Sentimental Journey: Bee Blocks for Always Bee Learning

AlwaysBeeLearningbuttonI saw a notice on IG one day, with Megan saying that she had room for another participant in her bee.  I jumped at the chance to be with such illustrious quilters, and they gracefully accepted this newbie.  This bee sent out their fabrics to everyone, so we would get a little packet of fabrics with directions, then we’d sew it together and send it back.  Only once did I worry about running out of fabric, and once, when I screwed up a block, I was relieved that I had similar fabric in my stash.

I grow rather attached to the bee blocks I make, even the ones that give me fits.  I always feel badly when the blocks aren’t just so, and given the number of notes I’ve received on my bee blocks from others saying the same thing, I know I’m in good company.  So I got to wondering one day: what ever happened to the bee blocks I’ve made?  I sent out emails and I’m happy to show you what I’ve received in return.  If they recipient hadn’t made it up into a quilt, that was not a problem; some sent a picture of a grouping of blocks.  If that wasn’t sent, no big deal. I guess I just wanted a final wrap-up post about my time with this bee.  This bee was on their third year, so it disbanded after my final block, but it was fun bee-ing in their company.  

The following blocks/quilts are in no particular order:  

ABL April 2014_Smith

We made ogee blocks for Mary’s turn.  One of the hallmarks of this bee was to always be learning, so a lot of new techniques were tried.   This one was curves in a Drunkard’s Path block, that when assembled makes an Ogee Block.

ABL Aug 2013_Evans

This was the first set I made, and Megan requested arrow blocks that turned every which way.

ABL Feb 2014_Kill

Hettie sent us directions for Hobo Quilt Blocks, and everyone’s was different; it was to be a quilt for her sister, who was graduating with a PhD.

ABL Jan 2014_Lovelady

Toni’s Christmas spiderweb blocks were really fun to make, and I love the fun holiday quilt that came from hers and our efforts.

ABL June 2014_JohnsonCeleste added to what we sent of Bonnie Hunter’s Boxy Stars, and made two quilts for charity.

ABL June 2014_Wardwell

Kristina asked for Sparkler Blocks, a pattern by Lee Heinrich.

ABL May 2014_JeskeDebbie sent us the link to make these half-square rectangles, and turned them all on their sides to make her Ziggity-Zag Quilt.  This was a good challenge to make sure the angles went the right way.

ABL Nov 2013_ChahleyLeanne walked us through making perfect points for her Ocean Waves block. I didn’t get all of them perfect, but her finished flimsy is wonderful.

Leanne_Winter

And here is her finished quilt, titled Winter.

ABL October 2013_RuyleAnything that Stephanie conjures up is going to be great, and although I fretted over these blocks (as I worried about running out of fabric and really worried that my finished product was only “pretty good” in my estimation), I love her finished quilt, titled One of these blocks is not like the others.

ABL March 2014_Debetaz

Marci’s Modern Maples were fun and fast, with interesting fabrics.

ABL Sept 2013_Dietrich

The last bee blocks in this lineup are Michonne’s.  The lovely story about this is after I sent around the emails last month, asking for photos of either the blocks together or a the quilt/top, she hurried and finished hers so I could post it here with the rest; it looks terrific!  And what did these beemates make for me?

Pineapple Block August ABL

 Pineapple blocks.

Pineapples and Crowns_front

I really enjoyed seeing all these blocks and quilts together.  Thank you everyone!

 

Pineapple Blocks

Pineapple Blocks Dec 2014 All

Before I descend into cooking and cleaning and more cooking and a bunch of dishes and family for Christmas, I thought I’d post all the pineapple blocks together.  This is a combined effort of the Always Bee Learning Bee, the Mid-Century Modern Bee, plus a few I whipped up too.  I took the papers off the remaining three tonight while watching How To Train Your Dragon 2 (amazing animation), and now I need to vacuum the family room again.  I have more things to add to this quilt, and hope to be working on it over the break.  But then again, my life may be like yours, full and lots of the things from the first sentence of this post!

Summer Report

What I Did This Summer
(And can it already be over??)

Kneaders Crab Sandwich

1. Went to Utah and ate a Crab Sandwich at a Kneaders Sandwich Shop

Beachy Maddy

2.  Went to the beach with my grandkids and two of my kids

puzzle

3. Entertained grandchildren with puzzles

Quilt Fort

4. Entertained grandchildren with forts made out of quilts (luckily I have a few)

Summer Guest Room

5. Put the lighter summer look in the guest bedroom, loving how it makes Kaleidoscope shine
(on the end of the bed is my friendship quilt, which includes signatures from all my granddaughters)

MCM July Bee Block

6.  Made a starry block for Susan for the Mid-Century Modern Bee in July

MCM August Bee Block

7.  Made my August Mid-Century Bee block for Mary

Pineapple Bee Bocks So Far

8. Been arranging the blocks that come in from my turn at the Always Bee Learning Bee.  Everyone must be on vacation, because they are dribbling in, little by little.  But I love to see them all together!

