Friday, August 11, 2017

The Mystery Revealed*

*conditions apply

It is finally time for you to see the assembled mystery blocks. A number of blocks were made and auditioned for the final selection, and one managed to get into the final quilt without being introduced.  Rather than wait another week I have decided to show the finished layout now; some more instructions will be posted next week. I just wish I was a better photographer - the picture doesn't do justice to the real quilt top.


The blocks that you have been making fit together according to the following grid. It doesn't matter which six inch block goes into each six inch space; you can follow my pictures or rearrange your blocks to suit.  Earlier in the blog there were Dresden plates and House blocks - if you want to include them just put them in a matching sized space.  The quilt top divides into four quarters; A, B, C and D. Arrange your blocks on the design wall/floor for the whole quilt, then sew them together quarter by quarter.

quarter A

Quarter A uses one 12 inch, two 9 inch and 5 six inch blocks.

quarter B

Quarter B - one 12 inch, two 9 inch and five 6 inch.  The block you haven't seen is the blue and purple one on the right.  I will provide a pattern in the next post, or you might figure it out for yourself.

quarter C

Quarter C - two 9 inch blocks and three 6 inch blocks.

quarter D

Quarter D - one 9 inch, four 6 inch and five 3 inch blocks.  For the 3 inch blocks I used leftovers from other blocks.  You could make five different blocks. 

I am going to add a border too, again, your choice for border / no border.  Any questions?  You can comment below or join in on the Facebook page - and I would love to see your photos!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

One Last Block

The friendship quilt made in Malaga in 1937 has been the inspiration for the mystery blocks of the past few months.

I chose blocks that fit into the 6 - 9 - 12 inch pattern, and I left poor Sunbonnet Sue for another day. I discovered that I needed one more 9 inch block to finish the quilt so I opted for an old favourite.

Dutchman's Puzzle

I disassembled my Whirligig block that I decided not to use.  It was all half square triangles so I rearranged it into a Dutchman's Puzzle.

It will work a little better with Flying Geese to start with and can also be made in three colours - make the center geese one main colour and the outside geese a contrasting colour.

A - 2 dark 5.75 inch squares. Cut diagonally twice to make 8 triangles.

B - 8 light 3.25 inch squares. Cut diagonally to make 16 triangles.

Trim each flying goose block to 2.75" x 5".

Block measures 9.5 inches.

I made a few more flying geese blocks, this time with real geese.

So ... next post, the big reveal!  I do hope you like the end result.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Mystery in a Mystery

Minnie Key's block needs a bit of imagination to reproduce.

Minnie's fabric has not worn well, it is very thin and there is no colour left.  The pale orange blotches in the photo are the backing fabric showing through the block.  Sometimes the seams of the patches still show some colour but I don't see any in this one.  All we have is the piecing.

I have also been unable to find a name for this block.  It looks familiar but nothing matches. 

I have pieced the design as two colours and as three colours.

I'm interested in your interpretations.

A -  2 light and 2 dark 2" x 2" squares.

B - 2 light and 2 dark 2.5" x 2.5" squares.  Cut diagonally to make 4 dark and 4 light triangles. 

C - 1 light and 1 dark 4" x 4" square.  Cut diagonally to make 2 light and 2 dark triangles.

Add two B's to square A; sew to C.  Trim to 3.5 inch square.

Block measures 6.5 inch square.

This following block is called Four Knaves from Nancy Cabot in 1938; almost the same as Nellie's Mystery.

A - 6 purple and 2 green squares 2.5" x 2.5". Cut diagonally to make 12 purple and 4 green triangles.  Make four half square triangles and trim to 2" square, add two more triangles.

B - 2 green squares 4" x 4".  Cut diagonally to make 4 triangles.

Block measures 6.5 inch square.

Make one of each block for your mystery quilt.  There is one more block to come, then all will be revealed!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cactus Basket, Cactus Pot

This week's block is a Cactus Basket.

Sarah Cannon, who made this block, was the first woman that I researched on the Malaga 1937 quilt.  I had not planned to do any research at all but I decided to just have a look at a person or two.  I discovered that Sarah's husband was a missionary to the Indians and that her daughter was the first white child to be born in the area. After this gem of information I went ahead and was able to place every name that was on the quilt, not a single missing person. Exploring on is better than playing computer games!

Cactus Basket can also be called Desert Rose, Texas Rose, Texas Treasure, Basket of Diamonds or Flower Pot.  Sometimes the plant is much smaller than the basket.

