Back with some Bee blocks

This week I managed to get some Bee blocks done in between work and another cold.  I must admit I love making Bee blocks like this one…

bee-block-2

 

Blocks that are more complex and use small 2 inch squares and lots of scrap pieces…. blocks that I would love to see a quilt made out of but do not have the patience to make 20 or 30 of them for a whole quilt.

bee-block-1

These blocks are perfect for a quilting Bee because you share the quilting load… making two blocks each makes the quilt manageable.  This block is called Scrap Jar Star and you can find the free pattern on A Little Bit Biased’s website.  It was just what I needed to kick start my creativity this month.

A Bee Block for July…

So June has been a crazy month.  If you want to know what I have been up to you can check out this post by Living Room Real Estate… here is a hint… it involves fabric and kids…

modern-domestic-fabric-portland-7

But in between classes I have manged to get some sewing done… and have spent my precious free hours this week finishing my Quilts for Pulse quilt top (which I will blog this week I promise) and testing blocks for the Do Good Stitches bee.  This month I am setting the block for the group and I finally decided on this beauty…

flower block

The pattern is a free pattern from Cloud Nine called The Amsterdam Quilt.
The pattern is for 12 of these flowers but I need my Bee members to make just two of the flowers, so I have broken down the pattern to outline making just one flower so here goes…

fabric for one block

For one flower you will need:

Two (2) x 4 1/2 inch squares for the top of the flower
One (1) x 4 1/2 inch by 8 1/2 inch rectangle for the bottom of the flower
Two (2) x 5 inch green squares for the leaves
Two (2) x 5 inch squares of white for the background
Two (2) x 2 1/2 inch white squares for the flower top
Two (2) x 2 inch white squares for the bottom edges of the flower
One (1) x 1 inch by 8 inch brown rectangle for the stem

Construction is pretty simple.  I started by marking a diagonal line down the middle of all the white squares using my trusty Frixon pen…

line marking

The squares will form the corners of the flower top and bottom.  You need to make sure that you are making a mirror image when you sew them to the flower top pieces and the bottom section…

mirror image

I then sewed down my marked line..actually I sew just a hairs width on the outside of the line as it seems to give me a more accurate corner…

corners

The top piece is then completed by sewing the two 4 1/2 inch squares together to create a white V in the center of the top…

flower top

I then used the same technique to sew the 2 inch squares to the bottom of the flower section..  Then onto the leaves, where you are making four (4) half square triangles using the green and white 5 inch squares…

trim leaves

There is quite a bit of wiggle room with the HST’s so you can easily trim them to  4 1/4 inches square.

leave construction

You end up with four half square triangles that are then sewn together to make the leave sections..  The flower pieces then go together quickly and easily, as per the instruction sheet.

For my Bee flowers I have requested bright/jewel coloured flowers.  I want the flowers to be bright and happy and I have limited each flower to one busy novelty print and one more graphic colour as I did not want the flowers to be too insane… it was hard as I love my novelty prints but top and bottom busy novelty prints was just a little too much for even me!

finihsed flower blocks

I think this is going to be an fabulously bright and cheerful quilt when done.  I love how easy to make these blocks were…and just warning they are a little addictive.

Playing with small curves….

On a whim yesterday, I decided to play with a fabric die cut machine a friend has lent me.  I have never used one of these machines before but it seemed like a fun thing to use scraps on… so I grabbed some of my Cotton and Steel scraps and started cutting…

I decided to play with the Drunkards Path die that came with the machine, because it seemed like a great way to make these blocks, as the die cuts both pieces the perfect size….as opposed to the ruler method I have used in the past which leaves you with scrap pieces that are either to small or two big to use.

cut pieces

Anyway some ironing and cutting and an episode of Game of Thrones later I had a pile of curved block pieces….

cuttingNow these pieces make a 3 1/2 inch curved block for a 7 inch finished circle… in other words they are small.  The first thing I have learned with this project is that the smaller the curve you are trying to piece the harder it is to be accurate.  After some struggles aligning the pieces accurately I finally came up with a solution… glue basting.

glue baste 2

Using my Sewline glue pen I glued around the seam line of one of the pieces of the block…

pieces

Placed the pieces together, using the notch to align and then carefully finger pressed the pieces together…

press together

It worked like a charm and another episode of Game of Thrones later (we are just finishing up Season 5 so are a little behind)… I had a nice pile of glue basted…

glue basteNow all I have to do sew them… the glue basting will make chain piecing a breeze…

sewing

 

And I will have my block pieces done and ready for me to play with layout….

block layout

I am glad I decided to try the die cut curves… I have learned a lot including the fact that I like my curves big….much bigger than 4 inches….

Wonky Circles tutorial

February is my month again to set the block for my Do Good Stitches Circle.  After setting some more precision based blocks for my last two times out, I decided to go the wonky route this month…

finished wonky circle block

Yep I am asking my fellow Bee mates to make some wonky circles using a low volume palette.  To help out I am taking them (and you) step by step through the process to make two 12 inch blocks, starting with fabric selection.

For each block segment you will need two fabrics that have a small amount of contrast in them.   My colour scheme for this quilt is warm so I am using yellow, apricot, pink and a touch of grey.  For my fabric pull I went with predominantly cream and white background fabrics…

low volume background fabrics

and for the contrasting fabric I choose more solid low volume fabrics…

darker lv fabric pull

For each block you need 8 different fabric – four light and four darker (note: you actually get two different finished blocks from this process).  I selected my eight fabrics in pairs, making sure that there was a contrast between each pair.  If you are not sure how the fabrics are reading against each other you can always use the black and white setting on your camera or phone to see how things look…

bw block

Now for the fun part…making the blocks.

