I'm up-to-date with making and returning my Bee Blocks but way behind in sharing them with you. About time I put that right - this is my September Improv: Beyond The Bee block for Queen Bee Chris, yes me!
Improv: Beyond The Bee
Members of the NYC Metro Modern Quilters Guild, as a Bee, we are using many of the ideas in The Improv Handbook For Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood and working with scores (rules open to self-interpretation) set by that month's Guild Queen Bee.
As I mentioned, Queen Bee for September 2016 is me!
I sent everyone in the Bee 1/3 yard of Michael Miller Cotton Couture brilliant white solid fabric along with a set of instructions.
My Score: Free Reign
I gave Bee members free reign to make whatever score or technique from the book they'd been itching to try since first flicking through the pages - I also suggested they might want to try the technique that made them feel most uncomfortable! Work should be ruler-free and Bee members were free to create their own score rules which I asked them to detail in their evaluation exercise.
✦Please don't substitute supplied white solid with any other brand of white solid.
✦If possible use all provided fabric.
✦MUST BE - solids / matt, no sheen / 100% good quality quilting weight cotton such as Kona, Michael Miller, Cloud9, American Brand Solids
✦NO - tone on tone / prints / gradations / ombre / batiks / texture such as Essex linen / Joanne's fabrics or other lower quality cotton / lawn / sateen /brushed cotton or wool
✦MUST BE - bold and cheerful - nothing dull, dirty or muted.
✦NO - brown or brown side of orange/red/green.
✦Any shape and size.
✦Hand stitch one line of running stitches on your finished score.
✦Use any colour of embroidery thread or pearl cotton.
✦Leave 5" tails at each end of stitched line and on top side of score, don't knot either end of thread.
✦The line can be any length and stitches can be any size but must be running stitch.
✦The line can start and finish at any point on the score.
✦The line can be straight, curved or both and can change direction as you wish.
The Blocks To Date
To date, from 9 sent Bee packages, I have received back 4 made blocks and a further 2 fabric packs have been returned unmade. Huge thanks to Lori, Caroline, Diana and Greer, I loove what you've sewn up for me 💗
I shared this photo of the first 3 blocks I received on Instagram months ago...
...and then Greer surprised me with not one, but several blocks 😍
Evaluation Exercise Idea Conception
In the fabric package, I included an Evaluation Exercise to be completed and returned. I hoped, as a Quilt Alliance member, that this would allow me to record the history of the quilt. Also, as I'm putting the quilt top together I thought it would help me to be able to know each Bee member's process/thinking for each section of the quilt top and to use this to determine my next steps.
The success rate in Evaluation Exercise returns is currently running at one completed form and a half completed form - so 37.5%, can that be called a success rate? 😏
Assessing My Work Against The Score
The variation in scores and block sizes surprised me. That everyone so far has used the quality fabric solids and colours I asked for is a delightful surprise and a relief, it means my quilt top is already half way to having the look that I have for it in my head. This is exactly what I was hoping for but I didn't dare hope it would happen - and it did 😆
No 'new to me' discoveries but some things that I rediscover each time I take part in a Bee:
✦Not all instructions/rules will be understood or followed.
✦Some Bee packages will be lost in the post.
✦Some Bee packages will be returned unopened or unmade.
✦Some Bee packages will be returned much later than others.
✦Some Bee packages won't be returned.
Other things I have learnt previously from taking part in Bees that didn't happen in this Bee:
✦Fabrics and seams may not be pressed.
✦Not all fabrics will be good quality quilting weight cotton.
✦Some Bee members pre-wash and some don't - problematic when piecing blocks into one quilt top.
✦Bee members don't all cut accurately.
✦Seams may not be sewn well or at 1/4" when a 1/4" seam is vital to the finished size.
✦Blocks won't be the same/correct size when they're returned.
✦Bee members understand colours, prints and themes differently.
The blocks received are all made with exactly the colours and solid fabrics I was looking for to create my final quilt top. Even with just the 4 blocks returned so far, I know I can use them to create something more than interesting and a great keepsake of this year with the Improv: Beyond The Bee members.
Disappointment that only 2 of the 4 returned blocks have the requested stitching, I hoped to make this a feature of the finished quilt but with only 2 blocks having stitching to date, I fear it'll look misplaced. I'll leave the stitching in the quilt blocks for as long as possible but wonder if I may have to remove it in the later stages if it jars with my chosen final quilt design. Further disappointment at the poor return rate for the Evaluation Exercise.
I've learnt from previous Bees I've been in that no matter how much you simplify and explain your instructions and requests you'll always be surprised when what you receive back is sometimes not what you asked for - I don't anticipate any changes I could make 'next time' would change this. At the end of this Bee rotation in April, I think it's time for me to take a break from being in a Bee - hence no 'next time' for the foreseeable future.
Fingers crossed, I receive the final 3 blocks and then can start thinking about placement on the final quilt top and making my own improv blocks as necessary to make that happen.
Improv: Beyond The Bee
Have you made a quilt using scores from The Improv Handbook For Quilters?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too.
I'm Vice President of the NYC Metro Modern Quilters Guild #nycmetromod and from 2012-15 I was a member of our Guild's first Bee and I shared how I made each block with you here on this page along with our Guild's challenge and charity blocks and now the Improv: Beyond The Bee blocks too.
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Linky Parties This post may be linked to some great Linky Parties, always a great source of inspiration too. If you click through to my 'Fave Linky Parties' page you can see where I like to share my work.