quilting bee

Bee Adventurous 2016


So, sometime last summer, or maybe even last spring (insert redface here), I was email-chatting to a friend, and then another friend, about possibly starting a little online quilting bee. The idea was to form a group that would focus on design challenges rather than contributing a block based on an existing pattern.

These friends were, for some crazy reason, willing to join me for this insanity, and the idea for Bee Adventurous 2016 was born. A few others were gathered to form a wee group of six members, and we decided on a round-robin / traveling bee for our format. It works like this: each of us make a piece of patchwork in whatever style we like, and send it on the next person with some loose instruction (perhaps you want a medallion quilt, or a row-by-row design, and you hate / love certain colors). Each project will travel through the group, one by one, and be added to in some way along each stop.


For me, the whole idea is to stretch my design legs, to see past instructions for a simple block and look at the project as a whole. This is a fun challenge for me, to be given something that I did not design, and build on it in a cohesive way – that is still in my own style. Exciting!


My project has been sent off to the next member for the first addition – as you can see, I’m going for a non-liner sampler style. I honestly have no idea if this sort of sampler quilt has a name, but you know what I mean. You just stick somethin’ on one side that looks like it might go there. I’ll call it an improv sampler, because it doesn’t have to have any clear layout plan. I have given as few guidelines as I could manage for my quilt, only encouraging the others to use my project as an excuse to try something new or play with a block they’ve always wanted to try. Whatever their quilty little brains can imagine. I can’t wait to see what they do!


I’ve received my first project to work on as well – I’ll wait to show you that until I have a bit of a plan, but in the meantime, you can follow our group’s progress on Instagram by checking out the tag #beeadventurousquilts.

Bee Europa 2015: Bee Blocks 1-4

It occurs to me that I’ve only really been posting about my orange peel quilt, because I don’t want my quilt-alongers (those still with me) to be left without updates — but I am actually doing other stuff, I swear.

I’ve been knitting like crazy, which is really unusual for me lately, but it’s been so busy and I’ve been so exhausted at the end of the day, I just crave a quiet craft. Finishing the orange peel applique left a bit of a hand-work (as in, not on a machine) vacuum. I appear to have filled it with knitting — all the knitting. I’ve now got four projects on the needles and new yarn for another. Whoopsy.

I’ll also be starting a little hand-stitching this week, for a project I can’t tell you about just yet. And I’ve got some really fun news that I’ll share with you next week – which may or may not involve a giveaway, it’s a surprise! ;)

So anyway, the point is: I’m doing stuff other than obsessing over my orange peel quilting pattern, really. And the thing I wanted to share with you today is that I’ve been taking part in my first online quilting bee! It ROCKS. I’ve always been a bit jealous when I see other online quilters talk about their bees, but I’d never managed to come across a sign-up in time – until the new round of Bee Europa was announced and I managed to snag a spot!

I love this bee so much – it gives me a chance to try something new out without committing to a whole project, and come July, my bee-mates will make me something too and I’ll have a whole quilt top made by my new friends. Not to get cheesy about it, but I think that’s just lovely. It’s so awesome that modern quilters have found a way to continue the community quilting tradition.

I’ve made four Bee Europa blocks so far – Month One was a giant star for Amanda:

This just went off to the post office for you, @metroquilter ! Hope you like it! :) #BeeEuropa

This was SO FUN. I. LOVE. GIANT. BLOCKS! and may possibly have something similar up my sleeve for my own block in July, you’ll see soon enough!

For Month Two, I made four wee little (I also enjoy tiny blocks!) scrappy Ohio Star blocks for Dorothy :

Just took these blocks up to the post office for you, @dahill15b ! I hope you like them! #BeeEuropa

Dorothy’s blocks really inspired me to start up a scrappy small-block project of my own, because I love how she’s been collecting these blocks from different bees she’s a member of and the blocks are all different fabrics and styles – it’s so happy!

Month Three was Wonky Log Cabin blocks for Kate:

Wonky log cabin block for @kakeym! #beeeuropa I hope this is ok! I have quite a lot of your fabric left - would you like a second block with some of my own scraps added or shall I send you the scraps back with your block?

