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March Bee Blocks

March bee blocks are in the books! Here they are:

For the Stash Trad bee, Amy of During Quiet Time requested a Winged Square block. She asked us to use a two-colored print for the center, with the half-square triangles on one side in one of the colors, and the HSTs on the other side in the other color—plus Essex Linen in Natural for the background. All such great choices to freshen up and modernize a very traditional block! Amy’s tutorial for this block can be found here.

For my center square, I used one of the cuckoo clock prints from Moda’s Hideaway by Lauren and Jessi Jung. I just love the kitschy Alpine theme of this collection—hello, I’m from Milwaukee. : ) “Kitschy Alpine” is an official home décor theme around here. Hideaway is an older collection but there’s still some available on Etsy—you can pick up the print I used from Pink Castle.
For {Sew} Beautiful, Elizabeth asked us for a “Squaretastic” block entirely in Little Folks voile by Anna Maria Horner. I’ve never pieced in voile before. While it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, it was definitely slippery and different. In fact, I found the most challenging part was cutting it without it slipping around underneath my ruler! And it’s just not quite as crisp and precise as I’m accustomed to with quilting cotton. But other than that, I didn’t mind it, and it’s going to make an amazingly soft quilt!
Finally, for the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild bee, our fearless leader Amy asked for this wonky X block from the book Modern Blocks: 99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designers. The note included with Amy’s instructions said, “For all the planners in the group, welcome to my chaos.” LOL. But it’s a bright, fun, scrappy chaos, isn’t it? : ) I screwed up that top X a little—I forgot to trim the strip to make it narrower and more wonky. Then I tried to go back and do it later, because it was looking too fat compared to the other Xs, but of course, that meant that patch was no longer quite 4″! Argh. But I think it turned out okay in the end, and other than that little mishap, this was a fun and easy block to do.
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Asterisk Quilt

My Do. Good Stitches Asterisk quilt is done! This quilt is a little different—a bit more improvisational—than what I usually do, but I totally love how it turned out.

Back in November, I asked the ladies of the Love Circle of Do. Good Stitches to make asterisk blocks based on this tutorial. I left the design entirely up to them—the asterisks could be any size within the block, they could be wonky or straight, the strips could be any width they wanted, etc. I asked for a color palette inspired by a winter sunset—warm oranges and pinks, and cool grays and whites.

I wanted a lot of design variety in the finished quilt, and I definitely got it! Some of these blocks are kind of genuius twists on the asterisk theme, don’t you think? And Kate of Needle and Spatula was even kind enough to write this post about how to adjust the width of the asterisk strips and still keep the strips lined up. Thank you, Kate! Very handy.

I made four of these blocks myself. Of the four, this one is definitely my favorite. Too bad I miscalculated when I was making it, and the block ended up 1/2″ too small! Darn that quilty math. So I added that weird strip of Kona Coal around two sides. It works with the improvisational feel of the quilt, but I still would have liked it much better without it! Oh well.

So this one is off to Wrap Them In Love. Thank you, Love Circle, for all of these fun blocks. I really enjoyed putting this quilt together. And this quilt concludes my participation in Do. Good Stitches for the time being—I’m taking a little break from that bee while I concentrate on other commitments. But I hope to rejoin it again soon!

Quilt Stats
Design: Based on this asterisk block tutorial
Fabric: Various scraps contributed by members of the Do. Good Stitches Love Circle
Back: Flower Garden in Jelly, from Momo’s Just Wing It
Binding: Michael Miller Ta Dot Tangerine

Size: 48″ x 60″
Quilting: Free-motion stippling done by me on my home machine
Completed: March 2012

P.S. I did something a little different with my quilt pictures this time—these were all taken before I washed and crinkled the quilt. While I love love love a snuggly crinkly quilt, I’m not sure they photograph as well—the crinkles tend to obscure the details, especially in pictures. So what do you think? Do you prefer to see quilt pictures like the ones above, pre-crinkled? Or would you rather see the quilt as it will actually look when it’s in use? (Since I definitely plan to continue washing and crinkling my quilts—it’s just a matter of when in the process I should take the pictures.) I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

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WIP Leapday + a Giveaway

Happy Leap Day! We’ve got an extra day this year to work on WIPs—I think that’s worth celebrating, don’t you? So today I’m taking part in the Leap Day Superior Threads Giveaway. Scroll down for a chance to win three spools of King Tut thread.But first things first: I had a (mostly) productive week! Since I finished my solids quilt last week, I’ve been in the mood to check things off the list.

