The NYD Mystery for 2010
The name of this mystery was inspired by
Quilters Dreams’ Hopes and Dreams contest to benefit ALS patients. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that eventually
destroys the communication between nerves and voluntary muscles - in other words, “Crossed Connections”. This quilt has several basic blocks
but many possible layouts. You will have a choice of isolating your blocks, crossing them or connecting them. This quilt is
almost-but-not-quite celtic in design. As you might have guessed, it is paper pieced and is somewhat challenging. This quilt finishes at about
70" x 70".
If you would like to get a jump start on this quilt, you can read our paper-piecing tutorial called “The Seven Deadly Sins of Paper Piecing” or the foundation-piecing tutorial on making a Christmas Star tablerunner.
This mystery has completed, but I am leaving it here in mystery format so you can follow along if you like. If you are new to paper piecing, buy a little extra fabric. You WILL make mistakes. It's all part of the process:-))
- Border: 1 yard
- Background: 3 yards
- Dark: 1 yard
- Medium: 2 yards
- Black Accent: 1 1/2 yards (includes enough for binding)
Now, before you get started, let me give credit where credit is due. I am not by nature a perfect paper-piecing person. I had a lot of help from the ladies in my test class and several others I will mention during the mystery.
Print out this paper pieced pattern. When your printer dialogue box comes up, double check that the box that says "scaling" is set to "none". This pattern should print out at 4" (finished.) Don't forget to add the seam allowance! This block will be 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" unfinished. The picture thumbnails below do NOT show the seam allowance. If you would prefer to draw this pattern on graph paper, the corner angle is 1" from the edge.
Tip: When I made my sample, I precut the pieces I would need. For the center points (A1), I cut rectangles 6 1/2" x 4 1/2", then cut those on the diagonal. For the side pieces (A2 & A3), I cut 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" squares on the diagonal to make half square triangles. One of the other testers cut a 4 1/2" x 6 1/2" background rectangle on the diagonal to use for the side pieces.
I used scraps for the small triangle (A4) but you might prefer to cut 3" x 3" squares on the diagonal to give you triangular pieces to use. All these pieces are much too big but I prefer to cut pieces larger than I need and trim off the excess after they have been sewn to the paper.
Another Tip: In the test class, several students used 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangles as the center point, rather than cut a rectangle
block on the diagonal as I did above. If you are new to paper piecing, try it both ways and see what you prefer. If you like this method, save yourself
(16) 2 1/2" by WOF (width of fabric) strips of the Medium as you will be using it elsewhere in the quilt.
Make 32 using the medium and the background
Make 32 using the dark and the background
For those of you that are still putting together points, here is an easy clue to give you time to keep sewing. You are only cutting the background.
- Cut a 24" x WOF strip of fabric from the background. From that strip, cut (1) 24" x 24" square and (2) 12" x 12" squares. You will use these in Clue Six. Save the remainder of the strip for use in Clue Five.
- Cut (2) strips 5" wide by the WOF from the background. From this strip, cut (4) 4 ½" x 4 ½" squares (for use in Clue Six) and (4) 5" x 5" squares. (for use in Clue Four)
- Cut the remainder of that strip into 2 ½" wide strips. From those strips, cut (8) 2 ½" x 2 ½" squares. (for use in Clue Six)
- Cut (1) strip 3" wide by the WOF from the background. From that strip, cut (4) 3" x 3" squares. (for use in Clue Four) Save the remainder for use in the Clue Three and Clue Five.
- Cut (16) strips 13/16" wide by the WOF from the background. Most of these will be used in the next clue, but you will use some in Clue Five and Six.
The cutting directions for these strips are really precise. You can't fudge this - these strip sets need to exactly match the key blocks in Clue Five. Be sure to press your block every time you complete a seam. It *will* make a difference to the final product.
Using the strips you just cut and the 13/16" wide by WOF background strips you cut in Clue Two, sew (12) strips as shown above. You will have some strips left over for future steps. These strips sets will be 4 1/2" wide unfinished.
Cut from the dark fabric:
- Cut (1) strip 5" wide by the WOF. From that strip, cut (4) 5" x 5" squares.
- Cut (1) strip 3" wide by the WOF. From that strip, cut (4) 3" x 3" squares.
Match these with the (4) 5" x 5" squares and the (4) 3" x 3" squares that you cut from the background fabric in Clue Two.
This quilt uses half square triangles (HSTs.) In this clue, I am going to be giving you cutting directions for making HST blocks using the traditional method.
In the traditional method of making half square triangles, you put two squares of fabric right sides together and draw a diagonal line on the back of the lighter square. Sew 1/4" each on either side of that drawn line then cut on the line and press to the dark. To use a Quick Quarter Ruler (pictured below and in the video), just place the ruler on the diagonal of the back of the light square. You can draw your cutting line through the slot in the center of the ruler. The two sides of the ruler are exactly 1/4" from that center slot, so when you draw a line along the sides, you are drawing your sewing line.
The video below shows how to make HST blocks using the traditional method
Tip: Do you have any 1/2" wide painters tape or Tiger Tape at home? Use a strip of that on the diagonal of your block. Then sew on either side of the diagonal, remove the tape and reuse it on your next block.
Use the traditional method to make (8) HST blocks from the background and dark 5" squares. Press to the dark. Square these up to 4 1/2" unfinished.
