Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hive 10 - October Block

What is your name?  My name is Karen Holder and I live in Atlanta, GA. I'm originally from Connecticut and I'd love to move back (sometimes) but as my husband is from Florida, that's not happening. 

Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)  As mentioned, my husband is from Florida and we've been married for 7 years, with a long standing flirty relationship prior to our dating. We have two kids - Courtney, who's almost 6, and Patrick, who's almost 4. Courtney is in kindergarten and adjusting to life in the "big school" and Patrick's in preschool. It's nice to have them in school 5 days a week, allowing for more me time. 

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting. I originally started sewing after Courtney was born. I saw all the cute dresses on Etsy and thought, "$50 for that, I can make that." I borrowed a machine from a friend, that probably needed a major tuneup, bought some fabric and discovered that I couldn't actually make that dress and maybe $50 wasn't such a bad deal. I didn't buy the dress and then I sat on the machine for a year or so when my friends mom came over one day and gave me a sewing lesson and that was that.

How do you organize your fabric stash? This is pretty embarassing. I do have a dedicated sewing area in the basement. However, my kids aren't always down there and neither is my husband so I'm almost always sewing at the dining room table. Consequently, my stuff is EVERYWHERE. And I mean, All Over the House. 

Here is my cutting table, that's more of a dumping ground. 

The table on the left is my daughter's sewing table, but she also sews at the dining room table. And the one on the right holds my serger and more junk.

Here's my fabric closet. Solids on the middle shelf, prints on the bottom, holiday and garment fabric along the back wall (below.)

The guest bed (near the dining room table). Hopefully we won't have guests any time soon.

And the actual dining room table...

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers? I'm currently loving Lotta Jansdotter, Alison Glass, Katarina Roccella, Karen Lewis from Blueberry Park, Cotton & Steele, April Rhodes

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting? Slow and steady wins the race. Or some such. You know, read the pattern from beginning to end, don't assume you know what to do, take your time. I could still benefit from these lessons. 

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it? I'm not sure I have a favorite. I, obviously, can't live without my seam ripper but I wish I was better at keeping track of it.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.) I've always loved Calvin & Hobbes and kind of miss them. I remember growing up we had C&H books all over the house. I wonder what their take would be on life today.

On to my block... I'm going a bit off the radar here today and granting you a bit of creative license. 

As for colors, I'm really drawn to these colorways. or this or this These are all pretty similar but you get the idea. I'm thinking solids or tone on tone. Please stay away from batiks. You can use any and all of the colors from these color ways, as a matter of fact, the more in the block the better.

First: You're going to need 10-12 strips measuring 18" long and anywhere from 1-2.5" wide. Try and use all different colors but one or two repeat's are ok. Sew them all together (1/4" seam for the entire block) and when you're done, the block should measure roughly 18"x18" (I'd go no less than 16" square) square. 

This is where the creative license begins. You're going to cut the block up, pretty much any way you want. I went ahead and cut the block into 4's and then I rotated them.

And then I cut 2 of them again into triangles and swapped them around. 

 And then I cut 2 of those triangles again and swapped them around. 

Not pictured here, I cut the top right and bottom left into 4's and swapped them around and put it all back together. Depending on how you cut the blocks, you may need to trim them but I didn't. When you finish the block, don't trim it down to size just leave it as is. 

Thanks for making me a block! I can't wait to see what you come up with. 

Hive 12 - October - Francis

Hi, my name is Francis and I live in the Netherlands. I’m married to Jan, 30 years in October! 
We have 2 daughters, both 27 years old. 

The oldest one lives in the UK, she stayed there after she graduated 
from the University of Reading in 2012. 
She found a job there, not her dream job, but still a paying job :-)
She is passionate about nature and in particular birds (of prey) and hopes to get the opportunity to do a PhD somewhere in the world. 

Our youngest daughter is a jewellery artist and an Art teacher. 
She moved in with us last year after she got divorced. 
That was difficult for the three of us, she moved out when she was 17 to become an Art teacher, so a lot of adjustments for us all when she moved back.

Beside her work as a jewellery artist and her daytime job,  she went back to school last year to get her English Teaching degree, quit her daytime job and found a new Art and English teaching job here in town, so things are going well for her! 

My mom lives in the same town as us and I’m happy to still have her. 
I also have a brother, he lives with his wife and son in Thailand.

