Monday, 15 April 2013

Blocks and Bees

When my friend Helen asked if I wanted to be part of an online quilting bee, I knew I would be terrible at it. I am not one of those ordered, organised types.  But I said yes, hoping I would prove myself wrong. It did sound like fun, it included members with blogs I already followed, and it only involved one block a month. As someone prone to procrastination, I couldn't get that far behind with that little work, right? Wrong. In almost 12 months, I think I've made, umm, four.
So now that I've finished up at the shop, I'm aiming to correct that.

I decided to start with Lucy's Feather block. It was one I'd wanted to do for a while. I thought I'd make 2 for Lucy (with one side of each feather a whole print), and 3 for me, which I thought I would then appliqué on to linen to make a wrap skirt. Helen had warned me that she made a mistake about 4 times with this block, getting the direction of the feathers mixed up. I thought, "Yep, noted. Cut one side one way, and flip the paper pattern over for the other. Easy."
This is what I got:

Oh, Ok. Gotcha. So I discarded the side that had the lines going the wrong way and made an opposite side from this scrap of Garden Party.

Now time to cut the white bits. I have quite a few shades of white scraps, so I brought my feather shapes over to the ironing board to compare in natural light which would look nicest. (I love that this bee doesn't require you have certain shades of solids.) I chose a cream that I think looked best, started to cut around the pattern and made the ultimate boo boo.

I cut into my feather. Ugh. (And somewhere along the line I have ironed my scissors. I never noticed until now!)
I was not going to be swayed from my goal of getting this done before the refrigerator repair guy came. I went back to my scrap of strips left over, added some more strips and cut out another feather piece, this time making sure the lines were heading the right way.

I cut it at slightly the wrong angle. But by this stage the fridge man was due any minute so I sent off a little "Hope this is ok, Lucy!" into the air and continued on.

Here is is finished. One block, not 5, a little wonky and 6 months late. :)
I actually found all the other template pieces too small. I don't know if that's because the printer got it funny, printing to Aussie dimension paper (A4) or because the strips end up on the bias and you need to be careful when piecing the rest of the block. But next time I would make them all too long, then trim to the right block size. In the end this one was about an inch smaller than Lucy specified, but when I went to the Flickr discussion about the block, many others had had the same experience, and Lucy didn't mind getting them as they came and trimming or adding. Go Lucy!

I really like the strong contrast of black and white with the scrappy colours, don't you? I have never used black in quilts before, ever. The only reason I had this piece is because it was leftover from a custom cushion order.And I love how BIG the feather is. (This block is 17" long) You don't get that impression from the pictures in the pattern. It makes me want to make a baby quilt from it. Though maybe not this morning! :)

I really appreciated this post from Lily's Quilts about virtual quilting bees a while ago. And while I hate being that person she talked about in the 'cons', I'm also very thankful for a very relaxed and understanding bee. I have had to unpick and start over nearly every block I have managed to finish, usually due to it not being the right size. So it's a very different sewing experience than what I usually enjoy. But the finished block always makes me glad I gave it a go.

Are you part of a quilting bee? What's your experience been like? Do you think they're only suited to certain personality types? I'd love to hear your thoughts!



  1. Your feather block is gorgeous!

  2. You're being very, very generous when you say I only got it wrong four times! Love that you are retrospectively doing this in me ;)

  3. The feather block really are perfect and really worth all the hard work!

  4. It's beautiful Jodi. I'm one of 'those people' too...

  5. you are awesome! The block is fabulous and it means so much to me that you kept going! It is a tricky one and I'm not a pernickity person at all - I think they are all different sizes, which makes me love them more! Thank you :)
    I'm now in 3 bees, for me it is a nice way to keep doing some sewing and trying to do something new each month! xxx

  6. I totally admire your perseverance Jodi, I definitely would have given up! I love your feather though, very worth it, can you make a reverse one from the original whoops I cut it the wrong way one?
    I would be one of "those" people, but would do exactly the same as you optimistically join in the hope that it would some how transform me into a super organised person ;) So cool that you are learning so much doing it, you are amazing xo

  7. Yeah, keep on Jodi! You're doing just fine and I admire your work! I went quiet myself for far too long (not good as a beemama), but we have all of us become friends along the way and I'd hate to miss out on anything and it keeps me looking for news from all over the world.
    The feather was a breeze by the way (now you hate me), but I completely freaked out over a much easier block :-)


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx