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.


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!


Queen Bee for Mid-Century Modern, 2015

Queen Bee

I’m Queen Bee again in my Mid-Century Modern Bee, and I know you are all surprised to see me again so soon.  We had a reshuffling of months and I moved from November to this spot.  Welcome to our newest members; I know you’ll enjoy the ladies in this bee.

Carlas Quilt-smaller

from *here*

 Carla, of Grace and Favour, had us all make a block in 2013 so she could make her own version of a  Mid-Century Modern Sampler.  I loved her quilt, so I’m asking you all to make a block for me so I can have a quilt like hers. As you can see she has both pieced blocks and appliquéd blocks–both are fun to have.   The blocks should be in increments of 6″ or 9″ or 12″ (if you do a 6″ block, maybe you could do two?), and would like them with either a text, or a light background.  Just pick your favorite block, in similar colors to the above, and have fun.  I do have some fillers in the works, just like Carla. Here’s some color ideas (I couldn’t just pick one):

Sampler Quilt ColorsRoundup of preferred colors: clear tones of yellows, oranges, pinks, blues, aqua, bright greens.
Roundup of colors that aren’t my favorites for this quilt: gray, muddy tones.  Darker tones for accents (stems, etc.) are okay.

Bascially I’d prefer the palate of  Carla’s quilt with light/brights and clear tones all on a text background, but no blocks that feature grey or “muddy” tones predominantly.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me, or refer to our Flickr page where there is more information.  Thank you all very much.

 I look forward to Mid-Century Modern 2015!

MCMBee Button

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.




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.


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.

Two Blocks, Two Machines

Windmill Blocks

Bees are interesting things.  I’m in a new one and am still figuring out how it ticks when this block arrived in the mail.  The instructions read to leave the quadrants unsewn as the bee-er wants to really make her quilt scrappy and move the blocks all around.  It’s paper pieced.  Seventy-two pieces per block (4 quadrants).  It took me over 7 hours, closer to eight hours, to finish the two blocks.  I began wondering about this quilter–who would send out such a complicated block to the bee and expect us to do not only ONE, but TWO blocks? I began wondering about what a sheep I was to follow along, when I should have just sent back the unused fabric after the first block and the scraps for the little triangles, and kept it to one.  The end result was that I didn’t feel very good about her, nor about myself–for not standing up and saying “This is excessive.”  I was more than happy to send that off this morning!

Steps Quilt Blocks

This is the blocks from another bee-er in the same bee.  Because my first batch of fabric got lost in the mail, I was doing her September blocks in October.  These blocks were already cut out, and both went together in under an hour.  I’m happy to spend more than an hour on a bee block, but the contrast between this quilter’s and her bee-mates was astounding.  I felt good about things as I mailed off her blocks this morning.

Green Sewing Machine

On our walk yesterday morning, we passed by the house of an older neighbor, who was downsizing and moving up to the high desert.  Stuff had to go, including this funky green sewing machine.  We continued on our walk, never mentioning it, but on the return loop, I said to my husband, “Want to go and get the car . . . and your wallet?”  He laughed.  When he came back there were two machines waiting for him to load into the car (I didn’t take a photo of the other), but I got both for $55, including the matching cabinet that the father-in-law had made for this green machine.

I took them right up to my Sewing Machine Whisperer, and he said they were worth tuning up, so into the shop they went.  “You know, you have no foot pedal,” he said, gesturing to the green machine.  In my defense, it was early in the morning, so when I went back, the older neighbor went up into her sewing room, but couldn’t find it.  I left my name and phone number, and hopefully it will turn up.  I’ll get these two older machine back in a few weeks; I plan to give one to my granddaughter, who wants to learn to sew.

Today I plan to sew my brains out.  And NOT on complicated funk-inducing, grumpy-generating bee blocks.

Queen Bee for Mid-Century Modern

Queen Bee

As Susan, one of our the members of our Mid-century Modern Bee says, I’m the Queen Bee this month.