(Here a pic of all of us. FLTR my husband, me, our youngest, our oldest, my mom, my nephew and my brother) 

(Three generations this summer celebrating my moms 75th birthday)

I work 26 hours a week as a secretary for an organisation who facilitates public education here in our region. At the office we do all the non-educational work for 18 elementary schools.

I swim once a week with a friend in extra warm water to keep my muscles fit. I have a lot of joint and muscle aches every day :-(

I’m quilting since 2010. I have always sewed, I made all the clothes for my daughters when they were little and I made  a lot for myself too. I stopped when I got my job in ’99 but in 2010 I joined a beginners course ‘hand quilting’ here in my town. It was with traditional fabrics and when I discovered the quilting world on the WWW I shifted to a more modern style. 
I really like to handquilt, I patch on the machine but I find it very relaxing to sit 
on the sofa and handquilt. 
I donate 99% of my quilts to the ‘Droomdekentjes’ (Dreamblankets) organisation. 
They distribute the quilts to sick children or siblings of sick children. 
I also make Little Quilts of Love and donate them to a local hospital.

It doesn’t look organised but I can find everything. 

The fabrics from Anna Maria Horner, Kaffe Fasset are fabrics I like very much but I also am very fond of  low volume fabrics and fun-bright fabrics for children. 
One of my all time favorites are red-white-blue fabrics.

Fabric here in the Netherlands is very expensive and we don’t have so much variety , so I order a lot in the USA and the UK. The one thing I would have known before I started quilting is the arrange of fabric that you can buy, how addictive fabric is and how expensive that is for us here J

My favorite quilting tools are my rulers and the silicone thimble I use. 
I picked the metal top off  the thimble because I couldn’t get used to that.

I like the writing style of Jane Austen and I have read all her books. 
I don’t know if I would have liked to live in the era, but reading about is is fun!

So that’s a bit about me, now on to the block I chose: 
a simple 9 patch in WHITE-RED-BLUE-GREEN!

I would like you to use white for the centre block. I used white cotton from my local haberdashery shop, so as long it is a crisp white I’m fine with it. 
For the other 8 blocks, please select one RED fabric and for the rest BLUE and GREEN.

Cutting instructions:
WHITE: cut one 4,5x4,5”
RED: cut one 4,5x4,5”
BLUE – GREEN: cut seven 4,5x4,5”

Layout your fabrics with the white fabric as the centre block.
Sew each block with a ¼” seam allowance.
Sew the three rows together and you will have a 12,5” block.
Once I have all the blocks I will make it into a ‘Droomdekentje’ for a boy J

Thanks in advance for making one little boy happy with his ‘blankie’!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hive 7 - October Block Tutorial

What is your name?
Hi All! As I am last, I think you pretty much know who I am by now :) but my name is Emma. I am an Australian by descent, but was born in South Africa and raised in Zimbabwe. We had a truly amazing childhood in Zim, until things started to go pear-shaped, and now I have friends and family scattered all over the world. 

Where do you live?
I am currently in Australia studying towards my PhD in Structural Engineering (specialising in Earthquake design). I also spent a lovely 2 years in Pennsylvania studying for my Masters degree, and in California whilst working on my undergrad (did anyone else study abroad?)

Tell us about your family 
I am one of three kids. My younger sister is currently with me in Australia doing her undergrad degree, and my older brother and his wife live in Switzerland. My parents live in Dubai, and at the moment this is "home". I am single, so home is wherever my parents are :) Also... yes, we live all over the place!

This is us (minus my sister-in-law who was taking the picture) on Christmas day last year. I am in the purple jeans.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting
My mom has always quilted, and one of my favourite possessions is a baby quilt (ok it is single bed size but still!) which she made me :) I dabbled in sewing when I was younger, but that was more like annoying my mom by buying fabric and leaving half finished projects all over her sewing room ;) I had always thought I would start quilting when my friends started having babies. Well, that happened sooner than I thought and I made my first quilt for a dear friend in Indiana exactly 2 years ago! I was hooked after that first one, and never looked back! Now, I am so thankful that I found such an awesome creative outlet - it has definitely kept me sane whilst researching for my PhD!

