Star blocks for April

No Foolin’!  I’m not quite sure how it got to be April already.  I have been wanting to do stars for a while now and when I saw this beautiful Starry Night block designed by Cath of Wombat Quilts, I knew it was the one. (Block being used for our bee with Cath’s knowledge and blessing.)

Fabrics:

Star: You decide if you want to make a red star with blue accents or a blue star with red accents.  You can use as few as one red and one blue fabric or make it as scrappy as you like.  I have no problem with other colors in the fabric as long as it reads predominately as red or blue.

Background: White solid or tone-on-tone.  I’d prefer one background fabric in the block as opposed to a scrappy background.

This is a paper pieced block.  You can find the pdf here.  You will need two copies of the page to make the block.  For those who have trouble visualizing, here is how the sections on the pattern break down: 1 is the star fabric(s), 2 & 3 are the accent fabric(s), and 4 & 5 are the background fabric.

I know some folks don’t like or aren’t comfortable with paper piecing.  Here are some tips that I hope will help.

Tip #1: Use fabrics that don’t have a right or a wrong side. This immediately eliminates one of the mistakes that it is easy to make when paper piecing.  If your fabric doesn’t have a wrong side, you can’t do it backwards!  Solids and batiks both eliminate a wrong side and both are fine for this block.

Tip #2: Because each section has the same elements, you can kind of chain piece which will (hopefully) help it feel less labor intensive and mean less back and forth.  I sewed all 8 #2 pieces to the #1 fabric, then trimmed and cheater-pressed (see tip #3) and by doing it this way rather than one section at a time, it went faster.


Tip #3: You don’t actually have to press each step.  Really!  I didn’t press my test blocks until I had the full segment done and you can’t tell, can you?  I used this fabulous roller from Violet Craft and it meant that I didn’t have to get up from my sewing machine until all the segments were done!  Don’t have a handy roller gadget?  Maybe you have a pastry roller or small rolling pin in your kitchen that will work just as well. A solid finger pressing will likely also be sufficient.


Tip #4: Need the visualization?  Color on your pattern!  You can see that I didn’t color all the way in, just marked a little section, but on more in-depth designs I color it all in like a coloring book.  It helps me visualize, as seeing a whole amid the pieces is not my strong suit.

This was the block where I alternated light and dark blues in the star

Tip #5: Remove the paper from the seam allowance.  You can do this before or after you sew each set of segments together.  This was a new one for me and it worked like a charm.

Taking out that seam allowance makes it less bulky

Still worried?  I’ll make you a deal.  Set whatever you think is a reasonable amount of time.  Work on the block for that long and stop when the time is up.  Send me whatever you’ve done and I’ll finish it.  Seriously.  I do not want this to be source of stress for anyone.

I can’t wait to see what you make!  Thanks, everyone!

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I Spy blocks for Paige

Queen Paige has asked for a rectangular I Spy block appropriate for a teenage girl.  I love I Spy quilts and I Spy fabrics!  I reined myself in and I still made 5 blocks.  Paige, I’m hoping that unicorns and fairies aren’t too juvenile for what you have in mind.  Personally, I love both and I am long past teenage years. (The unicorns didn’t photograph well; they are the middle block on the bottom.) I can’t wait to see all your blocks together!

March Bee inspired Paige

Shamrocks for Jennifer

These are so cute!  I think your border is going to look fabulous, Jennifer!  It’s so nice to see your completed top (so far) from last year and I love that you’ve got us working on a different block for the same quilt!  I thought that the darker fabric here that almost looks like grass was in the block I made you last year, but when I looked back I realized that fabric was actually in Sue’s block from last year.  We’re all connected by fabric!

 

March Bee inspired Jennifer

Planted Pines for Paige

I learned this year that I particularly enjoy blocks that look like something when finished. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy other blocks, just that there is particular satisfaction for me when I make, say, a puppy block and when I’m done, it looks like a puppy.

These Planted Pines, designed by Paige, hit that note for me.  I hope these are okay, and that they are less tilty in person than they look in the photo!  (They didn’t seem tilty until I saw the picture. Now I’m worried!)

November Bee Inspired

I’m glad Paige said height is not super important.  One of mine is a bit shorter than 18 1/2″ and one is a bit taller.  Just like real trees, I suppose!