Completed projects:
Bee blocks. See my post here.

New projects:

Log cabin quilt. Nothing like some colorful, quick, easy blocks to raise spirits on a dreary February day, right? I cranked out five of these blocks the other day!

Ongoing projects:
 
Do. Good Stitches Asterisk quilt – I’m making four blocks for this quilt, and I’ve finished two of the four. I’d like to complete this top before switching my focus back to my Challenge mini quilt. (Note to self: Try pressing blocks before photographing them! Yikes!)
 
Challenge mini quilt – I’m sorry to say that this project is making me very sad right now. So I’m avoiding it by working on my Do Good Stitches Asterisk quilt. : )
No progress:
• Gen X Quilters’ Charmed Prints QA
• Halloween quilt
• Farmer’s Wife QA
• Figgy Pudding quiltThis week’s stats:
Completed projects – 1
New projects – 1
Currently in progress – 8The Giveaway!
When Cindy and Elizabeth contacted me about doing a Superior Threads giveaway, I was happy to take part. I have some experience with Superior’s King Tut line, so I already knew it’s good stuff. In fact, at the LQS where I’ve rented a long-arm quilting machine a few times, they actually require King Tut to be used with the long-arm (they say it’s the brand that’s easiest on the machine, which gets very heavy use, as you can imagine). King Tut is beautiful thread for quilting, and it comes in an amazing range of variegated colors!

Beyond King Tut, I didn’t know much about Superior’s offerings until recently. I’m impressed by the wide variety of threads they offer—they have a thread for every type of piecing and quilting out there. I also got a chance to try out Alex Anderson’s Masterpiece thread, which I used last night for piecing my asterisk blocks. It’s fabulous—no snagging, fraying or breakage here.

Want to try some King Tut for yourself? I’ve got three lovely spools of it up for grabs, in the colors shown above. Just leave a comment on this post, and I’ll choose a random winner of all three spools on Friday morning.

I’m not the only blogger giving away Superior Threads today—you’ve got lots of chances to win! Visit the following blogs to enter their giveaways as well:

Elizabeth from Occasional Piece-Quilt!

Sherri from A Quilting Life
Leanne from She Can Quilt
Jeni from In Color Order
Carla from Lollyquiltz
Jennifer from That Girl, That Quilt
Corey from Little Miss Shabby
Terri from Sewfantastic
And of course, don’t forget to link up your WIPs! Just link up any post from the past week featuring a work-in-progress. Please link back here to my blog and comment on other links. Now go spend your Leap Day sewing!

 

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February Bee Blocks

This will be short and sweet, since I only had two bee blocks this month. Whatever will I do with all of my free time? : )

For my Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild bee, Kristen gave us Sherbet Pips and asked us to make square-in-square blocks. She fussy-cut the centers for us, but we had free reign over the rest. I think the solid pink makes those little girls really pop! This is going to be such a fun quilt.

For Sew Beautiful, Emily asked us to make blocks with an off-center panel of patchwork—and the patchwork could be anything we wanted. I know Emily love love loves teeny-tiny piecing, so I decided to give her some of that with this block. For the design itself, I was inspired by this block by Faith, which Emily had pinned. I used Thangles to make the half-square triangles—they finish at just 1″! That’s eensy for me. I really like how it turned out, and I hope Emily will too!

And this is my own month in the Stash Trad bee, so I’ve been able to just sit back and watch these gorgeous blocks filter in from all around the world. I knew the Stash Trad ladies were up for anything I could throw at them, so I assigned the Arkansas Traveler block from the Summer Sampler Series (tutorial here). I’ve got big plans for this quilt and will likely be making a whole bunch of these blocks myself to finish off the quilt, but here’s what has come from my bee-mates so far. Those girls are a seriously talented bunch!

On to March!