Step 1.  Cut out eight 7 1/2 inch squares from each selected fabric…  Take two of your contrasting fabric squares and align them on top of each other.

align two squares

Step 2.  Using your rotary cutter, cut a curve shape out of your squares… making sure that you leave at least an inch or so between your curve and the edge of your block.

wonky curve cut

Step 3.  Because you cut the two pieces of fabric together your background and center curve pieces should match exactly, no matter how wonky the curve you cut is.

Put together one of your fabrics as the background and the other as the center curve, making sure that they are as closely aligned on your cutting mat as you can get them.

Take a ruler and place it corner to corner across your block pieces.

find center of block

Step 4.  Using a chalk pencil or Frixon marker, mark the center of the block, making sure your mark across both pieces of fabric.

mark center of block

Step 5.  Place your pieces of fabric face together, using the center mark to align the pieces…

center mark

Step 6.  Pin your two pieces of fabric together at this center point… your fabrics should still be face together and the bottom corners of the block should be roughly aligned.

pin center of block

Step 7.  To sew the pieces together, begin at the center part of the block… where you have pinned.  I put my machine foot down on pin, remove the pin, lower my needle manually and I am ready to sew.

start of curved piecing

Step 8.  Slowly sew from the center point out to one edge of the circle block, nudging fabric into alignment as you go.  The fabric may not want to lay flat and that is okay… just try to avoid sewing creases into the block.

Note:  I always sew with my machine in the needle down position, as it allows me to stop and adjust the block pieces as needed, without the risk of anything slipping or moving.

 

sew curve

Step 9.  As you are sewing you will notice the block ends do not align, this is okay…do not panic.

finishing the curve

Step 10.  When you have come to the end of the block, lift your needle, cut your thread and re-position your block back in the center, this time sewing the half of the block you have not done.

center of curve

Step 11.  Your block segment is now ready for pressing… an important step because it will not be laying flat at all and you will have to iron it into submission…

sewn block piece

Step 12.    When pressing my block I press my seams first from the back side of the block…… and then press the front side of the block, making sure that my curve is sitting as flat as I can get it.

Note:  When pressing the block I always use starch as it helps persuade the fabric to do what I need it to do.

press block piece

Step 13.  The block piece is now ready to trim down 6 1/2 inches… you should have a bit of wiggle room with this block to trim a little off kilter, or with more background or more circle, depending on what you want to do.

trim block

Step 14.  Repeat the process until you have all segments of your blocks done.  For each colour pairing you make you will end up with two blocks….

block pieces

For my Bee blocks I am asking for two (2) 12 1/2 inch unfinished blocks…. laid out with alternating light and dark circle pieces.

blocks layout

What I love about this colour palette is that it compliments the wonky so well… the mismatch, strange curves are subtle, there are no stark contrasts drawing your attention to the off kilter shapes.   I think this is going to be a charming quilt when done.

A fun Bee block…

This month I am the designated Quilter for my Do.Good.Stitches group….which means I get to set the block for the month that my other Bee members will be making.  My recent down time allowed me to paw over quilting books for hours uninterrupted which was a wonderful pleasure…and one of the patterns I found in an old quilting book was this block called Homeward Bound…

finished blue cross block

The finished block is 12 inches square (12 ½ unfinished) and is pretty simple to put together… all you need is…

block dimensions

Four (4) 3 ½ x 3 ½ squares for the outer fabric (grey)

Four (4) 3 ½ x 5 inch rectangles of the cross fabric (electric blue)

One (1) 3 ½ x 3 ½ inch square of the center fabric (light blue)

Four (4) 2 x 5 inch strips of sashing (white)

Four (4) 2 x 3 ½ strips of sashing (white).

You can see above how I pieced the block together in segments which made for quick and accurate assembly.  It is a fun block and I love the overall patterns these blocks are going to make…

cross wip

I can not wait to get all the blocks in… it is going to be fun watching this quilt come together.

A fabulous little Bee Block

It has been a while since I posted any of the Do Good Stitches quilt blocks I have been making.  Every month I make blocks as part of this charity Bee and I love it.  I look forward to the first of the month when the new pattern is put up on our Flickr Group and I always eagerly make the blocks.  I love being challenged to make things that I would not usually make in colour schemes I may not necessarily think to put together.

Twice a year I get to be the Queen and set the block and in June I choose this block and colour scheme for my month….

scrappy star block

The block is from a free pattern by Clover and Violet which they originally put up as part of a Christmas quilt they were making.  The colour tweaks I made changed how the finished block looks and made for a striking quilt top…

Do Good Stitches scrappy star quilt

I love how the yellow strings make a grid pattern and the stars just pop.  Each of my fellow Do Good Bee members made two blocks, so there is so much variety in the stars, which I LOVE.

quilt top detail 2

One of my favorite bits about being Queen Bee is getting to see all the blocks as they come in and ohh and ahh over the fabric used (I may have a bit of stash envy!).

quilt top detail

When these blocks came in I absolutely fell in love with the Barbar fabric one of my fellow quilters used…

barbar fabric

I have not seen this fabric before and am now obsessed with getting my hands on some.  It is so fabulous.  This quilt top is now awaiting quilting and binding and then it will go out into the world to Do Good!  I am Queen again in November and I have already started planning what block I am going to set.