Block-of-the-Month Mystery Quilt
The sunset over the Mississippi River is your final clue that the mystery has ended.
Photo by Anastasia Gonzales.
The mystery is revealed! Take all of those wonderful blocks and set them in this really fun, fast design. I am happy to tell you that River Heritage goes together quickly and easily!
Click here for printer-friendly version: River Heritage Setting Instructions
The biggest challenge is to make sure all the setting flying geese point away from the center block. This is easy to achieve by laying out all your sections on a flat surface or design wall.
Finished Size: 66 x 66 inches WOF = width of fabric
RST = right sides together I list the colors in my quilt for reference.
Fabric A (soft-white) setting:
Cut six 6 ½” x WOF to cut
*Sixteen 6 ½” squares
*Eight 6 ½ x 12 ½” rectangles
Fabric B (watery aqua) setting:
For binding, cut eight 2 ¼” WOF strips
Cut four 6 ½ x WOF to cut
*Eight 6 ½” squares
*Eight 6 ½ x 12 ½” rectangles
Fabric C (teal batik) setting squares:
Cut four 6 ½” squares
Fabric D (coral) outer setting:
*Four 6 ½ x 18 ½” rectangles
*Four 6 ½ x 24 ½” rectangles
*Four 1 x 12 ½” strips
Fabric E (aqua) outer border*:
Cut six 3 ½” x WOF to make:
*Two 3 ½ x 60 ½” strips
*Two 3 ½ x 66 ½” strips
- Large Flying Geese: Draw a diagonal line on wrong side of 16 Fabric A squares. Place a marked square on LEFT side of a Fabric B 6 ½ x 12 ½” rectangle, RST. Stitch on the diagonal line. Press the corner triangle open. Trim excess fabric to ¼” seam. Repeat for the right corner of each rectangle. Make 8.
- Setting pieces: Draw a diagonal line on wrong side of 8 Fabric B squares. Place a square on the RIGHT side of a Fabric A 6 ½ x 12 ½” rectangle RST. Stitch on the diagonal line. Press the corner triangle open and trim excess fabric to 1/4” seam. Make 4.
Place a marked Fabric B square on the LEFT side of Fabric A 6 ½” x 12 ½” rectangle RST. Stitch on the diagonal line. Press the corner triangle open and trim excess fabric to ¼” seam. Make 4.
I suggest laying out all the pieces of your quilt on a design wall or a flat surface to make sure you keep all the points in the correct direction. Notice that the Paddle Wheel block is in the very center and that each flying geese unit points away from that center block. I will also refer to the blocks as Center, North, South, East, West, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast for those who want to use different placement of their individual blocks.
Add a flying geese to opposite sides of each of the blocks, Eagle’s Nest (North), Railroad Crossing (South), Port and Starboard (West), and Lighted Bridge (East) as shown below. Note the direction of each block and the flying geese units. Press seams towards the blocks.
When you lay these units in their places above, below, and to the left and right of Paddle Wheel (Center), they should form a cross shape. Do not stitch the units together yet.
Next you will make the four corner sections, using the Flock of Geese (Northwest), Hovering Hawks (Northeast), Tree Line (Southeast), and Trail of Tears (Southwest) blocks. Check that your setting units are positioned so that the colored corners are pointing inward, towards the Paddlewheel (Center) block and so that they form an “on-point” square “floating” beneath the blocks.
Sew one setting unit to the top (Flock of Geese/Northwest and Hovering Hawks/Northeast) or bottom (Trail of Tears/Southwest and Tree Line/Southeast) of the block. Press to the setting unit. Sew a setting square (Fabric C) to the light end of the other setting unit. Press to the setting unit. Match seams, RST, and sew the two units together. Add the short outer setting bar (coral) to the side and press to the bar. Finish the corner section by stitching the long outer setting bar to the top (or bottom) of the section.
Repeat for each corner unit. Refer to the diagrams below.
Lay out all sections. I suggest taking a black and white picture at this point to be certain all the flying geese units are pointing away from the center Paddle Wheel block and the setting units point inward.
Making Three Rows:
Top Row – Turn the Eagle’s Nest (North) section, RST, onto the corner section, Flock of Geese (Northwest), and stitch. Press to the corner section. Add the Hovering Hawks (Northeast) corner section. Press to the corner section.
Middle Row – Turn Paddle Wheel (Center), RST, onto the Port and Starboard (West) section and stitch. Press toward Paddle Wheel (Center). Likewise, add the Light Bridge (East) section and press toward Paddle Wheel (Center).
Bottom Row – Place Railroad Crossing (South), RST, on Trail of Tears (Southwest) corner section. Stitch and press towards Trail of Tears (Southwest) section. Likewise, stitch Tree Line (Southeast) to Railroad Crossing (South) and press to Tree Line (Southeast) section.
Stitch rows together, nestling seams, and press seams open.
Outer borders: While it’s important that I give you measurements for your borders, I do suggest that you measure your quilt length through the center (and after those borders are on, do likewise with the width) to determine an exact measurement. Then cut your borders to that length. Mark the center of your border with a pin and do likewise with the edge of your quilt. Pin the border to the edge, matching the center pins and pin the border in several places from the center to the corners of the top. This will help “square” your quilt and you (or your quilter) will be very happy later that you did this!
Sew Fabric E 3 ½” x 60 ½” strips to the left and right sides of the quilt top.
Sew Fabric E 3 ½” x 66 ½” strips to the top and bottom to complete the quilt top.
Finishing your River Heritage Block-of-the-Month Mystery Quilt:
Layer your top, batting, and backing for quilting.
As a long-arm quilter, I suggest that backing and batting be 6 inches longer and wider than the quilt top. (I realize domestic machine quilters don’t need that much extra fabric and that each long-arm quilter may have a different requirement.) I used Warm and Natural Cotton Batting. I also like and often use Hobbs 80/20.
In quilting my River Heritage, I did custom quilting on each block to accentuate the piecing and uniqueness. I did a stylized free-hand quilting on the setting and border.
I used the Prairie Point Hanging Method and basted them on prior to adding my binding. I made these larger than normal to allow for the 6-inch requirement for our local quilt show. Notice the looseness in the points? That helps the extra-large pole to slide through easier and avoids pulling on the quilt. Before hand-stitching the points down, I folded the prairie point up over the stitched binding. Then I laid a skinny ruler along the top edge of the quilt binding and folded the prairie point back over the ruler. I stitched the point of the prairie point where it laid. This gave two binding widths of looseness in the prairie point. This isn’t necessary for normal hanging methods, but seemed to work well for this purpose.
Stitch on binding and turn by hand.
I hope you’ve enjoyed making River Heritage! I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful ribbon on my quilt this weekend at our local quilt show!
Please share your quilt pictures on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag: #riverheritage in your post!
Note: Most of the blocks in this quilt are classics, found in many books and other sources. Paddle Wheel, Tree Line, and Lighted Bridge are blocks I created to fit our theme and the setting. The setting is adapted from the book, Circle of Nine by Janet Houts & Jean Ann Wright. I love this book and recommend it (available on Amazon)!