Quilt Bee Blocks and New Quilt Idea

At the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, we’ve started a new fun swap called a Bee. Participants are divided into “hives” of 10 to 12 people. Each month, one hive member makes a block request, showing a block she’s made as an example. The next month, all the hive members bring a block for that member to use in her quilt. That same month, a different hive member shows a block, and it keeps going until all the hive members have received blocks for her quilt. Fun!

Janine was the first hive member to request a block for my hive. She asked for a block of any size that is made with only squares and rectangles and uses only solid fabrics. Easy enough.

I was in between projects last weekend, so I decided to work on my bee blocks. As usual, I started paging through my books for ideas. The first block I decided on was one called Homeward Bound from The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt book. The blocks in that book finish at 6 inches, which is a bit small for me, so I enlarged the pieces for a 9-inch block.

Bee2

I picked colors that I thought would go with what Janine showed at guild. But they weren’t really my colors. So I made another block. This one is from the book Pillow Pop. I reduced the size of it by a row or two, and it’s definitely my colors.

Bee 1

As I was working on those blocks, I was thinking about my next quilt. And it’s pretty ridiculous how straightforward my train of thought was. First block pattern + second block colors = new quilt!

Homeward block 1 I was intrigued by how the corner blocks for Homeward Bound would make a secondary square once more blocks were put together. So I made a few more blocks to see if I liked it.

Homeward blocks And I really do like it! My plan is to use teals and greens for the large squares; pinks and oranges for the corner squares; and grays for the rest. I’ve got six blocks done and a bunch more cut out. I love the excitement of starting a new quilt!

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Christmas Tree Wall Hanging

Christmas trees 4Every year when I unpack the Christmas decorations, I wish I had a new quilted wall hanging to put up. I have a few that I’d make years ago, but neither fit my current style. So this year, since we stayed home for Christmas instead of traveling, I decided to finally make a new one.

I wanted to keep it classic, without getting too fussy. After a bit of online research, I found the Lovely Little Forest Quilt pattern at Purl Soho. The pattern was simple enough, and I certainly had the green fabric I needed. So, I got to making trees!

Christmas trees 1It was so much fun picking out the greens from my stash that I couldn’t stop! I made so many trees that my wall hanging ended up being a bit larger than the one in the pattern.

While I liked the simplicity of the design, I wanted mine to be Christmas-ier. I tried adding some red embroidery, but that looked a bit messy compared to the clean lines of the design. Then I decided to check my ribbon stash, and there I found some large red rickrack.

Christmas trees 2I tried putting it in a few places and ended up liking a single length on a few of the trees. The rickrack was so thick that simply folding under the ends wasn’t going to look very clean. So I decided to unsew the side seams of five of the trees, slip in the rickrack, and sew them back up. Easy! Or not, as it turns out. My seam edges got a bit wonky on those trees (not that they were all that great to begin with), but the overall effect was what I wanted.

Christmas trees 3For the quilting, I echoed the shape of the trees, extending the echos into the white spaces. In retrospect, I should have stitched in the ditch to anchor the fabric first. Instead I started at the bottom and worked my way up, which shifted the fabric a bit as I went. So a few puffy spots but nothing too bad.

Christmas tree finalI thought the piece needed a bit more red, so I dug through my very, very small red stash and found a red print that had a solid red backside. I didn’t have much of it, though, so I used the double-sided binding technique from String Quilt Revival and used the red on only the front.

Christmas tree backThe backing fabric is one that I must have bought a million yards of. I used it as the backing on a large quilt a few years ago, and I still had enough for this piece, and the binding, and the corner hanging tabs, and I still have some left.

Christmas trees 5The finished piece measures 18.5 x 25.5 inches. Now that it’s done, I’ll pack it away with the rest of the Christmas decorations. And when I unpack things again next Christmas, I’ll have a new wall hanging to display!

Coloring Kaleidoscopes

Coloring_yellowblue

I’m obsessed with coloring. I just can’t get enough of it. Any idle time in the evening is spent coloring. Wind-down time at night is spent coloring. Weekends? Coloring. I even thought about taking a coloring break during the work day but decided that was a much too slippery slope to go down.

I first blogged about coloring back in February 2012. After a few months, my interest waned, and I put away the colored pencils for a few years. Then this whole adult coloring craze got me thinking about coloring again, and I picked up my old coloring books a few months ago.

What really kicked my coloring into gear, though, was a gift Greg gave me for Christmas: Kaleidoscope Designs by Martha Day Zschock.

Coloring book

Since my other coloring books are color-by-number, I wasn’t sure if I’d find coloring my own designs as relaxing. And I’m not sure if it is as relaxing, but coloring these kaleidoscopes is a ton more fun. What I’m really enjoying is coming up with color palettes for each piece.

My process is to pick a color and use it in three spots in a design. Then I pick another color and use it in three spots. I keep going like that, without a real plan of what color I’ll pick next. Here’s my sequence for a recent design.

*Note: I tend to color in places where the light isn’t very good. And often at the end of the day when my eyes are tired. Plus I’m usually really excited to lay down the color and move on to the next one. All this is to say the coloring itself isn’t that great. Be kind.

Coloring 1

Coloring 2

Coloring 3

Coloring 4

On this one, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with a light purple or a darker one next, so I tried them both before going with the darker color.Coloring 5

Then I went back and used the lighter purple.

Coloring 6

The finished piece (with a different camera in different light).

Coloring 7

As you can see, I’m a bit of a kaleidoscope coloring minimalist. Coloring the whole thing doesn’t seem fun to me. I like my white space.

Coloring_greenpurple

For this one, I challenged myself to use more contrasting colors (my other contrast challenge piece is the one at the very beginning of this post). I intended to start with an orange, but I accidentally picked up blush instead. So the piece went in an unusual (for me) direction right from the start.

Coloring_brownblue

And here’s my latest work-in-progress. My challenge for this one was to use colors I don’t normally use. I’m not sure what color I’ll try next—I guess I’ll see tonight!

Coloring_wip

If you haven’t picked up a coloring book recently, I highly recommend you give it a try. You just might have hours of fun in store!