Two Months of Bee Blocks

Happy Halloween! The last day of October means it’s time to post some bee blocks. Except that as I got ready to post the October blocks, I realized I never showed you September’s either. So here they are, all in one fell swoop.

{Sew} Beautiful – September
Dutch Pinwheel
AnneMarie asked for this Dutch Pinwheel block using Ruby charm squares. I can’t wait to see all of these blocks put together. It’s going to be gorgeous. You can find a tutorial for this block right here.
{Sew} Beautiful – October
Christmas block for Katie
Katie asked for Christmas blocks of any design, using fun holiday scraps. Bee members had already done a few Christmas trees and some presents by the time I got around to doing my block, so I whipped up these twinkly wonky stars.
Stash Trad – October
This is a brand new bee for me. It was organized by Lynne of Lily’s Quilts and features traditional blocks done in our own modern stash fabrics—how could I possibly say no to that? There are some amazingly talented ladies in this group and I’m so excited to be making blocks for them!
Cracker Scraps block for Angela
For our very first month, we made these “Cracker Scrap” blocks for Angela (you can find the block tutorial here). This was a fun, easy block to make, it looks great, and OMG it’s HUGE! Something like 19″ square. So you could whip up a very good-sized quilt in no time with her tutorial.
Do. Good Stitches – September
Do. Good Stitches strip block
Natalie asked for strip blocks of any design, in a single fall color. My color was red, and I ended up doing a version of my strip-pieced zig-zag mug rug—only waaaaay longer. : ) This block measures 48″ by 6.5″! Can’t wait to see how this quilt comes together.
Do. Good Stitches – October
Do Good Stitches - Around the World block
Melanie asked for Around the World blocks in any bright scrappy colors. We used this tutorial to make the blocks, and I was really surprised at how quickly and easily they came together! This will be such a fun quilt.
String Me Along – September
HST block for Sharon
Sharon asked for any half-square triangle design, using these Amy Butler charms. I love this offset HST design.
String Me Along – October
String blocks for Sabrina
Nicey Jane string blocks for Sabrina. If this block looks familiar, that’s because it is—this is my second set of Nicey Jane string blocks for this bee in the last few months. : )
And finally, a little look ahead to November: It’s finally my turn in the {Sew} Beautiful bee! This is such a fabulous bee—everybody in it is so creative, so inspiring, and more or less on time. : ) And since these ladies are all among my favorite bloggers, I wanted to assign a block that called for a little creativity and personality.
Fabric stack for {Sew} Beautiful
So I’ve mailed out this fabric to my beemates and I’ve asked them to create tree blocks for me. The blocks can be pieced or appliqued or both. They can make a tree of any season, with leaves or without, with wildlife or without, etc. They’ve got free reign—as long as there’s something tree-ish in there! I did give them a Flickr gallery with quilty tree inspiration—you can check it out here. I can’t wait to see what the {Sew} Beautiful ladies make for me in November!

WIP Wednesday #45

Welcome back to WIP Wednesday! Not much to report this week, since you all know what I’ve been working on lately, but here goes nothin’ …



My Connecting Threads fabric contest entry
Still plugging away, polishing up my designs and getting the files ready. Two more days to get it all done! I hope to be able to show them to you on Friday.

4×5 Bee blocks
So, you might think I’m crazy for tackling a block like this in the middle of the Connecting Threads time crunch. And you’re probably right. But honestly, I’ve enjoyed the break from all the intensive computer time. I actually find paper-piecing fun and relaxing (I’m weird like that), so these blocks are really hitting the spot right now.

I ended up doing the Oregon Star because one of my hive-mates chose this incredible mini-quilt by Mrs. McPorkchop as her “Favorite Block.” That mini has always been one of my favoritest faves myself, so I decided to look into the pattern for it. The pattern comes from the book 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars, by Carol Doak. I probably never would have given this book a second glance if it hadn’t been for Amanda’s mini, but once I got past the very traditional fabric used in the book, I realized the patterns had a lot of potential. I think I still love the Oregon Star the most, but you’ll probably be seeing a few of the other stars from me as well, sooner or later. In the meantime, I’ve got two 4×5 blocks done, three to go.

