Category Archives: Bees – Scandibee


To launch a new, exciting year of sewing Scandibee blocks, we kicked off with a pin-cushion swap in December. Eight of us have chosen to continue in 2016, whereas Anne in the Netherlands, Lizzie in Sweden, Nina in England, and Synnøve in Norway decided to focus on other new adventures. In their place we now have Jenny in England, Karen and Maja in Denmark, and Louise in Sweden. Welcome ladies!

Other news from Scandibee is that there are more hives, not just ours anymore! The interest for Ruth’s idea became so huge that she decided to expand, and hence the hashtag for our hive in the new year is #scandibeehive1 although you can check out the main one as well.

Since Instagram improved group messaging, we decided to skip Flickr as a communication platform, because turns out quite a few of us forgot to log on there. Emails and Instagram worked very well in the end of 2015.

But pin cushion, what was that about? In December 2014 we swapped mug rugs, so for this year’s getting-to-know-each-other gift we chose the humble, but very useful pin cushion.

I happened to have Marica as my secret swap partner, which is why my November blocks for her were at tad late. Postage has increased ridiculously in the past year within and in particular out of Finland, so I wanted to catch more birds at once. Of course they increased it even more in February, but we decided to drop the extras, and instead send blocks only this year.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee 2015 pin cushion swap 1 2016-03-14

A couple of years ago I made some small, scrappy improv panels, possibly to be used as mug rugs, but never used them. One looked nice enough to work well with Marica’s inspiration mosaic, which included natural linen as background, and so I chopped it up in three parts, cut two strips of linen of the same size, and made the side panels slightly wider. Unfortunately I can’t recall the exact sizes anymore, but I think the strip widths in the middle ended up being 1” wide finished.

For the backing of the pin-cushion top I used a piece of seersucker that I had in my stash. Since it would face the stuffing, I just needed something to keep the batting in place. The hand quilting I decided to embellish my pin cushion with went through these three layers, after which I placed the pin-cushion bottom and this sandwich right sides together, sewed most of the sides shut with a quarter-inch seam allowance, filled the pin cushion, and hand-sewed the open seam closed.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee 2015 pin cushion swap 2 2016-03-14

Due to a happy coincidence, my Aurifil 28-weight thread box contained the right colours for this project! I stitched with greenish yellow, light green, light blue, and light violet, whcih all matched perfectly the fabric colours.

Here’s my inspiration mosaic for my own secret swap partner:

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee 2015 pin cushion swap 4 2016-03-14

Clockwise from top left (with permission), Instagram users: 1. @sewgoclimbing, 2. @jeliquilts, 3. @a_craftycleverness, 4. @sewingroomsecrets.

In return, I got this cute, flat pin cushion made by Maja in Copenhagen. With our own postage system in mind, where letters thicker than 20 mm are considered parcels with astronomical fees required, I mentioned my short appliqué pins being in need of a proper home.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee 2015 pin cushion swap 3 2016-03-14

They are a third or so the length of a normal pin, and I think they sit very well on this modern, graphic design. Thanks once again, Maja!

Have you committed to a bee this year? Or made the contrary decision?



It’s time to present the last Scandibee block of 2015! Our Queen Bee was Hanne in Denmark, and she requested a block called X Marks the Spot by SewCraftyJess (tutorial). The background was to be scrappy low-volume, whereas the X should contain four different fabrics of the same hue as the centre square would be.

I chose pink, because there’s an abundance of it in my stash still. No matter how much I think colours aren’t gendered, some girls seem to believe princesses and pink are the way to go, so what can I do?

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee December 2016-03-12

Since I had quite a few low-volumes in pink, too, I chose those and red for the whole background.

We had agreed to make either one or two blocks of this rather complex block design, and I chose to make only one, partly due to inaccuracy problems. The blocks obviously need to match perfectly one another in size, and this design has a huge number of seams where everything can go completely wrong, so I opted to send only one block to Hanne.

If you’re following our hashtag #Scandibee on Instagram, you can peruse the pretty selection of blocks made for Hanne, and I personally can’t wait to see her finished quilt top!

Have you seen this block design before out in the wild?

As for Scandibee, we wrapped up our first hugely successful year after having spent many an hour at the sewing machine, creating a vast number of projects for each other, whilst trying several new techniques, colour combinations, block designs and more. I’d like to think we’ve also made great internet friends, since few of us knew the others in person, and in fact I haven’t even met any of the ladies in their physical appearance yet, but we hope to do so one day!


