On the Modern Mystery

That’s what I have called my newly completed mystery quilt. I have twice before mentioned the mystery quilt along offered by the Good Hope Quilters’ Guild when I posted photographs of the progress. Well the quilt top is now complete, after 12 weeks. Here it is, ta dah…

Modern Mystery. 185 cm square (73 inches square)

The instructions are apparently going to remain on the website for a while, so if you are tempted you can download the 12 sets of instructions (click on the link in the opening paragraph). I cannot sing high enough praises about how clear and easy to follow those instructions are. Not to mention the stunning design. So thank you again to Diana Vandeyar for generously sharing her expertise. Her largesse continued on an Instagram post where she offers further border designs to make the quilt larger, after receiving requests for ideas on how to do this. Click here to see the post.

My good friend Karen Davies also took part. She used a William Morris print as one of her fabrics and made this stunning quilt:

At our regular QUOGs (Quilters of Grahamstown) gathering this week there were many hands to hold up the quilts and so we had a photograph session. Here are the quilt tops, side by side:

Can you spot the differences? Karen followed the instructions exactly and produced a perfect quilt. I was in too much of a hurry (as usual) and so made two mistakes. Firstly I made my first blocks over a weekend and used what I had in my stash, thinking that I would be able to match the fabrics for the extra yardage. Ha. While the local fabric shop still had plenty of the purple, there was no more bright lilac and I had to make do with a lighter shade, therefore using three colours instead of the designated two. Then later in the process I got my background and main fabrics mixed up, so the colour sequence is incorrect, or does not follow the design. I decided to view this as a happy mistake and to make a second quilt in order to get it right.

I repeat myself from a blog post a few weeks back when I said that in making this mystery quilt I had learnt the joy of precision piecing. As you can see, there are many angles and corners in this quilt and it became a point of honour for me to get my corners to meet exactly. Even though I didn’t quite manage this every time, I am still pleased with the level of precision I achieved. (And, I realise now why I have avoided sewing triangular designs in the past — there is only one way to get perfect points and that is to sew carefully and slowly.)

I decided to include these rather personal shots because they say something about the companionship that quilting brings. At left are Karen and I with our quilts and (right) our sewing companions.

For me, the Modern and Postmodern movements are a bit of a mystery. I grappled with the concept while studying literature and decided that it is difficult to define something when one is right in the middle of it. This is probably self-indulgent problematising. When it comes to modern quilts I relish the clear, bright lines. The Modern Quilt Guild answers the question What is Modern Quilting? clearly and simply:

Modern quilts are primarily functional and inspired by modern design. Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work.

And, in the words of Diana Vandeyar the GHQG mystery quilt explores a few β€œmodern quilt” elements such as large minimalist blocks, some negative space 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.

34 thoughts on “On the Modern Mystery

  1. A(nother) stunning piece Mariss! Lovely colour combo, and inspired incorporation of the slightly darker lilac. It almost gives 3-D feel to those blocks!


  2. Both your quilt and Karen’s are just lovely. Isn’t it interesting what we process as we work on a quilt? That definition of modern quilts is quite good, I think. So fun to see the photos of you and your quilting companions!


  3. Your quilt is delicious! I love your friend’s quilt too!
    The dark purple and light purple/lavender as so striking in your quilt! I do not see any mistakes in your quilt, just happy accidents, right?
    I’ve always been confused by modern vs. postmodern. When it comes to books and films it seems like “postmodern” is synonymous with “strange”… πŸ™‚


  4. Sumptuous! They are both lovely in their own ways, but I’m really into purple at the moment. No way would I have noticed any mistakes


  5. What I like best is seeing your guild all together without masks enjoying a Fun Day of ‘Show and Tell’ with your quilts. You’re looking quite pleased – as you should!


      1. There is something about the pattern and the colors you chose that does it, I think. The other quilt has more of a “see-through” feeling in that parts of the pattern almost seem to be “windows” that you see through or past. I prefer what you did, I love looking at patterns that move like this.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your happy mistakes give this modern quilt a touch of your personality! I love the contrast in both quilts. As for precision, that is something I am still trying to improve. I’m working on two different samplers that have blocks with many points and angles. I can already see the difference in precision from the first blocks I made to the latest ones. It looks like you are having so much fun with your guild. Hopefully soon, I will be able to reconnect with my quilting buddies.


    1. Thanks Chela. Enjoy that precision piecing. I guess it has its place. But I do love your freeform thread sketches too.
      We used to meet in the evenings, and have now changed to afternoon meetings outside. So far, so good

      Liked by 1 person

  7. well, Mariss, I cannot see the mistake at all – but I guess that’s what happens when the quilt buddies know exactly what should be wear (oops where). And the 2 quilts with their colourways couldn’t be more different – stunning result.


  8. Oh wow, your Modern Mystery is a stunner, Mariss! The extra shade of purple adds to the design and doesn’t look like a mistake at all. And it’s so fun to see all of you posing with the two finished quilts as well 😊


  9. Bravo, Mariss! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the process of making this modern quilt. I did not know that corners were particularly tricky (and consider myself forewarned, if ever I take up quilting). This pattern is stunning, and I liked the ‘standing quilts’ photos. πŸ™‚


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