Stash Bee– March

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This is the block I made for Stash Bee this month.  Others are making the same type of block but in different colors—e.g. blues or greens or purples, etc.  It will be a rainbow quilt when it’s all sewn together.

I think this is a really neat idea.  In bees where people use their own stash, scrappy quilts are always a good idea.  This block is 17.5” square, so it should make a good sized quilt once everyone’s blocks are sewn together.

My month in the 99 Bee

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My month has finally arrived!  I’m the last one in this bee.  This has been my favorite bee of 2012, and I’m so excited that it’s finally my turn.  These are the blocks I chose to have everyone make.  Forgive the poor lighting.  I took the picture at night.

I mainly chose this design first because I love the block, and second because there’s no way I would attempt to make twenty-four of these babies on my own.  Check out all those tiny seams.  This is a paper pieced pattern, and paper-piecing is a fairly newly acquired skill for me.  In fact, I had only tried a simple string block before this bee, but several of the others chose paper-pieced blocks, so I got quite a bit of practice.  To my surprise, it’s not nearly as hard as it looks.  In fact, my two blocks only took about three hours total to finish both.  I expected more time and more difficulty from them.

I sent fabric for my fellow bee members to complete two blocks, but only one is required, so we’ll see how many I get back.  I did two for everyone else, but not everyone’s blocks were this intricate.  Either way, I’m thrilled to have the help and can’t wait to start receiving them in the mail.

I’m hoping it turns into a nice quilt.  After I got the blocks pieced, I thought the scrappiness of the fabrics might make them look too busy, and I’m still a bit concerned about that, but I already had everything cut and packaged, so I just went with it and am hoping for the best once they’re all put together in a quilt.

Low Volume Charm Swap

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Recently I joined a swap on flickr for low volume charm squares.  While I haven’t done a lot of reading on “low volume,” it basically means lighter colored fabrics that don’t jump up at you and slap you in the face like the more modern brighter ones do.  Most of the time, I avoid these fabrics in quilt shops because they’re difficult for me to use.  I usually want fabrics that will contrast with white, my usual background color of choice.  If I do buy paler fabrics, they tend to sit on the shelf for quite a while.

However, there are some beautiful things that can be done with low volume fabrics, and I’m hoping this charm swap will push me out of my comfort zone a bit.  I’m hoping to 1) start using other darker colors like grays for backgrounds instead of all white, and 2) really push myself and make a whole quilt out of low volume fabrics like one of these beauties:

Low Volume Loveliness

Photo from lorihdesigns.com, but I think she pulled these from other websites.

These quilts are kind of peaceful, in a way, and although they’re very modern, they have a vintage feel to them as well—perhaps because they remind me of a faded quilt.  I do love the little pops of color that stand out on the first and last quilts, though.

These are the fabrics I chose to send for my swaps:

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This is a fabric I’ve had on my shelf for over a year now.  I  bought it when my local quit shop was having a huge clearance sale.  I got it for $3/yard, and I loved it, so I bought two yards, but I haven’t found anything to use it for until now.

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Again, I bought this fabric on a clearance sale for around $5/yard.  I have around 5 yards of it, so I definitely won’t miss a yard sent to the swap.

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And finally, this fabric, probably my favorite, was purchased for the insanely cheap price of $1/yard on the clearance sale I went to a few weeks ago.  Those were unbelievable prices, so I bought the rest of the bolt and have a couple yards of this print left.  It does have brighter colors in it, but I still consider it low volume because it has so much pale negative space as well.

For the swap, we cut each yard of fabric into 56 charm squares.  We then sort them as I have them in the first picture with one square of each of the three fabrics.  When it comes back to me, I’ll have all different fabrics from the other swappers.  I haven’t decided yet whether to sew all the charms together to make one quilt or to hang on to them for future smaller projects.  Either way, I’m so proud of myself for pulling fabrics from my stash instead of going out and buying new stuff.  This way, the cost of swapping is postage only—I think I can handle that!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is going to be to cut down on the fabric buying and make do with my ever-growing stash.   Especially after my recent trip to the quilt shop during $1/yard clearance, I have way more fabric than I could probably use in several years.  Limiting yourself to your stash only also creates a lot of opportunities for creativity that you might not otherwise consider.