Zagreb Cathedral

9. Went to Zagreb (and Ljubljana and Dubrovnik–all in Slovenia and Croatia). . .

Budapest2

. . . and Budapest, Hungary.

Giveaway Banner

10. Hosted a giveaway!

I did the Random Number Generator thing and got #3, but Susan said she already had that book so not to consider her.

Book Giveaway

So I did it again, and Carly was the winner.  I’ll be in touch by email.

But I can’t let this go by without telling you all how thoughtful and interesting your comments were.  I like how you read each other’s and answered each other; I love seeing community in our quilty world.  It made me remember that I’m also inspired by quotes and sayings, as well as nature and other quilters.  I love how Harlan said that when the creative juices are clicking, “something new and needed is created.”  I appreciated Anne’s parsing out the difference between flat-out copying vs. being inspired by someone’s work.  All of you brought excellent ideas to the conversation and I wish I could give you all a prize.  You are all the best.  Hope you also had a good summer!

Pineapple Quilt Block (for Bee-mates)

Queen Bee

As my friend Susan of Patchworknplay says, I’m Queen Bee.  I wrote this post as I had both my bees,  the Always Bee Learning Bee (August) and the Mid-Century Modern Bee (November), make this block for me.

Pineapple Block August ABL

When thinking about what I wanted, I thought I’d try a Pineapple Quilt Block, but use a paper foundation piecing technique to keep everything true and accurate during the process.  This is an 8″ block when finished (8 1/2″ when you finish your block for me), and I’m using solid fabrics coupled with small print fabrics with a WHITE background — no grey, no tan, no beiges, just white.  In this bee we also mail out fabrics, and some of my bee-mates have already received theirs; I mailed them out early because of traveling and family visits in the last half of July.  Idid this as well in November for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, but for that bee we typically don’t mail fabrics, but simply provide descriptions and examples.  **NOTE: If you feel you have too many of the same prints, feel free to substitute in any from your stash, as long as the print background is bright white, and the figures are small rainbow-colored designs.  Ditto for the substituting the solids. I tried to distribute them randomly, but you know how things go.**

I’ve written up some step-by-step directions (below) but I got the paper foundation from Generations Quilt Patterns, another website with a really good tutorial on Pineapple Blocks. (They have a discussion of setting the blocks on this page.)  Their ideas and explanations are top-notch, so if you find my step-by-step confusing, feel free to step over to that site and take a look.  If you want the pattern, head over *here* and download the 8″ size of the Pineapple Quilt Block.

Cutting Chart Pineapple(Chart modified from Generations Quilt Patterns.  Used with permission.)

Using the diagram above, which is modified from Generations Quilt Patterns *here* cut your pieces to size, keeping track of which is which (solids vs. light bright prints). I cut all my strips 1 and a 1/2″ wide as I didn’t ever want to have to mess with unpicking if it went on slightly skewed.  (NOTE: for the outer corners (#38-41), sometimes I just cut a 3″ piece of fabric by 6″ piece of fabric.  I know the corner will be on the bias that way, but that’s okay with me.)

5_ Pieces Lined Up

Here they are, all cut out and ready to go (I am doing multiple blocks, so don’t get confused by what you see above).

Step One

1_Center Square affixed

Using a glue stick, dab a small amount of glue on the small square and glue it to the back (unprinted side) of your paper foundation chart.

Step Two

2_Beginning of First Row

One by one, align, then sew on the first set of print strips, using a 1/4″ seam.

3_ Beginning of Stitching Line

When stitching on this, and all other rows, start your stitching a couple of stitches before the line, and finish a couple of stitches beyond the line, so as to secure the sewing.

4_Ending First Row

I sewed on the first two, pressed them to the side, then did the next two.  I learned to pin the fabrics so as not to have slippage.

Messy Ironing Paper

I printed out your parchment paper on my Laserjet, which can leave a residue on the ironing board, so I put down a piece of paper and pressed on that.  This is the messy paper at the end of my pressing session (sorry about all the transfer stuff).

Step Three

6_Cutting and Folding_1

Fold back your parchment paper in order to trim it up.  I sketched in the first fold, above, in pink.

6a_Cutting and Folding

Lay your ruler so that 1/4″ peeks out, then trim.  Again, I used Generations Quilt Patterns as a reference, if you need to read or see it differently.

7_First Row On

All four sides have been trimmed (those fold lines look so crisp in this paper!).