Cactus Basket ~ Cactus Pot

Cactus Basket is usually made with diamond shapes, but that means set-in seams.  I have changed the diamonds to half square triangles for quick piecing - but you may change them back to diamonds if you like! The second block is Cactus Pot; very similar but different enough to include as a second pattern.  Make one of each for the mystery quilt.

A - 1 light, 1 pink and 1 basket 2" x 2" squares.

B - 2 light, 1 pink, 2 blue and 2 basket 2.5" x 2.5" squares.  Cut diagonally to make 14 triangles in all.  Make half square triangles using the picture as a guide, trim to 2" x 2".

C - 2 light rectangles 2" x 3.5".

D - 1 light 4" x 4" square.  Cut diagonally and use 1 triangle.

Block measures 6.5 inches.

A - 1 light 2" x 2" square.

B - 2 light, 2 green and 1 basket 2.5" x 2.5" squares.  Cut diagonally to make 10 triangles. Make half square triangles, trim to 2" x 2".

C - 2 light rectangles 2" x 3.5".

D - 1 light, 1 green and 1 basket 4" x4" squares.  Cut diagonally and use 1 triangles of each color.

Block measures 6.5 inches.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Album Blocks and Album Quilts

This week's block is an album block.

The word "album" has a number of different uses when looking at historic quilts.  These two blocks from the Malaga quilt are both Album blocks because the pattern's name is Album.  Blocks that are similar to these like Chimney Sweep and Cross Patch and Christian Cross can be called album blocks as a group.  An album quilt is a quilt made with different blocks, like a Baltimore Album quilt; or an album quilt can have signatures like an autograph album.

This  pattern is Chimney Sweep.  It was probably made in the 1880s. Seam allowance can be an issue on this diagonal blocks - you can see why this one stayed an orphan.

These are a variation on the Chimney Sweep.  They are in a 1940 quilt that I call Texas Too.  This Quaker quilt has the most amazing story behind it which I introduced here in the blog; one day I will get busy and find out the rest of the story.

So three blocks this week: Album, Chimney Sweep and Texas Chimney Sweep.

Album block

 A - 8 dark and 2 light squares 1.75" x 1.75".

B - 1 light rectangle 1.75" x 4.25".

C - 2 light squares 4" x 4". Cut diagonally twice to make 8 triangles.

D - 2 light squares 3" x 3". Cut diagonally to make 4 triangles.

Put the pieces together row by row.  The triangles are much bigger than the squares, that's OK.  Trim the triangles as you need to when you sew the seams.  The finished 6.5 inch block leaves a large margin around the dark squares - no disappearing points here.

Chimney Sweep

A - 8 dark and 2 light squares 2" x 2".

B - 4 dark and 1 light rectangle 2" x 5".

C - 3 light squares 4" x 4". Cut diagonally twice to make 12 triangles.

D - 2 light squares 2.75" x 2.75". Cut diagonally to make 4 triangles.

Make the center 9 patch square first, then build up the block by rows around the center. Block measures 9.5 inches.

Texas Chimney Sweep

A - 6 dark and 4 light squares 2" x 2".

B, C, D - same as Chimney Sweep instructions.

The center 9 patch is the only difference in this Texas Chimney Sweep block, all the other pieces are the same as Chimney Sweep.

Block measures 9.5 inches.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? It's a Goose?!

Sometimes a mystery quilt contains mystery blocks.

The 1937 Malaga quilt has these two star blocks.  I went to Barbara Brackman to find a name, I thought is would be easy.  However, nothing matched.  I tried stars of all descriptions, 16 patch, unequal 9 patch with a large centre, and so on.  The only block that I did find has the same pieces but looks very different.

This is Brown Goose, or Double Z.  Doesn't look like a star at all, does it?  But the only difference is the corner blocks.  Reverse the half square triangles and the mystery block appears.

Brown Goose

Brown Goose Variation

A - 2 light and 6 dark 2.5" x 2.5" squares.  Cut diagonally to make 4 light and 12 dark triangles.

B - 2 light and 1 dark 4.25" x 4.25" squares.  Cut diagonally twice to make 8 light and 4 dark triangles (2 of each color not used).

Trim center hourglass block to 3.5" x 3.5". Trim flying geese (top, bottom, sides) to 2" x 3.5".  Trim half square triangle corners to 2" x 2".

Block measures 6.5 inches.

Cutting instructions are the same as Brown Goose, the only difference is the position of the half square triangles in the corners.

