We have a lot of big goals for 2020, and one of those is to inspire and support while helping each other improve our quilting skills. To accomplish this goal, we have a few different projects and events we are working on. The first of those, is going to be our free quilt along.
This quilt along is going to be set up a little differently though. It is designed as a skill builder sampler, each month will focus on a different skill. We’ll work on half square triangles, curves, y-seams, applique, and more! By the end of the year, you’ll feel more confident and at ease with many different quilting techniques.
However, we also know it is much more fun to quilt with friends! To accomplish this, the second element of this Online Quilting Bee Skill Builder (yes it’s a mouthful), is that we will provide fabric amounts and tips on how to set it up as a quilting bee as well. Pick which option best suites your desires. We can’t wait for you to join in!
The first block video will be out next week, then each month on the first Wednesday of the month we’ll release the next quilt block. We are starting out with the easier blocks and will build up to the last ones. Each month, we’ll have fabric requirements if you are making just one block plus fabric requirements if you want to make an entire quilt out of that block. This would also be an amazing scrappy quilt. I do recommend sticking to the same color palette for all blocks if you are going scrappy to help bring everything together (especially if you are going with the sampler quilt).
Online Quilting Bee Tips
Okay, so Online Quilting Bee? What do we mean by that? By online, we simply mean that all instructions are posted online for everyone to access.
Setting up Your Group
This is a make your own quilting bee. For this project, you really have a lot of flexibility in the amount of members. You could go as few as 3 or 4 if everyone is willing to make a couple blocks, or if the Queen Bee is willing to make extra blocks to fill in. We recommend capping it at 12 members. Each block finishes at 18″, so 12 blocks gives a nice sized throw quilt. If you have a smaller group, the Queen Bee could also finish their quilt at a baby size with only 6 blocks, or a square throw with 9 blocks. Great places to find group members are in social media groups you are active in, family members that quilt, or local guild and sewing groups.
After you have your group picked out, you’ll each need to pick a month. If there are less than 12 of you, you can skip the months with no person, or each of you can take multiple months and get 2 or more quilts by the end of the year. When picking months, simply choose a sampler block that you really like. With the quilting bee format, you’ll have a completed quilt of all the same block. It won’t be a sampler quilt.
The different skills we will be working on are:
- January – Quarter Square Triangles
- February – Log Cabin Blocks
- March – Flying Geese
- April – Half Square Triangles
- May – Applique
- June – Bias Edges
- July – Y-seams
- August – Square in a Square
- September – Dresdens
- October – Curves
- November – Strip Piecing
- December – Foundation Paper Piecing
We’ve seen fabric selection work two different ways for a bee. First, the queen bee can supply fabric for each member of the group, and then they just need to construct the block. This works best for local groups, so you don’t have to worry about mailing things two directions. This will also ensure your entire quilt top is made out of the same fabric and you could have perfectly matching blocks if that is your preference.
The second method is everyone uses fabric from their stash. The queen bee would provide a color palette, then leave it up to each individual member to determine exact placement. This works well if you are mailing finished blocks. I also really like this method as it allows a little of each person to come through in their blocks and makes for a very special quilt. It does mean each person has to have enough stash to construct the blocks. With this project, however, it will likely be able to be made from what you have stashed in your scrap bin, especially if each member picks a different color palette, so you’ll be digging out different colors for each month.
If you want to be very specific on color but are working over the internet, (i.e. making sure everyone’s interpretation of coral is the same as yours), you can pick up paint chips from your local hardware store and give everyone the names. It will take a little extra leg work to then run to the store and find matching chips, but is a very cost effective and easy way to ensure everyone is working from the same color inspiration.
Quilt bees are a lot of fun, but only work if everyone contributes. It is a bummer to be the person that sews blocks all year, but then misses out cause people have disappeared by the end, so please, if you commit, be kind to all the other members and make sure you finish your blocks. With each block posting the first of the month, you should be able to easily have one block finished and off by the end of the month. However, we know things come up and members may need an extension periodically. Be clear with the expectations you have for each member on when they should be mailed and make sure to communicate if for any reason you’ll miss those dates. I imagine people will be totally okay waiting a few extra weeks to finish their top if they know you are working on it and haven’t forgotten about them. Also, due to this, quilt bees are not an ideal type of project for anything with a dead line. Work on those on your own and enjoy the quilting bee for the community it creates.
Do I even need to say it? We quilt because we enjoy the process so just have fun! Please share your progress photos on social media with the #onlinequiltingbee2020 and #onwilliamsstreet and we can all cheer each other on. Take the extra time to really learn the skills and try to get better at them. With only one block each month, you’ll be able to spend a little time focusing on getting everything just right. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn how to get things to line up and work well so that you can apply those principles and techniques to future projects. Our whole goal for this project is to strengthen friendships and create more confident quilters. If at any time you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, we are here to be a resource and help to you throughout the year!
The first block posts January 8th. Fabric requirements for the sampler and the first block will go out the same day. All blocks will be linked below and posted on the blog. Check back soon and we’ll get this party started!
~Kimie and Missy