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.

The silence…

Not long after I wrote my last blog post a funny thing happened… I bumped my head.  At the time it smarted and I felt a little weird but I continued on with my day.  By that evening I knew that something was not right.

I managed to hit my head in a strange place and a little harder than I thought and as a consequence I gave myself a severe concussion.  Now this was not my first head injury… many years ago I managed to knock my head about quite badly in a car accident.  My recent concussion, as a second injury, has been more severe and lasted longer.

So for the last couple of weeks I have been struggling. For 10 days I did not watch or listen to anything…. that was hard slog and very very boring.  I am still being treated under what is termed “concussion protocol”. It has taken me a couple of weeks to get my words back… it is easier for my to type than to speak, but both hurt.  It really does seem as if the universe is conspiring against my efforts to blog… just saying….

Sick of being bored and feeling decidedly better, this week I dusted off the sewing machine and I started slowly trying to get back into it.  I can not sew for too long and can not do anything to complex (my butterflies are currently on hold).  Instead I grabbed my huge pile of mini charm squares (2 1/2 inch squares) and started playing.

concussion-block

I found the pattern for this block on the Fat Quarter Shop site.  They have a free pattern that you can print out called Sisters Choice… and you can find it here.  Their quilt is monochromatic and uses solids but it works just as well with prints and scraps I think.

So my design wall currently looks like this…

design-wall

…messy and chaotic, a little like my brain…but slowly it will get better… less chaotic… more succinct… but it will always be full of colour.

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….

Rethinking Brown

My slight disdain for the colour brown began when I was a kid in art class…when mixing paints it was all to easy to mix too many colours and end up with a dirty brown colour….  and it happened to me all to frequently.

You do not have the same problem when making quilts, but I was still resistant to using brown at all.  In traditional quilting brown has long been considered a neutral colour, but Modern Quilters on the whole tend to be wary of it.

Strangely though I have quite a bit of brown in my stash…not as much as I have pink or navy blue, but more than I should have.  I have also had a few brown scraps given to me over the years and at the end of last year my brown scraps hit critical mass… there was only one thing to do…

Brown Improv quilt

Yep I made a scrappy improv quilt using my brown scraps and a touch of orange… and it was an interesting experience.

Heather Ross fabric

I forgot how many fabulous fabrics Heather Ross has done in brown… I used her seahorses, butterflies, octopus and plants in this quilt.

quilt detail

On of my other favorite designers, Lizzy House, also has done some lovely browns… with mice and cats and of course my all time fav – Pearl Bracelets.

quilt detail 2

And in between all that novelty goodness is a eclectic collection of prints including a handful of batiks.

modern brown improv quilt

It was kind of fun to challenge myself to work mainly in brown… it made me rethink the colour.    The result was I came up with a few more brown colour combinations I want to play with including…

brown and teal

A red based brown with teal….

brown yellow pink

Brown, yellow and pink…

brown and blue

And the classic brown and baby blue (not dissimilar to one of this years Pantone colours).

So you have been warned that there may be more brown appearing in this feed.  So is there a colour you have in your stash that you avoid?

Quilt Details:

Quilt block:  Modern Improv
Fabric:  Various scraps
Quilt Size:  48 x 48 inches

Kelly’s Quilt in the spotlight…

In the continuing showcase of Portland Modern Quilt Guild’s charity quilts, today’s quilt is Kelly’s Quilt.

Kellys quilt

This bright, fun, scrappy improv quilt was made at our Guild’s March Charity Sew Day.  During the course of the day the group took a huge box of bright, kid friendly scraps and a handful of stray orphan blocks cut them up and turned it all into a pile of 12 inch blocks.

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The quilt got its name during the Sew Day when this block went up on the design wall…

Kellys block

Joy, one of our members commented that the girl in this block looked liked one of my fellow Board members from last year, Kelly.  Everyone agreed and the quilt was then referred to all day as Kelly’s quilt.

kelly quilt detail 4

In the spirit of improv and anything goes, the top grew into a loud riot of novelty print fun…

kelly quilt detail 2

When it came time to quilting this top,  it fell,  of course to none other than its name sake, Kelly Cole of Blue Bird Sews.  As soon as she knew the quilt was named after her, Kelly felt she had to quilt it.

Kellys quilt detail

And boy did she quilt it.  Kelly did a wonderful job free motion quilting a different pattern into each block…

Kellys quilt detail 2

The end result is one of the most fun games of eye spy ever in a quilt.  I love the riot of colour and texture of this quilt.  You know it is going to make some kid extremely happy.