Cut. Quilt. Love.

Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 1 – Getting Started

Posted at November 10th, 2013
Posted by Ebony
Categories: CUTTING, CRAFTING & QUILTING, Die-Cutting, HAVING FUN!, Quilt Alongs

It’s time! The moment you’ve all been waiting for!  The start of the Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along!

I am so excited about this quilt along that I am literally shaking. Not sure if it’s the nerves, or the nail-biting wait for fabric, or the anxiety caused by 1,000 sets of eyeballs watching this space and praying that I don’t screw up. What I can tell you for sure is that it has definitely taken my mind off of Series 4! (I’m also doing a little jig because I can’t sit still.)

So hi quilt alongers! Hi awesome quilt shop owners! Thanks for joining my little web quilting party! Here’s to a great 9-weeks and a lot of fun making quilts.

If you’ve never done a quilt along with me before, let’s cover off some of the basics so you know what to expect.


I write cutting instructions using the Equivalent Die Notation System (EDeN).

If you’ve never heard of EDeN, that’s okay. It’s not a hard system to learn, but it helps me to make sure that no matter what cutting method you are using, I only have to write one set of instructions. The fabric requirements chart that you will download today has a handy EDeN Chart just for this Quilt Along. (If you’re looking for the download, please remember you need to register to get this stuff!)

Those of you who are rotary cutting your quilt might have a bit of a learning curve (because it’s probably really unfamiliar to you), but it’s really easy to use once you familiarize yourself with the abbreviations.  Here are a couple of tips to make the most of your experience, no matter how you are cutting.

  1. Visit to learn more about this system and how cuts are notated.
  2. Remember that EDeN is always expressed in FINISHED measurements. So an SQ-2 indicates a finished 2″ square (that you would cut at 2-1/2″.)
  3. When you print the EDeN Chart, highlight your cutting method so it’s really clear what you are cutting.
  4. If you are die cutting, locate the dies that you own and write the EDeN Number along the spine on the die.  This will be helpful as you will return to some of the same dies in subsequent weeks.
  5. If you are rotary cutting, highlight the Rotary Cut column.  The seam allowance is already added in, so the instruction listed there is your cut size.


If you have a question, please post it in the comments for that week’s post. Like this one!

There are over 500 1,000 of you quilting along with me plus dozens of shops and THEIR quilters, so I’m sure if you have a question, someone else has it too. Please try not to send me emails individually unless you’re reporting an issue that needs my immediate attention.  Really.  Really, really. Read the main page, read the FAQs. Read the stuff I send you via MailChimp.

Choose to email me wisely, grasshoppers. There’s one of me, hundreds of you, and only so many hours in a day. And I guarantee you that very few of those hours will be dedicated to answering email about Downton that I’ve already spent countless hours writing about.


Warning: Snarkiness Ahead (and Behind)

My sense of humor isn’t for everyone. If you haven’t laughed out loud yet or had an urge to do a cartwheel in your driveway, there is something seriously wrong with you.

If you’ve met me in person, you know I’m all bubbles and smiles and mean you no harm. And if you haven’t had that opportunity yet, well, you should just know that anyway. But I’m only mildly joking about the emails, y’all. I can’t tell you how many I’ve had to cheerfully answer already, and that cheer wears off into snark after about email #15.  Don’t be THAT guy.

Still, I’m here to have fun, I want YOU to have fun, so let’s just keep laughing and cracking jokes and poking fun at the next 10 people who will email me anyway despite my protests to the contrary.


Fabric Requirements and List of Dies

Did you register?  If so, you should have received an email with the link.  I’m not linking it here because I want everybody to make sure that they are getting emails and the downloading function works. Last call, y’all!

If you are looking for the specific Downton Abbey line of fabrics, check here to see if your local quilt shop is participating with us.  If you can’t find anything locally, our sponsor The Fat Quarter Shop has yardage up for sale and will be happy to help you.


About the Quilts & Pattern

I (and several of my friends) pieced and quilted for weeks to make each version of this quilt and test the cutting instructions to the best of our abilities, so that you can feel confident that the mystery quilt you are about to begin will finish up beautifully. Still, sometimes errors and omissions occur, and I hope that you will forgive any mistakes that invariably creep into such a huge project.  If you notice anything wrong, please bring it to my attention so I can correct it as soon as possible.

Each quilt is based on the same underlying pattern, but color placement is very specific to each individual character.  When the patterns are emailed each week you will receive the cutting instructions for all four characters, plus a piecing diagram to help you assemble it.  In addition, I will post a photo tutorial on the blog for Mary’s colorway.

If you decide to use your own fabric, or to create a quilt using a mixture of character fabric, I suggest that you at least follow the pattern placement of light, dark, and medium tones using one of the characters as inspiration.


