2016 Mystery Challenge

The 2016 Choo Choo Quilters Challenge is a Mystery Quilt. The quilt is made with simple pieced units. The fabric selection is up to you. The monthly instructions will make a quilt that is 57” x 72” though you are welcome to make your finished quilt any size. The only requirement is that at least half of the units are used in your finished quilt. A new set of instructions will be provided each month for the first 5-6 months of 2016. The completed quilts (quilted, bound, labeled) will be shown at the Mystery Quilt Big Reveal at the November guild meeting.

Fabric Selection:
Choose a neutral and two colors. For each color, you can use many fabrics for a scrappy look, a more controlled selection of fabrics in the proper colorways, or even just 3 fabrics total. The choice is yours. Choose fabrics with enough contrast between the 2 main colors and the neutral so your piecing will show.

Neutrals: total 5-1/2 yds
Fabric A – 1/4 yd
Fabric C – 1/3 yd
Fabric D – 2/3 yd
Fabric E – 1/3 yd
Fabric J – 2-1/2 yd
Fabric K – 1/3 yd
Fabric M – 1/4 yd
Fabric Q – 1/2 yd

Color 1: total 3-1/4 yds
Fabric G – 1/4 yd
Fabric H – 1/3 yd
Fabric L – 1/3 yd
Fabric N – 7/8 yd
Fabric O – 2/3 yd
Fabric P – 2/3 yd

Color 2:  total 1-1/2 yd
Fabric B – 1/3 yd
Fabric F – 3/4 yd (includes binding)
Fabric I – 1/3 yd
Clue #1
Pick fabrics. Prepare them to cut (prewash if that is your style), AND LABEL THEM! If you are trying to control your placement, you will really need to label everything since it can get confusing.
Clue #2
You will need to make many flying geese units, all to finish at 2” x 4”.  (Each unit will be 2 ½” x 4 ½” before sewn to the next unit later on in this mystery.) You can use any technique you choose, and each flying geese unit will have the color #1 or color #2 as the geese part of the unit, and the neutral as the sky part.

Quantities needed:
Using Fabric P as the goose, and Fabric J as the sky, make 62 units.
Fabric O (goose) and Fabric J (sky) – make 62 units.
Fabric B (goose) and Fabric C (sky) – make 24 units.
Fabric l (goose) and Fabric K (sky) – make 24 units.
    Flying Geese construction options:
    Rectangle and 2 squares: easy but creates a decent amount of waste. For our size units, you’ll cut the goose fabric 2 ½” x 4 ½”. The sky squares will be 2 ½”. This method is the first method shown here (but color placement is reversed from what we need—we need neutrals as the sky, main color as the geese).

    No waste quick method: makes 4 units at once. Using 1 big square of goose fabric and 4 smaller squares of sky fabric. Cut goose fabric 5 ¼” square and sky fabric 2-7/8” square. This method is the second one shown here (again with the colors reversed from our needs).

    Dimensional flying geese: super easy, one seam. For each unit, cut one goose fabric rectangle 2-1/2" x 4-1/2", and 2 squares 2-1/2" of sky. Tutorial is here. Scroll down to "Method Four."
    Clue #3
    You will be making half square triangles all finishing at 2” square (2 ½” square before being sewn to other units).  Use any technique that suits your fancy. A few options are shown below.

    Quantities needed:
    Using Fabric G and Fabric E, make 24 squares.
    Using Fabric F and Fabric E, make 24 squares.
    Using Fabric H and Fabric E, make 24 squares.
    Using Fabric F and Fabric D, make 24 squares.
    Using Fabric N and Fabric D, make 24 squares.

    Using Fabric I and Fabric D, make 24 squares.

    Technique #1: Easy but with a bit of waste.
    Cut squares of each fabric 2 ½” square. On light fabric, mark a diagonal line on each square from corner to opposite corner. With right sides together, stitch straight from one corner diagonally to the opposite corner. Press, then trim under-layers if you want.

