight as you can, but beyond that, enjoy yourself. Fabric is squidgy, it is gonna move, it will never be perfect, except that it is perfectly wonderful when quilted and wrapped around you on a cold night. Thanks, Bonnie, for all the mystery fun.

  17. Thank you for your generosity. I love your quilt mysteries and I am so excited to get cutting and sewing. It has been a rough year for many and like “Unity”, we are united once again working and enjoying the camaraderie that you encourage.

  18. It makes me chuckle that Lowe's will have a run on paint chips!
    So, for this clue we mix and match the pinks?

  19. Thank you Bonnie for the exciting start to a mystery. And I wanted to say, your quotes are always spot on for me in my moment! Thanks for the inspiring start of a day!

  20. Woohoo let's go! Tysm as always, Bonnie!

  21. Thank you Bonnie for all you do for us

  22. Much more fun to play 'move the kitty' than to be trying to maneuver in a crowded parking lot today.

  23. Thank you so much for your hard work on this mystery. I really appreciate your efforts and time.

  24. I'm away from home for the next three days. Does anyone understand the agony I'm in?

    1. you betcha, i was out of town until Friday afternoon and even THAT qas torture. Cats in Carlsbad CA

  25. YAY! Thank You Bonnie!
    I am so ready for this mystery! I finished sewing the blocks on my All Stars quilt last night, borders are auditioned. SO I am ready to start the mystery. I need a few more cranberry/ burgundy colors, but otherwise I am ready.

    We had a snowy day all day yesterday, so my outside work is cut out for me, but because it gets dark early now, I have my inside work cut out for me too (This mystery). My pinks are lavenders and purples, my aqua is green, but it will all work well together. I did get some of the Cotton rolls in neutrals, green, purples and yellows, so I have variety if needed. I only wish the rolls were a full qtr yard, at 9 inches instead of 8 1/2 inches. To Me they would be so much more useable.

    Well, I got my stove going, so time to get busy! Happy Sewing Everyone. Thank You SOOOO Much Bonnie for this Mystery! Good luck on getting the Quiltville Inn insulation issue taken care of, too!

    Kasilof, AK
    Where it is snowy and are temps are dipping again!

  26. This is my first mystery. Wish me luck!! Thank you for all that you do, Bonnie!!

  27. Not doing the mystery, but I will print it and follow everyone else. But, I did talk to my 2 best friends today…my so spiritual sister and my mom! And, I realized my dad returned 86 today..😲😲. I’m feeling old! Everyone enjoy the mystery and have a wonderful weekend!

  28. I love rhododendrons!!!! I gotta do this one!!!

  29. Thank you, Bonnie. I am so glad to be part of your blog.🥰

  30. Sounds like such a fun mystery!! Thank you for working so hard & generously gifting it to us!! Though I’m not sure when I’ll be able to work on it, I will be saving the instructions for sure; I love the colors!
    I’ve been on a cooking marathon… I was in bed with Covid & missed last year completely! It is always a ton of work but I find so much pleasure having our family of 11 take a break from their busy lives, sitting at my table & sharing the food we all love, going down memory lane & sharing stories for the kids about our family they may have never heard, & expressing our gratefulness to the Lord for His many blessings… there may come a day cooking the whole meal will be too much, so while I am able I do it!!

    I’m so glad you were able to roll off all that stress from the past year or so Bonnie… truly. And the idea of just being together at that little cafe nearby then having your son there helping to do a big insulation job holds just as many Thanksgiving memories!

    Blessings in this holiday season & into the new year!
    Happy Mystery sewing! I’m looking forward to all your progress!

    Marci H

  31. Thanks Bonnie, so excited to start a new mystery 👏👏

  32. Bonnie, Thank you! Every year I am encouraged to try a new technique when following your mystery. I appreciate the time, thoughtful teaching and happiness you put into us.

  33. First year doing the mystery quilt. Is there a list of colors and fabric measurments to set aside?

  34. Thank you Bonnie for this mystery quilt, it comes at a good time for me. Just got my shelves together yesterday, now can unpack boxes. Fabric is in plastic containers in boxes, all I have to do is put on shelves. This week I’ll start mystery and hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with you. So glad you guys did what you wanted and needed to do for Thanksgiving. Thank u, Ratchell in AR

  35. Wonderful! All are colors I have been collecting!


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