Treadle On 1999 Summer Mystery Quilt
"Captain Dick's Courtyard"
48" X 60"
(more or less)
This mystery quilt, which I am calling "Captain Dick's Courtyard", is meant to be (note I didn't say for sure would end up being÷) a very simple project designed to introduce beginning quilters to the mystery quilt concept and lead them, hopefully successfully, through the basics of a quilt project. Because it is intended for those with limited experience, I have chosen to avoid any of the complexities of triangles, bias cutting, inset seams, or other difficulties. All of your cuts will be right angles, using a roller cutter.
The world abounds with beginning quilt books, ranging from the "Quilt in a Day" series put out by Eleanor Burns to my own work, "Quilting for Beginners" (originally marketed as "Quilting: It's a Guy Thing". These instructions are going to assume that you have either, 1. a modest amount of quilting experience and are doing this for fun, or 2. have obtained some beginning book that at least introduces you to the concepts of roller cutting and the basics of piecing with 1/4" seams. If you use the Eleanor Burns books, I especially recommend "Log Cabin in a Day". Of course, I recommend my own as well. It is available through Treadle On Publications and on the Treadle on Flea Market.
With a mystery quilt, you truly are operating in the dark. The first thing to do is try to get a grasp on the fabric to use. Doing this involves a combination of the information that is provided by your Mystery Leader and your own taste. This quilt uses three color values. As a beginner project, I am going to provide a bit more description than usual of exactly what I used for the first quilt made to the pattern, but you can provide a bit of your own taste here. Don't hesitate to vary from what I did. (Note: I have even put in pictures of my fabrics, at the request of the first few participants.. see further down.)
I used two specific fabrics and one family of scraps, as follows:
1. The primary or dominant fabric, Fabric 1 - this should be the darkest. The options could range from a solid to a strong print, or even a group of scraps of a similar dark color value. Since this is going to one of the fabrics that sets the emphasis, I wanted it to clearly stand out, and for the quilt I made first (which was finished a couple of years ago) I chose a rich solid green.
2. The medium fabric, Fabric 2 - In my quilt, I chose a second fabric that was also quite strong. It is a flowered pattern: white flowers with yellow centers backgrounded on another rich green. Here again, I chose to use only one fabric for the medium÷ you could choose to use a family of scraps of similar value or subject matter.
3. The light or contrast fabric, Fabric 3 - for this one, I used yellow and golden scraps. I had about six different sizable scrap pieces and mixed them up well. They included a quite light solid, a medium solid, two different prints that were small flowers on yellow background, a very strong yellow gold with white polka dots, and a strong yellow solid.
After you have decided on what fabric to use, you need to figure out how much. Unfortunately, I am a very poor fabric calculator. My rule of thumb is figure out how much is too much and get more. If you figure on 2 yards of each of the three fabrics or values, you will be fine. In fact, it's probably enough to make a larger size quilt than specified.
Consider your tastes and your fabric stash if you have one, and decide on what kind of a statement you want your quilt to make.
Several of the first participants wanted more guidance, so just to help you out, I decided to show some examples. Here are some snippets of the fabrics I used on the original quilt. Don't let my specific colors influence you too much; use your own taste, as long as the difference in values is there. Below these, you will find a picture of three other fabrics. These are the ones I am using to make a miniature quilt to this same pattern as we go through the directions:
My Fabric 1, or dark, from the original quilt.. This is the dark green. Mine is actually a plain, even color. The scanner put the curvy lines in for some reason.
My Fabric 2 or medium from the original quilt - the green in this actually matches the green in fabric 1 much more closely than shows here.
And here are three of my yellows from the original. These show up pretty true. I had three other yellows as well, a bright polka dot, another small flowered print and a rich gold, but these should give you the picture.
As questions came in from the real beginners trying this quilt as their first effort ever at quilting, it became apparent I needed to expand the instructions substantially, and add pictures as I went. I decided to make a new quilt, right along with you, providing pictures of each step. It just happened I have a need for a miniature quilt and have never made one before, so I will be working to different cut sizes than you are, but the steps will be the same.
Here is a picture of the three fabrics I am using for my new quilt:
Fabric 1, the dark green, is a print with leaves and stems on it. It will obviously compliment the other two florals, fabrics 2 and 3. Note that on this quilt I am not using a mix of scraps for Fabric 3, just the one fabric shown.
Make sure you have thread as appropriate, or a good supply of neutral. I am rather partial to using neutral thread throughout on a mixed color or scrap quilt. You will also need an appropriate back fabric, either unbleached muslin or a print that provides a nice compliment or contrast to the front, and some kind of border fabric. Choices for borders and backing can actually wait till the top is done if you prefer. A nice poly bat somewhat larger than the finished quilt size will be fine for this project. (Note: Since doing the original project, I have become very fond of fusible batting. This small project is a perfect chance to experiment with it if you would like to.)
Okay, with this information, you should be able to make your decisions and go out and get your fabric. Once you have it, wash it all in hot water to shrink it, and then iron it all. At that point you will be ready to start cutting, but that is for the next set of instructions.
Meantime, oil up your treadle or hand crank. Have fun and build some enthusiasm - you're going to like this project.
Assuming you are ready to do so, you may progress to Part Two via the link below. At this point, progressing is not critical and will not spoil any surprises. However, as more parts are posted, you will be on your honor not to proceed until you have finished the part you are working on. You are also asked to please not be a "spoiler" for anyone else, i.e. do not post pictures of the quilt or make comments on the list that reveal what it's pattern is.
Go to to Part Two