Completed tops awaiting quilting:
Summer Sampler
Hope Valley

No progress:
• Farmer’s Wife QA (on hold until October)
• Skill Builder QA (ditto)
• Kaleidoscope QA
• Figgy Pudding quilt
• Wonky Log Cabin

This week’s stats:
Completed projects – 0
New projects – 0
Currently in progress – 10

That’s it from me—now it’s your turn to share. Link up any post from the past week featuring any unfinished sewing project. Be sure to link back here to my blog and comment on at least a few of the other links. Enjoy!



Hexy Quilt for Do Good Stitches

My hexy quilt for Do. Good Stitches is finished and looking great. But it was quite the ordeal getting it there.

I was so happy when I pulled this one out of the dryer yesterday. This is definitely my best free-motion quilting to date—my stitch lengths are starting to even up and my stippling is getting more curvy and flowing. And I couldn’t be more pleased with the design (which uses my Hexing Around block tutorial), not to mention the color palette. The ladies of the Do. Good Stitches Love Circle did a fabulous job on these blocks.

And then …

… I saw this.

And this.


Um, horrified! I’ve never had color-bleeding problems before. Just to be on the safe side, I wash all of my quilts with Shout Color Catchers. And they do often catch some dye. An amazing amount of red ended up on the Color Catcher when I washed my Warm/Cool quilt. But I’ve never had anything like this happen—and the Color Catcher that was in the wash with this quilt only came out with a tiny amount of blue on it! I don’t know how foolproof Color Catchers are supposed to be, but this one clearly didn’t do its job at all.

It wasn’t just one fabric that was the culprit, but appears to be at least two—one of which was in my own block, and it was a Park Slope print from Free Spirit! I am stunned that a high-end designer print like this would bleed so badly. If anyone has any thoughts as to why this may have happened on this particular quilt, please share. Because I’m stumped.

But thanks to wonderful advice from Jeni and several other ladies on Flickr, I’ve managed to clean up this disaster pretty well. Shout Ultra Gel stain remover, a bottle of Oxi-Clean, and three trips through the washing machine later, and the dye stains have faded considerably. In fact, it might be difficult to find them if you don’t know where to look. I hope so, anyway! And this quilt is nothing if not extremely clean, after four launderings. : )

I’m super happy with the back. I love the blue, green, and orange floral plaid from Meadowsweet, but it’s not the most usable print in the world. But on a back? Perfection! And it works great with my palette for this quilt.

This quilt is off to Wrap Them In Love, which distributes quilts to needy children around the world. Thank you, Love Circle, for contributing! I also was conveniently able to do this as part of Lynne’s Hex-a-Long at Lily’s Quilts, which you can check out here. Thank you, Lynne!


Quilt stats
Design: My own—see Hexing Around block tutorial here

Size: 44″ x 61″

Quilting: FMQ stippling by me on my home machine
Completed: September 2011


The Blocks of August

I spent the weekend putting my newly acquired improv piecing skills to the test while working on my August bee blocks:

Sew Beautiful: Kati of From the Blue Chair sent each of us fabric in black, white, and a single bold color. We were asked to make improv-pieced blocks and to use the color sparingly. I haven’t done a lot with black and white, so it was fun working with these striking, graphic prints. And I love the pinkish-purple accent color that I got.

Do. Good Stitches: Two more improv-pieced blocks. For these, Ara Jane asked us to use pink, yellow, brown, beige, and cream. This isn’t a color palette I would have chosen on my own, but the colors surprised me by working very well together. Somehow the blocks remind me of candy or ice cream. Or maybe I’m just hungry right now.

String Me Along: Patchwork Queen sent out these gorgeous Nicey Jane strips and asked for string blocks. String blocks sure are quick, easy, and fun—especially when somebody else cuts the strips for you. : )

Modern Quilt Guild block: This isn’t technically a bee block, but all of us in the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild were asked to make one of these for a group quilt. The design is Elizabeth Hartman’s Wellington Park pattern, which can be found here (it is in the free “Modern Quilting Primer” e-book).

We could choose whatever we wanted as far as colors and prints, so I based my palette for this block on the Anna Maria Horner print in the center. I’ve had the dark orange and burgundy-ish prints for ages, but had never used them because the colors didn’t really feel like me. But it’s funny how, in the right palette, they look so fresh and modern. So, you see—you just never know when you’ll find a use for that oddball print in your stash.

I’m linking up to Sew Modern Monday. Have a wonderful week!