7a_Stitching First Row

Here’s what the stitching looks like from the printed side.  Notice I’m a couple of stitches over the line every time.  Generations recommends a full quarter-inch over, but it tore the parchment paper too much.  Two or three stitches will be fine.

Step Four

8_Second Row

Repeat this process, using the solids this time.  At this point you can do two at a time (opposite sides, like the yellow and green shown above).  Stitch those, press out, then add on the remaining two solid strips.  Stitch, then press open.

9_Cutting and Folding

You’ll turn the paper and fold back again, as shown this time by the green line, above.  Trim as in the previous step, all four corners.

10_Second Row Sewn

It’s looking pretty cute!  I like how now I start to see blunt ends on the corners.

Step Five

11_Third Row Beginning

Add on the next row of light bright print strips, again doing two (only) at a time.  Soon you can do all four, just not yet. Trust me on this.

12_Third Row Sewn and Pressed

Press open, then trim.

13_Third Row Trimmed

One nice thing about paper-foundation piecing is how nicely the points come out and how it is all perfectly aligned.

Step Six

14_Fourth Row

Still doing only two at a time (opposites) add on the next row of solids.

15_Fourth Row Sewn Pressed Trimmed

All pressed and trimmed up.  The blunt end is becoming more pronounced.

Step Seven

16_Fifth Row Pinned

Okay, now!  You can now pin on all four light bright print strips onto your pineapple, and lifting your needle/presser foot in between to pivot the paper and move to the new stitching place, then begin sewing again.  Clip through the traveling threads after you are finished sewing.

17_Fifth Row Sewn Pressed

It’s pressed.

18_Fifth RowTrimmed

And now, trimmed.  Keep going, keeping track of which row is solids and which row is light bright prints until you only have the corners left to do.

19_Penultimate Row Sewn

Step Eight

20_Outer Blocks placed

Some of you have 4 1/2″ triangles in your packet and some of you have 3″ x 6″ strips.  I show both in the following photos. To figure out the alignment, Generations Quilt Pattern uses a nifty trick of letting the point of the triangle guide you.

21_Outer Block Aligned

Line up the outer raw edges of the diagonally cut triangle, with the point centered in the square, as shown by the bright blue (above).  Stitch.

22_Outer Blocks Pinned

For the 3″ by 6″ strip, fold in half to find the center, then line that up with the center square, as shown.  Pin, then stitch.

22a_Outer Blocks SewnPressed

Corner blocks pressed.

Step Nine

23_Trimming

Okay, I know this ruler isn’t perfectly aligned (the phone rang right as I was going to snap the photo and startled me, and I didn’t find out until later how crooked it was). So, don’t do as I show, do as I did: make sure to only trim 1/4″ outside the solid line, all the way around.  DON’T TRIM ON THE SOLID LINE.

Ripping Off Paper

Once trimmed, turn it over and use Katie Pasquini-Masopust’s famous “Fatty Thigh” method for removing foundation papers (I learned this from her at Houston one year).  As she instructed us: lay it over your fatty thigh, and pop the papers off, starting on the outside, working in.  The parchment paper comes off so much easier for me than regular paper, so I hope you have an easy time of it.  Thank you, thank you!!  You are done!

Final Four

Here are four together.  I look forward to seeing all of yours!

–Final notes–

Boys in the Boat

I listened to The Boys in the Boat while working on this project, a fascinating story.  I’ll never look at this sport the same way again.

Parchment Paper

And the paper? Here’s a photograph of the information on the edge of my ream of paper.  I bought this paper several years ago, beginning with my Come A-Round quilt (below), a foundation-pieced quilt, and have used if for several other projects (including Scrappy Stars and I am currently using it for my selvage quilt).  It will probably last me until I die, and although not cheap (I think I paid 35 bucks for this ream) I feel like it was a great investment.  I bought mine at my local Kelly Paper store.

Come A-Round, full SM

Yep,  all those spiral dotty circles in the middle were arcs that were paper-foundation pieced on this paper.  The pattern is a Piece O’ Cake Design, titled Everyday Best.

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

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Bee Blocks for May: Angles and Arrows

May 2014 ABL block

Debbie, from the Always Bee Learning Bee, asked us to make giant triangles, following this tutorial from The Modern Quilt Guild.  It was pretty straight forward, but I measured three times before cutting once, just to make sure I was on target.

100 Days Modern Quilting

It was from their series of 100 Days of Modern Quilting, which had all sorts of ideas for blocks and quilts as well as inspirational posts.  On those nights you are tired, but don’t want to sew, you may want to browse through their links.

Different VariationsABL blockThen I played around with them, trying out different arrangements before I sent them off.

MCM May 2014Carla asked for an arrow block because she loved *this quilt*, and wants to make her own.  She has a great tutorial on her blog *here* in case arrows are in your future.  This prompted me to look up Longfellow’s poem, which I present to you in all its glory.  Go and find a song in the heart of a friend today.

