Be Free Bees: addition for Ann

Oh my goodness! I found this in the depths and wanted to share it. It has been YEARS since I have done this project. Really, years. It was a “free form” quilt bee called Around the Bend and Across the Pond and started through the Old Red Barn Co. group on Flickr.

It works like this: each person in the group send out a starter piece to the next person in the group. Since this is a free form bee, we were to add whatever we wanted to and then pass it on to the next person. Ann’s quilt looked like this when it came to me:

I added a section to the bottom with an assortment of wonky stars in various sizes and colors.

I felt there was already a lot of color saturation in the quilt, so I kept a good portion of the background white, but switched it up with a couple of the stars to break up the white.

At this particular time, I actually ended up with three of the quilts at my house. Ann’s was ready to mail out, as was the one in the bottom of this photo. One of our members had to leave for personal reasons, so I kept the previous quilt and did a second addition. The third one is the one I had just received and would add to next. Fun to see the three of them together like this!

Planned Improv

Okay, so I know that “improv” stands for improvisational, and I do realize that “planned improv” is therefor an oxymoron, but there isn’t a better way to describe this block.

For the most recent round of the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee, I wanted to do a scattered, “confetti style” quilt block. It has the look of being random, but I still wanted to plan out where the pieced went so they were scattered throughout the block.

planned improv quilt block

I did make the first one in a true improvisational style, but I found myself frustrated.

planned improv quilt block

Because the pieces still needed to fit within the confines of a 12-inch block, I found it necessary to stop and measure after each piece.

planned improv quilt block

So, with every little bit of “confetti”, I would cut, sew, trim, measure for the next piece, and so on …

planned improv quilt block

After that first one, I made a cutting diagram so that I could just cut out all the pieces at once and then put them together.

planned improv quilt block

The beauty of this method is that the sub-units are interchangeable. Thus, each block really is different, even though the pieces used to construct each one are the same size.

planned improv quilt block

It’s fantastic because it allows an improvisational look to be achieved even by more structured minds that get easily frustrated without a plan.

planned improv quilt block

I’m wondering if there might be any interest in me writing up my cutting list and piecing diagrams. I might do it anyway.

You can see, with the blocks all together, how there are no two alike. I placed the longest thin piece horizontally on the left side of each block so you could compare, but the blocks could be rotated for a different look.

planned improv quilt block


Apparently, I need to work on “letting go” sometimes with my quilting, but for now, I’m going with planned improv!

4×5 Modern Quilt Bee is back

4x5 modern quilt bee is back

I have participated in several rounds of the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee, and it has been great fun. It’s a fantastic way to interact with other quilter and to get a sampler quilt on the way to completion.

Recently, our fearless leader, Sukie, announced that she was stepping down from leading the bee and it would be no more without someone at the helm. I just couldn’t let that happen, so with the help of two other quilters, I will be the NEW queen bee of the 4×5 bee. I’m headed into unfamiliar territory, but Sukie has promised to mentor me.

Here’s how the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee works.

First, you fill out a form with your color preferences and mailing address. This is shared with your hive caretaker and beemates so that your blocks can be mailed to you. You make a color mosaic so your hivemates have an idea of what you are looking for in your color choices.

4x5 color inspiration mosaic_citrus

You are assigned to be part of a hive with 5 other quilters. You choose your colors for your quilt, and each of your hivemates makes you a block of their pattern choice in your color choice. This was from a round of the bee when my colors were yellow, grays, black.

4x5 Quilt Bee, received blocks, 2011 Q4 + my additions

Then I changed my color choices to tangerine, lime, and lemon yellow (sounds delicious right?).

4x5 modern quilt bee quarter 1 received blocks

Meanwhile, you choose a block to make each of your beemates in their color choices. In this bee, we use our own fabrics. This block led to a tutorial for my Multiples of 3 block.

Multiples of 3 block for 4x5 Bee Fall Q 2012


After sign-ups, the bee runs for 6 weeks, so you have a week to choose your block pattern and pull fabrics, and then 5 weeks to sew. That allows for one block per week. At the end of the round, you mail off your blocks and receive 5 blocks in the mail.

Sign-ups are going slowly right now. With the redesign of Flickr and the uncertainty about the future of the bee, I don’t think people are checking in. But please join us in the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee, and feel free to use that photo at the top to share and spread the word!

Hexagons, half square triangles and housekeeping

During the previous quarter of the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee on Flickr, I was a part of the hexagon group. I made my Multiples of 3 block (top center of the picture below) in the color schemes of my hive-mates, and received in return, 5 different hexagon blocks in my chosen colors of lime, tangerine and lemon yellow on a gray background. These will be fun to incorporate into the finished sampler quilt, which will one day become a fun, fresh, summer picnic blanket.


