Bee Blocks – tips and tricks

Learn to make a quilt

I have been putting the blocks from the Virtual Quilting Bee up on my design wall as they have been coming it. It’s so fun to see them all together, as well as to be able to see the variations in the block designs depending on the different colors used. It’s going to be fun to put these different quilts together!

Here is what I made for my Block #7.

Because I like experimenting (okay, really because I’m lazy) I decided to try and strip-piece the pieced striped units. So I cut the middle strip 1 1/2″ x 14″ and the two outside strips 1″ x 14″. (Actually, it’s a good idea to cut them a little longer than the 14″ so that you have some wiggle-room for squaring-off the ends. Don’t forget to use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance when piecing quilt blocks!

Then cut the units into 3 1/2″ lengths and voila: four units done at once! Just an option.

Another little reminder about matching up points: pinning can make a big difference – especially in blocks with small pieces! Put in a pin at the corners to match your points and hold them in place. If one of the pieces is slightly longer than the other side, run the longer side through the machine on the bottom. The feed dogs will help to ease the bigger piece of fabric through the machine without creating any tucks.

I’m also feeling pleased with myself because I was able to complete a couple of the Double-Wedding Ring ‘melons’ for Calli’s quilt.  
I’ve always been a little (okay, a lot) intimidated by a Double-Wedding Ring pattern. I’m still a little tentative with curves, but I’m starting to get a little better at them. I need to remember to just try, for crying out loud. It’s only fabric. (Did I really just say that?) I should just practice until I more confidence. But I think these will do for now. Calli is using Aneela Hoey’s Pickledish tutorial for this quilt.

And finally, a tale of quilt-block woe. Last December when I put together this sampler quilt, I realized afterward that I hadn’t included one of the blocks I’d made for it. I assumed it was just buried in the hazardous waste zone that has become my sewing storage space and would turn up eventually. Well the other night I was in the yard cleaning and weeding and found something blown under a shrub. Imagine my surprise when it was the missing quilt block! (You can see it in it’s original glory at the bottom of this post.)

Poor little block spent the winter trying to find shelter from the elements. The only thing I can figure is that when I took all the blocks outside to get photographed sometime last fall, this one escaped without my notice. That’ll teach it for trying to pull a runner!

Post edit: Someone on FB asked about the tutorial for this block. It is here: http://www.quiltdad.com/2012/01/bloggers-bom-block-5.html

By the way – I have loved reading the Quilting Life comments! Thank you for taking the time to write them. (I wish summer vacation allowed me more time to respond to them individually.) It’s fun to feel the common bonds that run through quilt-y folks.

One quick Public Service Announcement. I’ve been asked to teach a class at a fun new quilting retreat here in Utah next winter called Quilt Bliss. There is a great line-up of teachers, trunk-shows and lectures by Sherri McConnell and Sarah Jane Wright! Tickets went on sale yesterday and spaces are very limited – this is a smallish retreat. You can find our more by visiting the Quilt Bliss site.

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  • Reply
    June 12, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Poor block. :(<br />Those Bee blocks are looking fantastic!

  • Reply
    Muzikal Mama
    June 13, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Love your take on what happened to the poor little block! Also love the melons, and I need to create a design wall for myself! Someday…<br />

  • Reply
    June 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I think you can now put together a new tutorial: &quot;How to make your new blocks into antique heirlooms&quot;. Step 1: put under hedge, Step 2: wait for Winter, Spring, Summer, then rescue! JJ

    • Reply
      amy smart
      June 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      Haha! Yes! Why didn&#39;t I think of that! I could even sell the instructions. 🙂

  • Reply
    Karrie Smith
    June 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    What kind of fabric are you using for the the double wedding rings &quot;melons&quot;?