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WIP Wednesday: Back In Business

Happy Wednesday! And it is happy, because I have my machine back! I no longer have to use “The Hulk,” as the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild girls nicknamed my Hello Kitty back-up machine. So I’m finally ready to get down to business and knock some projects off this list.New projects:

Asterisk quilt. November was my last month in Do. Good Stitches (at least for a while), and it was also my month as quilter. I asked the ladies of the Love Circle to make asterisk blocks in warm oranges and pinks and cool grays and whites—a color palette inspired by a winter sunset. Here are all the blocks I received, all together, looking fabulous! I just need to make my own blocks (I’m making four) and then I can get it pieced. I had considered adding sashing, but now that I see them all together, I’m really digging the haphazard feel. It really does look like a winter sunset in quilt form, doesn’t it?

Ongoing projects:
Solids quilt. Made some really good progress here, even though I was using The Hulk! Wish I could show it to you, but not yet.

No progress:
• Hexy swap mini
• Gen X Quilters’ Charmed Prints QA
• Halloween quilt
• Farmer’s Wife QA
• Skill Builder QA
• Figgy Pudding quiltThis week’s stats:
Completed projects – 0
New projects – 1

Currently in progress – 9
You know what to do! Let’s see those WIPs. Link up, comment, and enjoy!
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January Bee Blocks

Wait, it’s January 23, and I’m already posting my bee blocks for the month? That’s got to be a record! This month’s blocks were a lot of fun, and all over the map stylistically, which was nice.

Envy block for Rebecca

First, the girls from the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild have started a new local bee that I’m taking part in. Rebecca, who blogs at Pieces and Cream, was up first. She asked for the “Envy” block, designed by Angela in the 99 Modern Blocks book, and gave us fabric from one of my all-time favorite lines, Joel Dewberry’s Modern Meadow. This block is such a great example of simple but powerful modern design. It has fantastic movement to it, and repeated throughout a quilt, I expect it will be stunning! It does however involve the dreaded Y-seams, which I used in my Mod Times quilt. Y-seams aren’t complicated, exactly, but I do find it difficult to keep them straight and un-wonky-ish. In fact, one of the brown strips in this block is kind of making my eye twitch right now. Other than that, I love this block and hopefully Rebecca can work with it!

Carpenter Star for Cherie

For the Sew Beautiful bee, Cherie asked us for this Carpenter Star block in bright, springtime colors. She drafted this block herself to be intentionally Swoon-like, and while I love Swoon, I think I might love Cherie’s version even more! Yes, there are a lot of HSTs involved, but it makes a huge 18″ finished block, so just like Swoon, you don’t have to make a ton of blocks for a good-sized finished quilt.

LynneBobSquarePants for Lynne

For Stash Trad, Lynne asked for her beautiful LynneBobSquarePants block (tutorial here). This block has been on my to-do list forever, so I was happy to finally get a crack at it—and for Lynne herself. When you compare this block to Cherie’s Carpenter Star, you can see how endless the possibilities are with HSTs. They’re such a fun and versatile unit in quilting—if you haven’t yet learned how to make them (and make them well), it is absolutely worth the time to do it!

Polaroid block for Bree

Last but not at all least, Bree of My Crafty Crap asked for this fun Polaroid block for the String Me Along bee. I have to say, of all the blocks I’ve made for other people in the last year, this is the one I’ve been most tempted to keep for myself. : ) (Don’t worry Bree, it’ll be in the mail tomorrow!) This block was designed by Corey of Little Miss Shabby (here’s Corey’s original block), and Bree wrote up a tutorial for creating it, which you can find here.  Can’t wait to see how this quilt comes together for Bree!

 

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WIP Wednesday: Recovery Mode

Really, Wednesday again? I accomplished very little this week. My excuse is that we’ve been in recovery mode around here. Recovering from colds, and recovering from that creativity block I talked about last week. It’s taking longer to get back to full form than I would like, but I think my mojo’s coming around. Slowly.
Ongoing projects:
Progress or lack thereof

Bee blocks, bee blocks, and more bee blocks.
It basically took me the whole week to get my 4×5 Bee blocks done. Now I’m moving on to my other bee blocks, of which there are shockingly many this month. Here you can see my progress on several of them: Yes, I’ve taken the fabric out of the packages! Go, me!

