Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hive 7 June Block Tutorial

Happy June, bee mates!

I'm Carly (also known as CitricSugar) and I will be your queen for this month, which is a really odd thing to type...  I am a teacher, a member of Saskatoon Quilters' Guild and co-chair of Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild. I use quilting to relax, though it seems to keep me awfully busy!  I'm also a rabid hockey fan. Everyone in both my guilds would probably mention that since I've been caught streaming games at meetings on more than one occasion...

Where do you live?   I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - the prettiest city on the Canadian prairies, hometown of Joni Mitchell. Home of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve. If you look up Saskatoon on a map of Canada, you'll see why that's funny.

Tell us about your family.  They're wonderful - mum, dad, my sister and her husband, and my best bud in the whole world, my 3-year-old nephew. They all live in the city here so we spend a lot of time together.  My nephew frequently sits on my lap to "sew" with me - he picks out scraps and then we whack 'em together improv-style.
This is my first bee quilt - made last year in Simply Solids.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting. I found an old quilting magazine/book when I was about ten and decided I wanted to make one. It turned out terribly because I cut my pieces all wonky (before rotary cutters and my sense of accuracy) but I was proud anyway.  Didn't make another until I discovered a machine quilting book at 19 and realized we already had a mat and cutter! Woot, woot! I made one or two over the years after that, not really get heavy into until about 5 years ago when I discovered the blog realm and new fabrics started popping up in my local shop. There's no stopping me now!

How do you organize your fabric stash?  My sewing space gets upset frequently (especially when facing renos this past year) and therefore, my stash has to be fairly portable and protected from dust, leaving me little alternative to plastic bins. Beyond that, I have it parcelled out so that I can find just what I need.

Yardage (FQ and larger) is on mini-bolts (com in book boards) and separated into prints and solids, then loosely arranged by type, then colour.  Then large scraps are folded and sorted by colour.  Strings have they're own box and then all my little(r) scraps are in hanging file folders.
My blue bin runneth over!
I love  them!  I keep them all in the same boxes but the colours stay separate. I can remove a whole colour at once just by taking out the "file" and easily see through the box sides to find what I'm looking for.

Please don't worry about all that fabric sitting in the sunlight! Photo was taken before the blinds arrived. :-)  (and spring, for that matter....)

Who is/are your favourite fabric designers? Hmmm. I tend to gravitate more to the designs themselves rather than the designers, who rotate through my list of loves quite frequently. However, Carolyn Friedlander seems to be rocking my socks lately so...

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting? The importance of and how to get an accurate 1/4" seam (on a machine with a fixed needle position), and that it should be scant. Or that fabrics feed differently top and bottom and how to deal with that (before walking feet). Those things I learned the hard way.

What is your favourite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?   Honestly, the camera on my phone has been invaluable.  I take pictures of inspiration, possible block layouts, reference photos (in case I accidentally rotate a pile when moving from design wall (floor) to sewing table - or worse - drop it!), and even checking value and contrast by snapping a photo in black and white.  It's always in my pocket, too.

Who is my favourite fictional character and why?  This is an impossible question for me.  I have a degree in theatre, a degree in education, a dvd collection that is too big for my space, and I cannot leave a bookstore empty handed.  So. All of them?  Does that count?  No? Okay. Cumberbatch's Sherlock, then.

Onto the block!  After consulting with our hive mama, I've chosen improv blocks for this month. Please don't panic.


Colour palate and fabrics:

  • One medium or dark value coral pink or salmon square anywhere between 3 and 6 inches. (I used a shot cotton, pink shot with orange from Robert Kaufmann, I think). A print is fine as long as it reads strongly as salmony pink.
  • Scraps or small yardage in low-volume taupes, greys, pinks, whites, creams. The scrappier the better.


  • Use strips, rectangles and squares.  Wonky WORKS so don't stress about having squared angles, but no strong curves or triangle shapes please.
  • If you have a mix of fabrics, rock on!  I've got linen, cotton, voile, batik, shots and a little bit of canvas in my block. It will all work.  If you don't have any, don't worry - that's okay, too! I"m also cool if you have a pretty little selvedge you want to throw in.  
  • Novelty prints are allowed - just use them sparingly as opposed to a giant chunk.
  • Blocks can be trimmed to either 12.5" or 15.5" square.  It will help with making the quilt cohesive if I have a mix of sizes so go with what's working for you!
  • Don't be too precious or fussy with it - have fun!  Some people are really intimidated by improv but rest assured, I've done all the hard part with choosing the palate and the guidelines. Your block will be beautiful and I can't wait to see it!


This block is improv-pieced, meaning you will make it up as you go along.  This also means you don't have to worry about squared corners, a perfect 1/4" seam, measuring (until you trim up) or misreading a pattern!  It is easier to start with pressing seams open for the most part but as the block ends up with more seams, you can press to the side of least resistance.

Start with your pink square and grab your scraps.  Whack some pieces together and play until you have fabric chunks.

Then add more scraps to your chunks and start fitting them together like puzzle pieces.

I used mostly scraps but some yardage in my blocks.  To get "scraps" from the yardage, I just hacked off a strip or chunk from the fat quarter and then trimmed it roughly to fit my pieces.

Once you've got a big enough piece of combined scraps, trim it to block size!  Either 12.5" or 15.5" - it doesn't matter to me which one you choose; it will all work out in the end!

Thanks so much,  folks!  I hope you enjoy putting these together, especially if it's a little out of your comfort zone. Let me know if you have any questions or issues!

1 comment:

DaisyLiz said...

Wow. I was just scrolling through this month's tutorials, and I LOVE this plan. This is going to be a great quilt!