This marks the end of 2017 in Bee Inspired for me as far as making blocks goes.  I’m December queen, so I get to sit back and see the fabulous bookshelf blocks that get created.  I’ve had a fabulous year with you all and can’t wait to do it again next year!

 

2018 Queen Schedule

2018 Queen assignments are here!  The fairest (and easiest) way I could think of was to get a list of “no” months from everyone.  Then I put all our names in one bowl and the months in another bowl. My assistant drew the names.

If the month was not on that person’s “no” list, match made.  Otherwise, both went back in the bowls.

So here is how 2018 looks:

January: Sharon

February: Ann

March: Jennifer Fulton & Paige

April: Emily

May: Velda

June: Jen Rosin

July: Sue

August: Karen

September: Irene & Janice

October: Kate

I think I avoided everyone’s “no” months.  I’m looking forward to another year with everyone!

December block–bookshelf

I am so excited to have arrived at my turn!  I’m not actually Queen until December, but with that being such a busy month, I figured some might want to get done early.  No pressure, I’m not in a hurry.

As a librarian and a quilter, the moment I first saw a bookshelf quilt I knew I had to make one someday.  This is the block I asked for from Stash Bee in 2016 and I have decided to make a bed-size quilt for my guest room/sewing room so I need more bookshelf blocks! I am so excited that I will see a quilt every day that has a piece of each of you in it!

first block I made

 

Second block I made.  With a theme this time!

I do not have a preferred method for this block.  Your books can lean, stand upright, be stacked, or any combination.  I am going to show you how I did my first two blocks, but feel free to use whatever method you like.  My first two blocks are similar to this tutorial from the Craftsy blog. I also tried the mini bookshelf tutorial from Don’t Call Me Betsy.  If “cut random book-sized strips” is intimidating to you, check out her tutorial.  She gives specific dimensions for her books. But keep in mind that her finished block is larger than our guidelines, so you’ll want to use fewer books and trim it to 13″ high. I also found that cutting each book to a specific size took waaaaay longer, which is why my tutorial just has you use varying widths of no set size.

Third block I made. I’m pleased with the leaning book.

Basic Details
Size: please make your blocks 13″ high and between 13″ and 16 1/2″ wide.
***Updated to add: this is the unfinished measurement and the size it will be when you mail it to me.  Thanks, Sue, for the question!***
Background fabric: solid white or off-white. (I used Kona Snow) 
Book fabrics: anything goes!  Great use for scraps!  I love novelty fabrics so if you have scraps of those, great, but honestly, everything will work in this.

Optional Embellishments & Variations
I would love one or more of the following embellishments or variations in your block, but these are completely optional, as I know I will love all bookshelf blocks.

  • Choose a theme for your bookshelf!  You see I did one with all monkey fabrics.  Anything goes here; the sky is the limit! A single color family could also be a theme.
  • Add an object to your bookshelf. Anything you might put on a shelf.
  • Add titles to one or more of your books.  The book titles in my examples are printed because I use printing on fabrics for my quilt labels and I’ve been using any extra space left on the sheet lately to print out titles of some of my favorite books.  Handwritten titles with Micron or similar fabric-safe pens are fine, too. I’ve also seen selvages used for this and that works too.

And Now For the Tutorial!
Again, method is totally up to you, but here is one way to do it. This is for the most basic row of books.

Get your book spines ready. These will be strips of varying widths and heights. Lay these out in the order you like. I found it useful to take a picture at this point to refer to later.

line them up and when you like how they look, take a picture

Cut a long strip of your background fabric.  I cut mine 8″ x WOF; if you have shorter books this may be cutting it to close, in which case do 10″ wide.  You won’t need the entire width of fabric.

Take your book spines and your background fabric to the sewing machine.  Place each spine face down against the background piece, and sew the  short end to the background piece.  Leave about 1/4″ in between spines, and chain piece.

chain piece each book spine to the background fabric

This is what it will look like when you have sewn them all to the background:

all sewn together!

Now line up your ruler and trim each book and the background sewn to it.

trim

Press each book piece.

press

Sew your books together, lining up from the bottom of the books.  This is where having a picture from before you started sewing helps!  Your backgrounds will not line up at this point.

books sewn together, before trimming

Trim your block to 13″ high.

finished block

That’s it!  Let me know if you have any questions.  Thanks so much, and I can’t wait to see what you make!