09 April 2012

Quilting Bee Spotlight: New Bee on the Block

With a nice long holiday weekend in the fresh air behind me, I'm quite happy.  But my sewing machine had to stay behind!  So I decided to work a bit more on chronicling my past work, specifically, for New Bee on the Block, a quilting bee started and hosted by the wonderful Shanna to help people get into the quilting bee world.

Um, it worked for me!  Last July, I was a total Newbie.

If you're interested in joining a quilting bee, I'd say: 1) sign up for Flickr and post some photos of your work 2) visit the Quilting Bee Blocks group's discussion thread where people post about new bees they're organizing to see what's going on!

I really appreciate the collective effort and group atmosphere of virtual bees.  I don't have a community of quilters in "real life", and it's so fun to have these deluxe virtual penpals.  They are so supportive and cheerful, and I love the updated version of a historical pastime!  We gather around glowing screens instead of glowing fires in a barn (yes, that's how I imagine back-in-the-day quilting bees), but the sentiment and outcomes are the same.

I've been so lucky to work with this group of very talented quilters!  New Bee on the Block is a 12-month, non-themed bee, where each month, one member sends out fabric and instructions (for whatever they want!) to each of the 11 other members, they sew them up, and send them back.  As you'll see, this bee has exposed me to ALL KINDS of blocks, and has really expanded my skills and sensibilities.

Here's what we've worked on:

July 2011: 

To kick off our bee, Holly sent out fun, bright fabrics to make a perfect pinwheel Merry Go-Round block (without paper-piecing!)

August 2011: 

Ella sent out gray heath and raindrops fabrics and asked for a version of Quiltjane's teardrop block.  It's paper-pieced, and was my first experience with a really non-traditional paper-pieced shape.

September 2011: 

For our first taste of free-form quilt bee blocks, Lina gave us very simple guidelines:  rectangular blocks in the theme of books or reading.  What could be better than a stack of books and a cup of tea? I had a lot of fun with this block!  I sketched out a teacup on some graph paper and paper-pieced it,  adding some hand-stitched steam, and swiped a bit of Anna Maria Horner selvage for one of those books :)  

October 2011:

More freedom!  Ellie assigned us any kind of wonky stars we liked!  So, I decided to put a tiny star inside a big one. I just love those elephants.  

November 2011:

Natasha asked for sharp, graphic, Piet Mondrian-inspired blocks.  I got to slice away and piece improvisationally, and I almost stole the honeycomb and herringbone prints she sent!

January 2012:
After a customary December break, Diane got us back into the swing of things with scrappy Japanese x and + blocks from Badskirt.  These fun blocks are all over the place these days, and this was a great opportunity for me to try making them!  Di has been working away at these blocks, and has even started mocking up her quilt.

February 2012: 

In February, Tonya asked us for a paper-pieced Friendship Circle (how appropriate for this bee!) This is one of those blocks that also makes a secondary pattern when you put them all together, and I think this is going to be a really lovely quilt!

March 2012:

For my month, I asked for help making blocks that are all about texture, using Elizabeth Hartman's Mod Mosiac tutorial. I had made a pillow like this before, and I decided I wanted a whole quilt! I switched up the typical scenario, choosing a solid color to frame mostly white scraps, instead of using white for sashing colorful scraps.  The blocks are still coming in, and I can't wait to start putting them together!

April 2012: 

For once, I'm a little ahead of the game!  I finished up this Kansas Dust Storm for Lia, who picked out a bunch of different stars for us to make.  I loved using the springy, fresh colors she sent out for what will be a picnic quilt.  I hope it gets a lot of use!

I'm a little sad that we're approaching our last few months, and excited to see what else is in store!

simply square button
On a side note, I just learned about what it means to be a no-reply blogger-- basically, people can't easily find you to write back if you leave a comment!  I was one, but fixed it, thanks to Shanna (kind of like your nice friend telling you when you have something on your face...) and this post I found at Pleasant Home. (Are you a no-reply blogger? Do you know how to check?)

Pin It!


  1. anna, these are all so great! isn't it fun being in a bee? i have made such great friends because of the bees i am in! xoxo great job and i hope you guys do a round two! ;)

  2. The blocks look gorgeous! Oooo..do you think a round two is possible?

  3. I'm so happy that you've enjoyed this group. I so can not wait to see what's in store for you next!

  4. I was just playing with my gorgeous star blocks last night. I might make a few more and then put it all together. It's been such fun, despite this months kicking my sorry butt.

  5. Love that baby wonky star inside its mama!


Hi, nice to see you! Sorry about the word verification but I've been flooded with spam messages recently. Thanks for commenting!