The Arrow and the Song
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Gene_Kelly_lamppost

 

 

Quilter Missing In Action

Quilter MIA

Wow.  Have a Giveaway and then go AWOL (*Absent Without Leave*).  Where have I been?  Grading.  Prepping.  It’s about this time of year that I can just feel the end of the semester looking around the corner, and I go wonkers writing the weekly blog posts and printing off assignments, and writing tests, just wanting it all to be done.  But I haven’t been totally inactive.  Here’s my QMIA (*Quilter Missing In Action*) report:

Binding for AWAT2

Cut and pressed about 45 miles of double binding for the Amish With A Twist – 2 quilt.  It’s still hanging out on the ironing board, waiting for me.  (I seemed to have been passed over by the binding fairies somehow.)

April 2014 ABL block

Always Bee Learning quilt block for April, with an ogee pattern.  I thought I laid it out as best I could (in this bee, we receive our fabrics and then stitch up the block), but I feel like I could have done better if I’d been able to slip in some of my stash to get a better distribution of colors, as I don’t want to disappoint her. I do hope the quilter is happy with it, but I’ll gladly do another if she’s not.  I finally got out the Curve Master foot that my friend Rhonda told me about, lo these many years ago, and after cutting myself a few curves out of some scrap fabric and practicing, I felt confident enough to go at the bee curves.  Rhonda says after you do a whole quilt of Drunkard’s Path, you’ll be considered a Pro.  I’ll take your word for it, Rhonda.  I tried to watch a YouTube video showing how-to, but that was the weekend that Adobe updated all their Flash software, which apparently didn’t work with my computer, so to be fair, some of my quilting time was spent cursing the computer, downloading, cursing some more, then uninstalling, reinstalling, etc etc.  You’ve all been there.

MCM April 2014_1

MCM April 2014_2

Two Mid-Century Modern Bee blocks for April for Debbie.  She only asked for one, but I got going and forgot to stop.

Fabric Stash Purl Soho

A birthday lunch with my kid, who is now thirty-nine and holding.  He has to stay that age so I don’t have to declare that I’m any older.  Oh, and just down the street from where he works is the Purl Soho warehouse for the West Coast, which coincidentally was having a sale, so these came home with me.

I also graded and prepped an inordinate amount, caught not one, but two, plagiarizers, but you don’t really want to hear about that.  Now to change gears a little, here’s a quote from a new book by curator and art advocate Sarah Lewis:

Mastery Quote

This quote is from Brainpickings, a website I haunt.  The author of this review, Maria Popova, often reviews books and brings together a lovely mix of ideas.  While I’ve been unable to get to the quilting, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I do what I do: cut a piece of cloth into little pieces and sew it back together again.  Of course, that’s the simplistic way of looking at things, for in the cutting and sewing lies a high degree of autonomy–of my being able to invent the design, give input to the creative process and even have a Fail once in a while.  I like the above quote, because while I’ll probably never have the fame of other quilters, Mastery seems like a worthwhile goal.  And apparently, according to Sarah Lewis, the author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery, we don’t have to be perfectionists, nor have constant successes day after day.  But we do have to be willing to shut ourselves away and work at it, embracing failure and going forward.  Or, as Popova says, “This is why, Lewis argues, a centerpiece of mastery is the notion of failure.”

Popova continues by saying: “One essential element of understanding the value of failure is the notion of the ‘deliberate incomplete.’  (Cue in Marie Curie, who famously noted in a letter to her brother: “One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”)” And then Popova quotes Lewis:

More to Do Quote

Okay, that’s enough brain food for one day.  I’m off to climb that mountain of binding, think about my goals (next post), and possible even finish grading the most recent literature paper that is in a stack downstairs on the dining room table.

01-marcelle-goes-to-the-circus-by-cindy-wiens

But let me leave you with this gorgeous quilt from Cindy, of Live A Colorful Life, who is a one of those quilters who, while understanding the idea of the “deliberate incomplete,” also has a LOT of deliberate completes, such as her Marcelle Medallion, from *here.*  She and I have often talked often about the WIPs that float in our closets and cupboards, yet I’d like to morph Lewis’ idea of the “deliberate incomplete,” to a new place–perhaps that of a quilt that is not ready to be finished whether because the quilt maker’s “other” life gets in the way, or that the quilter has “lost her mojo” (a phrase often seen on blogs) or does not yet have mastery of the skills needed to finish up (and certainly, that may include time management!).  Yet mine and yours and Cindy’s quilts that are on our beds, our walls and folded ready for visits from family and friends, certainly is a testament that we do finish, that we are — at some level — on our way to mastery.