Helpful Tools and Tips

You don’t really need anything super-special to make this quilt, but there are some tools and notions that I recommend to make your piecing life a little easier.  Some of these recommendations happen to be sponsors, but regardless of their sponsorship level, I’m gonna tell you about them anyway.

  1. Use a great piecing-weight thread, such as Aurifil 50wt Cotton Mako thread.  A nice neutral works just fine.  You could also use a 60wt thread like Superior Masterpiece. The point is, a thinner thread helps you achieve a more accurate seam allowance.
  2. Use an awesome piecing needle, like Schmetz 75/11 Quilting. Thinner needles equal less space taken up in the seam allowance.  A great needle/thread combo makes for spot-on seams.
  3. For piecing HSTs and QSTs (half-square and quarter-square triangles) a scant seam allowance is best. The thing about triangles is that smart mathy people figured out the right size, and decided to round the measurement up or down so we could use the 1/8″ markings on our pretty rulers. That’s great, except do you know how off a rounding can be when you’re dealing with 1/4″ seams? Anyway, what’s a scant seam allowance? It’s basically one or two threads shy of 1/4″. Blech.We’ll talk about it later.
  4. For cutting HSTs and QSTs, if you aren’t die cutting, I recommend finding a method that helps you minimize waste. There are also other awesome tools out there;  this tutorial from Connecting Threads shows some really great alternatives for cutting HSTs and QSTs.
  5. More about triangles? Sheesh. Well, our die-cut triangles already have points trimmed, so they are easy to align, but if you aren’t die cutting, trimming those points before you stitch can really help your accuracy. Fons & Porter have a set of triangle trimmers just for trimming HST & QST units.
  6. Pay attention to directional fabric or non-symmetrical shapes.  I won’t say any more on this topic right now, but just take my word that if you are at all OCD about stripes running the same direction, you’ll take the time to cut them properly.


Will I really be Quilting Along?

Even though I technically have made this quilt four times already, I’m still going to do the quilt along with you!  I’m making a version in solids, plus I have local friends who are quilting along and it just wouldn’t seem right for me to sit around watching them sew.


About the Giveaways

We have an awesome, awesome list of prize sponsors, and I have to thank them for being most generous with you.  In addition to weekly prizes, there will also be prize drawings at the end for everyone* who finishes their quilt top by the end of Season 4.

* Remember that “everyone” means those who are eligible to win based on my Official Sweepstakes Rules.

Tune in Next Week!

Your very first clue will be posted next week!  Make sure you have registered for the quilt along so that you get an email when the first clue is posted. I also invite you to rewatch Season 3 with me starting next Sunday so we can get completely caught up on the action when Season 4 begins!

Oh! One more thing.  The US version of Downton Abbey has 7 episodes, and the UK version has 9. So if you’re watching the UK version, there are a couple of weeks where you will need to double up on episodes. Boo-hoo, right?


Trivia and a Giveaway!

This little game has been making the rounds on the internet, and I thought you’d have fun playing. It’s the DA MBTI Personality Chart, and you can figure out which Downton character best describes you based on your personality. Go ahead, take the test, and leave a comment here telling us which Downton character you are.  I’ll draw a winner for a Downton Abbey tote bag.  Entries accepted until 11:59pm on Saturday November 16th, and remember those pesky Official Sweepstakes Rules for entry requirements.

I took the test and discovered that when I’m feeling all people-oriented and outgoing, I’m Lady Mary, but when I just want to be by my lonesome, I’m more of an O’Brien.  Fancy that.

 Downton Abbey Related Posts

DatePost Title
EVERGREENDownton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along Main Page
September 9, 2013Register Now for the Downton Abbey Quilt Along!
October 15, 2013Your Questions Answered About the Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along!
November 10, 2013Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 1 - Getting Started
November 17, 2013Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 2 – Titanic
November 24, 2013Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 3 – Pre- & Post-War King’s Crown
December 1, 2013Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 4 – Mary’s Block
December 8, 2013Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 5 – Castle Garden
December 15, 2013Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 6 – British Wedding
December 22, 2013Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 7 – Violet’s Dream
December 29, 2013Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 8 – Upstairs Downstairs
January 5, 2014Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Week 9 – Quilt Revealed & Season Premiere!
January 12, 2014Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Lady Sybil Explored
January 19, 2014Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Let’s Talk About Backing and Batting
January 26, 2014Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Dowager Countess Explored
February 2, 2014Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Lady Edith Explored
February 9, 2014Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Let’s Talk About Thread and Binding
February 16, 2014Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Let’s Talk About Labels and Sleeves
February 23, 2014Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt Along: Lady Mary Explored

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