Smiling because it’s my turn to be Queen Bee for March

Hi, I’m Kate, I blog at Smiles From Kate and I’m Queen Bee for March.

So, who is up for a little improv? If you haven’t done any before you don’t know what you have been missing and the great thing about a Bee is it takes you out of your comfort zone and you never know you may just find your perfect quilting technique.


This is the block I would like you to make.

It is called Trees and Gnomes and was designed by Sylvia at Flying Parrot Quilts,  you can find Sylvia’s original tutorial here. I first saw it on Stash Bee in June 2015, it was love at first sight, sigh………..

I’m not going to do you a tutorial when the original is so good, but there are one or two observations from when I made it. Apologies for the pics, it has been so dull and miserable here, and I left it so late to make the block, that I couldn’t manage any better ones.

The colours are as the original tutorial, low volume background in pale creams beiges, greys and white, green for the trees, red for the gnomes, brown for the tree trunks and the legs of the gnomes, and skin coloured scraps for the gnome faces, if you havn’t got a sort of skin colour a plain cream will work just as well.


First I cut the backgrounds

3 squares 5 ½ inches , these are for the three ‘open’ blocks.


6 rectangles 5 x 6 inches which form the background for the tree and gnome blocks. The idea is you get two pieces by turning the second piece around, it also means you either get two rights or two left sides, I ended up cutting more so I could do a right and a left side and added in a couple more fabrics, I didn’t have enough to give more variation, but that’s ok. If I had my thinking head on I would have used some smaller pieces I had that I could have got one out of, but I didn’t. If I was cutting them again I would make them slightly wider, about half an inch or so to 6 1/2 inches wide, it would make it easier for the trimming, but maybe that’s just me in the making of them.


6 rectangles 1 ½ x 6 inches which form the bottom part of the tree/gnome blocks. I would definetly cut these 2 inches, it makes it so much easier inserting the trunks and legs then lining up and trimming.


Green Trees they are so not the right colours in the pic, they are definitely green, proper green I mean, although you may see it differently to me, did I tell you I have cataracts?  It dulls all the colours down and I don’t see the shades properly.  Of corse it means that once I have them removed I could look at the quilts I make now and be shocked by all the garish colours!!!!

How many you cut depends on your ratio of gnomes to trees, you need some of both but you can do any number of combinations from 1 tree to five gnomes to 5 trees to 1 gnome, or anwhere in between. So you need:

1 – 5 rectangles 3 ½ x 5 inches. Perfect


Red Gnomes, this pic has gone the other way, just screw up your eyes and imagine these are several shades darker.  The solid didn’t end up in the quilt block, I had a bit of trouble, and ended up substituting another fabric.

As in the trees you need any number to bring it to six.

1 – 5 rectangles 3 ½ x 5 inches


Skin fabric, I found a scrap of a pale pinkish solid I used as skin on another quilt

1 – 5 (depending on how many gnomes you are making) 3 ½ x 1 – 1 ½ inches.


Brown tree trunks and gnome legs.

You need 1 for a tree and two for a gnome, they are all 1 x 2 inches

This is my hints and tips bit based on my mistakes.  Mind you I was having a particularly bad day, I ended up recutting several pieces.  I’ll blame my eyes, it’s as good an excuse as any (blush blush).

I already told you about cutting the background rectangles a little wider and the bottom backgrounds a little deeper,

After you make up the top part of the tree and gnome blocks just trim the top and bottom to 4 ½ inches, I found it better not to trim the sides at this point, it makes it easier to add the bottom pieces and it gave me a little fudge room, but that’s me.

After I made the bottoms I just trimmed the tops, then I could decide exactly where I wanted them and after stitching them to the top part and pressing that’s when I gave my final trim of the bottom and sides, it helped me be more accurate.

Then I just played with the arrangement but I ended up with the same as the tutorial. I have lots of cut pieces for backgrounds left ready to make some more, plus a couple of trees and a gnome, or the top part anyway, yes, it was the red solid. I’m not sure if I will use the gnome, I didn’t read the instructions properly and he has a very small hat.

The biggest mistake I made was not trimming the top and bottom of the blocks before adding the bottoms, it didn’t say so in the instructions and as I said I didn’t have my thinking head on.  I ended up with half inch bottoms and had to take them all off and make all new ones.  Well, I’m honest anyway, sometimes you just have a bad day.

I do so hope you enjoy making it as much as I did (and don’t get to make all the mistakes I did), and yes I really enjoyed it even after everything I did wrong. I am so excited about this, I can’t WAIT to see what you make, and if improv isn’t really your thing well it may just change your mind!

Question, what is the worst mistake you have made when quilting?

With smiles from

Kate x

6 thoughts on “Smiling because it’s my turn to be Queen Bee for March

  1. This looks fun! Within the 9-patch, do you want the trees/gnomes in those same spots, or does it not matter as long as 6 are objects and 3 are blank? Does that make sense? I’m trying to figure out if the trees/gnomes have designated squares in the 9-patch.


    • Yay, I so love a bit of fun, as readers of my blog have found out hehe! It doesn’t matter where you place the blank squares or where you place the trees or the gnomes, as log as there are three blanks and a combination of 6 trees and gnomes in total. Just have a play and see what you come up with.


  2. Yikes. Improv has a way of making me anxious. I finished your blocks today and I personally love them, but they are a bit wonkier than yours. It was lots of fun going out on a limb although a bit scary for me.


  3. Pingback: Tu-Na Quilts: Catching up with the March Bee Blocks and the Continuing Postage Saga | Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

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