How do you organize your fabric stash? 
I live by myself in a small apartment, so space is at a premium and I recently just reorganised everything! Basically I have two plastic tubs with my "working stash" i.e. things I use all the time, sorted by colour. I also have a couple of shelves with the "special stash" and things which have been put aside for specific "some day" projects, as well as fabric designated for quilt backings and bindings. I also have two large cubbies, one of which is stuffed full of scraps, and the other holds WIPS (in an effort to keep things tidier - haha!). My sewing desk also has space underneath it where I stash my apparel fabrics. (whew... addict anyone?!?)


 Stash in tubs - the first contains solids, linens and low volume fabric, the second all organised by colour (there are three layers of folded fabric in there!)

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?
Anna Maria Horner, Tula Pink and Alison Glass are my absolute favourites. I love all the bold saturated colour and gorgeous designs. I am also loving the Cotton and Steel basics and I love pretty much everything from Art Gallery Fabrics.Otherwise I tend to buy selectively from many fabric lines. I generally tend towards colour and clever blender-like prints.

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?
That cutting and piecing accurately is worth it later! Also I got very caught up in "must make everything" and "must buy everything" trap when I first found the quilting community online. It has been a continuous lesson to not have to have all the latest fabric, and not churn out a project or more a week! I am a much happier and more relaxed quilter now.

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?
The clover finger presser definitely changed the way I quilt and my accuracy! I am a lazy quilter, and due to limited space dont really leave my ironing board set up all the time. So being able to quickly "press" a seam at my machine and then continue on with the next one is definitely a huge improvement!

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? 
Gosh, this is such a hard one! I am a big reader, and a bit of a literature snob, so most of my favourites are from classics, although my allegiances change frequently! Becky Sharp from "Vanity Fair" is probably one of absolute favourites. I adore this book and the anti-hero in Becky is such a breath of fresh air in the writing from that time. So cheeky! The film with Reese Witherspoon is actually really good too if you wanted to watch it! Jean Valjean from "Les Miserables" is another favourite... hmm I am starting to notice an anti-hero trend! ;) Both excellent books but long reads! I also watch a lot of TV, and although this changes all the time, at the moment I am very much in love with Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural, and of course The Gilmore Girls will always be a favourite!


Ok! If you are still with me, on to the tutorial! I (finally!) decided on an easy, no-thinking-required block for our last month together. The final block is made up of 16 x 4" (finished) HSTs, for an unfinished size of 16&1/2".

The fabrics will be all blue and green prints. Any variation of blue or green e.g. aqua, turquoise etc is fine, and any shade is great too, just not overly dark or light, and no "muddy" prints please. Also may I please request that no batiks be used.

Prints with bits of other colours are fine, as long as the print ultimately "reads" blue or green. Tip: I read this a while back and cant remember where, but if you are unsure of what colour your fabric "reads" then shake it quickly back and forth in front of you. What colour do you see? This colour is the main colour of the fabric. If you see two or more colours equally dominantly then it is a multi-coloured print, and please save those for another project. Blue or green prints with white are also fine, but please keep the white to a minimum, and again make sure that it is not the dominant colour in the fabric.

An example of fabric from my stash and ranges of colours that may be used is shown below. Obviously this is not extensive, just an example pull which I then narrowed down for my block.

Fabric Pull

Choose eight different prints in varying shades of blue and green. Pair off your prints from your 8 chosen such that there is some contrast between the pair. You will then have 4 sets, each of two prints. The 8 prints I chose are shown paired together below. You don't need as much variety in shades as I used in my block, but I would ask that you use a minimum of 2 blue shades and 2 green shades in each block (for example 2 navy blue prints and 2 sky blue prints and 2 mint green and 2 grass green prints at the least).

Narrowed down to 8 prints sorted into pairs

You will need to cut 2 x 5" squares from each of your 8 prints, to make 8 pairs which will yield 16 HSTs. 

5" squares of pairs (note there are 2 of each print, but are shown stacked here)

We will use a basic two-at-a-time HST method, so in each of the 4 sets, pair off the 5" squares. Draw a line from corner to corner on the wrong side of one of the prints (I used a frixion pen), and place the squares right sides together. You will then sew 1/4" on each side of your drawn line. Once each side is sewn, cut between the sewn lines on the line that you drew previously.

Press open each of the 16 HSTs and trim each HST to 4&1/2".

We will then sew together the block in four sub-units. Each sub-unit consists of four HSTs in two prints only. Arrange the HSTs in the four sub-units, ensuring that the diagonal runs in the same direction for all the HSTs. At this stage I also placed out all my HSTs and decided where I would like to place each sub-unit. This helps later as you can press seams to the side such that they "nestle" together when sewing the sub-units together.

