January ‘18 Queen Bee Blocks

I have seven blocks on my design board that look SO good that I just had to write a post about them! I am the January queen bee for a Bee Hive swarm in the U.S. We actually don’t have an official swarm leader but several members are stepping up regarding swarm organization. And that’s been so great. I was a Bee Hive swarm leader in ‘16, and it was a lot of work and not much fun to encourage->cajole->nag members who were delinquent in getting their blocks in. I chose the Autumn Chain block by SewMamaSew using the slight change in color configuration by my friend, Sarah Goer. (Check out the Autumn Chain blocks she posted on Instagram a few months ago). For her most recent color triumph, read her blog post about her free Confetti Marks pattern in Modern By the Yard.

I have asked my fellow swarm members to make blocks using their own color choice. So far I have received four blocks, and I have sewn three blocks (the two green and the orange block). One of the reasons I like the The Bee Hive Block Series by Blossom Heart Quilts is the secondary design made when several blocks are sewn together. Even with seven blocks on my design wall, that secondary design is starting to emerge. I plan to make a small lap quilt that is 48” square using a total of 16 blocks.


The emerald green block is very special to me. It has the low volume Therapy fabric co-designed by my sister and me and printed using Spoonflower. I used that fabric for gifts for a few therapist colleagues in 2016. I just picked up the medium-value green yesterday at a quilt store in Santa Fe, and made this block today in honor of my sister who loved the color green:


I know when I jumped head-first into two online quilting bees in 2016, I wasn’t sure how things worked, so I thought I would share a few tips with quilting bee newbies:

  • It’s okay to repeat a block throughout the year. Don’t think because another member has chosen “your” block, that when it is your month, you can’t choose that block too.
  • If you are not sure about your fabric pull, check with the queen bee BEFORE you make the block. You can email her privately or use a group Facebook page or Instagram. If your fabrics won’t work for the queen bee, you’ve saved yourself a lot of time and frustration.
  • Try very hard to make your block the correct size. All Bee Hive blocks are 12.5” unfinished and a tiny bit under is okay (like 12.25”), but less than that can make your block unusable to the queen bee. Creative Grids has a great 12 1/2” ruler that I like to use to check my block size. I usually sew a scant 1/4” seam (one thread less than the normal 1/4” seam) when making Bee Hive blocks so that they aren’t too small.
  • Read and re-read the queen bee’s instructions. With my Quatrefoil Quilt, a few of the blocks had white fabric when I had asked for low volume grey or black. It wasn’t a deal-breaker, but I definitely would have preferred that the low volume fabric be used as I had requested.
  • If you don’t have a certain fabric that the queen bee has requested, try to get it at your local quilt store or online. If that is a hardship for you, communicate with your queen bee. I would rather send a swarm member some fabric than have the wrong fabric used.
  • Ask for help and guidance if a block is too difficult for you. My paper piecing skills were not even Kindergarten level the beginning of 2016. When my April Queen Bee asked for us to make the Hidden Gems block, I had to ask for major help from my queen bee who became a very good quilty friend.

Linking up to Sew Can She: Show Off Saturday.

This entry was posted in 2018 Quilts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to January ‘18 Queen Bee Blocks

  1. The blocks are beautiful together, Mary, and the green block is definitely special. Your tips for online bee success are really lovely; thank you for writing them up and sharing.


  2. kaholly says:

    Mary, not only are your blocks beautiful together, you’ve written a very positive, informative post. I already know that when I click on the links you’ve provided, I’m going to spiral down that rabbit hole! Enjoy your day!


  3. rl2b2017 says:

    What a wonderful post! I am sorry that your sister isn’t here to see and enjoy that emerald green block and your fabric! That is SO cool that you designed your own fabric . . . I had no idea ‘real’ people can do that. I’ve only seen it on Project Runway! Oh, and the blocks are coming together so nicely. That secondary design – love, love, LOVE it. I have a similar quilt (that is in my UFO list because I can’t decide how to quilt it) that features the secondary designs. Lastly, I love how you spell out the Bee suggestions. I have never joined one because of those ambiguous unspoken rules. ~smile~ Roseanne


  4. These are beautiful blocks! I was in three bees last year. Keeping up is not always easy. Life happens. This year I enrolled in only two. Good luck on getting all of your blocks. I’m still waiting for some of mine to arrive.


  5. dreamworthyquilts says:

    Great tips! Lovely blocks!


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