    Even EASIER Way:  Mark a piece of paper with a straight line and tape to the bed of your sewing machine, with the line leading straight to your needle. When sewing, keep corner of fabric square lined up with that line and you will produce a straight seam without marking.

    Technique #2: to make 8 units at once. From each fabric, cut a 5 ¾” square. Follow this tutorial.

    Technique #3: Multiple units made using bias strips – excellent for smaller half square triangles. From each fabric, cut bias strips 2 ½” wide.  Follow this tutorial.

    Other options to consider:
    Paper piecing options will eliminate the marking. Thangles is one option, with multiple sizes available. Or, Triangles on a Roll.

    Triangulations 4.0 CD by Brenda Henning. Allows you to print many sizes of HST, Flying Geese and quarter square triangles with your home printer.

    Easy Angle Ruler allows you to cut triangles from strips, eliminates trimming of some dog ears.
    Clue #4
    You will be making snowball blocks and combining units. For Snowball blocks:

    1. From Fabric N, cut 31 4 ½” squares.
    2. From Fabric J, cut 124 2 ½” squares.
    3. Use these to make 31 snowball blocks as follows: with right sides together, lay a J square on a corner of the larger N block. Sew a diagonal line across the J block. Repeat for all 4 corners of the block. Flip and press the block to line up with the underlying corner. Trimming the under layers is optional.
    For the next unit, you’ll need flying geese units made with fabrics P & J, and other flying geese units using fabrics O & J. Make 31 units that look like:
    For the next unit, cut Fabric D into rectangles 4 ½” wide x 2 ½” tall. Cut 24 of these rectangles. Use flying geese units with B & C fabrics, and make 24 units that look like:
    Then make 24 units from Fabric J (cut into 4 ½” x 2 ½” rectangles) and your flying geese units using fabrics L & K:
    Clue #5
    1. From Fabric I, cut 24 squares 2.5" square.
    2. Using half square triangle units F & E, H & E and G & E, make 24 units that look like:
    3.  In the same manner, make 24 units using half square triangles made from fabrics F & D, I & D and N & D. The 2.5" squares for these units will be from Fabric H. The completed units will look like:
    4. Cut 4.5" squares from the following fabrics:
       6 squares from Fabric A.
       6 squares from Fabric M.
       20 squares rom Fabric Q.

    Now you have all the parts for the quilt. The "planned" design will be revealed in June, but feel free to play around with your units and see what designs emerge. Remember, you can do anything you want with these blocks.
    Clue #6
    Now you have all the parts for the quilt. You are free to use them any way you want in the final quilt. Remember, you have to use at least half of the units in the finished quilt. The quilt has one block design in 2 colorways, plus sashing. The pattern is actually from a design by Heidi Pridemore for Andover Fabrics, titled, "Laura's Quilt," available here.

    Make 6 blocks like this (Block#1):
    Make 6 blocks like this: (Block #2):
    Make 31 sashing strips like this:

    The final layout. Find a colored photo here:


    1. In clue 1 we were instructed to make flying geese with fabrics I and K, but in clue 4 it states to use the flying geese made with fabrics L and K. No instructions were given to make flying geese with L and K. Which one is correct, please?

    2. Sorry, I meant that in Clue 2 we made flying geese with fabrics I and K, not clue 1. The rest of the comment still applies.

    3. It's I and K - the ones you made in Clue #2.

    4. In clue 5, you show four patch blocks made from three HSTs and one plain square but you don't show the orientation of the HSTs. How are the dark sides of the hst's oriented? All pointing in one direction - away from the solid square or toward it, pinwheeling around the center, what? Please make your sketches more informative. I found your mystery online and decided to follow it because I love to make mystery quilts, but the instructions need to be more detailed for a person not in your guild that can't go to the meeting and ask questions.

    5. Oops - sorry that didn't show up on the blog - it showed up on the handouts I gave out at our guild meeting. On the diagrams on step 2 and 3 above, the dark half of the HST should be on the lower left corner of each patch. The diagonal seam should run from the top right corner to the bottom left corner of each patch.