January Bee Blocks

This month, I’m only in two bees.  We Bee Learning ended, and I didn’t rejoin for this next year.  This is also the last month for the 99 bee, and it’s my month (yea!)

99 BEE

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Its finally my month in this bee (I’m the last one), and I chose the windmill block.  My plan is to checkerboard the blocks—half have purple in the inner ring and orange in the outer, and half are the opposite.  I’m going to put solid orange and purple borders around the blocks as well.  These turned out a bit busier than I had anticipated, and if I had it to do over, I might just choose one orange print and one purple, but I already had everything cut and packaged by the time I sewed up my blocks, and I didn’t want to redo everything and waste fabric, so I just went with it.  I’m hoping it won’t be so busy once it’s in a quilt, and you can stand back from it a bit.  I do love the block, though, and I chose it because I probably never would attempt a whole quilt out of these blocks if I had to do them all myself.  It looked like an intimidating block to me.  However, once I actually sewed them up, I realized it wasn’t that bad at all.  It takes a little more time than a non-paper pieced, simpler block, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult or time-consuming as I expected.  So, I might actually use this block pattern again in the future for another project.

STASH BEE

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She requested four 6.5” blocks instead of one 12.5” block, and I’m not sure how she’ll end up arranging all of them.  She asked for brown, white, and a tone-on-tone print for the centers.  In seeing some of the other pictures, I noticed others used a brown print and different colors for the centers…so, I hope these are okay, but her instructions didn’t say either way, so hopefully they’ll work out okay.

Traveling Quilts

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I recently joined a traveling quilts “bee” on flickr.  The way this works, is each member (there are six of us, so this will last six months) makes the beginning of a quilt.   It could be a block, like I did, a slab of piecing, or whatever we decide to send.  Then each month we mail it to the next person, and they add to it until it reaches the last person.  The last person is responsible for quilting and finishing it and then sending it back to the original owner.

This block is what I decided to start with.  I actually did not piece this block, but I added the gray border.  I had this laying around from the We Bee Learning bee I was in.  The blocks didn’t exactly turn out like I thought they would (not my bee members’ fault—more my own because I didn’t think through what I chose), so I made a quilt with the blocks, and I will probably donate it to the auction at my son’s school this spring.  However, I just loved the prints and colors (although in the poor lighting, the photo above is not a true representation) in this block, so I kept it with the intention of turning it into a pillow at some point.

I joined this group at the last minute because they had a dropout, so rather than trying to piece something up quickly in a day or two, I decided to use this block.  I hope I love the quilt that comes back to me as much as I love the block.  It’s a bit risky because I don’t know what the others will add to my quilt and whether or not I’ll like it, but it’s also quite exciting, and I can’t wait for the surprise in the middle of the summer.

I also liked that this will only last until June.  I promised myself I wouldn’t commit to another long bee this year, so at least this is six months instead of twelve.  However, I need to keep reminding myself of my promise because I’ve got the sewing bug right now and find myself stalking the thread that announces all the new bees…must not join, must not join.  Still, I’m hoping to do some different things this year like join a couple of swaps where we make an actual project for a partner or also join fabric swaps, which are lots of fun but take very little work (just some cutting of fabric usually).  Those are both shorter-term commitments that span only a few months.  Although I don’t plan for another pregnancy or anything else that would derail my sewing time, you never know what life will throw you, and I don’t like having to back out of things I’ve committed to.

I’ll be updating with pictures of the quilts I’m sent and what I add to them along the way.  I think we’re supposed to post sneak peeks on flickr, so we have an idea of what things look like but still get a surprise in the end.  Can’t wait to see how this all turns out!

December Bee Blocks

This December I have the month off from the 99 Bee.  However, next month is mine (yea!!) so I really should be choosing fabrics to send out and deciding on my block.  I did have two bee blocks to make, though, and here they are:

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We Bee Learning

This was actually one of the more difficult blocks I’ve made for this bee.  It’s not really all that difficult to sew, but the instructions were kind of poor, so I had to look at the picture to figure it out.  She requested four different solids, all bright colors.  I think this will be an awesome quilt when it’s all sewn together with different colored blocks.  I hope she posts a picture of her finished product.