Arranging the HSTs in their pairs. Ensure the diagonal is uniform, and that each sub-unit only consists of like HSTs

Sew the HSTs together first two at a time, then four together to create one sub-unit. I like to press the seams to opposite sides so that the seams nestle when joining the two rows together. Repeat for each of the four sub-units.

one sub-unit

All four sub-units

Once all four sub-units are sewn, you can sew them together to create the final block. Again, you can decide the layout after sewing the four sub-units or before. I press seams to the side, so it is helpful to alternate directions when pressing for seam accuracy. Unfinished block size is 16&1/2". 

Final Block - yay! 16&1/2" unfinished.

It's a simple block, so I hope my instructions weren't too confusing! Shout if you have any questions! Thanks ladies :)

Hive 8 - October Block Tutorial

What is your name?

My name is Christina.  IG/Flickr: free2bquilting and my blog, which has not been updated in many months.  EEK!!!  Guess when I receive your amazing blocks I'll have to blog about it.

Where do you live?
I live in Lawrenceville, New Jersey -- central jersey just south of Princeton.  I am an hour from Philadelphia, an hour from New York City and an hour from the Atlantic Ocean (YEAH!).

Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)

My son, Andrew, is a college junior.  We currently do not have any pets, 
but he loves fishing at the jersey shore with his grandfather.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.

When I first started sewing quilts, the internet or access to it was not like it is today.  I started when my son was little because I wanted to make something special for his teachers.  I would come up with an idea and then spend countless hours, days, even months, figuring out how to do it.  Yes, I did things the hard way, but the end result was exactly as I'd hoped and sometimes better.  Here's one of my early quilts which is still hanging in the school. I traced the boys hands on fabric, and then they signed their names on their fabric hands.  It's a cherished memory!

I then decided I wanted to make something for myself and take classes.  I made this king size quilt from a wall hanging class. Haha!  Told ya I do things the hard way. ;) 

Although it doesn't have a modern flair in either fabric or design, I love the vivid colors and was/am pleasantly pleased with the final results. I also learned with this quilt that quilting by checkbook suits me best.  ;)

How do you organize your fabric stash?

I started by organizing my fabrics in clear bins by color.  I found though that I was constantly wasting time going through bins to get what I needed.

So then I got these bookshelves off our local freecycle.  Yes!  They were free!  YIPEE!!  Then I started putting colors in bins and wrapping larger yardage fabrics on comic book boards to display on the shelves.   With a few sets groups by projects.

This worked for awhile until my fabric addiction and my project wish list got out of control.  LOL!  I currently organize the bolus of my fabric by project or group by color; I have a lot of "future" projects!  This way of organizing my fabric has worked very well for me this year. 

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?

I don't really have a favorite designer.  I purchase fabric that I like.  I have three groups in my stash right now that I cannot wait to work with --  Denyse Schmidt, Kate & Birdie Paper Company, Carolyn Friendlander.

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?

I wish I had learned how to use my sewing machine before I started sewing.  I am self taught.  When I first started, I didn't understand how to use stitch length and tension correctly.  How to correctly measure a 1/4" was probably the second thing.

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?

I have to say my machine, my rotary cutter and of course, my trusty seam ripper are my tools of choice.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.)

WOW!  This is a tough question.  I have read a lot of books and seen a many movies over the years, but it's hard to pinpoint one character.  I guess I'd have to say Mary Poppins.  She is creative and loving to the children in her care, while having friends in the community across various walks of life.  Kind of emulates my life a bit.

October's Tutorial

WOW!  This was really hard to select one block pattern.  I started off the year thinking I would do one pattern, but completely changed my mind as the end of year approaches.  I have totally LOVED scrappy quilts of late, and have been enjoying using my scraps to make various gifts and bee blocks.

I am choosing Elizabeth Hartman's Knee Socks Quilt Block, the scrappy version.  The tutorial is here and here.

Photo from Elizabeth Hartman's tutorial; didn't get a chance to make my version.
I'll try and update with mine shortly. ;)

I am asking that the background fabric be white, and that for the scrappy pieces there be no pink, no purple, and no brown, please.  Bright, modern fabrics, with minimal flowers would be great.  Because this block is 24.5 x 24.5 unfinished, one will be fine; but if you'd like to make a second, it will be used. ;)  I know this is a large block, but it really doesn't take a ton of fabric, and I am hoping you can use up your scraps. 