Using the background and dark 3" squares, make (8) HST blocks. Press to the dark. Square these up to 2 1/2" unfinished.
This is the Key Block. This is the block that will cross the connections of your quilt blocks - or not. Depending on how you place this block, your other blocks will connect, disconnect or make a pattern. If you have a design board, you will use it today! If not, clean a roughly 60" x 60" spot on the floor or bed to use.
Print out this paper pieced pattern. Double check to make sure it printed out at 4" (finished.) This block will be 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" unfinished. The picture above does not show the seam allowance.
Use the leftovers from the previous clues to make (4) of these blocks.
You will also need to make (8) half key blocks like the ones below.
Print out this paper pieced pattern. Double check to make sure it printed out at half of a 4" square (finished.) Don't forget to add the seam allowance! The picture above does not show the seam allowance.
This quilt will be set on point! Read our article on How to Set a Quilt on Point if you have never done it before.
In Clue Two, you cut a 24" x 24" block from the background fabric. Cut this block on an X (both diagonals) to make 4 triangles with the straight of grain on the bottom of the triangle. These are setting blocks.
In Clue Two, you cut (2) 12" x 12" squares. Cut these blocks on the diagonal to make (4) triangles with the straight of grain on the edges. These are corner blocks.
In Clue Four, you made (8) 4 1/2" HST blocks and (8) 2 1/2" HST blocks from the background and dark fabrics. Using the (8) 2 ½" x 2 ½" background squares and the (4) 4 ½" x 4 ½" background squares you cut in Clue Two, make (4) of these butterfly blocks. (below). Don't forget to press the seam allowances of the four-patches in opposite directions so they nestle at the seams. Press and square up to 8 1/2" if necessary.
Press and square up to 8 1/2" if necessary.
Tip: In the test class, two quilters took the paper out before sewing the blocks together and two left it in. If you are new to paper piecing, try it both ways to see what you prefer.
For this quilt, you will need (8) of these blocks in the medium colorway and (8) in the dark. Sew them in (4) groups of four as shown below. Press.
As long as your are putting blocks together, you might as well take the time to put together the butterfly block. It will metamorphose into a Rising Star block! Don't forget to press your four-patch seams in alternate directions to keep the intersections crisp.
Time to lay out your blocks! Place them on point, like this:
Add the setting blocks and the corner blocks:
Put the sashing and half key blocks in place:
And now you get to play with twisting and turning the Key blocks, which are the cornerstone blocks around the Rising Star. There are literally hundreds of possibilities for connecting, disconnecting, directing and redirecting the pathways between the blocks. Keep trying new possibilities until you find the one that makes you go "oooohhhh".
Now you get to sew it together. Read our article on How to Set a Quilt on Point if you have never done it before.
PLEASE NOTE!!! I actually had you cut your setting triangles and corner triangles slightly too large. That was to give you a little room to square up the edges. After you get your diagonal rows sewn together, you will need to lay a long ruler on the body of your quilt with the 1/4" mark on the edges of the two Half Key blocks. Cut along that line to make a nice straight side to that quilt. You may have heard this referred to as "squaring up the quilt".
Once you have decided on the layout of the quilt, you need to sew it all together. Because you paper pieced the majority of this quilt, all your blocks should line up perfectly. However, real life is rarely perfect:-)) Use lots of pins and ease any seams if necessary. A hot iron is your friend - it can help smooth out little imperfections.Once you have your top together, MEASURE for your borders. Don't just sew on a border and cut it off when you get to the end. That is a recipe for wavy borders. Measure your quilt through the middle horizontally and cut two of the 2 1/2" wide medium border strips to this length. (You will have to sew two strips together to make one long enough.) Sew these to the top and bottom of the quilt, matching the center of the quilt to the center of the border. Ease to fit. Repeat this process for the two side borders.
The video below shows how to measure for borders so your quilt lays flat
Last step! Cut (8) 4 1/2" wide x WOF strips of the outer border fabric. (You don't HAVE to make the outer border 4 1/2" wide. If the fabric design fits a different width, cut for that design.) Sew them end to end, mitering the join if you prefer. This will give you one very long strip to use for the border.
However, before you sew on the final border, you are going to insert a tiny, three dimensional border called a flange. Remember those 1 1/4" wide black strips you have left over from Clue Three? Sew those end to end, then fold them in half wrong sides together and press. Cut it to the same length as the center width of the quilt top and stay stitch it 1/8" from the edge of the top all the way around. Overlap it at the corners.
Adding a Flange to your Quilt
Once it is firmly in place, you can measure for and add the outer borders the same way you did for the the first border. Because the flange is actually inserted into the seam between the two borders, it does not make the quilt bigger. It's just a little accent piece to draw your eye.
Here is my EQ representation of this quilt. Remember, it may not look like yours - it really depends on how you placed your Key Blocks.
So how did you do? Here are some pictures from people who participated: (they are thumbnails, be sure to click on them to see them close up)
Betty C she used different fabrics in the sashings.
Janet J is calling her quilt "New Year's Blessings" and plans to quilt it with an Irish and a Celtic blessing scripted into the sienna borders.
Did you finish this quilt Send it a picture, and I will happily add it here.
More tips, tutorials and techniques are available at
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