Off Galavanting…

For the last four days or so I have been off gallivanting with my husband in Canada.  We took the Thanksgiving break to drive up to Vancouver Island and spend some quality off line time together.   November has been a crazy month with my husband deciding to write a novel in November (nanowrmo) as well as grow a mustache.  This has meant I have not seen much of my him this month and when I have I have not always recognized him!

As we left Portland on our adventure a friend commented that it is great that Nick will not be distracted by writing and I would not be distracted by quilting… my husband just laughed, he knew I had packed this…

heaxagon travel kit

My trusty hexagon kit.  Yes I somehow managed to quilt while on vacation in the middle of nowhere.  I industriously made a stack of hexagons…

hexagons nov 2013

and also some more flowers…

english paper pieced hexagons

which will all be added to the ongoing crazy which is my hexagon quilt.

modern hexagon quilt

It has grown a little bit since I last photographed it.

hexagon quilt detail nov 2013

There is no rhyme or reason to how I am adding the flowers… I just add randomly.  It is kind of fun.

hexagon quilt detail 2 nov 2013I am loving making this quilt…though it is slow going.  There is something about hand stitching I find very therapeutic.

hexagon quilt detail 3 nov 2013

I will get back to the sewing machine this week but I am not in a hurry… and if you were curious as to just how dodgy my husband looks with a mustache…..

vancover vacationThe answer is very dodgy!



Quilting Bee Etiquette

A couple of months ago I joined my first quilting Bees.I had been thinking about joining a Bee for a while, and then the opportunity to join two different bees presented itself.   For those of you that do not know what a quilting bee is, it is basically a group of quilters who join  together (in person or virtually) to make blocks every month which are then made into a quilt.

A search of the web showed me there were dozens and dozens of different types of Bees, and lots of opportunities to join Bees.  There are short burst bees (like the 4 x 5 Bees), there are Charity Bees (like do.Good.Stitches), there are virtual Bees, Quilting Guild Bees and of course the “group of friends who want to set up a Bee” Bees (like the ScrapBeeLicious Bee I am part of).  What I could not find on-line was advice about being a “good” Bee member.  What is the etiquette for quilting Bees?

A couple months into my Bee block making This is what I have learnt so far…


Use good quality fabrics.  I always pull from my stash 100% cotton quilters quality fabric.  There are some Bee’s out there that specifically state no Joann’s or other chain store fabrics, but I tend to bend that rule a little when it comes to fabrics like the DS Quilts range and the Cloud 9 Organic range I bought at Joanns.  In my opinion it is about the quality of the fabric not where you bought it.

Just for fun I try and fit in Lizzy House’s Pearl Bracelets or Michael Miller’s Mirrorball into my Bee blocks, if I can.  I have a friend who tries to get Denyse Schmidt’s Chickopee into her Bee blocks.

Lizzy House's Pearl Bracelets

Lizzy House’s Pearl Bracelet

Queen Bee:

If you are Queen Bee – that is if it is your month to set the blocks there are some extra etiquette steps you might want to keep in mind.

1.  Make sure your instructions for your block and how to make it are clear and include the block’s finished size, colour preferences and ideally a sample block that you have made.

2.  Respect other people’s copyright.  For my turns as Queen I made sure I used a free, easily accessible pattern.  Do not set a block out of a book unless you are sure that everyone in your Bee has that book.  It is frowned upon to copy a pattern out of a book and distribute it without the author/originators approval.

Always credit pattern or inspiration and/or quilter and link to the original source.

3.  When setting your block understand that you may be forcing people out of their comfort zone. I personally feel this is a good thing.  I set my do.Good.stitches Bee a paper piecing block which was a challenge for several people.  If it is a new or challenging technique make sure you include links to instructions on how to do that particular technique (paper piecing, curves, quilt as you go etc).

4.  If the previous month’s Bee block has been particularly challenging, consider making your block a little easier (this is particularly relevant with ongoing Bee’s like Do.good.Stitches where you do not want people to burn out too quickly).

The Blocks:

Follow the Queens colour inspiration/directions as closely as possible.  If you are struggling with a lack of a certain colour in your stash, reach out to your Bee.  I have found that members are more than happy to help if they can.

Make sure your finished blocks are accurately sized to the specifics the Queen has set (which is usually 12 1/2 x 12 1/2).  If in doubt, leave them un-trimmed and drop a note to the Queen that you were unsure so did not size them up.  Remember you can cut a block down to size easily but it is messy to try to size a block up.

Make sure your finished blocks are presentable – pressed and trimmed of loose thread.  I take this opportunity to apologise to the recipients of my first lots of Bee blocks because they were a hot ugly messy.  Sorry.

Exhibit A

The perfection I am striving for… not there yet


Communication is everything.  Whether you are communicating via email or Flickr make sure you are keeping your Bee informed. If you are communicating via Flickr make sure you check the Groups discussion boards regularly (this was a rookie mistake I made with one of my Bees).

If you are struggling, have questions, need fabrics or your block is going to be late, let the Queen Bee know.  No one will be angry with you, especially if you are communicating.  People become frustrated when there is radio silence and no reply to emails or discussions.

If your blocks  are not going to show up (everyone has bad months) let the Queen know.  The sooner you can let your Queen know that the blocks will not be arriving the better, as she will then have to make replacement blocks or re-adjust her design.

If you are going to miss more than 2 months in a Bee cycle, step down from the Bee, or suspend your participation for a cycle.  It is the polite thing to do.

Include a little note in with your blocks (another one of my rookie mistakes).  A little piece of paper with your name and a short note helps the Queen Bee identify who the blocks have come in from and is a nice personal touch.  Remember this is a social activity.