    • Reply
      amy smart
      June 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      I think they are mostly 1930&#39;s feedsack reproduction prints. Most of them are probably pulled from Calli&#39;s stash.<br />

  • Reply
    June 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    I&#39;m still playing catch-up with the bee blocks so it&#39;s great to see them all together, gives me an idea of how far I&#39;ve still got to go! I think your melons are gorgeous (?!)- doesn&#39;t look like you need much practice to me!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Hehe, when I saw the picture of that quilt block appear in my Facebook newsfeed, I quickly thought &quot;gosh, doesn&#39;t she realise that block looks so dirty!&quot;. 😉 LOL<br />Such a shame he escaped outside, too pretty to get so dirty!<br />Love the rest of your blocks.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

  • Reply
    Melissa at My Fabric Relish
    June 13, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    I cant wait to see all the finished quilts, too! OH, and this girl got a ticket to go to quilt bliss! My first retreat and cant hardly wait!

  • Reply
    June 14, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Oooh — how pretty those bee blocks are! I&#39;ve had so much going on (between baseball games and kids out of school and other projects), I honestly felt no need to do this virtual bee, but that first picture motivated me to do it!

  • Reply
    Calli Makes Do
    June 19, 2013 at 7:37 am

    I love seeing the &quot;runner&quot;, it was such a pretty block too! I can&#39;t help but wonder if it could possibly be washed, and made into an antique reproduction ; )? Thank you making two such lovely blocks for me! I love your additions! I can&#39;t wait to see them in the quilt. The blocks from the Virtual Bee are coming together so nicely too!

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    Bee Blocks

    In 2010 I participated in my first online Bee. November was my month and since I was by now well familiar with the talents and creativity of my fellow-bee-people I cut into my beloved American Jane and MoMO stash and asked them to make me some modern improv log cabin blocks.  (I feel like I’m still too much of a ‘rules-nerd’ to make great improv blocks – but these quilters are rock stars at it.)

     It has been so much fun having the blocks roll in.
    The are all fabulous.

    I’m planning to use them to make a BIG quilt with a lot more white sashing and spacing in between, but you can kind of get the idea on my design wall. (Which, by the way, I’m making so much progress in my sewing space. Not only did I finally hang my hoops, I finally hung a “design wall” – or a good piece of flannel type material that you can stick blocks on. I love it!  Maybe one day I won’t even have to kick piles out of the way before I take pictures in there! Baby steps. . .)

    Here’s a close-up of a few more. (I’m not thrilled with the pictures – they don’t do them justice – it’s such a pain to get good pictures this time of year.) I love looking at each one. Thank you again talented friends!

    Finally, here’s another block from the Bee for Michelle from way back in October. (Which I didn’t actually finish until November, but still had never posted.)  Michelle asked us to make these Dresden blocks and sent the prettiest fabrics. I loved it! Can’t wait to see these quilts come together. It has been fun to play with other people’s fabric and try blocks I may never have made on my own. And I’m so excited to finish mine – but until then, I’ll enjoy looking at all the blocks on my wall. 🙂

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  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 10:33 am

    They turned out so pretty! I can&#39;t wait to see it finished. <br /><br />Also, I love your design wall! Hanging it with eyelets is such a great idea. That way you can change it out if you switch projects. Exactly how did you hang it? I&#39;d live to do the same.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I absolutely love those blocks… the colors are so striking.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 11:16 am

    That is going to be a beautiful quilt when you are finished! I can&#39;t wait to see it.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I signed up for my quilting class! It starts Mid-February and I can&#39;t wait to learn all the basics of quilting so that someday I can participate in one of the Bee projects!<br />Biz<br />http://busybizblogs.blogspot.com/

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Those blocks are awesome!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    They&#39;re lovely blocks! It looks like you had a lot of fun…I should look into a bee sometime myself!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    What a beautiful combo of fabrics!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    That looks so pretty!

  • Reply
    a little bit biased
    January 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    That sounds so fun! I&#39;ve never joined a bee before, but it sounds like a blast! Can&#39;t wait to see your finished quilt!