Make one of each block.  The unused triangles from each block can be used to make an hourglass block 3.5 inches square.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sugar Bowl and Flower Basket

Now that you have practiced with a 12 inch basket block, it's time to make something a little smaller.

Sugar Bowl

A sugar bowl isn't really a basket but it is a container (which is good enough for today).  Barbara Brackman lists this pattern from the Farm Journal, established March, 1877. There are a number of different blocks named Sugar Bowl or Broken Sugar Bowl but this particular one doesn't go by any other name.

A - 1 dark square 2" x 2".

B - 2 light and 3 dark squares 2.5" x 2.5".  Cut diagonally to make 4 light and 6 dark triangles.  Trim half square triangles to 2" x 2".

C - 1 light and 1 dark square 4" x 4". Cut diagonally to make 2 light and 2 dark triangles (1 dark triangle not used). Trim half square triangle (center of basket) to 3.5" x 3.5".

D - 2 light rectangles 2" x 3.5".

Block measures 6.5 inches.

Flower Basket

Flower Basket is the same as last week's Basket of Chips but with one less row of triangles.

A - 2.5" x 2.5" squares - cut 4 of background, 1 each of three colors for flowers and 1 for basket. Cut diagonally to make triangles.
Trim half square triangles to 2" x 2".

B - 1 dark and 1 light 4" x 4" square. Cut diagonally, use 1 for background and 1 for basket.

C - 2 light rectangles 2" x 3.5".

Block measures 6.5 inches.

Make one of each block to continue the mystery.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Basket of Chips

This week's block is one of those traditional basket blocks. Why are there so many basket blocks?  I think that, firstly, a basket is easy to depict in two dimensions and with basic geometric shapes.  If it has a base and a handle, it looks like a basket. Secondly, baskets can be full of so many different things - think of a basket of kittens, a fruit basket, a flower basket, a baby basket, a laundry basket ... the list goes on and on.

Names for this block include Basket of Chips, Anna's Basket, Basket of Flowers, Chip Basket and Flower Pot. 

Edna Rudberg was married twice.  Edna was married to her first husband Leonard when she made this block.  After Leonard died, Edna married again - at the age of 85 - to her second husband, Bernard Blevitzky, age 91!

Basket of Chips is a five by five pattern but it needs to finish at 12 inches in the mystery quilt.  I have added an extra two inch strip across one side and across the top to make up the 12 inches.  Five different fabrics for the 'chips' make ten half square triangles.

A - 3” x 3” squares: cut 7 for background, 1 for basket and 5 for chips.  Cut diagonally to make triangles (one background triangle not used).    Trim half square triangles to 2.5” x 2.5”.

B - 7” x 7” square for basket, cut diagonally and use one half triangle.
C - 5” x 5” square of background, cut diagonally and use one triangle.

D - 2 rectangles 6.5” x 2.5”.
E - 1 rectangle 2.5" x 10.5" (or a little longer).
F - 1 rectangle 2.5" x 12.5" (or a little longer - these can be trimmed back to suit)

Block finishes at 12.5 inches square.  You will need one of these basket blocks for the mystery quilt.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Whirlwinds and Windmills

Squares are my favourite patchwork shape.  I'm a big fan of Bonnie Hunter's Leaders and Enders and I always have a pile of two inch squares by the sewing machine to finish off chain piecing.


If you want beautiful but simple quilt blocks triangles are the winners.

Four different blocks - but all from the same pattern.  This week's mystery patterns are Windmills and Whirlwind.  There are four blocks to chose from but you only need to make two.


A - 1 light and 1 dark square 4.5" x 4.5". Cut diagonally twice to make 4 light and 4 dark triangles.

B - 2 dark squares 4" x 4". Cut diagonally once to make 4 triangles.

Assemble 1 light A, 1 dark A and 1 B. Trim to 3.5 inches.

Block measures 6.5 inches.

All four blocks use the same cutting directions, just different colours.


A - 1 light and 1 dark square 4.5" x 4.5". Cut diagonally twice to make 4 light and 4 dark triangles.

B - 2 medium squares 4" x 4". Cut diagonally once.

Sew the same as the Whirlwind block.

Grandmother Clark's Windmill

From a popular set of pattern pamphlets in the 1930s. This Windmill is the same as the previous Windmill but the A triangles alternate around the centre.


And the same again.

A - 1 light and 1 dark square 4.5" x 4.5". Cut diagonally twice to make 4 light and 4 dark triangles.

B - 2 light squares 4" x 4". Cut diagonally once to make 4 triangles.

Isn't it a clever design?  I'm just blown away ......