Moving on to yet another month of Scandibee block sewing, November! Queen Bee this month was Marica in Sweden and she chose for us a star block with low-volume background and a grey star in its centre. We could make it scrappy or go with one fabric only, and since I had grey fabrics with rather scrappy-looking patterns, I decided to use those. The tutorial for the blocks can be found here, at Clover & Violet.

The first edit I made was to enlarge where appropriate, to counteract the smidgen worth of problems I have with my inaccurate presser foot/needle plate combination. It worked very well, since we’re talking about fractions of millimetres here and there, and so in the end I simply had to square up by cutting at tad bit of excess low-volume background. This is something I do with each block I make now for others, if only possible, but needless to say, the extra calculations are a bit mind-numbing somehow. That makes me appreciate sewing complete projects, or sewing for myself, so much more!

But on to Marica’s star blocks. Here’s my first one with a lighter star:

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee November 1

As for star patterns in general, this is one of the more unusual ones, and for that I liked working with it a great deal. I can’t wait to see what Marica’s quilt will end up looking!

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee November 2

For some mysterious reason, when first starting my Scandibee journey, I was hesitant in regards to low-volume fabrics, but now I love the effect. Although I like all of them when combined, I think my most liked version is when the pattern is greyscale only, such as the light-grey patterns on white background above, or restrictedly, black on white as well.

I have some fabrics that could be categorised as low-volume due to having a stark white background, but the black pattern is so large, or thick, or both that it looks like it doesn’t blend in well with other low-volumes.

Have you jumped on the low-volume fanwagon yet? Are you going as far as to replace solids (solid white) as background fabric for your projects?


Hey woohoo, one whole month fast forward in one day only. It’s a miracle! Hrm, yes, it seems like the increasing length of day and the approaching Spring (can’t feel it yet, but we’re getting closer with less snow at least) makes me a bit giddy.

So, the Scandibee October blocks were for Belinda in Norway, and they incorporated flying geese, which are on my mind now, in particular as Anna Maria Horner has an absolutely gorgeous class on Creativebug. Belinda requested scrappy flying geese with low-volume birds, one-hued backgrounds, and as a final punch, a side panel with large motifs.

My sewing machine is a topic I’d rather not talk that much about anymore, so a photo will suffice. It does test my patience, but I suppose that’s what I’m supposed to be dealing with :)

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 1 2016-03-11

There was extensive troubleshooting on Instagram after I posted the same photo there, and currently I’m using leaders as often as possible. Leftover selvedges are perfect when cut up into small strips, by the way.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 2 2016-03-11

Tadaah, that’s much better.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 3 2016-03-11

Indeed it is! As for the leftover half-square triangles of the first block, I decided to use them in a mug rug.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 4 2016-03-11

For some unknown reason I had cut the backing quite a bit larger, which gave me the idea to try a new binding technique. Oh, and what’s that hand stitching? Yes! It’s my first hand quilting! I had so much fun, and it was made possible courtesy of Aurifil’s lovely 28-weight box that I received a couple of years ago, but hadn’t had a chance to take for a test spin yet. I adore the texture, and in fact the Queen of hand quilting, Sarah Fielke, prefers this thread over Perle 8 cotton. Supposedly this behaves better when being pulled through layers over and over again.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 5 2016-03-11

There was a bit too little of the backing despite my initial thought, but machine stitching it in place worked well enough. Due to its purpose as a mug rug, and the fact that the geese points with hand quilting were where they were, I wanted a very narrow binding anyway. As for the technique itself, I think I’ll stick to a separate binding in the future, but I’m very happy I have tried this at least once!

The HSTs from the second block are unused still :) Oh the possibilities…

The October blocks were fantastic and they certainly get done quickly, in case you’re in need of a quick block for some project. I tried to access the website with the tutorial we used, but Firefox claims it’s been reported as an attack site, so I’m not going to put a link here. The block finishes at 12.5”x12.5”, though, in case you want to do your own math. The side panel is 12.5”x4.5” to get you started.

The range of colours that Belinda has received is fantastic, so check out #Scandibee on Instagram if you want to keep track of the quilt!


There’s something curious about blogging in March 2016 about September 2015 blocks, but I’ll try just for the heck of it :D Granted, they were sent to Annika in Sweden in December only, but still…

Annika requested two blocks, which finished at 10.5”x10.5”, and while the background was quick and easy, the petals in pink became my nemesis of sort. Why, you ask? Needle turn appliqué. Sewing by hand. Oh dear. Before we continue, let me assure you that I’m quite eager to try English paper piecing at some point, so the story doesn’t end in blood.