And I’ve chosen to have my bee-mates help me on my Christmas Quilt.  But so that the copyright gods won’t be mad at me, I’m not showing the picture of the pattern and I’ve also chosen different green and cream blocks for my bee-mates to make, plus I made downloadable templates from my quilt program to serve as a guide for these 12″ blocks  (finished measurement–raw edge measurement should be 12 1/2″).  Below are the blocks, plus their templates for downloading.

Caution: These template prints out the correct size on my printer, but I don’t know what they’ll do on yours.  A general guide for making a half-square triangle block is to cut the finished measurement, plus 7/8 inch, before stitching on the diagonal and cutting apart.  So, I’d use that as a general gauge for how things ought to look when you print out your templates.  (In other words, for the corner squares for this first block, cut one white square and one green square to measure 4 and 7/8 inches.)

54-40 or fight

Fifty-four Forty or Fight • Template: 54-4o or fight

54-40 or Fight, version 2

Fifty-four Forty or Fight, version 2 • Template: 54-40 or Fight_version2

Clays Choice Variation

Clay’s Choice Variation • Template: Clay’s Choice Variation

Ohio Star

Ohio Star • Template: Ohio Star

Swamp Angel

Swamp Angel • Template: Swamp Angel

Peace and Plenty

Peace and Plenty • Template: Peace and Plenty

Mock Eight Point Star

Mock Eight-Point Star • Template: Mock Eight Point Star


Memory • Template: Memory

Martha Washington Star

Martha Washington Star • Template: Martha Washington Star

Flying Geese Block

Flying Geese • Template: Flying Geese Block

Double Star

Double Star • Template: Double Star

Crosses and Losses

Crosses and Losses • Templates: Crosses and Losses

Bird in the Air

Birds in the Air • Template: Birds in the Air

Autumn Star

Autumn Star • Template: Autumn Star

For my bee-mates, I’ve listed the blocks you’ve chosen on our Flickr group site, for reference.

Giveaway Banner

And congratulations to Carla for winning Anne’s very cool pattern.  If the rest of my lovely entrants would like a pattern for their own, please visit SpringLeaf Studios, and you can download one instantly.  I have purchased both of hers, as I like buying quilt patterns that make me reach for new fabrics and new ideas.  (I hope to put her Cascade pattern on my To-Do for next spring.)

Many thanks to Anne for donating her pattern to this giveaway!!!

Design Wall Recover, In Progress Quilts

Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced with this post.

WIP on

First up, re-cover my pin wall.

New Pinwall

(1) How I built my pin wall: 2 sheets of 1/2″ foam core art board taped side by side, covered with gridded flannel bordered by plain flannel.  I wish I had more gridded flannel, but at the time, that’s all I had.  I have seen it at JoAnn’s.  Then I wrapped this layer to the back and stapled in place using really short staples, then covered that with tape. I then affixed it to my wall by using door jamb covers–long rounded metallic bars, each about six feet in length; I used four: two for each side, top and bottom.  I also put a flat washer on two screws and screwed them into the wall at a stud, at the midseam of the foam core art boards.

Pin wall 2

(2 & 3) Over that, I layered this Thermolam Plus, using straight pins to anchor it into place. The fabric really sticks to it – like magic, and when it gets all thready, use one of those sticky roller things that is used to clean off clothes.  NOTE the number on the upper left side (TP970).  That will save your bacon when you go into buy more, because now they’ve renamed it Quilter’s Batt or Fleece or Something or Other, and you just have to go through the bolts to find this magic stuff.

The little pin cushion hangs on my pin wall with giant corsage pins.  I am not a pin-cushion person, although I have many beautiful ones given to me as gifts.  This little one holds these pins which are helpful for holding large swaths of cloth, like when you are smoothing a quilt backing onto a quilt top already on the wall to check for size.  Or for holding necklaces, notices for doctor’s visits, etc.  I put all sorts of stuff along the edges of my pin wall.