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Stash Bee

This block was extremely easy, so I didn’t mind making two blocks, as she requested.  She wanted us all to use scraps with no repeating fabrics.  I love it when I’m able to use up a bunch of my scraps on bee blocks.  I think this quilt will be really cool, too.  You can rotate the blocks to make all different patterns.  If you put these with two more, you’d end up with a flower motif.  I like it so well that I might make a scrappy quilt like this myself one of these days.  The block uses 3.5” squares to finish at a 12” block, but you could also easily use 2.5” squares, which I tend to have more of, and the block would just be smaller…I’m adding this to my list of quilts for scraps.

October Bee Blocks

Because I had a baby in October, my bee blocks got pushed a little late.  I got the first one done before the baby because she was really on the ball about posting her pattern, but I the other two were a little later about posting their requests, so I didn’t finish those until the first of November.  Honestly, I’m quite proud of myself for getting them finished even that quickly!

We Bee Learning

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This is a big block, finishing at 18 inches.  She asked for all green fabrics with white sashing strips.  It’s a really nice block pattern for an easy and fast quilt.  I might use this for a larger quilt sometime.  It’s also good for showing off larger prints that you don’t want to cut up into tiny pieces.  This is going into a quilt for a college-age guy who loves the color green.  I think it’s nice and manly.

Stash Bee

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These don’t look like much on their own, but the hostess is making a bookshelf quilt, so they’re supposed to be books on a shelf, and she’ll turn them all sorts of different ways.  Some ladies made fancy blocks with teacups, clocks, etc. appliqued on to show other things sitting on bookshelves.  Because I was in a time crunch with the baby, I took the easy way out and just made the books. 

99 Bee

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This is a variation on a geese block from the 99 book.  I like the text fabric she sent as well as the color combinations.  My month is January (the last month of this bee), and while I have yet to choose a block, I’m planning to go with a gray background.  I didn’t jump on the gray bandwagon from the beginning, but the more I see it, the more I like it.  In fact, I’m working on my first gray quilt at the moment.  It’s a baby quilt, and since it’s so small, I hope to be posting about it soon.

September Bee Blocks

This month I was quite behind on the bee blocks.  I haven’t been feeling the best during my last month of pregnancy, so I just kept putting them off.  Finally, today I just decided to get them over with, and luckily they were all fast and easy, so I wish I had done them sooner and not worried about it all month long.

We Bee Learning

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This block was supposed to have burgundy, gold, and forest green.  I had the burgundy and gold from a blind scrap bag I had bought a while back from my local quilt shop.  All of these colors are not my normal style, so I was lucky I had even those two already.  I did have to buy the forest green solid, but I only needed 1/4 yard and didn’t buy extra since I don’t see myself using it again.  It was 66 cents with a coupon, so it definitely didn’t break me!

Stash Bee

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For this block, she asked for bright, modern, happy colors, which suited my stash perfectly since that’s what I usually buy myself.  This whole block was made from my scrap pile (I love it when that happens!), and I really like the way it turned out.  The colors are pretty bad in the photo, but it’s cheerful and should fit well with the three samples she posted.  In retrospect, I kind of wish I had chosen a scrappy type block instead of my tree block.  I love my trees, but some of the scrappy blocks I’ve been seeing are AWESOME!

99 Bee

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I really liked these blocks as well.  They were very fast and easy to sew up, and sometimes that is definitely not the case with the blocks from the 99 book.  It was really a good thing for me that the blocks were simple this month, or I might have been very late, depending on when the baby comes.  As it is, they’re all packaged up and ready to mail as soon as I can make it to the post office.  In this block, I loved the purple chevron fabric and the flower square.  I would love to see this quilt all put together with the different blocks.  It’s definitely scrappy, but I think it would look great all together.  I’m still deciding what I want my block to be for this bee.  Luckily, I don’t have to decide until January. 

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in all these bees since the beginning of the year.  Time really flies.  These were my first bees, and I think next year I might do things a bit differently.  First, committing to a bee for an entire year (or two years for stash bee) is really a big deal.  I’m not sure I want to do that again.  Most months I love doing the blocks, but on months like these when I have other major life events going on (baby this time, but it could easily be something else), I just don’t want to deal with it.   I think I might prefer the month-long swap things where you sign up month to month.  It’s easier to plan around a schedule that way.  I have had fun and have learned a lot through these bees, but I’ll probably think more carefully before signing up for a long one again. 