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July Bee Blocks

Megan asked for an x and + block in these Innocent Crush prints and solids. When she assigned this block, I thought, “Oh good, easy and fun!” I guess that thought jinxed me, because for some reason I had issues with this block. Sometimes you just can’t predict what’s going to cause problems, can you? I’ve even made this block before! But somehow I cut the dark brown slightly too small, and of course I didn’t have enough to re-cut all four pieces. But in the words of Tim Gunn, I made it work. I think. (You’ll see that the dark brown piece on top is slightly too short. Hopefully Megan’s okay with that.)

Ah, applique. It’s really just not my thing. So when Rachel asked for this Bubble block in blues and greens and grays, with circles appliqued to a Kona background, I was a little nervous. I hoped putting it together would change my mind about applique. Nope, it still isn’t my thing. But I do love how this block looks.

I’m linking up to Sew Modern Monday. Have a great week!


Do. Good Stitches Hexy Top

Remember this block? June was my month as quilter for the Love Circle of the Do. Good Stitches charity quilting bee. I asked each of the ladies to make two Hexing Around blocks for this quilt. Check out the results—even cuter than I was expecting!

I asked for bright, summery colors, and the Love Circle ladies really did it up in that department. These blocks are so fresh and fun. And even though I didn’t specifically ask for blocks with fussy-cut centers, almost everybody did fussy-cut theirs, adding another whole level of coolness to this quilt top. Among the blocks, there is a duck, a fish, an octopus (squid?), a sleeping princess, a cat, a giraffe, kitchen utensils, flowers, and—appropriately, on a couple of levels—several bees. So it’s almost turned into an I-spy quilt. What an unexpected bonus!

When laying out the top, I staggered the blocks—I like the honeycomb appearance that gives. Although, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have asked the Love Circle ladies to attach the strips to the top and bottom of the blocks. The whole point of that was to make the block square—I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me that the block doesn’t need to be square. It would have been much easier (and fewer seams) for me to attach one piece of sashing between each block. Well, lesson learned.

My little assistant was concerned about the quilt flying away in the breeze

Thank you, Love Circle ladies! And FYI, there are two more hexy blocks that I’m putting on the back, so if one of your blocks appears to be missing, you’ll see it on the back soon enough.


Updated to add: I’m jumping on board with the Hex-Along at Lily’s Quilts! This looks like a really fun, loose, no-rules kind of quilt-along (which is the only kind I’m capable of joining at the moment). Basically, you’re welcome to join with any project that includes hexagons in any form. So I’m in! Yay for dual-purpose projects!

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WIP Wednesday #30

Welcome back to WIP Wednesday! Thanks again to Elizabeth for hosting last week, but I’m glad to be back. : )

New projects:

Warm Cool Quilt AlongJeni from In Color Order is having a Warm Cool Quilt Along. Since I’ve always wanted to do a value quilt—and since I seem to be obsessively joining every quilt-along on the Interwebs—I jumped on board for this one too. My original plan was to do the baby size, using as many scraps as possible.

But as I was going through my scrap bins and cutting the squares, I realized something. There will be scraps in this quilt from every sewing project I’ve ever worked on. Many of my favorite fabric lines will be represented in this quilt. I’m even using my most treasured scraps, from lines I love but never had much of in the first place (hello, Neptune). It’s my very own I-Spy quilt. I spy Katie Jump Rope! I spy Park Slope! I spy Single Girl scraps! I spy scraps from Miss C.’s baby quilt! So for all of those reasons and more, I think it could be destined to be one of my all-time favorite quilts. And that means I would be kicking myself I didn’t make the lap-size version.

But obviously I couldn’t make the lap-size entirely from scraps, so back to the stash I went. My new goal was to repeat as few prints as possible. So here are all of my cool-color squares, some from scraps and some from my stash, all ready to be HST’d. There are 176 squares, from 128 different prints! It’s hard to believe I came up with so many. I didn’t have to repeat any of the blues! And my warm prints are stacked up on the cutting table, ready to go next. There are 105 of those, so there will be a total of 232 prints in this quilt! My sewing room looks like it’s been ransacked—my entire stash is out on the floor. : )
3×6 bee blocksAnother scrap/stash project on the way to being complete. I’m making the herringbone block I designed for the Designer Challenge in Issue 5 of Fat Quarterly. You’ll find a tutorial for this block there.

Ongoing projects:Secret project
This one’s moving right along! Top’s almost complete.