This quilt will be for ME!  Yeah!  I won't be putting it all together until January, so please forward your block when you can.

Thanks Ladies!!!!!


Friday, September 26, 2014

Stash Bee FYI: Let's have fun!

With sign-ups opening on October 9th, I thought it would be worthwhile to explain some of the aspects of the Stash Bee to those who have not participated previously but are interested in signing up for 2015. These posts will all be linked on our Rules and FAQ pages. If you have questions, please leave them as comments on any of this week's posts and I will do a question round-up post next week. -- Alison

Participating in any sort of bee should not be a drudgery! It should be an enjoyable process making blocks for others, getting to know a wider circle of quilters, and expanding our skill sets! This post is about keeping the process fun and everyone involved.

While it may seem strange, it seems as if participants who generally stay up to date with making their blocks have a much better experience than those who frequently wait to the last minute or fall behind on their blocks. Remember: the Stash Bee is an eleven month commitment! If you have questions about the time commitment, etc. please feel free to contact me (Alison -- before you sign up!

While we all already know that the quilting community is great, the Stash Bee is another great way to get to know other quilters and quilt bloggers. Communicate with your hives on a regular basis! Chat about more than just the blocks you're making. Post discussion threads in the Flickr group. See if other members of your guilds are participating! Make the effort to acknowledge life events in your hive-mates lives! Follow each other's blogs, instagrams, etc.!

To help facilitate us getting to know each other better, each month on the 25th, I will post a link-up for all Stash Bee participants to post what they are working on OTHER than their bee blocks! This is something brand new that I've decided to try in 2015 and I hope that it is a fun way for us to share with one another.

In the first round of the Stash Bee, there were often giveaways for those who had completed their blocks on time for a given month. I'd like to bring this practice back to reward those who make their blocks on time and/or make angel blocks for their hivemates. To do this, I am in need of sponsors. If you own a small quilting-related business (fabric shop, pattern shop, etc.) please let me know if you would be interested in donating anything as a giveaway item! Contact me at I'd prefer to promote the businesses of Stash Bee participants than to ask the typical quilt contest sponsors -- I know tons of people have small shops so I am hoping I get a lot of responses!

Missed some of our other Stash Bee FYI posts? Click over to the FAQ page!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stash Bee FYI: Picking a great bee block and writing a great tutorial

With sign-ups opening on October 9th, I thought it would be worthwhile to explain some of the aspects of the Stash Bee to those who have not participated previously but are interested in signing up for 2015. These posts will all be linked on our Rules and FAQ pages. If you have questions, please leave them as comments on any of this week's posts and I will do a question round-up post next week. -- Alison

Undoubtedly, one of the best parts of being in a bee is getting your turn as Queen. The process of picking out a bee block, on the other hand, can sometimes be nerve racking.

Remember the following restrictions:
The block can be no bigger than 16" square finished (16.5" square unfinished)
You can only request one block per hive mate
Blocks should take no longer than 1.5 hours to complete
Blocks do not require hive mates to purchase a specialty tool or pattern.
You may not request the use of a specific fabric unless you send out the fabric to your hive mates ahead of time

Here are a few pointers on picking blocks that might be helpful:
-Choose blocks that do not have to be exactly the same to fit in a quilt
-Choose blocks that can be sashed together to help with easing and differences in block size
-Choose blocks that are paper pieced to ensure accuracy in size.
-Choose blocks without a size requirement
-Allow each hive member to choose their own block of a particular size so that it suits their skill level

Testing your block is a hugely important step in the process of picking a block and putting together the tutorial. It will help you troubleshoot any issues and you might even come up with an easier way to do some steps! I found it helpful to make one block completely and then use the second block that I made to take my pictures and write the tutorial because then I had a better idea when to take pictures.

I know that some participants have never put together a tutorial before and it might seem like a big task, but don't be discouraged!

You must include the following in your tutorial:
Color inspiration photo of some sort: fabric pull, designseeds picture, mosaic, etc.
Cutting directions/sizes
Written description of steps needed to complete the block
Various pictures of the block in progress to expand on written steps
Finished picture of block

Most of the previous tutorials here in 2014 have been great -- look back through the archives and check them out! Lots of pictures are helpful and so are links to other tutorials if you are using a technique that you are unsure if your hive mates have used before or not. Remember, you aren't required to design a block from scratch -- use other tutorials to guide you in how to put yours together. If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask your Hive Mama.

