After a few solid sewing sessions I am very pleased to have a finished top minus the final border. I stuck with Bonnie’s colour suggestions and design except for the magenta, where I used a number of fabrics instead of one. My neutrals were more limited, to greys only. And I changed the cornerstones. Hope you like it as much as I do.
So while most of the quilters joining in the fun are snowed in with nothing to do but throw another log on the fire, send out for nourishing comfort food and sew to keep warm, here in Australia the challenge is to keep your cool.
My tips for completing a Bonnie Hunter Winter Mystery Quilt in the summer.
- Keep up. This should be your major focus, if you slip behind, the beach will become a great temptation and all that fabric will be gathering dust.
- Clues are usually released in the early hours of Saturday morning on the eastern side of Australia not because we are in another hemisphere, but Bonnie is on the other side of the International date line, many time zones away. So either stay up very late, or get up early to make a quick start, or at least see what you are in for. Best to keep the weekend clear, social commitments should be kept to outside the home, you have no time for hosting events and you will probably be using the dining table for fabric. Come up with some good leaving early excuses, a desperate need to sew will not go down well.
- Have lots of fabric. If you change the colours from Bonnie’s suggestions, come up with a really clear marking system. Instructions are given by colour names – and sometimes these vary during the mystery – so always check back to the intro clue where colours are listed.
- Organise a clear space to work. Floor should be pin free, you will be barefoot. Cutting and pressing are critical to success, so have these workstations in pristine condition. Keep the iron off until you have a stack of pressing to do. Get it done, call for a towel and switch off. At least you are not on centre court at the Australian Open.
- Keep finished units together in a container, there is no way you will finish if you let them get away. Those cute clips are nice but not essential.
- Read each clue then read again. Jot down the key points like number of units, what you are making, what rulers to use, width of strip to cut, colours and pressing tips. If using a different method from the one recommended, good luck.
- Be prepared to love the quilt no matter what. Once the final design is revealed, if you have doubts about what you have made, you will never finish. It will be very scrappy and best viewed from a long distance, if necessary view your work from the other side of the house after drinking something strong on ice. Don’t listen to non quilters who cannot make sense of what you are doing. Once it is finished and quilted it will be lovely, that is why so many quilters make the mystery quilt year after year.
- Keep hydrated. Once you start flagging, mistakes will be made, the wrong sides sewn together, the wrong fabric cut. If you do need to reverse sew, do it straight away – throwing it in the later basket means you are making a UFO.
- Be prepared to time shift. Sewing in the middle of the night when it is cooler can be fun. Have a couple of long playlists you can sing along to, hits of the 80s comes to mind. Then when you are exhausted in the middle of the day, binge watching something light hearted can get you through. My choice this year was the Gilmore Girls, there are seven seasons. Set in snowy Connecticut there are lots of home sewing situations, quilts to spot and Lorelei has a lovely Singer Model 12 treadle.
- Most important of all, do the mystery with friends. Having a group for sharing photos, moaning about lack of progress, testing colour ideas, double checking what the clue means, and making a commitment to them will get you through. No one else truely understands what it is that you are doing, and no one else will have as much fun with you.
Here is the list of all my posts about this mystery, starting with the first one.
A neutral starting position
En Provence in the garden
Violet, Lavender maybe Lilac
A New Year a new colour
Ready to assemble
This or that
Hundreds of quilters have taken up this challenge and you can see lots of versions of the quilt at the Mystery Link Up.