She also had wishes in regards to fabric colours. The background was supposed to be a mix of white and green, whereas four petals, starting from a 2”x4” rectangle, were to be pink. All scrappy as per our general rules.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 1 2016-03-10

To fit the background (you’ll see below), Annika asked we draw our own petal templates, and I decided to make mine as symmetrical as possible. I folded a piece of paper first in half, then another time in half. On one of the quadrants I drew a gentle curve along which I cut, then used the cut edge to draw on the rest of the quadrants, whilst folding and opening up the paper as needed. You can see my template here:

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 2 2016-03-10

There’s also two thirds of a Bohin kit bought via Massdrop. One chalk pencil with sharpener is for thin chalk (white on top, colours below in the box), another not showed is for thick chalk, and the third is a glue stick. I’m very pleased with the quality of these products! (No, I don’t get anything for saying this.)

And here’s my first block. For some reason I had forgotten my Craftsy class in which Sarah Fielke teaches needle turn appliqué, but using that knowledge all of a sudden made my mental block get unstuck. I won’t say it is easy nor fast to learn this technique, as the pieces are a bit fiddly to begin with, but gluing down each petal along its centre helped a great deal.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 3 2016-03-10

Here’s a process photo of the second block, which petals I happened to draw first though. You might see the thin white chalk line on the bottom petal, and working with it convinced me that the violet line for the rest of them was a smart choice. While it is reasonably visible in its flat state, when turning the seam allowance the colour disappears almost completely against the white background.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 4 2016-03-10

In case you never heard of needle turn appliqué before, perhaps it’s beginning to sound less tricky already? The point is to finger press along a line, which will work as the seam line, and once you sew, aka turn the seam allowance with the needle, the quarter-inch worth of fabric will get tucked under.

My bee members did various versions of hand appliqué, but based on what I saw – cutting up two layers and folding inside out, or using aluminium foil to press down the seam allowances – I still think this technique seems the most straight forward as long as you know what you’re doing. I kind of detest hand sewing, but found a rhythm halfway through the first petal, believe it or not!

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 5 2016-03-10

The lighting in winter evening conditions is dreadful once again, but such is it. As for my two blocks for Annika, once they finally were sent to her, I was pretty darn proud of them! The only thing I’d do differently is to have a better needle for the purpose. Sarah Fielke uses long, thin needles and I need to hunt them down, because the crystal ball tells me there will be more appliqué in my future.

The mind works in mysterious ways sometimes, but if I ever doubted my Craftsy classes, this particular case shows just how important they are to me. I like learning at my own pace, and with the chance to rewatch something I found difficult, or simply didn’t catch the first time when the phone rang, and so I will keep being a happy occasional customer.

Scandibee August quilt for me

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Quilt mockup 2015-08-09

Since August is my month as Queen Bee of Scandibee, I thought I’d present to you the project I have in mind. I’ve worked on my own blocks for a while now, and only two days ago received the first blocks in the mail, a very exciting event indeed! Somehow amidst planning of the quilt and working on posting fabric photos for the ladies I had managed to forget that I’ll also be receiving pretty things from them!

From the quilt mock-up above you can see that there’s a rainbow, but I’d love to talk a bit more about my thoughts behind choosing this particular pattern. First of all, you can make your own quilt like this using the Starflower block tutorial by Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane.

I’ve made the slight alteration to ask for low-volume fabrics for the background with a fairly even colour distribution (nothing overly black popping up all of a sudden here and there), which would be easier considering the white fabrics in the different stashes most certainly would vary quite a bit. Also, the starflower rainbow colours should preferably be tone-on-tone to create as “flat” a look as in my mock-up above. The good news is of course that you only need one set of each colour, since half-square triangles work to produce double the amount of units for each triangle set, so to speak. In other words, I’ve told them not to make two different blocks this time, but to send similar blocks. It is a rather particular request after all to be as specific as tone-on-tone only.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Block 2015-08-09   Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Block assembly 2015-08-09

I also asked to put pink in between purple and red, since that’s where I believe it should go in the rainbow. It’s no huge harm done, however, if someone were to place it between red and orange.

The beauty of half-square triangles (HSTs) is that they are quite quick to make. If you have a larger table around your sewing machine, there’s a nifty trick you can use, which involves masking tape and three lines drawn on it a quarter inch apart, but my sewing machine doesn’t come with such an extension table. What I did, however, was to chain piece.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Chain piecing 2015-08-09

I prefer to have the drawn diagonal move along the right edge of the presser foot as were it the edge of the fabric. To make chain piecing happen, I therefore sew all HST sets on one side first, leaving that little string of thread between each, then turn the stack around so that the diagonal is still on the right side of the presser foot.

