Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Judy W's Mystery Quilt: "Mystery By Design"

"Mystery By Design" by Judy Wedemeyer (12" x 12")
Every step of development from design to construction was an unfolding mystery for me.  Without a doubt, this has been one of my most personally satisfying art quilts to date.

I created a curved line alphabet, assigning a line per letter, and then spelled out M-Y-S-T-E-R-Y to draft a 4" line design.  That 4" line design was repeated in a 4 X 4 grid. (see photo below)
xerox repeat design on left, tracing paper copy on right

I used tracing paper to test color alternatives before I finalized a section on paper with colored Sharpies.  As I pulled fabrics I  simplified some of my design even further.  Using either clear template plastic and/or tracing onto fusible Wonder Under allowed me to fussy cut specific fabric areas like the batik flowers and pink diamonds and heart shaped pieces.  Ironing stabilizer on top of the xerox paper design enabled me to place the fuse-backed fabric shapes in their proper positions and make fabric changes if desired before ironing them down.
quilting with metallic threads
Quilting with metallic threads has always been somewhat of a mystery for me so I thought what better project than this to experiment with them.  Adjusting the upper tension slightly looser (4 on my Bernina), using a 90/14 Topstitch needle, Bobbin thread (like lingerie thread) in the bobbin, lubricating the metallic thread spools with Sew Aid and machine stitching at a moderate speed worked the best for me.  My comfort zone has increased dramatically after quilting this piece entirely with metallic thread (including hollow shimmer), but I wouldn't say I'm proficient quite yet.  At least I have solved some of the 'mysteries' in tackling this project head on.
The first 6 letters of my curved line alphabet. The beauty of this concept is that I can change all the lines to create an entirely new alphabet ~ perhaps mixing straight with curved lines.


  1. WOW...this is absolutely stunning! I'm so intrigued with the concept that you have meticulously designed with the word mystery, however ( I do hate to ask ) should I be seeing the word? Your color choices are so vibrant and exciting and love how you have fussy cut the batik flowers.

    1. Glad you asked Andrea ~ no you shouldn't be literally seeing the word 'mystery' spelled out. The 7 letters in the word mystery were each assigned a specific line shape. I combined those 7 lines to 'spell' the word in graph form using a 4" square. Kathy Harte sent me directions for a straight line version of the alphabet but I made it original with curved lines. Is that clear as mud? :)

  2. It looks monumentally proficient to me...an overwhelming giant step for anyone. I have always feared messing up my machine with metallic thread after my first attempts and then hearing a lecture not to mess with the bobbin. But with your super tutorial, maybe anything is possible. Your comments are so thoughtful, I am not surprised to see this intricate and beautiful piece you have created. And what an interesting tack on the word. I need to contemplate or try harder to understand the creation of a curved line alphabet and assigning letters. Congrats!

  3. Spectacular, Judy! I absolutely LOVE this quilt. You really challenged yourself this time, and the result is wonderful! Love the colors and the careful explanation of how you designed your quilt and quilted it with metallic thread. Wonderful!!!

  4. I am blown away by how much thought and work you put into this piece. I never would have conceived of designing something this way. The colors are beautiful and the quilting is amazing!

  5. Awe inspiring, truly! As you explained to Andrea, Kathy Harte sent you the directions for how to do this, which she got in turn from Rita. Rita taught some of us locally (I had to miss that lesson!) how to do this, and one of her MM quilts was based on this concept. How exciting this is, for us to learn from and get inspiration from one another. But the results of your "curved line alphabet" spelling out MYSTERY are, truly, spectacular and amazing, to use two adjectives from others' comments. Wow, wow, wow--all of these quilts so far are just beyond wonderful! And we've not seen them all yet! Judy, what an addition YOU are to our group, and we can thank Kathy for that, too!

  6. This is wonderful! I must try curved lines instead of straight ones with this technique. The movement is fantastic!

  7. Love the colors and the concept! How fun to make this be a code that only the designer can give to the ones she wants. Code always intrigued me, but I never could figure it out except the ones that "Encyclopedia Brown" books used over and over again. Great fun and your quilting sets it off with the metallic thread!

  8. Hey Jude - Absolutely stunning ! You took the technique Rita shared with the Central Texas Art Mavens to a level none of us could have anticipated, and truly made it your own. I'm so proud of you :-) We're all so very glad to have you with us. Love, Kath

  9. Judy, I don't really understand the alphabet process (I'd have to get a lesson from Rita in person) but the resulting quilt is spectacular! Extra points to you for tackling the ever stressful metallic thread!

  10. I really like the design, color and your use of metallic thread. I would love to learn how to make the line code. It sounds like a fun tool