Ironing Board Cover DIY

Next up was a new ironing board cover.  I fell in love with this sewing machine fabric when I saw it on the Fat Quarter Shop, and of course they had it to me within two days.  It’s by Timeless Treasures and is pattern # SEW-C1485, if you want some.

I just trace out my old cover, leaving GENEROUS seam allowance width all along the outside edge (like 1-1/2″ and that doesn’t even seem like enough).  Make a casing, leaving an opening at the bottom.  I thread through some old hem tape (notice the lady’s hairdo is right out of the 1980s) but warning: 3 yards is not enough (I had to piece some more on the ends).  I think the picture of the ironing board up on its end looks like one of those bugs that goes into that position when tapped (stink bugs?).  There are many good tutorials online for making ironing board covers, if you do a search.

Alberta Slab

What other works in progress have I been working on?  I made this “slab” for the Alberta Flood quilt block collection, hosted by Cheryl Arkinson of Dining Room Empire.  The deadline is July 30th, and so far she has 276 blocks!

MCM Block July 2013

Finished my block for the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  Deborah of Simply Miss Luella wanted a house block of any kind.  I made my favorite one, and happily, she loves it!  You can find a PDF to download here, where I made one for another bee.

Rhonda's Hot Mitts

And finally, hot mitts for my friend Rhonda for her birthday (which was in June–sorry, Rhonda).  Happy Belated 29th birthday, Rhonda!!  May you see many more 29th birthdays!  Tutorial is here.  It’s also one of my Finish–A-Long projects–that makes TWO down, and many more scary ones to go.

FinishALong Button

And lastly, thanks for you all your sweet comments about going to a retreat.  I’m working my way through replying, as it seemed to strike a chord with many of you.  I appreciate the time you took to write and leave your thoughts–it enriches us all.

WIP–Bee Blocks (post revised)

UPDATE: I’ve revised this post, because this morning I realized that TODAY is Wednesday, not yesterday (when I’d originally written it: we’re a little foggy on life over here), so today I am linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.


I joined a new bee (newby! newby!). I am honored to be included in the Always Bee Learning bee, and the first block’s fabrics have arrived to be sewn (they have different rules than the Mid-Century Modern bee).  But Linda’s blocks for the MCM bee still hadn’t been made, and I like to honor my deadlines.

sewing situation

So I gimped down to the sewing room, pulled out a drawer and put a pillow on it for the left foot, got out my portable iron and pad and put it on the table on the right.  I figured it was good to be sewing as long as I wasn’t putting any weight on the foot, right?  (I’m really hoping that MY idea of “partial weight-bearing” agrees with the doctor’s).

Linda block 2

But had to stand for a few minutes on my right leg while I cut the strips, then I sat and sewed.  And twisted to iron, but finished up one block before dinner.

Lindas block signature

After dinner I finished the other one (normally we only do one, but everyone else was doing two and I didn’t want to be a slacker);  I packaged it to mail tomorrow, hopefully making it to Florida by July 1st.  That small block in the front?  We do signature blocks with our Mid-Century Modern (MCM) bee.


This is what Linda is doing with them: using them to border another set of blocks from another bee.  She says she’s stuck about what to do in the corner–maybe a rounded version of the stack?–so if you have any ideas, head over to her blog and leave her a comment. It’s always interesting to see our bee blocks being used.  Another quilter in this bee finished up her quilt (scroll down to the Mid-Century Modern quilt in neutral fabrics); I hope when it’s my turn I can be as successful.

As I lay in bed yesterday, I did make a button for that new bee:


At least I can be somewhat productive when I lay around here.