Were I to use the masking-tape trick, I’d do the same kind of chain piecing then, rather than clip threads between each HST set, and in fact I’d only need two lines, the centre line (to line the tape up correctly with the needle) and another one a quarter inch to the right of it (to move the diagonal along).

And finally, here are a couple of photos of my progress on my own blocks. I have to make eight blocks altogether, since I get 11×2 blocks from the ladies, and so far I’ve cut for six blocks.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Fabrics 2015-08-09

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Starflowers 2015-08-09

I think tone-on-tone fabrics are magical somehow. Some people seem to dismiss them as boring, but look what you can achieve with them; a subtle movement and interest despite the colour itself being rather even. Don’t get me wrong, I love patterned fabrics with huge motifs and lots of different colours, but they have great limitations when you want to make a certain type of work in the spirit of solids without choosing actual solid-coloured fabrics. In other words, I’m really excited about this quilt!

Scandibee July blocks

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee July blocks 2015-08-05

July Queen Bee of Scandibee, Nina aka bossyoz, asked for two houses for Scandibee Road. I immediately jumped at the chance to try two house patterns already in my collection, namely Dwell by Camille Roskelley in her Simply Retro book, and one of the houses in Johanna Masko’s Houses wall-hanging quilt.

The Dwell block finishes at 9” x 12”, so I had to add borders. If you look closely at the original pattern, you’ll see how I have chopped off some of the house. The block didn’t look nice enough with grass only on the sides, so the rotary cutter got to sing unexpectedly. Nina encouraged us to put stuff in windows and add other quirky details, so I wrote a little story about my Dwell-based house, with a fancy lady collecting watches in her sitting room, whilst the cook was baking in the kitchen. And the Snowy background gave the name for my block, The First Snow. The red/white house and door colour is a nod to a Nordic tradition of painting cottages and such red with white corners.

The second block I made has no name, but the story goes such that there’s a minimalist family living in the house. Perhaps the father is dealing with a stressful situation with kids and barking dog and the whole suburban experience by trimming his lawn each evening. You see, Nina commented on how neat everything looks behind the row of trees, also planted in organised manner.

Anyway, construction of each block was interesting, and I learned new things in particular when making the second block, more specifically its paper-pieced section. It contains parts that need to be constructed before adding to the rest – which I hadn’t done of course – and so I had to rip a few seams, cut the template into sections, and start again. Very interesting indeed. These situations arise when one doesn’t read instructions properly… *eyeroll*

I have to give myself some positive feedback, too, to counteract the negative. The Houses quilt is a continuous pattern, but I decided to copy only a part of it, then start tweaking away. The only thing I knew when starting out was that I wanted this house to be in the middle of my block, but the rest was improvisation. I recall when making the first cuts back in the day with my rotary cutter, completely freaked out that I’d mess stuff up somehow, but now I’m happily chopping here and there without much worry.

Not only did I think of fabric as being more holy somehow, but I also was a bit reluctant to cut into my pretties. So there’s happened a clear development for the better in both how I view the materials and how I fearlessly try new things. I can’t say the latter about myself in all other areas of life, but oftentimes I notice rings over the water at some later point in time. Waltzing outside of the comfort zone is good.

Another conclusion I keep arriving at whenever I sew with the help of paper is how FPP is such a nice technique for me to use whilst I have the silly sewing machine I can’t trust completely to sew accurate seam allowances. Because FPP is about creating said accurate seam allowance only after you’ve already sewn the seam! So nifty.

I was very late at sending Nina her blocks, only a couple of minutes before the postman emptying the box for evening mail, and so I didn’t have time to throw in some extra fabric. I have something for her cooking, though.

So, you and houses? Have you seen how popular they are currently? They come in all shapes and sizes!

Scandibee June blocks

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee June blocks 2015-07-07

The Scandibee June blocks for Queen Bee Anne were fun to make. She asked for a few criteria to be filled and they included a grey fabric, a dotted fabric, and a cheerful colour scheme. She also specified the size of the square in the middle as well as the amount and width of frames around it. The rest was up to each bee member to decide.

My stash isn’t huge in the grey section, so I decided to pick the two grey fabrics first. Next, I went through all dots, and apparently I don’t have huge numbers of those either. Once all supporting fabrics were picked, I decided which border would have to be wider compared to the other ones, and maybe you would have come to the same conclusion regarding the folk birds and herringbone patterns?

