Tag Archives: Bonnie Hunter

Now for the leftovers

Just like a great meal, a quilt’s leftovers can be made into something even more delicious. I finished making the quilt top in the Bonnie Hunter En Provence mystery in January. The missing borders are now on, as you can see a tweaked them a little to bring in a tiny bit of colour.

Since then I have been playing around with ideas for the left over bits and pieces. So far I have made some units with the half square triangles cut off the ends of strips when making the hourglass units in the mystery quilt. I have added circles made from a set of 2.5″ squares I received late last year and appliquéd onto grey rectangles. The bits leftover from cutting strips for the mystery will also go somewhere.


There will be more solid greys in the finished piece – it is still very much a work in progress.

The final link up for En Provence can be found here, there are lots and lots of finished tops and quilts to see.


Complete Mystery

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.


Here in the Antipodes the seasons are the opposite to where Bonnie Hunter lives in North Carolina. Actually the opposite point to Warranwood, Australia is the middle of the North Atlantic. c389c58b8bb36ed078b1173c2dd234a0

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Thank you to Vireya and Jenni, my fellow travellers en Provence, and in fond memory of Joy, a mystery master.

Here is the list of all my posts about this mystery, starting with the first one.

Another mystery
A neutral starting position
En Provence in the garden
Magenta magic
Violet, Lavender maybe Lilac
Why violet?
Cool change
A New Year a new colour
Ready to assemble
Sashing surprise
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.

Sashing surprise

Not a new dessert, but I think it looks delicious.img_4885

Instead of neutral four patches as the cornerstones, I was inspired by a picture of a small mystery quilt which had magenta squares in their place . After playing with the idea I have made hourglass units. My magenta is scrappy rather than a constant, so pieced centres work. With bright green stars in the centre of the blocks, I think my quilt can take it.

All 31 sashings done.
On to the blocks.
Racing home.img_4887

Ready to assemble

Mystery week 7: The final clue was released on New Years Day along with the reveal of the whole quilt. reveal13It is a lovely design and I quickly made one block and some sashing. After much umming and ahhing I decided to make my version 3 blocks by 4 blocks. Full size is 4 x 4. As I had been making about half the required units each week, that meant a lot more had to be made.

Clue 7 is to make green/yellow/neutral hour glass units plus cut 3 1/2″ squares of yellow. Not so hard as it is much the same as clue 6 except now I am making 62 of these. The yellow squares feature in each block and Bonnie’s suggestion is to have sets of four, and a different fabric for each set. This meant finding 12 different yellows. Fortunately I had pulled out quite a lot at the beginning of the mystery.

I had run out of magenta, and needed more dark grey and purples to make the larger than planned quilt. These new fabrics need to be mixed in with the units I have already made before blocks can go together. So my week has involved a lot of cutting, sewing, pressing, sewing, trimming, counting, searching in every bag and box for suitable colours, counting again, and scrounging out the last bits of fabric. All executed in heat wave conditions. I would say difficultly level of 10.


Finally I am done. 193 extra units have been made and I am ready to put this baby together.

A New Year a new colour

Mystery, week 6: At long last it is time to cut into green. How appropriate that this is happening on New Year’s day in the year of Greenery. The hourglass unit is supposed to be scrappy, so after calculating how much of each of my six, neutrals, lavenders and greens I would need to make an even mix, I spent far too long on combinations and permutations to ensure scrappiness. img_4829Ready for stitching the greens look a little subdued, that is because they are not showing their best side.

One day later they are finished. Had to show off my new quilt cover, my only Boxing Day sales purchase. Love all the pintucking, which looks good with no ironing – a must, only patchwork gets pressed.


Here is some garden greenery, the lotus is sending up its first flowers.

img_4845And Umeko thinks she could be an African Violet.img_4828

There is no Mystery Monday Link-up this week. Next week there should be lots of finished quilts to see because the final clue was published this morning. Better get a wriggle on.


Cool change

Heat wave conditions have made it far too hot to sew since the fifth clue for the En Provence mystery was released on Friday. Instead I did an early morning hunt through the garden for purple plants that were not showing when I did my survey earlier in the month.

My acanthus can be found below the buddleja, the delicate petals of the unusually shaped flowers glow in this shady spot. Fruit on my Satsuma Plum is beginning to ripen. It is a blood plum variety, so the flesh inside is a deep red to purple. There should be lots of fully ripe and juicy plums before this mystery is finished. The waterlily, the first for this summer; a reminder that there is supposed to be yellow in this quilt – perhaps next Friday.

I waited until the forecast cool change came through, late Monday afternoon. The plus 30 degrees slowly dropped, a little rain fell, the humidity rose. Still not sew comfortable. Besides the Christmas Special double of Dr Who followed by Call the Midwife was on the telly. Finally time to get this simple unit done. Checked the first one, perfect. img_4721Easy Angle ruler for cutting and Bloc Loc for trimming the dog ear make half square triangles a sinch. It wasn’t long before my completed squares were tumbling off the side of my ironing table into the basket below.img_4724

Here’s the link to see what all the other Quiltvillians are making of this clue.

Why violet?

Mystery, week 4:  Now this is just too easy. Tri Recs were covered in week 2, but then again it doesn’t hurt to practise some more. This time it is with the dark purple and neutrals, so I am using my six dark violets from week 3 and the dark greys that have not been used since week 1.

Even though there are only 40 blocks to make, it has taken me most of Sunday because I have been distracted. First by the anticipation of the CFA Santa Run, an annual tradition among volunteer fire brigades in rural and urban fringe communities in Victoria and my second distraction stemmed from this, we will come to it later.

All morning the bells and sirens of fire trucks and support vehicles echoed around the neighbourhood, sometimes coming closer, then further away. Finally Santa arrived, distributing good cheer and bags of snacks, much to the satisfaction of my very grown up daughter, who had come to visit specially with my equally excited teenage granddaughter.

I had hoped in this week the mystery would have moved on to the yellow fabric, because then I could have used the bag of twisties as my colour photo. This was not to be, and in truth the snacks were not this type, but something quite inedible; the snack food photo is from my archive taken after the 2012 Santa run.

But this got me thinking about snacks and this became my other not sewing distraction.

One of my favourite snacks when I was about the age of my granddaughter, was a Violet Crumble, some kids referred to them as ‘violent rumbles’. It is a chocolate coated honeycomb bar, invented as I discovered, in Melbourne. Until today I had never been curious about the name, but violet has been on my mind. The bar is packaged in a deep purple metallic wrapper, but it is not a Cadbury product. I had to check all this with a quick trip to the shops followed by a little nibble. I can confirm that they still taste good, not sickly sweet like the competition.img_4411After much research – ok Wikipedia – I learned that Abel Hoadley, who had previously been in preserves and jam making, established a confectionery business in 1913 and one of his early popular assortments contained honeycomb. In order to stop these bars sticking together he had them chocolate dipped. He called them a Crumble, but couldn’t register that as a name, so he added Violet, after his wife’s favourite flower and wrapped them in purple, her favourite colour.

Over 100 years later, and after the business going through several takeovers, Violet Crumble is still being made in Melbourne, under the Nestlé brand. For those now feeling nostalgic, Lyn Walsh has written an excellent potted history with illustrations from the National Library of Australia collection.

Finally I got on with sewing, and completed the required units including this one using my new elephant fabric. Then I rewarded myself with the rest of the Violet Crumble.img_4412

Here is the link to Bonnie Hunter’s En Provence Mystery Monday Linkup part 4 – the design of this quilt remains quite a mystery.