Completed tops awaiting quilting:
Hope Valley (the original Supernova)

Completed quilts awaiting binding:
Modern Meadow

On hold:
Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

This week’s stats:
New projects – 2
Completed projects – 2 (May bee blocks and teacher gifts)
Currently in progress – 10

You know what to do! Let’s see those links. Happy Wednesday!



May Bee Blocks

{Sew} Beautiful: Angela sent us a variety of blue scraps with the instructions to “make a block that feels like you.” How fun! But it led to a miniature quilting identity crisis for me. After thinking it over the entire month, I finally realized that I will never come up with something that is classic “me,” because “me” seems to be in a constant state of change and evolution. And of course, from a design perspective, that’s a good thing. So, at least for today, I am hexagons. What will I be tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine!

But as I finished the block, I had a horrible sinking feeling that I’ve seen it somewhere before. This block definitely reminded me of something. But what? And then I realized …

That’s right. It reminds me of Megan’s {Sew} Modern Monday button. But that was a huge relief, because I actually designed Megan’s button! So I’m only ripping off myself. Whew! Doesn’t get more “me” than that, does it? Well, and it’s kind of Megan too, but that’s a bonus, because she’s also in {Sew} Beautiful! It’s like I planned it or something. : )

One other thing I want to point out about this block: Angela requested that we throw in a few blue scraps from our own stashes (another fun aspect of the whole “me” thing). So I fussy-cut a little snail from my recently-acquired Prince Charming stash to use as the center of one of the smallest hexies. You can see him if you look closely at the upper-right. That little guy is now my favorite part of the block!

Do. Good Stitches: More blue! This month, the Love Circle made blocks for a “Box of Crayons” quilt. We each took one color, and we could make any blocks we wanted as long as they were in our assigned colors—another fun bee concept. It could have been a bit tricky coming up with block designs that would look good in a single color, but the “plus” concept (on the left) leaped to mind immediately for me.

And since I wanted my blocks to echo each other without being identical, I wanted another design that featured a plus sign. I didn’t have to look any further than Badskirt Amy’s cool x and plus scrappy quilt tutorial. I just upsized Amy’s 8″ block to 12.5″ inches. (If you’re curious about the math, you can find the dimensions I used here, in the comments.)

String Me Along: Last but certainly not least, here’s my drunk love block for Elizabeth. She asked us to make a block as large as we could manage, and mine is a gigantic 18.5.” I love that she sent such a fun and dramatic mix of prints and solids. This is my third drunk love bee block so far this year, so it’s obviously a popular design! And you know, I love these blocks as much as the next girl, but I am now hoping for a break from drunk love, at least for a little while. : )

P.S. Thanks for all your well-wishes about the potty training! It’s been an interesting few days around here. I think I must have said the words “Do you have to go potty” at least 15,000 times in the last five days. True story. Beyond that, I am not sayin’ a word, because God help me if I jinx anything!


Hexing Around Block

Um, blogging break? What blogging break? Of course, I said I’m taking a blogging break, and now here I am posting a full-fledged block tutorial. You knew I couldn’t stay away, didn’t you?

But June is my month as quilter for the Love Circle of Do. Good Stitches, and I changed my plan for the quilt at the last minute, and the new plan requires a block tutorial … and here we are. I’m calling this the “Hexing Around” block. Enjoy, whether you are in the Love Circle or not.

Hexing Around Block
This 12.5″ square log-cabin-style hexagon block is fun and easy to piece.

1. First, download my template for the center hexagon here. Click the printer icon in the upper left corner of the screen to print it, or download the original. In the printer dialogue box that comes up, be sure to un-click the box that says “Fit to Page.” This is very important for the hexagon to print at the correct size! When printed at actual size, the hexagon should be 2.75″ high (from flat edge to flat edge).

UPDATED 2/24/14: I think somebody must have just linked to this (rather old) tutorial, because suddenly I’m being inundated with requests for people to email me this template. You guys, I apologize, but I can’t spend all day individually emailing this template to everybody. Google Docs works, I promise. I just tried it myself and very easily printed it out. Click the link above, and then find the little printer icon in the upper left corner. Then, when the printer dialogue box comes up, just un-click “Fit to Page.” Thank you!

2. Use the template to cut out a hexagon for the center of your block. The template includes seam allowance, so no need to add for that.

3. Now cut 1.5″ wide strips for each side of your center hexie. Sew two of the strips onto opposite sides of your hexie, as shown. Press seams open.