Here's a great example of a tutorial post from 2014 for a block that a participant designed herself! Hive 3 2014 -- Afton -- Focal Star

Here is a great example of someone who used a tutorial from another blog, but included her own explanation in her blog post: Hive 7 2014 -- Audrey -- Weathervane

Looking forward to sign ups coming up in less than two weeks!

Missed some of our other Stash Bee FYI posts? Click over to the FAQ page!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stash Bee FYI: Making fabric choices -- quality, color, style

With sign-ups opening on October 9th, I thought it would be worthwhile to explain some of the aspects of the Stash Bee to those who have not participated previously but are interested in signing up for 2015. These posts will all be linked on our Rules and FAQ pages. If you have questions, please leave them as comments on any of this week's posts and I will do a question round-up post next week. -- Alison

One of the biggest complaints that participants have about the blocks that they receive is that someone used poor quality fabrics to create them. Often, people use the poor quality fabric they have on hand because it is the right color OR they purposefully buy discount fabric to save themselves money. I think the first happens more often than the second, but both occur, unfortunately.

How do you differentiate poor quality fabric from good quality fabric? Here's some helpful pointers.
1. Blocks made for the Stash Bee must be 100% cotton quilting fabric.
2. I would tend to trust anything that came from a shop that is dedicated to quilting fabric -- whether a local brick and mortar store or an online shop. Most of us know the "big brands" -- Moda, Free Spirit, Robert Kaufman, etc. -- that always provide high quality products so it is a  good idea to check who the manufacturer is when you're shopping online.
3. If the fabric comes from a craft store (JoAnn, Hancock, etc.) I would be rather wary and inspect the fabric before buying it and/or using it in a Stash Bee block.
4. Compare the feeling of fabric you know to be good quality fabric to what you're unsure of. Is it rough? Does it have a very low thread count? Does it seem extremely thin? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you might want to reconsider.

Another complaint from members is that their hive mates did not use the fabric styles that they requested to be used in their blocks. This is a sticky issue. First, hive mates should be following their Queen Bee's requests as closely as possible -- that's just good etiquette. However, as this is the Stash Bee, participants are not required to go out and purchase fabric to complete their blocks. If you feel the fabric in your stash doesn't closely match your Queen Bee's requests, then you should contact her and see how flexible she would be given your current stash. More than likely you can come up with a solution. For example, if Audrey is the Queen Bee and requests that we use a pink floral print for our blocks and I have no pink floral, the right thing to do is to tell Audrey my situation and see if there are any fabrics that I do have that might work.

Note: there will more than likely be a few times that you might have to buy fabric if your colors/styles aren't what the queen bee is looking for. If Sarah is the Queen Bee and requests that we make blocks that have purple in them and I have absolutely no purple in my stash, it would be the wrong thing to make her a blue block because it is "close enough". In this situation you could purchase purple fabric, ask the Queen Bee to send you some purple fabric, swap with a friend or guild mate for purple fabric, or request an angel block for that month (by the deadline, of course!).

The following is a brief list of some common styles of fabric in the quilting world that people sometimes have strong feelings for or against but in no way is a complete list. The purpose of this list is to educate anyone who is new to the quilting world and may be unfamiliar with all of these terms. Your queen bee will tell you what types of fabric to use and what types to avoid. Use your best judgement when picking fabrics from your stash for the blocks that you will make and err on the side of caution when necessary.

Batik: Batik fabric is made from a repeated process of dying and using wax as a resist on fabric. Batik fabrics often have patterns that look mottled, may incorporate floral or botanical motifs, as well as what I would call "tribal" type prints.

Civil War: Civil War fabrics are fabrics that reproduce patterns and prints that would have been popular during the 1850s-1870s in the USA. Often times these are somewhat darker fabrics, often using paisley and other florish type motifs. White backgrounds are not often found with civil war fabrics. A modern designer that produces Civil War style fabrics is Barbara Brackman.

1930s: This type of fabric is often bright and use white much more significantly than Civil War style fabrics. Many 1930s prints are small scale florals or geometric prints-- 1930s fabrics don't often incorporate very large scale prints, unlike many modern designers.

