Exeter Quilters mystery quilt, 2020

Welcome to any of you who are going to try this challenge. We will aim to give you a wide range of blocks and borders. We are intentionally keeping each block flexible so that novice quilters shouldn’t be intimidated and more experienced quilters can challenge themselves. Above all we want it to be fun and a way to share our work and keep in contact. If at any point you are uncertain Penny and I will be on hand but there is no wrong way to do it.

First steps


The first thing for you to think about is: what size quilt are you aiming to make? This is important as, although we are thinking of this being a scrap quilt, you will need sufficient background fabric plus 3–4 further fabrics to link your blocks together and as many scraps as you want. Since this is a mystery quilt you can’t make an accurate estimation of exactly how much fabric you will need, so be flexible.

Penny has looked at some books and the best suggestion she can find is about 5 yards total for a large quilt (48 inch square) and 2 yards total for a small quilt (24 inch square) A cushion would probably take about a yard. We think a large quilt would need about 2 yards of background fabric but if you haven’t got one piece you could use several coordinating fabrics especially if they are plain and pastel.

Gather together your chosen fabrics and put them in a staggered pile so that you can see a small strip of each. This will give you a good idea as to whether they look good together and there is sufficient contrast. (You should aim for light, medium and dark fabrics). It’s also worth looking at them in daylight and electric light as this can change the look quite dramatically. I often put them in a pile on the table or floor and have a quick look each time I pass. If you are having problems choosing, pick a fabric you really like that includes a range of colours then match these colours to fabrics in your stash. You might have a pack of fabric which you have never opened and now is the time. When you have your main fabrics, add plenty of scraps which you think might work and aim to put some in each block. They are really useful to add interest. Please don’t worry that what you have chosen is “wrong”. This is meant to be fun and a way of using up your stash!

Linda and Penny

Block size

If you are new to quilting, 12 inch blocks are generally much easier to make than smaller ones. The smaller you get, the more challenging, so you might want to include some small ones. For a bed quilt you will probably need to make mainly 12-inch blocks but varying the sizes will make the final quilt more interesting. 6-inch blocks are easy to put with 12-inch ones but if you make other sizes you can always add an extra border. For cushions and small quilts we would suggest 4-8 inches. Make what you are happy with but try to push yourself a bit.


We will include pieced and appliqué blocks in the challenge. If you really hate one of them you don’t have to do it, however it might be fun to challenge yourself and if the result is a bit dodgy put it on the back of the quilt. Don’t worry we’ve all had a few oddities.


We will issue a new block each week. If you send me photos of completed blocks we will aim to put them on the website. I will keep the makers anonymous so don’t feel embarrassed to send a snapshot. I’m also happy to add comments if you want.


Many of you will have books and magazines but if not don’t worry. Pinterest is a lovely site if you want to look for ideas. There are plenty of free patterns available on line: and give lots of blocks with instructions for machine piecing.

If you want to talk to others in the group about your progress remember Exeter Quilters has a closed Facebook group which already has 24 of us signed up.

Good luck, we hope this will relieve some of the stress and boredom of the coming weeks and we look forward to seeing the results.

Instructions for each block and pictures of how members have interpreted them are on the following pages …