Monday, October 11, 2010

the Secret Life of {Quilting} Bees

Purple/Orange Log Cabins

So it's no big news that I spent my sewing time this weekend stitching for my quilting bees.  Rather than giving you a rundown on how that went (I made my first wonky block and loved it... and then I made a non-wonky version and loved it even more.  Guess I'm still not liberated.  Oops, was that a rundown?), here are my thoughts on the secret life of quilting bees.

1.  Learning.  Being involved in a bee has been a learning experience from the start. As in the very, very start.  I led the first month's round of the Love circle at do. Good Stitches and found right off the bat that I was in the dark.  I thought the standard unfinished size of a quilt block was 12 inches - you know because of all the block patterns you see for "12 Inch blocks."  Well, turns out that a 12 inch block pattern will actually make a block that measures 12.5 inches.  That allows for seam allowances so that when the quilt top is stitched together the actual finished blocks measure 12 inches square.  The estimitable Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson!, who is one of our bee members, informed my of this misunderstanding after I posted rather confusing directions to our group.  Good to know!

2.  Being Challenged.  My experience with quilting bees has been full of challenges - the kind that make you grow and stretch!  Figuring out how to assemble the Red & Aqua Sampler quilt top was quite a hard one for me.  Since the shades of "aqua" were out of my control, I was forced to make the collaborative interpretation work.  And, in the end, I was quite happy with the result.  In the process I learned something about being more free with color.  And then there was Ara Jane's tree blocks!  I had no idea at first how I would make tree blocks, but I'm so thankful for that challenge.  The hexagon tree and mosaic tree were truly delightful discoveries.

Pinwheels for Alecia

3.  Gaining Experience.  Even when I'm not "sewing outside the box", I'm really enjoying the chance that these quilting bees have given me to simply gain experience with new styles.  Alecia's pinwheel blocks were my first time making pinwheels.  And they were so easy!  I took the plunge and made a wonky block for Jennifer's purple and orange log cabin quilt.  Experiencing these styles cannot help but open my mind to new possibilities as I work on my own projects.  Oh, and I would add that my straight line quilting is improved, but that wouldn't be true.  Maybe someday!

4.  Making Friends.  No discussion of the world of quilting bees would be complete without citing the power of bees to build friendships.  Although we are only a couple of months into do. Good Stitches, I feel I have made some real connections with these ladies.  I respect them.  I like them a lot.  And, I read their blogs (duh!).  Now if only we could manage a little sewing convention and meet in person....

October bee blocks

Are you're considering joining a bee?  Here's an article about how most quilting bees work at Oh, Fransson!.  A great blog for finding new quilting bees and getting a broad view of what's out there is Quilting Bee Blocks.  And, if you're interested specifically in quilting for charity, you can join the waiting list at my bee, do. Good Stitches, to be a part of our next charity circle!

P.S. I awoke this morning before it was time to rise with this blog title bouncing through my head. Really. I had to promise myself that I would type it up today so that my brain would let me go back to sleep. 


  1. Rachel...I love your blog, I feel like I learn right along with you and that's really great since I'm new to quilting...the bee blocks look awesome, I just joined my first one and am very excited!

  2. Bees are so much fun and I love how you have documented your own experience here!

    Jennifer :)

  3. Great post. I love reading your take on quilting bees. Do. Good Stitches is my first ever and it's been great!

  4. I totally agree with everything you said Rachel! And I love the idea of a little sewing convention. I have often thought about that concept myself, wouldn't it be great if it could become a reality one day?

  5. Wow! The mermaid block is absolutely gorgeous!


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