Category Archives: Mystery Quilt

Basting – done!

Basting in the kitchen conjures up visions of turkey roasting in the oven. But this is where I do my quilt basting. The two trolleys that make up the island can be turned around to make one long bench.

I then use the board basting method where the backing and top are rolled around two long boards and the wadding floats in the middle. The weight of the rolls keeps everything flat and smooth.

My preference is for thread basting; no pins to undo while quilting and it doesn’t take much longer using a herringbone stitch. I find multiple needles threaded with quite a long thread spaced about a handwidth apart across the top is an efficient way of getting this job done quickly. Just stitch with each needle up to the roll. When all are done, slide the lot forward, flip the wadding over and unroll the backing, replace the wadding and unroll the top. Repeat.

All basted, now on to the quilting of the On Ringo Lake mystery quilt. But if I do take my time thinking about the quilting design there is no worry about safety pins leaving big holes.

The backing fabric was a good find on the discount shelf at Spotlight. Colour is perfect and pattern very cute.




Today was the day I got to see another Bonnie Hunter 2018 mystery quilt. I have been following Vireya’s progress from late November, and now it is very close to being finished. Just the binding to stitch down. The quilting is beautiful, I love the added texture it gives to the blue setting triangles.

It is a properly scrappy version of the quilt and it was fun to compare it with my smaller version which has far fewer fabrics.

My other homework was to view the Helen Maudsley Our Knowing and Not Knowing exhibition at NGV Australia; she is the first artist Waverley Art Quilters are looking at this year. The only thing I know about her  is that she is that the titles of her paintings are very long. She is a modernist artist who does not fit neatly into any category. The curator had displayed these recent works in a gallery papered entirely with a blowup of one of her paintings. This I found rather distracting.

In the next gallery is Louise Paramor’s Palace of the Republic. This consists of  paper sculptures and plastic assemblages. The honeycomb paper sculptures in the first part of this exhibition were commissioned by the NGV and use a technique she developed through trial and error during a residency in Berlin in 1999.

The works are grand in size, either standing or hanging. Moving around the shapes created interesting views and relationships between the individual pieces.

Light and shadow gave the solid colour of the paper a beautiful richness.

And everyone entering the space while I was there gasped, and then started talking nostalgically about tissue paper lanterns and balls that opened up magically from flat.

I also wanted to see Del Kathryn Barton The Highway is Disco which is also on Level 3 at Federation Square. IMG_7650I was just beginning to view the seventy-five montages -inside another land in which women’s bodies are both human and plant, when the fire alarm sounded.

It was not a drill, the fire brigade arrived and everyone had to evacuate. IMG_7652

I must get back before 12 March to see the rest.

Morning Press

When the forecast for the day is 41 degrees and it is already well over 30 by 9.00 am, then using a hot iron can only be done in short bursts.

As I join together the blocks and sashings of Mersey Beat, lots of secondary squares and frames emerge. It is worth the extra effort needed to make sure every seam matches up. The strips in my border treatment are working just as I planned. Quite a surprise really.


My take on Ringo Lake

I started on the Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2018 Quilt On Ringo Lake on New Year’s Day, a day and a half before the big reveal. Obviously this is a smaller version, about quarter size and I have made quite a few variations to the pattern.


Here it is on the design wall after many hours of shuffling blocks and sashings. Ready to start stitching it all together.

If you would like to read how I got to this point here are all my posts about the mystery.

Well here’s a surprise I didn’t know I was going to do the mystery this year either

Mystery progress  How far I got in five days

Mersey Beat My design variation locked in just before the link up opened

A bigger mystery A size increase and further design changes

A close up gives a better idea of fabrics and colours.

Because of my late start, this is the first time I have been able to join the Mystery Monday Link-up where everyone participating in this mystery shares their progress.

I would love to know what you think of my interpretation of this summer’s mystery.

