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Earlier this month, with all your encouragement, I attended a Midnight Mystery retreat, where we were to  sew until Midnight to complete an unknown quilt from mysterious fabric requirements and cutting instructions mailed to us previously.

As I mentioned, I HATE MYSTERY QUILTS, but I was prevailed upon by a good friend to accompany her.  I usually regret my fabric choices once I actually see the pattern -- but not this time!  Really!  Big Surprise! I really liked my choices once I put a couple of blocks together.  I was cautious and stayed mostly within a neutral pallet, with a tiny focus of rose. 

I did, however, discover that in no way could this be called an "easy" pattern!  We cut out a gazillion little triangles (on the bias - yuk!).  I should have known then what I was getting into, but I was already in too deep!  There were blocks A & B (see photos below) -- not too hard, but there were 20 of Block A and 12 of Block B.  Then we were told they were to be set on point!  Ah well, I've done that before, but I couldn't remember cutting out any setting triangles for 10-1/2" blocks!  Hmmm...  Silly me, we were going to piece all those various sized bias triangles into the bigger SETTING TRIANGLES!   Yikes!  As you can see from the photos, I'm still working on that bit, but I wanted to show you what I cam home with.  Not an entire quilt top by any stretch of the imagination -- no one got that -- but a good start.

Barbara, you were right -- I had a great time -- But when this thing is finished, and I AM going to finish it, I'm going to have a ceremonial pattern burning!  When we finally saw the complete pattern, we found it was full of errors, and some things had to be recut, but I think we have them all figured out.  I will never make this quilt again in any size!

I'll post a photo of the finished quilt later -- much later!

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Comment by Ann Johnson on May 7, 2014 at 11:02am

Thanks for your reply Carol. Sounds like you had lots of problems with the pattern which were compounded by the mystery quilt aspect. You make an interesting point about using fabric amounts as guidelines.

As far as the pressing directions...those are always helpful but especially with a mystery quilt because you can't decide based on the final quilt design or LAQ plans. CT patterns include pressing directions for every step so I am used to addressing them when I write patterns. 

As far as cutting a square in half to make triangle...haven't done that in years. That sounds tedious and annoying, especially if there are lots and unnecessary.

Thanks for answering my question. If there is a MQ2015 next March, I'll be sure to remember your comments. Maybe you'll even join us...the quilt along group members are fun and supportive!

Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on May 6, 2014 at 4:19pm

Hello Ann!  Thanks for your interest.  

My major problem is, of course, fabric selection.  But I guess I'm getting better at that.  I have found a clue  to notice would be the amount of fabric required for each color.  This mystery quilt used five different fabrics.  For instance the "light" was 3-1/2 yards as opposed to the "dark" requirement of 1/4 of a yard.  I chose the "light" carefully, since there would be a lot of it.  Black was a safe choice for the "dark".  

Another problem I had was a lack of directions on WHICH WAY TO PRESS SEAMS at each step!  You will notice in the quilt pictured, there are a LOT of triangles and seam matching that has to go on once the blocks have been completed.  Once the units were constructed, we still had no idea where they went and what their orientation in the block or quilt would be.  Sometimes it is much too late to consider ripping the units apart so certain seams could be pressed the other way.  That left a lot of bumps and lumps when you are sewing the final quilt top together, and for the LAQ to maneuver around.  

A secondary frustration was the cutting of a multitude of little bias triangles.  I guess the designer didn't want to give the final pattern away, but some of the units could have been constructed more easily (half/square triangles, flying geese, etc.) than cutting squares in half diagonally, then sewing them back together!

Thanks again for your interest, and good luck with your mystery quilts for CT.

Comment by Ann Johnson on May 6, 2014 at 1:07pm

Carol, regardless of the type of pattern, it is always frustrating if it has errors! At CT, we always test and proof our patterns and have a very low errata rate.

I designed and wrote the patterns for the past two CT mystery quilts - MQ2013 and MQ2014. People seem to enjoy them. As a designer, I would be interested to know what it is you dislike about mystery quilts. It would help me in planning future ones. I can guess one... selecting fabrics you would not have chosen if you knew what the quilt was going to look like. That is why I provide over a dozen combinations of our fabrics to choose from or guide fabric selections from a personal stash. This past quilt along, I even advised people if they posted their fabric selections...just as a staff at a LQS would do. Are there any other reasons?

Comment by Barb/WI on May 1, 2014 at 8:23am

The quilt is going to be beautiful.  Can't wait to see the end result.

Comment by Karla Ridpath on May 1, 2014 at 7:01am

I love the fabrics, too!

Comment by Joan on May 1, 2014 at 4:39am

Beautiful, Carol!  I'm thinking the good side to a Mystery quilt is you end up doing stunning complicated things you'd usually take a look at and back away from.  I hate bias triangles also.  

Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on April 30, 2014 at 5:03pm

Poor girl.  What a nightmare.  It was very good of her to accommodate the participants the way she did.  

Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on April 30, 2014 at 9:15am

Aida, the shop owner called the pattern company; it seems they were aware of the cutting errors, and had posted corrections on the internet, but apparently continued to ship the old patterns out!  She extracted an agreement from them to send all of us a revised printed copy of the pattern (don't have it yet), with the promise that she would CONSIDER buying from them again sometime!  She was really upset!  Some of the participants did not have enough fabric to recut the pieces, so she gave them  new fabric off the shelves so they could continue to work on the project.

Comment by Roxann on April 30, 2014 at 8:50am

WOW!  I hope you no longer hate mystery quilts, as this one will be stunning!!  GO YOU!

Comment by Jill, BC on April 30, 2014 at 8:41am

This is going to be stunning so worth all the hard work (maybe?)! I just love the fabrics and look forward to seeing the finished quilt.

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