4. Use the 60-degree angle mark on your ruler to trim the ends of the pieces you just added. Line up the 60-degree angle line with the seam opposite the strip you’re trimming.

5. When you’re done trimming the ends, you should have a unit that looks like this.

6. Add two more strips to opposite edges of the center hexagon.

7. Trim the ends of these strips by matching up the 1.25″ vertical line on your ruler with the seam that runs parallel to the edge you want to trim, and the 60-degree angle mark should line up with the raw edge of the unit, as shown.

8. When you’re done trimming, it should look like this.

9. Add your final two strips to opposite sides of the hexagon.

10. Again, trim the ends of the strips in the same way you did the previous two strips. Line up 1.25″ mark with a parallel seam, and the 60-degree line with a raw edge of the block.

11. Now your hexagon should look like this, with one complete round of “logs.”

12. Cut another set of 1.5″ strips and follow the steps above to sew another round of logs around your hexagon, in the same manner as the first.

13. Continue adding logs to make two more rounds. Your completed hexagon should be no more than 12.5″ wide, from point to point. If it’s more than 12.5″, go ahead and trim around the outer edge to bring it down to size. If it’s a little less than 12.5″ wide, that’s okay.

14. From your background fabric (I’m using solid white), cut two 5″ x 7″ rectangles. Now cut a diagonal line through each rectangle, like so.

15. Sew the background triangles onto the corners of your hexagon, as shown. The triangles will be larger than what you need, but I found it easier to make them too big and then trim down to nice 90-degree corners. Add triangles to all four corners.

16. Trim your block so that it measures 12.5″ wide by 11″ high. (There should be at least .25″ of white background at its narrowest point along each side of the block.)

17. Add 1.5″ strips to the top and bottom of your block and trim to 12.5″ square.

Thank you, ladies of the Love Circle! Now I’m going back into hiding until Thursday as planned, but I will be reachable by email if you have questions or problems with the block. Have a great holiday.

P.S. In case you’re dying for an update on the potty training … well, it’s going. That’s about the best I can say at this point. : )


April Bee Blocks

Squeaking in just under the wire: Mailed on April 30. : )

Do. Good Stitches
Natalie of Greenleaf Goods asked for these delightfully bright and springy string blocks for the Love circle of Do. Good Stitches. These are very much like some of the scrappy potholders I made as Christmas gifts this year. so I have a little experience with teeny string blocks. Natalie put a little wonk into her blocks, so I did the same on my first one, but didn’t particularly like how mine looked, so my second block is just straight-up strings. I just love the colors Natalie asked for, they are positively yummy.

I also have to thank Natalie, because I won her giveaway last week! I won a gorgeous stack of Freshcut and Pop Garden by Heather Bailey. (Unbeknownst to Natalie, I had Freshcut in my swapping ISO list! Woo hoo!) My fabric came from Natalie the day I started the blocks, so how could I not use some of it? This means Natalie will be getting a little of that fabric right back in the form of these string blocks. So I guess it’s true that what goes around comes around … literally. : )

{Sew} Beautiful
Brooke of Pitter Putter Stitch asked for this Circle of Geese block. Since I paper-pieced New York Beauty blocks for my DQS swap quilt, I thought this Circle of Geese block would be cake. Um … I thought wrong. I had to unsew several pieces on my first quadrant and re-do them because they weren’t big enough. I don’t know why this was so much more challenging than my New York Beauty blocks—maybe because the pieces were such irregular sizes? Or because the pieces are larger, so the strange angles threw things off even more? Whatever the reason, it took some time to get accustomed to the paper-piecing for this block. But once I did, things went smoothly, and I love the result. All of us bee members had slightly different color/fabric combinations, so I’m looking forward to seeing the quilt all put together. Click here to see more in the Flickr group. Edited to add: This block was made using a free paper-piecing pattern available here.

String Me Along
Fran asked for a modified bento block in these bright batiks for String Me Along. I have not worked with batiks before, so it was fun to get a chance to do that. I was surprised to find that the back of a batik is sometimes as intense in color as the front! Fortunately I don’t think I sewed any pieces on backwards. : ) Fran asked us not to cut up our blocks into quarters—I’m assuming she’ll be doing that—so here’s mine as I mailed it out to her.

I’m linking up to Sew Modern Monday—check out more modern creations there!