A bigger mystery

Woke up unusually early this morning, obviously anxious to get on with the mystery quilt now known as Mersey Beat. It was quite overcast, but I could see in the distance, through a gap in the trees, a strange blob in the sky. Then it glowed at the base for a moment. It was a hot air balloon, very far away, then another and a third one came into view as the first disappeared up into the clouds. They are a popular attraction around the Yarra Valley wineries, the wind must have headed them over Lilydale instead.

So with that diverting start to the day done with I got down to calculating how much extra fabric  was needed to make a bigger quilt. Then off to the quilt shop.

Clair was really helpful, going through all her fabrics to find one that would work as a substitute neutral. I also needed a turquoise or aqua for the setting triangles as the fabric I had wasn’t quite wide enough. And extra orange just to make sure.IMG_7502

You will notice that the neutral is a bit darker than the original and so is the blue, actually the colours haven’t photographed well at all.

Here are some rough mockups of how the new fabrics will be used. The new blocks will be around the outside of the quilt using the darker neutral. Including in the nine patch and sashings.

I decided against having all dark blue setting triangles. My original turquoise and aqua fabrics are in 5″ strips, too narrow to cut the triangles, so I will be framing the whole quilt by adding a strip of the new fabric, and will make the top part out of two turquoise triangles as per the original design.

The final problem was to work out the size to cut the blue strip. I thought I had it figured out, but just to make sure I used some scrap to make a test piece.


My maths was correct! Now the planning is done time to cut and sew this second stage.

Mersey Beat

The big decision has been made and I have finished putting all the blocks of the mystery quilt together. One small change has resulted in quite a different looking quilt.

The sashings have not been joined on and it is just turquoise fabric where the setting triangles will go. My point matching is not that bad!

I have to say those brown triangles around the nine patches are not at all forgiving, and very tricky to line up. If the quilt name On Ringo Lake makes you think of the Beatles, then putting this version together was more like Gerry and the Pacemakers. A bit jerry built in places and a bit of a strain on the nervous system. I got better once I worked out the key checkpoints as the block went together.

Now I am thinking the quilt is too small, about 30″ square. I started working out if I had enough of the fabric to make eight more blocks and immediately discovered that the cream neutral fabric was almost all used and I have nothing else like it. Fortunately Clair’s Fabrics is just down the road, I might be paying a visit tomorrow.

Mystery progress

Just to get started here is the first bloom on my small pomegranate that has a hard life in rocky dirt near the base of a very large eucalypt. I took the picture yesterday, it may no longer be there due to wind and extreme heat. For the last few years the number of buds has increased, I counted five this time, but none have made it through to fruit. I thought the colour a most appropriate introduction to this post.


Steps 4 and 6 combined – went together very easily thanks to ‘Mary’s Triangles’ with no chopped off points in sight.IMG_7444

Step 7 – the joining together of two flying geese. I am not doing all of them as yet. It may become necessary to deviate from the mystery instructions if I go with a different block layout.IMG_7467Step 8 – joining the units to make a block. I am just laying them out at this stage. And I have put in sashings and corner stones.IMG_7460

The proposition that has been put to me is that the design would look very interesting if the flying geese all went in the same direction as the goose in the sashing, just as it is in the block above. Because the sashing is between blocks, the alternate ones will have their geese flying the other way.

Here are the two ways I could set out the blocks using the mystery quilt instructions. Geese flying with sashing towards the centre (left) and towards outer four blocks (right). There are turquoise setting triangles and some sashing missing, but you get the idea. I plan to keep the Mary’s Triangles intact on the outer sides rather than leave out the orange. It is a further variation from the pattern but is necessary if I am to have any secondary blocks..

These are the eight variations with geese flying in the direction of the sashing goose.

So all I have to do now is decide which layout I like best and put everything together.


Stop reading here if you don’t like eight legged critters.





Remember the pretty jewel spider. She has had babies!

This morning the wattle near her web had lots of tiny, perfectly formed webs and I could see pinhead size spiders in some of them. One has even caught breakfast.

Not at all easy to photograph in the morning sunlight. The new webs are between three and five centimetres across. You need to click on the image to see anything.