During the most recent quarter, I chose a classic half square triangle block and made five for my hive-mates and one for myself. This would really be great as a scrappy quilt, and I’m sure it’s been done. I’ll definitely keep it in mind when my scrap draws begin to get really unruly.


My favorite color combinations of this group were the scrappy rainbow (no surprise there),


and this one: green, gray and navy. I was surprised by how much I like these colors together because I usually tend toward brighter fabrics when it comes to quilting.


And the housekeeping part. As you are no doubt aware, Google is dropping Google Reader this summer. (sniff, sniff) I’ve been trying out Feedly and it has been working well, but for comparison sake, I thought I would give Bloglovin a go as well.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

4×5 Bee Hexagon Blocks

I was late to the sign up for the 4×5 Quilt Bee this quarter, so the group filled. However, I managed to be first on the waiting list, and so when a spot opened up in Hexagon group (block must incorporate a hexagon in some way) I knew that my Multiples of 3 block would be a good fit.

4x5 Bee: Multiples of 3 Blocks

The mailing deadline is today, so I’m thrilled to have these finished to send off to their new homes.

Pink, green, and gray with white background for Tsoniki.

4x5 Bee: Multiples of 3 Blocks

Aqua, lime and brown with cream background for Melissa.

4x5 Bee: Multiples of 3 Blocks

Purple, green and gray with gray background for Hannah.

4x5 Bee: Multiples of 3 Blocks

Pink, green and navy with white background Jenn.

4x5 Bee: Multiples of 3 Blocks

Turquoise, iris and apple green with white background for Rhonda.

4x5 Bee: Multiples of 3 Blocks

I hope these ladies enjoy their blocks, and I’m looking forward to some happy mail soon with block in lime, tangerine, and lemon yellow. I eventually plan to make a picnic blanket that folds up into its own pocket with these blocks.

I’m linking up with Finish It Up Friday (even though it’s Saturday!).

Tree in the Sunset mini quilt

I joined a mini quilt swap through the Flickr group Bee a {Modern} Swapper.  The result was actually TWO mini quilts because the first one was damaged by a 2-year-old wielding a dry erase marker (note: dry erase marker on fabric is PERMANENT!).  I have now creatively covered the marker, but there was so much of time and tears in that quilt that I couldn’t bear to give it away.

So with less than a week to go before the mailing deadline, I made a new one!  I showed you part of it the other day, along with a couple extras I included in the package.  But I didn’t want the color scheme to ruin the surprise for the recipient, so I waited to show you the whole thing.  Since the package has been delivered, here is mini quilt #2.

My partner was Tiffany, for whom I made the spider web blocks last month.  As a result, I knew she was going to be working on a quilt for her home with a purple, orange and brown color scheme.  I used my tree from the first mini and her color palette as my inspiration.

Tree in the Sunset mini quilt

My free motion quilting definitely leaves much to be desired, and I’m working on it.  I used this mini to practice some new stitches.  I hope Tiffany can overlook the imperfections of this beginner.  I added some pointy blades of grass and tried out a modified tree bark design that I learned from Leah Day’s free motion quilting site.

Tree in the Sunset mini quilt: Grass and tree bark quilting

The fabric for the sunset sky is something I fell in love with when looking for a fabric for another project.  I believe it’s by Hoffman Fabrics.

Tree in the Sunset mini quilt: close up


I used a variegated thread for the quilting in the sky, which I think complements the sunset vibe nicely.

Tree in the Sunset mini quilt: variegated thread quilting I love how the quilting looks on the back, especially the tree.

Tree in the Sunset mini quilt: back, close up of quilting Tree in the Sunset mini quilt: back

More fun finishes at Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday and Finish It Up Friday.


Be Free Bees: final additions for Thea and Jenny

This was the last month of the free form quilt robin that started way back in January.

Because one of our group members had to drop out, this month, I had two quilts to add to before I sent them back to their owners, who had not seem them since sending them on their journeys at the beginning of the year.

First up: Thea.  The woman who had the penultimate addition did a really marvelous job of adding borders that nicely finished the quilt.  I was a little stumped at first because it seemed so well tied up that adding to the outside would have been like ripping the paper of a beautifully wrapped package that wasn’t mine.

Instead, I decided to make an addition to the interior of the quilt.  There were 4 open white spaces that surrounded the center.  In each one, I added 3 appliquéd circles and then finished it off with some hand stitching around each one.

Thea will be able to use this as a small accent quilt or a large wall hanging.  Or she can rip that package open (since it’s hers!) and make some additions and then finish it off again to make a larger quilt.

Jenny‘s starter piece was a series of pieced baskets.  In the subsequent months, her quilt became this wonderful, vibrant project full of bright colors and different prints.