  • Reply
    live a colorful life
    January 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Fabulous bee blocks! I have one of those design walls too. I&#39;m going to put some cup hooks on top of the armoire in my quilting room and hang it from there because I just don&#39;t have the wall space. (thanks for reminding me that I have it around somewhere–I had kinda forgotten about it…)

  • Reply
    Nancy H.
    January 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I love your blog and I love, love, love all of your quilts. Do you think you could come over one day and show me how to quilt? I want to learn so badly, and I would make cookies too!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    All the blocks look great together! I love seeing everybody else&#39;s blocks, too.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Those are such cheerful and bright blocks! I love them!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Such a great mix of colors in those blocks. I can&#39;t wait to see how you put it together!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Really great! I am interested to see it when it is done.

  • Reply
    em's scrapbag
    January 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Your bee blocks look fabulous. Aren&#39;t bee&#39;s so much fun.

  • Reply
    Dresden Quilter
    January 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I love all of the blocks. Thank you so much for making mine. It is so beautiful.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Those blocks are beautiful! I want to make a quilt for my son&#39;s teacher, she is due in April, and I was wondering if you had any ideas for a simple pattern. I have only made one quilt in my life and that was like 15 years ago! Any tips would be appreciated. I&#39;ve got to look back and all the awesome quilts you have made. Also, how much does it cost to have it quilted?

  • Reply
    January 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I love your design wall!! Can&#39;t wait to see how all the blocks come together. Great inspiration to get back in my quilt room after baby! Thanks

  • Reply
    Cherie's Sewing Corner
    January 21, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I love your quilts. Thanks for sharing

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    Bee Blocks

     A few recent Bee Blocks that I never posted.
    These spiderweb blocks are for Natalie of Beyond the Reef. I’ve always wanted to try the spider web block. My work is not perfect (sorry to be your guinea pig, Natalie).  Part of my defense is that I was blinded by her amazing choice of fabrics. Lots of Denyse Schmidt, a little Joel Dewberry – and they all looked so cool with that charcoal gray to set them off!  You can see some of the blocks assembled here.
    This quilt-as-you-go block is for Erica of Crafty Blossom.  Again, my first time trying a new technique I’ve been eyeing and admiring for a while now. This is based on Penny’s Quilt-as-you-go tutorial, which is great. Erica sent lots of vintage fabrics which also made it very fun.  I even added a small piece of my own vintage fabric find. Can you spot it?
    I think every bee block I’ve done has been a total pleasure.  I’ve tried blocks that I’ve had my eye on without having to commit to a whole quilt. And I got to play with other people’s cool fabric.  My month is coming up in November. Which means I need to finally decide what I want to do. Clearly I have commitment issues.
    PS If you want to see other quilt-as-you-go awesomeness check out Heather at Alamodefabric.

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  • Reply
    Amy - Amy's Creative Side
    September 25, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Fun blocks! I love bees – I&#39;ve missed them this year.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    I am making quilts with both of these blocks and am having a lot of fun in the process. Your blocks look so great Amy!

  • Reply
    September 26, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I love seeing the bee blocks!

  • Reply
    Rebecca Johnson
    September 26, 2010 at 5:14 am

    I LOVE your spiderweb blocks..they look great!! xx and congrats on your new quilt pattern! xx

  • Reply
    Aunt Spicy
    September 26, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Ohhhh, all of those blocks look amazing! I loving seeing new color combinations!

  • Reply
    September 26, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Your spider web quilt blocks are fun! The quilt as you go quilt-along looks fun. I am still catching up on some other quilt alongs, so I told myself that I can&#39;t start any others! Your blocks look great 🙂

  • Reply
    Lady Rosien
    June 12, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I am at the end of blog hopping to look at the Dresden projects. Can&#39;t wait to see yours. Meanwhile I was drawn to this post by the picture of the spiderweb block. I, too, recently made my first spiderweb. It&#39;s fun and I would not worry about matching seams one bit. Mine came out amazingly wonky cute and I made a beach bag – tote out of it. I will try to send a pic of that to you. Not

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