Second wonky block for @kakeym - so much fun!! I'll pop these in the post for you tomorrow, Kate! #beeeuropa

These were fun too, because they were a little more improv-y and being wonky is just a good time, in general. I loved Kate’s fabrics – a girl after my own heart, fabric-wise!

For Month Four, we made Postage Stamp blocks for Gina:

February bee blocks for @druidquilter just dropped off at the post office!! #beeeuropa

I’m so curious to see Gina’s finished quilt, because these blocks are only 10″, made of tiny 2″ squares – and everyone’s finished blocks were bright and scrappy, her quilt will be so insanely cheerful!

(Note: None of these particular fellow Bee-mates have blogs, but I will link to any blogging Bee-mates as I share them over the rest of the year.)

Thanks for having me, Bee Europa – I’m so looking forward to sewing for the rest of you, and to sharing my own quilt with you soon!

Orange Peel Blocks

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt WIP

They’re here! My hand-stitching pals returned their finished blocks to me last weekend, and they’re SO DAMN PRETTY!

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt WIP

I’ve played around with them a bit and decided on a basic layout concept, so now I will have to arrange them into a final layout (and photograph it so I know how it goes), press and trim each one, then start sewing!

Quilting Bee Project 2: Orange Peel Mini-Quilt

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt

The next project my hand-sewing pals and I are working on is (yay!) for me! I searched for a looooong time for a pattern I really loved and that would be fun for us to sew by hand. Finally, I came across the appliqued orange peel design, and then in looking for examples, I fell in love with this beautiful mini-quilt made my Paloma from Three Kitchen Fairies and that sealed the deal. And the design happened to work out perfectly with the fabrics I had picked out already, so it was pretty much meant to be.

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt

Sigh. Looking at them just makes me happy. The pile divided freakishly well into soft backgrounds and bright peel fabrics. Let’s just have another look, just ’cause they’re so damn pretty.

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt

I tested out one peel with the freezer paper method: cut a peel template out of freezer paper, iron onto the back of the fabric, cut the fabric with a quarter-inch overlap and then baste it just like it was being paper pieced. Pin and applique that onto the backing fabric and when there’s about an inch left to sew, remove the basting stitches and paper, then finish up the last inch. Voila!

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt

It was so much easier than I expected, and so pleasing to do.

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt

I made up little kits for the hand-stitchers and should get all the blocks back this weekend. Eep! Just the thought of it makes me a little giddy – I can’t wait to play with them!

Mini-Quilting Bee, First (Semi-)FO

Hand-Sewing Mini-Quilting Bee, #1

It was a while ago now, but remember when I told you about my little hand-sewing quilting bee? I haven’t blogged about it since because we left a few months between each ‘assignment’ to give us lots of time to finish them. Also, I waited to show you these first finished bee blocks until my turn was almost up too – a little blog-continuity and whatnot.

Hand-Sewing Mini-Quilting Bee, #1

So these were my blocks for Karen, aren’t they the cutest?! So so so sweet. (There’s close-ups of each block on Flickr.) And I totally learned something about English Paper Piecing that I’d never realized – that you could just cut up a piece of paper into any shapes you like and, voila!, you have the templates for paper piecing right there. How did I never get this before? It seems so obvious now, I hate to even admit I didn’t get it – I just always thought of paper piecing in terms of those most-used shapes: hexagons, diamonds, etc. I was so excited by this and now I’ve even started a little just-for-fun mini-project of my own with the same process. (More on that soon.)

Hand-Sewing Mini-Quilting Bee, #1

Karen had us each make three tiny blocks, all paper pieced stars, and initial the corner of each of our blocks. So itty-bitty! Of course when we got to the pub and gave our finished blocks to Karen, we couldn’t help but lay them all out together and see what it will look like finished:

Hand-Sewing Mini-Quilting Bee, #1

Lookit how charming it’s going to be! Those blocks are all with Karen now to be turned into her mini-quilt. Of course I’ll share it when it’s finished – either with my own photo or pointing you to her blog when she posts it herself – but in the meantime, my hand-sewing friends have been working on blocks for me and I’ll show you more about that tomorrow!

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