Holiday: This is rather self explanatory -- holiday fabrics have motifs that recognize a particular holiday. Unless your queen bee specifically permits or requests holiday fabrics for her blocks, you should not be using holiday fabrics.

Novelty: Novelty and holiday fabrics often go hand in hand. Novelty fabrics are not usually subtle. They often have characters, animals, people, fruits, vegetables, specific careers, sports teams, etc. etc. etc. These should be avoided as well unless your Queen Bee requests them.

Florals: have flowers and botanical motifs -- pretty self explanatory.

Text Prints: have words/letters on them -- again, self explanatory.

Tone on tone prints: patterned prints that often look like a solid at a distance or if you would squint. Often referred to as "blender" fabrics.

Remember that when it comes your turn to be Queen Bee you are NOT allowed to ask for your hive mates to use a particular brand and color of fabric to complete your blocks. For example, you may ask your hive to use a white background, but you may not ask everyone to use Kona White. If you desire to have all of your blocks to have identical background fabric you have the option to send out fabric to each one of your hive mates to use in completing the block. You are also not permitted to ask for a particular designer or line. You are more than welcome to reference fabric lines for your color palette but you are not allowed to request that hive mates use fabric from it.

Missed some of our other Stash Bee FYI posts? Click over to the FAQ page!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stash Bee FYI: Block construction, quality, and style

With sign-ups opening on October 9th, I thought it would be worthwhile to explain some of the aspects of the Stash Bee to those who have not participated previously but are interested in signing up for 2015. These posts will all be linked on our Rules and FAQ pages. If you have questions, please leave them as comments on any of this week's posts and I will do a question round-up post next week. -- Alison

What kind of blocks can I expect to make in the Stash Bee?
The short answer is anything and everything!

The current Stash Bee rules allow the Queen Bees to pick any block for their hive mates to make that fits the following parameters:

  • One block can be completed in 1.5 hours

  • The block does not require the purchase of specialty tools/supplies unless provided by the Queen

  • The block is smaller than or equal to 16" finished
Here's a quick look at all of the Stash Bee blocks that I have made from November 2012 to August 2014.

I've made precisely pieced blocks, foundation paper pieced blocks, string blocks, applique blocks, wonky freeform blocks, and some in between.

One of the best things about the Stash Bee is the potential to learn new techniques and push yourself as a quilter. And even if the block requested by the Queen bee that month is too modern or too traditional for your tastes, it is always good to go out of your comfort zone and test the waters. You will more than likely encounter blocks that are difficult for you in the Stash Bee. I had never done machine applique before I joined the stash bee nor had I ever made anything remotely wonky (GASP!) and now I enjoy both!

Most months, the Queen Bee will have chosen a specific block in a specific color palette that she would like you to make. Other months the Queen bee may be more general with her request -- for example, she may give you a color palette and request that you make any star block of your choosing.

I'd like to also point out that the vast majority of these blocks were made entirely from my stash and scrap bin and that I have rarely felt the need to go out and purchase additional fabrics. On occasion I have, but this is not the norm for me as I have a rather large scrap stash to work from most of the time. You are not required to go out and purchase additional fabric for your blocks as this is the Stash Bee BUT you should do your absolute best to adhere to the fabric color and fabric style requests given by your Queen Bee.

One of the reasons why I encourage everyone to read and review tutorials early in the month is so that you have time to troubleshoot if necessary. Encountering a new technique does not permit you to send a poorly constructed block to a Queen Bee. Take the time to make a test block (or at least test the technique) if you have any hesitations. There are tutorials on YouTube and quilting blogs for every technique imaginable!

Remember your good sewing techniques -- making bee blocks for others is not a place for haphazard sewing, cutting, measuring, etc. Many blocks will require an accurate (or scant) 1/4" seam and/or seam matching to obtain a properly sized and properly constructed block. These are basic quilting skills that no one, even master quilters, should take for granted. I know when we are making things for ourselves we might judge things to be “close enough” but please remember to be sending your best work to your Queen Bees. This is not to say one must rip out a seam and resew it to perfection, but pinning and/or glue basting may be necessary even if it pains us to do so. Your Queen Bees will thank you and return the favor!

If you have any questions or concerns, please comment below! 

Missed some of our other Stash Bee FYI posts? Click over to the FAQ page!