Of the three, my favorite has been the 99 bee.  Wee Bee learning is very simple—sometimes a little to simple to be interesting, but it’s designed for beginners, so that makes sense.  Stash bee is unpredictable—half of the blocks I’ve loved making, and half not so much.  Also, some of those blocks are out of my comfort zone, which has been difficult to get used to.  So far I’ve been able to handle everything, even if I’ve procrastinated due to fear, but some blocks are definitely something I wouldn’t take on unless forced.  I’ve learned a lot, though, so I really shouldn’t complain.

99 Bee has some paper-piecing doozies, too, but at least there is a book with instructions.  Also, I tend to like the finished products better because the blocks are, by nature, more modern, and the participants have so far sent more modern fabrics, which have mostly been to my taste.  While this isn’t really that important, for some reason it does increase enjoyment for me.  I like getting to sew with pretty fabrics I like!

Anyway, at least they’re finished for this month.  If I can, I’m going to try to get October’s done as well before the baby comes.  I’m due on the 2nd, so this may or may not happen, but I’ll give it a good shot if I don’t deliver on or before my due date—which will probably be my luck anyhow.  I’m so ready to get this baby out!

August Bee Blocks

I’m early this month (to make up for last month, I guess).  I basically did August and July blocks at the same time.  It’s nice to have that commitment out of the way early this month, though.  Here’s what I made:

We Bee Learning

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I actually like this block, even though it’s very simple.  She wanted more modern prints/colors, and I thought I’d never have a reason to use this fabric, but there it is.  She also wanted gray cornerstones, and I was limited on the grays in my stash, so this isn’t what I would have normally chosen, but I think it will be fine once she gets everything sewn together.   It’s supposed to be scrappy, so it should fit in well.

Stash Bee

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This is not one of my favorite blocks, simply  because the prints make it so busy.  The tutorial used solids, and I liked that better, but her example used prints, so I went with that.  You can move the blocks around to create different designs, which is why she had us leave them apart instead of sewing them all together.  She wants to play around with them first.  This block was paper pieced, which always gives me a bit of a headache.  Maybe someday I’ll get better at it.

The 99 Bee

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I really had a great time making these blocks.  When I first saw what she had requested, I was about ready to bang my head on the table.  It’s paper pieced, of course, and I thought that all the little seams would kill me.  Actually, though, I had a great time making them.  They went together quickly and easily.  In fact, these were easier for me than the paper pieced blocks for Stash Bee above.  I think this will make a really cute quilt, too.  I like this myself, but I’ve never really been into the British flag thing, so I probably won’t ask for this when it’s my turn.  It was nice, though, to make a paper pieced block this detailed and come out of it still feeling pretty good about everything.  Maybe there’s hope for me yet with paper piecing.

July Bee Blocks

I’m quite a bit late this month with the bee blocks.  My husband had a two week vacation, and while I love having him home, it definitely throws me off my routine, so I didn’t get much sewing done this month at all.

We Bee Learning

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She wanted black, white, and purple.  This isn’t my favorite style of block, but hopefully she likes it.

Stash Bee

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I absolutely love this block.  I think the quilt will be beautiful when it’s done.  She wanted a couple of selvages in each block, and for some reason I’m really a fan of selvage pieces that people are making.  I’m sure selvage sewing is probably just a fad, but I find it really fun.  I’m saving up all of mine for a quilt myself.  This block took quite a while to make, so I doubt I’d do one like this all by myself, but I think it will be really unique when she sews everything together.

The 99 Bee

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I really love these blocks, too, as well as the fabric.  I still haven’t decided what fabrics I want to use when it’s my month (January).  I do love the Amy Butler as well as this design, though.  I haven’t bought much Amy Butler ever, but I may decide to go with that for my bee quilt.  The nice thing about this bee is that people began sending enough fabric for two blocks with the option of only making one and sending the leftover fabric back.  I always make the two for people, and I hope they’ll do it for me, too.  If so, that means I’ll have 24 blocks—definitely enough for a queen size, which means I could make a bed quilt—like I need another one of those!