Bees are a great way to ‘hang out’ (as much as you can online!) with other quilters, make some quilty friends, and try new blocks. Oh yeah – and end up with enough blocks for a quilt at the end! But sometimes it can be hard to choose a suitable block when it’s your turn as Queen Bee. Hopefully this post might help a little! I’ve also scattered some previous Bee blocks I’ve done amongst the text. We all like pictures after all! I might add none of the pictures relate to the headings – all bee blocks included were fun to make and were not harmed in the writing of this post.
Let me start with a disclaimer – I’m not a Bee expert. I’ve made bad Bee block choices in the past as Queen Bee, and I’ve also had to make some shocker blocks as a bee member. So definitely not an expert. I’m just sharing from my experience and from conversations I’ve had with quilty friends as well as lessons I’ve learnt the hard way! If you have any tips I've missed, please add them in the comments!
Here are some DOs and DON’Ts that I think are important for Bees. (PS I spent awhile deliberating on whether to add apostrophes or not to “DOs and DON’Ts) – but it just seems wrong to add apostrophes to plurals! Sorry if it’s wrong and makes your grammar-self grind teeth!).
DO choose fun blocks to make.
Now I know that ‘fun’ is very relative. For me, a paper pieced block is fun, whereas an appliqued block is not. So you need to know your fellow Bee members and what suits them. You can always ask a week or so before your month is up whether they are completely adverse to using a certain technique in the block for the month. Oh and I think it’s always advisable to avoid y-seams. Does anyone like y-seams?!
DO choose free patterns!
When you start looking at bought patterns for bee blocks, you’re starting to wade into copyright waters. You can’t purchase one copy of a pattern and share it with all your Bee mates. If you really want a purchased pattern, you could a) contact the designer and see if they’ll work out a discount deal for you, b) buy copies for all your bee mates or c) see if your bee mates are interested in purchasing the pattern themselves. But generally – it’s much easier if you choose a free pattern.
DO provide a tutorial if you can
That doesn’t mean having to write one yourself unless you want to, but it really helps Bee members if there is a tutorial on the block you want to make. There are certainly plenty of tutorials on the interwebs – hunt one down ;)
DO test your blocks first!
Do a trial run so you know if there are going to be trouble spots with your choice. Or if your block is going to take 3 hours. You might not be the most popular bee member if you choose a complicated block that takes forever and requires much seam ripping and teeth gnashing.
DO be somewhat specific on guidelines
I think most of us quilters tend to like rules and guidelines and specifics. I end up paralysed by indecision if the guidelines are very vague. Giving colour choices, or layout suggestions is helpful! I don’t mean so specific as in “Use only the purple colourway of Mendocino in the blocks” – more like “Lime green please, not dark green”. You can even include a little inspiration mosaic to help people choose their fabrics.
DON’T choose really complex blocks.
Seriously. Just don’t. Unless you’re in a super-advanced-awesome-sauce-quilter-bee and everyone is at the same level, I don’t think your fellow bee members will thank you. Bees are supposed to be fun, not chores. Again – test your blocks first to see if they are okay or dreadful choices!
A general guideline that I think works well is choose simpler blocks – your Bee members will thank you!
When making blocks for other Queen Bees
DO ask questions
If you’re not sure on something, ask for clarification. Chances are someone else is wondering the very same thing.
If you’re having problems keeping up with the bee, or certain blocks for the month, let the Bee Host know. There’s nothing worse than having a Bee member go AWOL or simply not send blocks they didn’t want to make. That happened to me in a Bee – I made the mistake of choosing what I thought was a simple paper pieced block. I still haven’t received all the blocks and that was from over a year ago. Very disappointing when I made the effort on everyone else’s.
DON’T half-arse it
When it’s your turn to make blocks for others, do try to make them look like they’re supposed to. It’s a bit upsetting as a Queen Bee to get blocks that have threads hanging out everywhere, completely mismatching points (we understand a few, but when it’s obvious you haven’t even bothered trying…), or not in the colours requested, or the unfinished block size is nowhere near what it should be… It’s not just that the Queen Bee has received a dodgy block, oftentimes those blocks are completely unusable in the final quilt. Waste of time for everyone involved! Let someone know if you’re really stuck – maybe you can make a deal with another Bee member and they might make two of the troublesome block, and you make two of another easier one and give them a month off!
And most importantly of all DO HAVE FUN! Bees are supposed to be fun after all!
If you’re looking for inspiration for bee blocks, you’re welcome to join my group board on Pinterest. It’s creatively titled “Possible Bee Blocks”. Also look through other Bee groups on Flickr – plenty of inspiration there!
So my friends, I have no idea if any of this has been helpful or has made you completely terrified of being part of a Bee! I do hope it’s the former and not the latter! And if you have any tips that I haven’t listed, please share them in the comments!
Let’s all be fab bee members together!