Posting your blocks:

Make sure you post your blocks with plenty of time to make the deadline.  With most Bees it is assumed the blocks will arrive by the end of the month, usually with a 2 week grace period.  Your blocks are considered late by the 15th of the following month.

Make sure you are accurate with your postage.  Most Bee blocks cost around $2 + to post out – if your envelope  has any sort of bulk to it the USPS considers it a parcel and charges more.  I have had to pay extra postage on a couple of envelops in the last month or so and now have a stack of change next to the door so I can easily pay the post person.

Now onto pretty…

To wrap up things up here are my November Bee blocks for Alyce of WonderlandbyAlyce, who requested the X plus block.

x plus quilt block

I had been wanting to try this block for ages and even though Alyce just asked for 2 blocks I got a little carried away and made 4.  I am not sure what the etiquette is on doing more than the number of blocks requested but I kind of figure you can use the extras for the back if you want.

Bee Blocks

Enough already…

I am sure that there are things that I have not covered, do not know about or have not yet encountered.  I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences and advice on Bee Etiquette.

I have a confession to make…

…deep breath…. here goes….I am a messy quilter.  You may not be able to tell from what I have put up on the site but in the last couple of weeks the truth has become harder and harder to ignore.

So what has forced this revelation…. Quilting Bees. Over the last couple of weeks I have been getting quilt blocks from around the country – I was “Queen Bee” for both ScrapBeeLicous Bee and Do.good.stitches Hope Circle.

So here is the evidence, as I see it.  Exhibit A…. a block received for the Do.good.stitches Bee.

Exhibit A

Please note the neat seams.  The lack of loose threads. The overall precision and beauty of the back of the block.

Now Exhibit B…. my Icky Thump block for the same quilt.

Exhibit B

It is down right embarrassing.    In my defense I taught myself to quilt and never knew that you should carefully cut threads.  Since seeing my fellow quilters blocks I have started taking more care with my threads but I still trim my paper piecing with scissors.

With these startling revelations and confessions, there is only one saving grace…. you really can not tell from the front of the quilts.

quilt blocks

When setting this block for the Bee, I did not realise that most of my fellow Hope Circle had not paper pieced.  I believe I drove a couple of them to drink.  It really did not occur to me that there are people out there that have not tried paper piecing –  I wrongly assumed that it was a technique commonly used.

I set this block because it was an easy block to do, but very very effective.  Some of you may recognize the inspiration from a post earlier in the year.

Paper pieced block

I made this block using Julie at 627handworks free Icky Thump paper piecing pattern.  I loved it so much and was determined to make a full quilt in this colour way.

Icky Thump blocks
The quilt  is coming together nicely… I am still awaiting a few more blocks in the post and then I can put the top together.  The finished top will be 4 blocks wide x 5 blocks long…. and fabulous.

Some Appleville fun

This week I found in my stash a yard of fabric I bought a year or so ago because I fell in love the artwork on it.  It from Suzy Ultman’s “Appleville” range for Robert Kaufman.

suzy ultman fabric

I often buy fun printed fabric because I love it, but do not really know what I am going to do with it.  I struggled a lot with this fabric in particular because it is blocks of different prints, not an overall pattern.    I know I could have cheated and just used it as part of a backing fabric, but that would not show the fun prints off to their best advantage.

So this week to challenge myself, I pulled the fabric out of my stash, determined to make a quilt out of it.  I cut the individual printed sections of the fabric out and went to work.

modern kids quilt block

I grabbed some Kona white, some graphic bright prints and started playing.

Appleville block 2

As I finish a block it goes up on the design wall with the others.

Appleville block 5

Slowly but surely a quilt top is starting to emerge.

Appleville block 1

The blocks are all different shapes and sizes so the layout will be free form.

Appleville block 6

And there will be a lot of white used as the background fabric.

Appleville block 3

But in the end I hope to have a fun quilt top finished, quilted and bound for Friday.

Wish me luck…


Briar Rose wip Wednesday

This week I finally got up the courage to cut into my bundle of beautiful Briar Rose fabric.   I wanted this fabric soooo much that I saved up my money and  pre-ordered a 1/2 yard bundle from Pink Castle Fabrics… something I had never done before.

Briar Rose fabric bundle

The bundle has then sat, untouched, on my quilting desk.  I would occasionally pat it or rearrange the fabrics but I could not find the perfect block to inspire me to pick up my rotary cutter.

Fast forward to last weekend when I got a fabulous email from Katie at SwimBikeQuilt.  I had won a prize during her 100 Quilts for Kids campaign… and the prize was three pattern from the fabulous Red Pepper Quilts.  Needless to say there was much excitement and shouting and dancing around the house.  I had been eyeing up Rita’s Labyrinth pattern for a while and was so excited to receive a copy of it in my pattern bundle.  I now had the perfect Briar Rose pattern.

fussy cut modern quilt block

The pattern is so easy to follow and so fun to make.  I have been having a blast cutting up my stash, laying out the block bits and choosing what fabrics goes where.

Briar Rose Block 3

It is a refreshing break for me to be using just one line of fabric… no wading through scrap bins…. no huge piles of fabric in one particular colour.

Briar Rose block 2

Instead there is just a bundle of pretty on the cutting table and a yard or two of Kona Snow.  Not a piece of paper in sight. (my printer is taking a bit of a rest).

Briar Rose block 1Though I must admit that my blocks are not as perfect as they would be if I was using a paper pattern, I love them none the less.  I am embracing the fun of making these blocks, enjoying the beauty of the fabric line and relishing the thrill of doing something a little outside my comfort zone.