On Sewing in the Dark

Not literally. But I am blindly following instructions from two sources to make quilts that will be a surprise. I have no idea what they will look like in the end. It’s an interesting experience. It has also made me realise that, while a quilt can change its tack in the making, I generally have an idea, lodged somewhere in my brain, of what the final outcome will be.

The first is a “mystery block of the month” being run by the Good Hope Quilters’ Guild that happens weekly. The design is called Cape Wildflowers and is designed by Diana Vandeyar. The instructions are beautifully clear. I have done the stitching for the first three weeks and am looking forward to downloading this week’s instructions. They become available every Friday (which is today). First I must write this blog, I told myself.

In the first week I made half square triangles and joined them into a short and a longer strip, both with a central square. The second week involved making a pile of HSTs of a larger size. And in the third week I made five snowball blocks (first time ever). Given the beautifully clear and illustrated instructions it was much easier than building a snowman.

In the introduction Diana Vandeyar warns that we will be dipping our toes into the modern quilting pool. She both explains this concept and at the same time reassures that it will not be formidable experience. For example, she says:

In this quilt we will explore a few “modern quilt” elements: large minimalist blocks, negative
space (just a little, so not scary) and high contrast between the units. This quilt is designed as
a two colour (two fabric) quilt with a dark background fabric and a light, high contrast main
fabric. Though this quilt has “borders”, they do not function like those in traditional quilts which
generally frame the central section. These “borders” provide a negative space which allows
the central design to float on the background fabric. (from http://www.goodhopequiltersguild.org.za/downloads/2021-GHQG-Mystery-CapeWildflowers-Introduction.pdf)

I have previously written about Diana Vandeyar’s generosity in sharing the patterns for her inspiring designs. You can find some of them on her WordPress blog.

The second “mystery” quilt I am making is an individual round robin that is being run by Bernina South Africa

Perhaps I need a break from stitching to my own tune but it does seem serendipitous that my good friend the artist and quilter alerted me to both of these challenges. A further coincidence is that I had been reading about Wendy Tuma’s stay at home round robin on her blog and was feeling quite envious at the fun she was having and the lovely quilt that she created.

The Bernina round robin started in February and runs monthly for six months. This challenge was designed by Linda Venter and the instructions are also beautifully clear and detailed. If you would like to know more, click onto the link to the Bernina Quilt-For-All-Challenge. One has to register in order to participate. Once this is done, you post photographs of your process and your block onto a group Facebook page. This evokes a feeling of community and you can read and see what other quilters have done with the challenge.

The first set of instructions from Bernina explained that a round robin quilt is traditionally made by a group of quilters, where each member makes a central block and then passes it on to another quilter in the group to add a border. This is in turn passed onto to another member, until everyone in the group has added a border and everyone in the group also gets a friendship quilt. So, the more members, the larger the medallion quilts that are made. (This method has been adapted to become an indvidual round robin project, probably because of the isolating influence of COVID).

The Bernina quilt for all challenge began with a central block, with four further challenges, complete with guidelines for a specific technique for the adding of borders. The final challenge (no. 6) will be to machine quilt the piece and add a binding.


Through signing up and doing the first month’s challenge, I have been inspired to try my hand at machine applique (with an umlaut) and then to decorate the outside of the appliqued flowers with a longer version of machine blanket stitch. I also learnt an easy way to make a square within a square. This month I will be adding a set of vertical strips at right angles to the central square. The Kaffe Fasset fabric I had been hoarding was just right for this project.

finishing line

This week I finished close quilting, by hand, the hexagon cushion cover I started at workshop with Yolande Bowman. To recap: the hexis were joined by hand, but not using the EPP (English Paper Piecing) method. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this piece and am using it as a table runner (albeit a square one). The second photograph is so that you can see the reverse side of the piece.

16 thoughts on “On Sewing in the Dark

  1. Well, I’m delighted that I played a bit of a role in your decision to join in the round robin. I love your centre block with the Kaffe fabric, along with the fun stitching. I will look forward to seeing this progress. I’ve done a few mystery quilts, and I find it difficult to choose fabrics when I don’t know what I’m making. You’ve reminded me that I have one that I need to get quilted and done!

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    1. I really was inspired by your RR quilt. I suspect that this one will not have such intricate borders as yours. Yes, it IS hard to choose fabric for these mystery quilts. I decided to try to make a garden quilt and that made it easier to make a selection.
      Look forward to seeing your finished quilt.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So you made your first snowball blocks! I’ve always liked those blocks and I’ve made entire quilts with them. When I began reading the post and saw the two colors and a flavor of the design I was thinking it was going to be a modern/minimalist kind of quilt. I think the dark purple with light purple is striking and look forward to see how it evolves! The Bernina mystery one is a wow of stitching so far! Your cushion cover looks wonderful!

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    1. I have long admired the snowball block, but had not taken the time to learn how to make it until now. Am also looking forward to seeing how this modern mystery quilt turns out.
      Thanks for your kind comments about the other pieces.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great way to highlight and yet personalize that luscious Kaffe Fassett print…reverse applique with your signature hand stitching.
    I don’t do ‘mystery’ quilts very well – Perhaps a mystery block or two, but an entire quilt – nah, not for me!
    Excellent to join you here on your journeying into the dark – best wishes!
    HA!

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    1. Luscious is a perfect description for this Fassett fabric. Thanks for liking what I did with it.
      This is my first foray into mystery quilt making and I have been surprised at how much I am enjoying not knowing what the next step will be. Thanks for the good wishes. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

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