Category Archives: Mystery Quilt

Mystery revealed

As soon as I saw the complete Good Fortune quilt I knew changes had to be made. To start, there were lots of borders and that does not work when you are making a less than full size version. A quarter of the perimeter will not go around a quarter of the area. But more on that later.

I laid out the two blocks which alternate to make up the full design photographed them and mocked up the finished quilt.

The chains made by the dark grey neutrals are far too strong. So I opted to copy Vireya’s variation and rotate the little four patch units by 90 degrees.

Then to start the piecing. Another decision I made was to have the same blue fabric on all four sides of each of the four patch blocks. There is too much variation in the value of these fabrics for them to work in a scrappy way. I found sewing these blocks as a net helped keep units in order and made one handed sewing much easier on my 100 year old White machine.

Once five of these were done I tried to take a photo, but Lulu was not having a bar of that. On a warm day the bed is hers.

Determined to have something to show before this week’s linkup closed I made four of the star blocks, this time opting to mix up all the greens as the selection I have are similar in value. I think this is a much softer and prettier version of the design compared with the layout at the top of this post.

So far I have made nine twenty-fifths of the blocks, not even half way but there are a few weeks to go before this mystery is over. By repurposing the units I had made that ended up being border pieces I am pretty sure I will have enough fabric for a quilt five blocks by five.

Lots of quilters have finished this mystery borders and all, there are so many variations to see at the linkup.


Needs must

Clue 5 of the Bonnie Hunter Good Fortune mystery quilt nearly brought my plan to make it all from one roll of precut strips undone. The instruction for one triangle called for fabric wider than 2.5 inches. I had two options, piece strips and then cut, or change the pattern.

After obtaining some wise counsel, I chose the second path.

In record time for me, I have almost finished all the units, a bit more than a quarter of the full size quilt requirement.

Some of the yellow triangles are made from even smaller pieces because I am fast running out of fabric. You would have to look very closely to see the seams, I was very lucky with the pattern matching. As long as there is no more blue in the clues (I have switched it for yellow) and the reveal comes very soon, I should be ok for fabric.

On Christmas Day I was able to add my bauble like progress photo to the Mystery Monday link up. See the others here.


The no sew option for Part 4 of the Bonnie Hunter mystery gave me the time needed to catch up on the first three parts. I was making great progress, hand cranking through squares and triangles then inevitably the bobbin ran out.


Take out manual. Double check how to wind a new bobbin using the “New Worm Gear Automatic Bobbin Winder” permanently attached to the front of the machine

This was a lot of fun, you can see it working on the video here. It is beautifully simple with a direct drive off the hand wheel and a worm gear turning the cam. I love this heart shaped cam that controls the movement of the thread arm and ensures the bobbin is wound evenly.

The bobbin fits into the end of the shuttle and the thread slips under a tension spring. The shuttle has a pointed end to pick up the loop of upper thread formed when the needle goes down then up.

With the dark neutral my units are looking like delicious liquorice allsorts.

The other option for part 4 was to make strip units. You can see how others fared at the link up here.

Mystery Maths

The size and colours I am using for the Bonnie Hunter Good Fortune Mystery are determined mathematically. I am using a precut strip roll which has four colourways in unequal proportions. This dictates everything  for my version of the quilt.

I added the quantities of all the fabrics from the requirements and made a pie chart having already decided to use a dark grey neutral. I then worked out which of my colours to use for each clue by comparing Bonnie’s colour proportions to the one on my roll. So far I have used pink for red, yellow for blue and now green for green.

My quilt will be smaller, to work out how many units to make I calculated how much of Bonnie’s fabric  was used in the first two clues. I then used the same fraction of the fabric that I had. This means I am making a quarter size quilt. Of course this is a mystery and my plans may all come undone and I will have to find some extra.

Clue three has the dreaded half chevron blocks. I am sewing with a hand crank machine and need to use a seam guide to keep everything straight. So no way was I going to use the technique as suggested. So more maths needed to work out the size of lozenge to cut. This did involve the square root of 2. Then I cut them and the triangles with my Easy Angle ruler.

In keeping with my vintage sewing machine I am using vintage scissors to snip my units apart. These were given to me by my grandmother, they were the ones she used all her life. They were given to her by her mother, not new, but from her own sewing basket. This is not a good story.  Nita needed scissors because she was going to work at the Pelaco shirt factory having reached the age when fees were needed to continue with school. She  was a diligent student who excelled at Maths. Her teachers pleaded with her father but to no avail, so off she went with the scissors newly engraved with her name because workers had to supply their own tools. Not for long though, after about a year she found herself a job as a bookkeeper.

I hadn’t noticed until I took the photo that as well as her name there is a date and place. 3 August 1922 Melbourne, almost worn away from regular sharpening. The day my grandmother ceased to learn mathematics.

It was a Thursday.

Here is the link to see the other Mystery makers progress.

Perfect seam allowance

As you read previously, I am making the Bonnie Hunter Good Fortune Mystery using a turn of last century hand crank machine. This week’s clue calls for sewing half square triangles which means a bias seam.

Not a problem you say. But when you have only one hand to guide the fabric under the needle because the other one is cranking the machine, then help is needed.

My machine despite its long life has all its accessories including the very important seam gauge. This is no flimsy strip but a solid piece of cast metal that is firmly held in place by an equally substantial screw that means it is not budging at all.

I have raised the presser foot so you can see I am heading straight to the nubbed corner meaning I will have made a perfect 1/4 ” seam.

Here is the proof. It is so hot here today (36.8 C outside) that I only turned the iron for long enough to press my first square to make sure it is the right size.

It is. So I will calmly and quietly crank out the rest of my yellow not blue squares. Pressing and trimming can happen tomorrow when it is supposed to be cooler.

This post is linked to other Good Fortune Mystery part 2 posts.

Mystery en plein air

It is Quiltville Mystery time and this year we are making Good Fortune, with colours inspired by Bonnie Hunter’s recent trip to China. I found a rather ordinary roll of fabric strips, probably a raffle prize or the like. It is all from one range, but I don’t know what that is but paired with a dark grey neutral I think it could look quite good.

I worked out that the red strips for Step 1 used approximately 3/7ths of the yardage, so I used a similar proportion of my pastel red. This is going to be quite a small version. If I need to cut wider than 2 1/2 inches I could be in trouble, I might have to piece strips together.

For variety I am using my recently self serviced White hand crank sewing machine. This means I can sew anywhere that I can lug it. Today was a very pleasant late spring day, so sewing was in the garden.

It didn’t take very long to crank through the strips, a bit slower making the four patches but don’t they look good.

This post is linked up to the mystery quilt week one.

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.