I wanted to add something that would balance all the action that was taking place in the quilt already, so I opted for some letters to read “A-tisket A-tasket” (to tie into the basket theme) using mostly solid backgrounds.  I did some improvisational piecing with the letters, which was a new experience for me.  It was very challenging to depict the letters with curves and I was not on speaking terms with “s”, lowercase “e” and lowercase “a” for a few days.

When I placed the letters along the top edge of the quilt, I felt they were blending in too much with the fabrics below so I added a strip of white with some colored squares to break it up a bit.

I’m looking forward to seeing how all these projects finish up.  Meanwhile, I received my own quilt back for its journey.  I have already made one more addition of the grass at the bottom and I think I will also add a couple borders before finishing it.  Or maybe not.  I could just leave it as-is an let the binding be the border.  What do you think? 

Just housing around

I’m in a Flickr group called Bee a {Modern} Swapper.  Every other month, one of our 6 group members get to request a block from the other 5 members.  We each make 2 quilt blocks, and the recipient receives 10 quilt blocks in the mail.  These are the ladies who made my lovely tree blocks when it was my turn at Queen Bee.

This month, Ann requested house blocks.  In our discussion, trying to get some clarification, I asked:

“Must it be a house, or could it be, say, an apartment building? A dog house? A teepee? A yurt?”

My friend Kim responded, “I would LOVE to see a yurt!!!!!!

I hadn’t heard back from Ann about whether she preferred a more traditional house, and with that many exclamation points, I just had to step up to Kim’s yurt challenge (even though it was my suggestion, I’m not sure I was serious until Kim responded).

So, I made a quilt block yurt!  I must say that this is definitely a first for me!

I cannot tell you how much this entire process has amused me.  I giggled while I was making it: “Hee hee, a quilt block yurt.”  Perhaps Likely, I’m just easily amused.

I also made a country house with a tree in the yard.

And some city houses in a row.

While I only had to make two blocks for Ann, she gets three: two house quilt blocks, and a bonus yurt block.

And now I’m thinking: wouldn’t be fun to make a quilt where each block is a different type of dwelling?  Tee-pee, camper, igloo, etc …

Be a {Modern} Swapper: Angel blocks with triangles

Hey!  I suddenly realized that I had uploaded these photos and never shared these quilt blocks with you.  Too bad, because they turned out really cute.  Better late than never, right?

One of the members of another of the small groups in my Bee a {Modern} Swapper swap went missing.  Which meant, Shanna did not receive all her blocks in her queen bee month.  Our fearless leader asked for some volunteers to fill in the gaps, and I raised my figurative online hand.

Shanna wanted blocks with triangles as a component of the block in the colors yellow, aqua and gray.

For the second block, I was inspired by the addition I had just completed on Fiona’s Be Free Bees quilt.  I made six 3 parted equilateral triangles and put them together in a hexagon.  I love how this block turned out, and a tutorial has been requested.  I’m going to try and make that happen!

I’m interested to see what these look like with the rest of the blocks Shanna received!

Be Free Bees: Addition #2 for Fiona

Because we had a member drop out of the free form quilt robin, I volunteered to pick up the slack and work on 2 quilts/month for the remainder of our quilt bee.  The next quilts I have will be my last!

So, this month, I kept Fiona’s quilt, which I added to last month as well.  Last month, I added a row of 3-part equilateral triangles to one side of the quilt.

When I went back to this project, I tried to approach it as if I were seeing the quilt for the first time.  I wanted to be inspired by the project in its current state.  I liked how the triangles I added last month made a secondary chevron or zig zag pattern, so that is the direction I decided to go.  Since I used only solids last time, I decided to incorporate some prints this round.  When I started working on this quilt, we were still in Bozeman, so I visited a local quilt shop and picked up a couple geometric prints that had the same feel as the pixel print used in the starter piece of the quilt.  I surrounded them with the solids I already had and made 3 rows of chevrons.

I originally planned to make the zig zag pattern span the length of the quilt, but I ran out of solid.  Since the pieces was about as long as the center piece of the quilt, I decided I would add to each end, and use the Kona bone and coal that were already in the quilt as background.  I went back to the quilt shop, this time picking a couple of flowers that I thought would work well with the flowers that were in the original piece and one of the additional borders that was added.  I ordered the Kona solids and they were waiting for me when I arrived home Thursday.

I fussy cut a couple of flowers for each side and started out with them as the center of a log cabin block.  From there, I just had fun with some improvisational piecing to fill in the background on each side.

Though it wasn’t even in my original plan, I really like how those side portions turned out.  I perhaps got a little over-ambitious on this addition, as it’s pretty large relative to the size of the quilt when I started.  It is interesting how sometimes a project can go in a direction you didn’t anticipate and still turn out great.  I hope Fiona likes it!

Since I finished this yesterday, I’m going to head over and show it at Sew And Tell Friday with Amy Lou Who.