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!

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