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Mystery Quilt Pattern: 2012 New Year's Day Mystery Quilt

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Get Ready to Sew the 2012 New Year's Day Mystery Quilt Pattern
Mystery Quilt Pattern

My mystery quilt fabrics -- colors aren't really true in this shot, but show my choices. They are NOT in numerical order.

© Janet Wickell
Our New Year's Day mystery quilt patterns have become somewhat of a tradition on About.com Quilting. Each year, I design a quilt, and publish fabric and cutting advice before January 1, so that you're ready to sew. But you won't see the final design until near the end of New Year's Day (unless you guess it as we work, but I try not to let that happen.

First, let's talk about fabric suggestions. Start looking through your stash, or maybe purchase fabric especially for the quilt. I'm not showing my choices yet, because it's more fun to let your own tastes be the guide.. As always, the mystery quilt pattern is written so that quilts can be very scrappy. However, if you do go scrappy, there are some areas that should be very similar in color value -- which basically means contrast.

Finished Quilt Size: 64" x 64" without the optional border; somewhat larger with the border

Yardages are somewhat generous; remember that the terms 'light' and 'dark' will be different for everyone -- you set the starting points for those values.

  1. 1-1/4 yards of very dark neutral fabric, even black, prints are excellent as long as they are subtle or small in scale

    Cut (32) 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" bars (if you cut 2-1/2" wide selvage-to-selvage strips, you'll have some waste; instead, if you are using one large yardage, cut away a panel that's about 39" wide and 30 inches long from a large piece of fabric and then cut 2-1/2" wide strips across the grain; you should be able to cut three 2-1/2" x 12-1/2" bars from each strip.

  2. 1-1/2 yards of a light neutral fabric, can also be a small scale or subtle print and could even be the reverse of fabric #1

    Cut (32) 2-1/2" x 16-1/2" bars (if you are using a large panel of fabric, conserve by doing the same as directed above, making the panel about 35" wide and 30" long; you should be able to cut two 2-1/2" x 16-1/2" bars from each 2-1/2" wide cut across the fabric's crosswise grain.

    It's best if the above two fabrics are not chosen from a scrappy batch; if they are, values for each one should be very similar. Directional fabrics will work for fabrics 1 and 2, but are not the best choice for other fabrics (other than border and binding).

  3. 1-5/8 yards of a fabric lighter than fabric #1, but darker than fabric #2; my choice is a warmish neutral

    Cut (48) 4-7/8" x 4-7/8" squares (make them a bit larger and then trim back after assembly if you're into complete accuracy, more about that later, but the process does take more time)

  4. 1-5/8 yards of a fabric darker than fabric #3 -- but it should look good alongside that fabric; my choice is a warm

    Cut (48) 4-7/8" x 4-7/8" squares (ditto on the accuracy mentioned above, use the same size -- you might know where I'm going with this)

  5. 1 yard of a dark, hot fabric; mine is a red print; can be cut from scrappy selection (values should be similar, but needn't be exact)

    Cut (24) 4-7/8" x 4-7/8" squares (ditto again re: accuracy & size)

  6. 1 yard of a fairly dark cool or neutral fabric, not as dark as fabric #1; go scrappy if you like (using similar values)

    Cut (24) 4-7/8" x 4-7/8" squares (ditto again re: accuracy & size)

  7. 76 miscellaneous scraps, each measuring 4-1/2" x 4-1/2"; you can use leftovers of (some) of the fabrics above and/or pull from your stash; not too light, mediums to darks are best (use a combination of warms, neutrals and cools)

    OR - #7 OPTION to go a bit fussy: (16) 5-1/4" x 5-1/4" squares (all alike or different, but can be same general value) -- they should contrast with Fabrics 1 and 2; (64) 2-7/8" x 2-7/8" squares that contrast with the larger squares AND Fabrics 1 and 2 (similar values for these small squares, but don't obsess - contrast between the two is more important).

    You can also put #7 on hold for a bit, because you might decide you like one option better than the other as we progress.

Color Designations
Warm... cool... neutral... Facts About Color Dominance

Join the Official Mystery Quilt Discussion in the Quilting Forum

Batting, backing and binding for the quilt all depend on the size you choose, so hold off on those materials.

Types of Fabrics

  • Prints are always good, but make sure some are fairly subtle (like tone-on-tones).
  • You can use florals for this quilt, but choose fabrics with prints that blend together to create a dominant color, and watch the color values. Small to medium scale florals will work best, you can throw in a few that are larger scale (but not huge) in the 76 scraps. I could see this as a watercolor quilt.
  • If solids are your favorite types of fabric, go for it. I only own a handful of solid fabrics, so sometimes neglect to mention them.
  • Batiks would be lovely, too.
  • Civil War, 1920s, 1930s -- fabrics from other periods are absolutely fine as long as there's contrast among your choices.
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