Village Faire pinned

What else am I working on?  Well, another July 1st deadline is for this month’s Schnibbles quilt.  My husband brought up a camp chair (small chair we use when we go camping) and I could slide it in the cubby hole of my sewing desk, and yes, I did get some of that top quilted last night.  While I can only quilt for a short while, it feels good to be productive and to see a quilt take shape.

hanging Kaleidoscope Quilt

Thanks, all, for your nice comments about Kaleidoscope (in previous post).  My husband hung it up in the hallway this morning.  It brings a smile to my face as I slowly make my way up the stairs.  Here it is again:

Kaleidoscope Front

Final thought: Happy Birthday, Rhonda!  You are an inspiration, always.


MCM5 Feather Block

When Suz of PatchworkNPlay said she wanted to do an Anna Maria Horner Feather for her monthly block (I think that link will get you there or just Google it), I started in on some new territory. For one thing, this block is really tall–like 17 1/2″ tall and about 9 1/2″ wide.  On the screen it always looks so dainty.  This is not dainty, but bold and much more interesting than I had thought.

Laying Out Feather Fabrics

Because Suz lives Down Under, as we Americans call it, or OZ, as they like to call Australia, and she sent us her background fabric via air mail, I was desperate not to screw this up.  So I laid out my fabrics in the colors she’d requested, then printed out TWO copies of the pattern and laid it all out, too.

Feather sewn

As per Suz’s advice, I followed *this visual tutorial* to paper piece the feather blades.  What I learned: thinner through the middle works better than thicker.  Work really hard to keep on the angle suggested on the pattern.  And even if you biff on those two things, it will still come out just fine.  Our group has made several:

Feathers Grouped

Mine’s on the top, laying sideways.
Making Signature Block

We each also including a signature block.  I have a template I use because I’ve spelled the name of my blog wrong more than once  (which is why if you want to reach me you can just type in OPQuilt and it will get here).

Blocks all done

Done! for the month of May.  Now I want to make a bunch more!

Bee Projects, et al

I’d participated in the Far Flung Bee last year, and although one member never sent her blocks, I had enough to make a project for Spring.
FFB Tablerunner

I’d been to my local quilt shop (LQS, for you non-quilters) and picked up some cute button-like fabric from Riley Blake’s latest line.  When I got home, as is so often the case, I had another piece tucked away in the stash.  I needed both pieces to finish this off, even stitching the binding on by machine because I was just so ready to get those blocks sewn into a project.

FFB Tablerunner back

I used Jane Sassaman fabrics (from the stash) for the backing.  I was listening to a fascinating book and couldn’t stop (my mother had already finished and was waiting for me to wrap it up) so I had to find projects to keep my hands busy while the book took me on its adventure.  Read this, or better yet, listen to it while you quilt.


(P.S.  Because of this book, I finished the Lollypop Trees quilt top.)

MCM March fabrics

Next, I compiled this stack of fabrics, mostly new, to complete my latest Mid-century Modern Quilt Bee block.

MCM March block 13

Debbie of A Quilter’s Table had asked for “low-volume,” or neutral, fabrics using a tutorial she’d found online to make this block.

MCM March cut out

I took a photo to remember where I thought all the fabrics should go, then sewed it together.  I’m pretty happy with the result, and hope she likes it too.

Sofa Cushions

I’d finished the book, but kept going on some long-delayed projects.  We’d gotten a new sofa in November 2012, and I’d purchased some random fabrics to brighten up the room, but had merely draped the fabrics over the pillow forms.  It stayed that way all through the holidays until today! when I finally sewed all the cushions — with zippers, I’ll have you know.  As my daughter will attest, I’m no decorator, but she approved these fabrics before I sewed them.  I’ll probably re-arrange them 45 times in the next week, trying to find the order I like best.

And last night, I sat down and watched the old movie Possession (a favorite), then The Piano Guys concert (complete with TV pledge breaks) in order to finish all the hand sewing on my EPP quilt.  Hopefully today I’ll get the borders on, right after grading a stack of homework and prepping for class. I’ve been in a finish-it mode for a little while now. I like starting projects, but it’s also nice to finish some things up.