Hexies

Swap mini-quilt.
I can’t you tell you how rare it is for me to actually cut and start piecing something without a fully-formed plan in my head, but that’s exactly what I’m doing here. I hope I figure out where exactly this is going, and figure it out right quick.

No progress:
• Gen X Quilters’ Charmed Prints QA
• Halloween quilt
• Farmer’s Wife QA
• Skill Builder QA
• Kaleidoscope QA
• Figgy Pudding quilt
• Wonky Log CabinThis week’s stats:
Completed projects – 0
New projects – 0

Currently in progress – 10
Link ’em up, ladies (and gentlemen). Let’s WIP those WIPs into shape!
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Ribbon Star Block Tutorial

My 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee blocks really grew on me as I worked on them—I think the ones with the white backgrounds look especially fab. So thanks to everyone who weighed in and gave me some encouragement about this block. Without it, I probably would have moved on to yet another design! And since people seemed to like it, how about a tutorial?

This is my take on a traditional Christmas Star block. It would look pretty great in holiday fabric, but I would hate to see it pigeon-holed as strictly that, so I’m calling it Ribbon Star. The tutorial makes a 12.5″ block.

Cutting:

Background (white):
• Cut four 3″ squares
• Cut eight 2.5″ squares
• Cut eight 2″ squares

Star (yellow):
• Cut one 4.5″ square
• Cut eight 2.5″ squares

Color A (pink):
• Cut four pieces, 2.5″ x 4.5″
• Cut four pieces, 2″ x 4.5″

Color B (orange):
• Cut four pieces, 2.5″ x 4.5″
• Cut four pieces, 2″ x 3″

To make the block:

1. Mark the wrong side of all of your 2.5″ and 2″ squares with a diagonal line from corner to corner.

2. Lay out your pieces before you start sewing. I find it helpful to work from this layout as I sew—you’ll be far less likely to get your colors and directions mixed up! Start with the 4.5″ square in the center, and then lay out the 2.5″ x 4.5″ pieces in a cross shape, alternating colors as shown.

3. Now add the 3″ background squares in each corner, and the 2″ strips around those squares, as shown.

4. Next, lay out the squares that will be your star points. I put these squares face down, so I can see the marked diagonal (this is also exactly how the pieces will be sewn together). Note that to create the star points, the marked diagonals should always go from the center out.

5. Sew each pair together on the marked diagonal.

6. Trim off the excess 1/4″ from the seam and press. I always press diagonal seams open—I find it to be more accurate than pressing to the side.

7. Add your 2.5″ background squares in the same way you did with the star points. Note that the marked diagonal should always go the same direction as the star-point diagonal that you previously sewed.

8. Add your final set of 2″ marked squares in the same way as you did the previous squares. This time, make sure the marked diagonals are angled so that they form the outer star points.
9. Your units should now look like this. Sew the block together, starting with the 2″ x 3″ orange units to the 3″ background squares. Take care as you sew to make sure those points are lined up!
10. Done!
As always, if you make this block (or anything else inspired by my blog), I would love to see it! Please join my Flickr group and add your photos!
Since I made five of these blocks for my 4×5 hive, here it is in other colors:
Aqua, gray, and yellow for Lindsay
Aqua, teal, white and gray for Lyanna
Yellow, spring green, and blue for Elizabeth
Orange, gold, and plum for Deb
And the orange, yellow, and pink block featured in the tutorial is for Wendy. Enjoy, ladies!
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WIP Wednesday: My Weird Week

Yeah, so I had a weird week. Lots of thinking and planning, not much doing. Or, I should say, lots of thinking and planning and changing my mind and being indecisive and giving up and looking at Pinterest because it was easier than making a decision … and not much doing. I need to snap out of it! But I did manage to get a few small things accomplished.
Completed:



Pumpkin the elephant
My first-ever joint project with my 5-year-old is done! And, well, I’m kind of glad. Not because I didn’t like sewing with E. (that part was awesome), but because I have no clue how to sew softies. It turns out that I royally screwed up the legs, and this particular pattern requires a lot of hand-stitching, which was kind of a pain. But it does look like an elephant, and E. loves it and is so proud of her part in making it, so that’s the important thing! Still, I think we’ll have to tackle a doll quilt next. : ) That’s way more my comfort zone.

