myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Mystery Quilt Update

We are up to week 7 of my Mystery Quilt evening course tonight so I thought it was a good time to share the quilt’s progress so far.
I shared the first couple of blocks in posts earlier this year and explained how offering this class back in December (when we launched the term) had given me a couple of extra months to plan a new intermediate patchwork course. This was of course completely dependent on my students having faith in my design abilities as they had nothing to go on when they booked this (luckily they trust me!)!

Here is a re-cap of the first ‘snail’s trail’ block and the first block I made, top right. This ended up as block 4 as I thought students needed a bit of a ‘run at it’!

So the bottom left ‘shooting star’ block became week 2.

And this ‘sawtooth checkerboard’ was number 3. Yes I have to keep coming up with names for the blocks too – not my strong point!
The idea is that we make a block in class and then at home students ‘re-mix’ the block any way they like for their second block (giving us 16 blocks at the end). Here is my re-mix of number 3. So far the students have all amazed and impressed me with their imaginative re-mixes!

Here is my re-mix of number 4, except this is actually the original block ‘storm at sea’ and the first version was my remix (keep up at the back!). I have been using EQ7 for some of these blocks (the ones with FPP templates) and am finding this software really useful as I get better at it.
I have also become increasingly fascinated by this block and the way the diamond shapes give the optical illusion of curves. I have just finished a whole quilt with some of these same elements for a magazine. I can’t wait to share it here but publication isn’t until the end of May!

Block 5 was a mini Lone Star. Each week the blocks are getting more challenging for my class. But they are totally up for it and are rising to the challenge with no complaints!

I thought this block had limited options for re-mixing so didn’t really try anything for my second one (except switching the background from light to dark). But then one of my students astounded me by rotating each of the corners 180 degrees (and making each corner have a different background) to make a totally different block!

This same student, Mags, is actually making 4 different blocks each week (for a giant quilt!) and is really shining with her different re-mixes, as are all my students. One of the most wonderful (and surprising) things about teaching is how much you constantly learn from your students!

This is block 6 and another from EQ7. They call this ‘morning star’ and it is all FPP and therefore quite time consuming. But I love it!
I wasn’t sure how the mixed light and dark background was really going to work for the re-mixed block but actually it is my favourite block so far.

It’s quite hard coming up with ideas for new blocks each week so I have talked the students into designing their own blocks for the last class.
I thought a really fun last class would be to let the students design their own blocks! I think they have acquired enough confidence and knowledge of techniques through this quite rigorous course to give it a go under my tutelage.

But that still leaves week 7 tonight. Carrying forward my ‘each week more challenging than the last’ mantra we are really going for it this week with a double New York Beauty type block which I adapted from an EQ7 block (there was actually even more detail in the original!) called ‘Rolling Wheel’.

It is ridiculously laborious! I managed to make a quarter of the block last week to show them and I feel like it has taken me all week to finish it! And it is very far from perfect!

Poor Mags, can she really make 4 of these??!! So I am thinking I will offer an easier alternative as well. I have a block up my sleeve that I was going to use for my ‘design your own block’ week (yes, of course I forgot that I will need a block anyway to finish the quilt myself *sigh*).

I may also manage another easier ‘curved piecing’ block before the class tonight – I have a few hours to spare! Maybe this Mystery Quilt wasn’t such a great idea after all…

Hopefully I will be back relatively soon with a whole finished quilt to share!


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