Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Start Your Engines! The Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Has Begun!

It's that time of year!  Bonnie Hunter has just launched her latest Mystery Quilt, the Grand Illusion.  And yes, I am playing along!  I hope you are too, they are lots of fun.  I will be posting my progress here after each clue. 


In her introduction, Bonnie had us pick out our fabrics using her color samples shown above, here is my spread.  Most are from my stash, I am cleaning out and making room for new.  But, with that said, I did not have much yellow and very little grass green, which required a trip to the quilt shop!  I know, we hate that right?  

No Lowe's in our town to get copies of the paint samples, but we have a Home Depot and I think these come pretty close.  I tend to gravitate toward the jewel tones.  So my colors are probably more on the deeper end of the spectrum.  Yellow is a stretch for me but that's what I love about Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilts, they can push your boundaries in a good way!

I ended up switching out my Blacks and Whites for a constant called Contempo Bellissimo.

Mystery Part 1!

First thing to do is make HST units.  I want a scrappy look but I don't want to use the ruler (which I have) and strips so I pulled out my stencil from Sunday Best Quiltworks and got busy.  Each time you use it you make 32 HST units which makes it very short work when you need to make a lot!  Plus by switching up my fabrics each time, it will give me that scrappy effect I want in the finished quilt.  

With right sides of my fabric together, I trace the stencil, using a permanent marking pen.  They have lines for the quarter inch seam allowance, but I don't mark those, I can sew a quarter inch seam.  If you need them you can trace them, but I would use a water soluble marker for those as they will not be in your cut line.

Once everything is traced (it just takes a couple minutes, literally) then you stitch as shown in the photo above.  Two rectangles in opposite directions.

When you are finished stitching, give the whole thing a good steam press to set all your seams at once!  Then using your rotary cutter and a ruler, cut it apart, on the straight lines first and then the diagonal lines between your stitching.  BAM!  32 PERFECT triangles.  NONE ON THE BIAS!  This is important for beginning quilters.  Bias raw edges can just make a mess when you are learning to quilt.

Trim off all the little dog ears now.  It only takes a few minutes, then press them open to the dark side.  I like to finger press my HST's open first, then use the iron.  One of the most important things you can do in quilting is to press carefully and properly. Don't Scrub with your iron as it will distort your work.  Just press. If you will finger press your work open first, you will make sure that you open your seam all the way.  Sometimes a new quilter will think they are off in their measurements or their seam allowance, when all they really need to do is properly press their work. Remember:  Get your seam open and press, don't scrub.

No extra trimming required, each one is a perfect 2.5 inches!
Here is a little video of the technique by Sunday Best Quiltworks.

Now, normally, I would never mix these fabrics up like this, but Bonnie has taught me that if you cut something small enough it will work.  And you know what?  She's right!  Not only is she right, but I have found that it creates a lot of interest when you are actually using the quilt, you notice little fun things here and there.  Don't be afraid to try her methods.

There is something just so enjoyable for me when I am chain piecing.  A rhythm develops and it allows your mind to wander.  I find it restful and refreshing.

There is a satisfaction in seeing each step completed.  

Watching as your piles of completed units start to stack up.  You can see the simple satisfaction of completing this one portion of your task.  It's the process of eating an elephant...one bite at a time.

And before you know it, all your broken dish units are neatly stacked before your eyes!   A warm feeling comes over you as you realize that you have tackled the 1st clue successfully!  That elephant doesn't stand a chance!!!

So I am a zip-lock bag freak!  I put my components as they are finished into zip-lock bags and then I put those bags into a working tub that contains my fabric and my pattern.  Everything is in one spot so I don't have to go searching for any of it.  Here is the link for Part 1!  Mystery Monday Link-Up Part 1

Can't wait till Friday Bonnie!!!

If you are not making the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt...I hope you will jump in.  It's not too late.  Each week Bonnie will be posting clues and they will stay up for a while giving you plenty of time to catch up.  Details can be found on her blog at Quiltville.com  Just look for the tab titled Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt.  


  1. Glad to read your Link-up post. HST's ready to SEW mindlessly today so I'm ready for Friday's clue. Shaking my head at the Quilter who 'hand-pieced' hers. Oh my! I changed my Blacks to be more BLACK so I don't get the Busy feel like I did with my Easy 'Busy" Street. This is my 3rd Mystery. The yellow is out of my comfort zone as well. Going with it and trusting Bonnie.

    1. I know, hand pieced...I was stunned, but hey, different strokes for different folks right? I was thinking about going solid black and white and almost ordered some Kona Cotton to fit that bill when I came across these. I love them, they read solid from a distance but are interesting when you get up close. I'll be anxious to see everyones finish!

  2. Thank you for the tip on the Half Square Templates. I have already ordered them (all of them). Hopefully they will arrive next week and I can get caught up. I have some thangles, but these seem to be better to me. I can hardly wait for them to arrive. Thank you and I love your colors. I was really going to use just one fabric in each color. Now I am not sure. Yours looks great.

    1. Gosh thank you! I think you will be really happy with the stencils.