En Provence Begins

The day after Thanksgiving is the start of Bonnie Hunter’s annual mystery quilt. A mystery quilt is where you don’t know what the design is until the end. Each week for 6-8 weeks we get a clue telling us what units to make. At the end we put them all together to reveal the quilt design. Some people can’t handle not knowing what the final outcome will be. I only do mystery quilts from designers whose work I know and like.

For Allietare, last year’s mystery, I used colors from a piece of fabric in my stash instead of Bonnie’s colors. I really didn’t want to make a quilt the color of the Maryland state flag. This summer I bought a piece of fabric that I thought I would use to pick this years colors. I’d rather use my own colors than have a quilt that looks like thousand of others. After I got the paint chips for Bonnie’s colors, I pulled out my fabric to see what colors it would inspire.


My focus fabric. I doubt it will be used in this quilt.

Notice anything about the colors in this fabric? No?


How about now? Yup. Every color Bonnie chose is in this print. Well, darn it. I guess mine is going to look pretty much like thousands of others. Except I made a couple of changes.


A blurry picture of my constant fabric which is red rather than magenta.

While at Bear’s Paw Fabrics, looking for my constant and some starter fat quarters for the other colors, Kay found this red fairy frost in the clearance section. I love me some fairy frost and it was a very pretty shade of red that works well with my focus fabric. Last year I ran out of the constant and had to buy more so this year I bought two yards. That was on a Monday. During the week I had second thoughts and started to wonder: what if I want this for binding, what if I need it for a border? On Saturday I went back to the store and bought the rest of the bolt. One of the clerks came up and asked, “Didn’t you buy this on Monday?”. Yes, I surely did. She thought she was having deja vu.


My yellows. Some may not make the cut if I think they’re too light.


The greens. I think these are good to go.


The purples. Some of these just moved from the Allietare pile to the En Provence pile.


One of my differences from Bonnie’s colors. Instead of lavender I’m going with the turquoise/aqua.


My neutrals are blue. The one on top was discarded as being too gray.

What do you think? Will the blue work as a background? I don’t know. It’s a mystery, after all. It works for the focus fabric so I don’t see why it won’t work with the mystery quilt. Come back later and we’ll see if it works.


Everything together. I’ll have to be careful about where I put the lighter turquoises and the darker background blues. There’s not enough contrast between some of them.

The first clue was released on Friday. My first decision was which technique to use to make the 4-patches. I could use my die cutter to cut squares or I could cut strips with the die cutter or the rotary cutter. I decided this time to use the rotary cutter and my Stripology ruler. I love that ruler. It makes cutting strips quick and accurate.

I calculated that I needed 5 18″ strips from each of my blue fabrics. My plan was to use 9″ strips to get more variation in the pairs of strips. 110 strips seems like a lot but I did the calculation three separate times, coming at it from two different directions and got the same answer. I may end up with a lot of 4-patches with nothing to do for a living. Friday I got the strips cut and pairs of strips sewn.

Saturday I finished pressing the sewn strip sets and cut them into segments for the 4-patches. Sure seems like a lot of pieces.


Piles of twosies waiting to become 4-patches.

Do you think I made just enough or too many or not enough? I did a rough calculation and it seems like a reasonable amount. Sure looks like a lot. I know Bonnie says to pair strip sets before cutting the segments so they’re ready to sew into 4-patches but I like variety. Bonnie tolerates more duplicate units than I do. Yes, this takes longer but it’s not a race. I know some people probably finished their 4-patches by lunch time on Friday. That sort of thing will never happen here.

Sunday I finished sewing the 4-patches and started pressing them.


Pile of 4-patches waiting to be pressed. Does this look like the right amount? Too many?


Here they are separated and counted.

There are 10 in each pile except for the bottom two. By my calculation, it’s a little more than I need but not an excessive amount. It’s reassuring to know that math still works.


All done. Ready for the next clue.


Uh oh! One of these is not like the others.

I first learned the 4-patch swirl technique of pressing from Billie Lauder. As you can see in the picture above, the seams all swirl the same direction. We were supposed to swirl them clockwise. The direction they swirl is determined by the direction of the cross seams as they are fed through the sewing machine for the last seam. I wasn’t paying attention when I sewed the one in the middle of the bottom row. Its seams swirl counter-clockwise. I made sure I paid attention to what I was doing after that.

Check out how others are doing at the mystery link-up.



20 Responses to “En Provence Begins”

  1. quiltingwithpurposeprocesspleasure Says:

    Love your pale blues. Should be a great quilt!

  2. The Eclectic Abuela Says:

    Beautiful color selections.

    • Barbara Says:

      Thank you so much.

    • Barbara Says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Thanks for the compliment. I learned how to choose colors and fabrics from the best – Jinny Beyer. Barbara Bennett, Columbia, MD

      From: Stash Overflow To: barbara_a_bennett@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, November 28, 2016 1:29 PM Subject: [Stash Overflow] Comment: “En Provence Begins” #yiv2364943663 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2364943663 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2364943663 a.yiv2364943663primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2364943663 a.yiv2364943663primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2364943663 a.yiv2364943663primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2364943663 a.yiv2364943663primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2364943663 WordPress.com | | |

  3. twotoast Says:

    Love the blues! And the rebel in amongst your four patches!!

  4. Terri Says:

    Unless we all use the same fabric, our quilts won’t all look alike, just be similar in color. I saw 7 quilts side by side this weekend – from last year’s mystery. They choose Bonnie’s colors, but the finish did not look the same.

  5. Deb P. Says:

    Love the pale blues, can’t wait to see it. Hope you feeling better going into the holidays. My Allitare is at the quilter now, finished last week. Whew, just in time.

    • Barbara Says:

      I’m glad to get these old blues out of the stash. I’m starting to feel a little better. Hope to be well enough before Christmas to get Allietare to the quilter. Congratulations on getting yours done.

  6. Susan Holman Says:

    Are you in MD like me? Bear’s Paw is an awesome quilt shop but I don’t get there much. (Too much traffic between me and there.) Your blue background should work nicely!

  7. Andee in AZ Says:

    Wow some different choices which will be fun to see!

  8. Vireya Says:

    I like you idea for finding a colour scheme by starting with a fabric you love. I didn’t have the mental energy to pick my own colours this year. So mine will be the same, same, but different because it is mine.

    Congratulations on getting Allietare ready for quilting just in time!

    • Barbara Says:

      Thank you. I learned how to choose colors and fabrics from the best – Jinny Beyer. Allietare was the first Bonnie mystery that I really deviated on the colors. I only changed one color on Grand Illusion. For Easy Street and Celtic Solstice I used Bonnie’s colors and I love them both.

  9. aykaplan Says:

    First time doing an on-line mystery quilt and was feeling anxious about fabric choices. Your pictures were very helpful in knowing that you can choose your own mix and still create a beautiful quilt. Others used greys, I like the blue choices too!

  10. Ivka Says:

    Nice color choices 🙂

  11. Debra Says:

    Oh my Gorgeous colors!

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