 

New projects:

4×5 Bee blocks
I have been paralyzed with indecision for several days over what to do for my 4×5 Bee blocks. See? Weird week! This has never happened to me before. I hate to say it, but I think I’m on quilt block overload right now. I’ve just looked at too many of them lately or something. (I know, is that even possible? Apparently it is.) At any rate, here’s one of several test blocks I’ve made. I’m not in love with it, but if I can’t come up with anything better, this might just be what I’ll go with.

No progress:
• Secret swap mini quilt
• Gen X Quilters’ Charmed Prints QA
• Halloween quilt
• Farmer’s Wife QA
• Skill Builder QA
• Kaleidoscope QA
• Figgy Pudding quilt
• Wonky Log CabinThis week’s stats:
Completed projects – 1
New projects – 1
Currently in progress – 10
Now it’s your turn! Link up any post from the last week that features an unfinished project. Don’t forget to put a link to my blog in your post, and comment on some of the other links. Have a productive week!

 

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Bee Wrap-Up

Since it was my month to receive blocks in two of my bees, I only had to make one bee block in November. And with all of my bees taking the month of December off, this is actually my last bee block of 2011.
Krista of Poppyprint asked the Stash Trad bee members to make this pine tree block. She asked us to do our blocks in any bright color, with a stripe used in the large triangle and a black print for the tree trunk. I don’t have a ton of stripes in my stash, but I thought this stripe from the Treasures and Tidbits line would work well.
Ayumi was nice enough to set up a paper-piecing pattern for this block, so that’s what I used to get my points right on. I don’t think my seams would have been this perfect if I had done it any other way!
So that does it for my 2011 bee blocks! This was my first year being in any bees, and as usual for me, I jumped in with both feet. I ended up participating in six different bees this year (though not all at one time!), and made a total of 54 bee blocks this year! Whew, that’s a lot.

1. Mod Mosaic blocks, 2. [Sew] Beautiful January block, 3. String Me Along January Block, 4. Spiderweb block for Elizabeth, 5. Do Good Stitches blocks, 6. Do Good Stitches – Love Circle August, 7. Drunk love block for Emily, 8. Wonky Star block for Rachel, 9. Wonky star block for Rachel, 10. 3×6 block, 11. Do Good Stitches – July block, 12. Do Good Stitches – Around the World block, 13. Cracker Scraps block for Angela, 14. Improv block for Kati, 15. Sew Beautiful – July block, 16. Circle of Geese block for Brooke, 17. Oregon Star 4×5 Bee block, 18. Bento block for Franswimmer, 19. Dutch Pinwheel, 20. Drunk love block for Elizabeth, 21. “Me” block for Angela, 22. Do. Good Stitches strip block, 23. 3×6 bee block – 2nd quarter 2011, 24. HST block for Sharon, 25. Christmas block for Katie, 26. Pine Tree block for Krista, 27. String Blocks for Patchwork Queen, 28. Drunk Love block for Beth, 29. House block for Cara, 30. String Me Along block
Looking forward to more bee blocks in 2012!
Updated to add: If you would like to join a bee, a good place to start is the Quilting Bee Blocks group on Flickr. That group has a list of upcoming bees that are looking for members.
 
However, my favorite bees by far are the ones where somebody (like you!) just decided to start his or her own bee, and invited some favorite bloggers/flickr friends to participate. So if you would like to be in a bee, consider starting one yourself! Make a list of people that you would be interested in exchanging blocks with, and ask them if they would like to participate. You’d be surprised how often they will say yes (especially if you ask people who aren’t already in a lot of bees). “By invitation” bees like this tend to produce higher quality blocks, and the members will be less likely to flake out on you, making for a happier experience all the way around. The Quilting Bee Blocks Flickr group has lots of resources for anyone considering starting their own bee. Look for the “Quilting Bee 101” posts in the Flickr group’s discussion forum.