Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bee Inspired

No.  Not you.  Me.  I want to be inspired.  By you.

After 6 months of blogging and Flickr-ing and watching all the fun of online block parties/quilting bees, I decided to take the plunge and join a bee myself.  Oops!  I ended up joining two.  It has been fun, I've learned a lot, and so far it has stretched me in terms of colors/fabrics/designs, but I'm all over the map about what I want to do when my months come (June and August). And that's where I need your help.  Suggestions -- please.

In my short bee participation this year, I've come to realize at least two things: (1) keep the instructions clear and the block simple so you get what you want and don't frustrate your bee partners and (2) allow some room for creativity on the part of your bee partners.

These January blocks were a great start for me. The blocks were fun and a breeze to make.  Wanda showed pictures of the type of block she was looking for, and only asked that the center fabric feature people.  Any and all colors were permissible.  The biggest challenge for a few of us was that we didn't have any fabrics with people in our stash -- but who complains about a trip to the fabric store?  Not this quilter.  And I loved the freedom of choosing from my stash to match the center fabric.  The colors used by the group varied quite a bit, so it will be very interesting to see how this looks with all the blocks together.  Perhaps because we each did two blocks, the colors will be distributed well for a nice scrappy look.

This is my January block for my other bee.  We were sent the fabrics, but told we could make any block of our choosing.  We could also add fabrics if desired, as long as they matched the colors.  She was going for coffee and cream, but wanted the teal fabric near the center of the block.  You may remember I had some difficulties with first making a block the wrong size, thus wasting fabric, and having to start all over. So my only frustrations were of my own making.  Not my usual colors, but it was fun to step outside the box, and I was so inspired by the beautiful work done by the other bee members.

This is my favorite bee block so far.  Easy, clear instructions.  We could choose any fabrics at all as long as we used the white and Kona Coal fabrics (which were provided).  Oh, Kona Coal!  If I were at all poetic, I would write an ode to you!  I have been busily cutting and saving small strings to make my own string x quilt ever since completing this block! In the meantime, you should probably keep an eye on Sherri's blog, Noah & Lilah, so you can see how it all comes together.

And then there is my nemesis.  The New York Beauty.

Block 4

Have I allowed it to master me?  Well -- yes -- so far.  I made my block and I'm too ashamed to show it.  The curves are not perfectly -- curved.  And it came out to 8-1/4" instead of 8-1/2".  You have no idea how hard I can be on myself. Yes, I could probably fix the size problem by removing the piece at the bottom right of the above picture and resewing a slightly larger piece, but it's still wonky.  And not in a good way.

So, talk to me.  What have you loved about and learned from participating in bees?   I would love to hear about your experiences and would especially love to hear recommendations of blocks that are not overly difficult, but allow for some creativity for the participants.  If I receive a suggestion that I end up choosing and using, I will send you something special.  So, you tell me all about your bee experiences and suggestions and I'll make one more attempt at the New York Beauty block.  Hopefully I'm not beaten yet.  After all, it's almost time for the March blocks!

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

P.S.  I'm already aware of these Flickr groups regarding bees and blocks: Block Party Quilt Along and Quilting Bee Blocks, but please let me know if there are any others.


  1. Great post! I know exactly what you mean - my month is coming up - March - in one of my bees and I have finally decided on the block I'm going to use. I'll be posting on my blog tomorrow, and showing my sample blocks. It's just as you say - try to respect the skill level of the participants, keep the instructions simple and yet provide opportunity for creativity. I never realized how challenging it would be to select a block for a bee! I'm also "April" in another bee. I'll channel Scarlett O'Hara and think about that tomorrow! P.S. I still haven't done that NY Beauty for Jennifer - but it's still February so I'm not late yet!

  2. You could do a color theme and leave the rest to them. Or a shape theme. Other than that I am out of ideas :)

  3. I haven't participated in a bee myself, but for me I think I would love string quilts with random fabrics, or a wonky stars. I think it would be so fun to have the variety of other peoples fabrics, but I would want a solid that tied it all together. I can't wait to see what you decide on.

  4. Hmmm, I haven't participated in an online Bee either. That said, I believe simpler is better due to the varying skill levels of Bee members.

    A nice glass of wine and perhaps a piece of chocolate before returning to that NY Beauty...?! ; )

  5. Hi Joan, I am so very new to all of this that I cannot really be of much help to you. However, this is a great learning experience for me and I will be following the comments to this fabulous post and your progress attentively! If I were to ask for a block it would be a scrappy one for sure!

  6. I haven't done a "bee", but I agree, don't make it too hard. Your AB block will be is a hard block, so be kind & patient with will happen! Youdo such lovely work.

  7. Your blocks are so gorgeous! I especially love that coffee and creme block, which the blue in the center - stunning.

    I belong to a bee called One Block Over which can be found at I was thrilled when Doris of Threads of Conversation asked me to join.

  8. Joan, my companion in craziness!

    The January blocks are sew up my color and cheerfulness-o-meter! I love them! And I still am amazed and impressed with your January block for ISQ's bee! Sew blasted clever!

    I'm going to have to try the string x blocks. I really, really like those too.

    What have I learned? Head scratch. Eyeball rolling. Shoulder shrug. That I am a worry wart of the first class about what other people think of my sewing skills. I'm doing the pillow swap and one of my photos has 69 looks...and no comments! I'm a freak! I want people to like, really like what I make for them. I don't want to disappoing anyone or have them unhappy with their much thought of, dreamed of, hoped for quilt, pillow etc.

    I'm truly anal about it! How does one get over this? Should one get over this?

    Sending you all the best, brightest and most beautiful thoughts as you conquer February's block!

  9. Sounds like joining a bee will be a good learning experience. Coodoos to you for jumping in and taking the challenge.

  10. What lovely fabric. It looks like a blog one of my friends will enjoy, too. I'll send her the link. Thank you.

  11. I have never been involved in a bee like this
    I LOVE the string X block though looks like a great one to swap with people.
    Keeping the block simple and all about the fabrics seems like a good idea!