It’s just a little over a month until the introduction to a new mystery quilt, designed by Beyond the Block authors Linda K. Johnson and Jane K. Wells, is published in the July 2010 issue of American Quilter magazine. This is a mystery like none you’ve ever seen before: it’s non-traditional, personalized, and a way to use some of your accumulated unfinished quilt blocks. I'm really excited about this project and just can't wait to reveal a few clues to get you started...
First, an explanation to those who have no idea what a mystery quilt entails: You, the quilter, embark on a quilt project without knowing what the final result will look like. You will be given instructions (the clues!) one installment at a time in three consecutive issues of American Quilter.
Why is this upcoming mystery quilt different? (1)The final block layout will be dynamic and non-traditional. (2)You start with your own specially-chosen focus blocks, not just shapes cut from stash or purchased fabrics. (3)You have a chance to win a nice prize simply by participating in the mystery as it is published. (I'll give you more information on that last piece of news in a future blog!)
So what is a "focus block"? You could use hand or machine appliquéd squares; paper-pieced blocks that feature a centered image or design; cross-stitched or embroidered squares; vintage linen squares; photo transfers or photos inkjet printed on fabric; or squares of a beautiful large-scale print or any other special fabric, perhaps holiday themed. You could even use squares cut from treasured tee shirts, backed with lightweight fusible interfacing. The only blocks not recommended as focus blocks are pieced blocks with busy overall designs, as they may not blend well within the mystery quilt setting.
Two more important clues: The focus blocks should be cut at least 8 ½" square so they finish 8". (If your focus blocks are smaller, just add some borders.) Four of the focus blocks will be straight set and three of them will be set on point. Keep this in mind if you are cutting a directional large-scale print.
Intriuged? Take a look at some of these photos for ideas on focus blocks and then read the complete introduction and clues on choosing additional fabrics in the July issue. Even our AQ pattern editor, Marje Rhine, is excited about this project. She'll be making her own mystery quilt (even though she knows the final result!).
Stay tuned for more clues...