Fussy cutting is probably the wrong expression in this case, but the most time-consuming step was to cut all the strips in a way that would make sense also later, once Anne has chopped up these blocks into four smaller squares. No matter what, I’m almost unable to sew lines in a crooked way, so it did pay off to cut carefully. At least the order-loving part of me approves of the result :D

There were a few seams to unpick once again, and I did curse at my sewing machine. Had I sewn these blocks for myself, I’m not sure I would have erased a step and started a seam all over, but the presser-foot / feed-dog situation is very much an issue still, and I’m praying for a lotto win. One of the first things I’d do, would be to buy a Bernina, but I’m sounding like a broken record at this point, so suffice to say there’s fighting and cajoling going on behind the scenes with my machine.

If you want to do some gentle improvisation, I think this is a great place to start. Set yourself some limitations, but work freely on the rest, and you might be surprised. I had no idea of how my blocks would turn out, only a hunch, and in person these look even better. (A note to self is to use my point-and-shoot Canon instead of the phone camera. I’m just a bit lazy with the uploading, since sending an email to myself with only a photo or two is quicker.)

Anne already let me know she had received my blocks together with a small stack of scrap fabrics, so all is well!

Scandibee May blocks

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee May blocks 2015-05-30

Yet another month has flown by and it is time to share what was mailed yesterday to Scandibee Queen Bee, this time Synnøve in Norway. She picked for her two 12.5-inch blocks the traditional, pretty Scrap Jar Star, which is a free block tutorial by Amber of A Little Bit Biased.

In March, I wrote about more problems with the quarter-inch seam allowance. Did they get resolved? Of course not. In fact I’m even more miserable now, because it dawned to me that the needle of my sewing machine cannot be moved to the right, only to the left. In other words, I can’t use the line of the quarter-inch presser foot, but compensate for the scant quarter inch by moving the needle a tad to the right. The result now is that the right part of the feed dogs keep dragging unevenly the fabric, which has to flow along their middle rather than outside edge. I simply can’t believe bad design like this! I looked up Bernina prices and wanted to cry.

Anyway, this block is a lovely sea of quarter-inch seams, and (through no fault of Queen Bee) the experience was nerve-wracking once again. I lost count of how many times I had to use the seam ripper to ensure sewing a 12.5-inch block rather than a 12.17953-inch one.

Another interesting thing is the needle itself. Up until recently I’ve used Schmetz, but ran out on them, and had to grab one from Singer. Oh my the difference (not good)! I also have a collection of miscellaneous threads to use up, and can tell from how much they produce lint that they certainly are made differently, too. Can’t wait until I have used all my white 50-weight thread, so I finally get to buy a delicious cone of Aurifil!

Now I’m wondering why all these sidetracks get baked into my bee blog posts, and I think it is because I pay extra attention to all the components of sewing when making my blocks for someone else. The bee ladies are such great sewists and know what to look for as far as craftmanship goes :) I feel like I’m really stretching myself each month this year!

What remains to be said about the May block is that I hope it arrives safely in Norway and Queen Bee approves of it. On Instagram she already exclaimed appreciation, but you never know when they get to scrutinise the stuff in person ;)

Have you participated in bees and swaps? Do you sew “differently” when creating for others, perhaps more accomplished than you?

Scandibee April blocks

NWF Scandibee April blocks 2015-05-06

Scandibee Queen Bee of April, Sigrun, asked for two polaroid blocks, using the tutorial posted by Capitola Quilter, with minor modifications to the size of the white “photograph” frame.

The block design is fun and supposedly quite easy to figure out mathematically, but for some reason everything happened at once and I haven’t felt as ridiculously bad at sewing as when making these two blocks. The list of mishaps is too long for me to bother listing it, but suffice to say, I’m not too fond of fabric that stretches. Because that is one thing I cannot make myself take the blame for.

Also, I had originally planned on using a greyish pink fabric as background for the pink polaroids, but it coloured my white pressing board (handdyed by someone), so I decided against it at once and went for the dark green instead. Then I let Sigrun decide between three options – light green, the same dark green, or a clear blue – for the other block, and she picked the light green you see above.

Finally, I do believe I need to invest in another iron. Maybe I’ve mentioned it here before, but it is beginning to annoy me a great deal how stuff never looks just right after I’ve pressed stuff… I keep drooling over the neat finish in Camille Roskelley’s Craftsy classes, but another thing in her case is that she only uses fabric from the same manufacturer, which translates to there being no variations in how they behave when handled during the different stages of the process.

All in all, what I found challenging when making these blocks, has nothing to do with the design, and everything to do with me. I think there are so many areas that I need to improve in still, and sometimes a reminder completely in my face can feel quite frustrating. Despite hickups, however, the two nature-themed blocks are now on their way to Norway, where Sigrun can create a stunning polaroid quilt thanks to some wonderful contributions sent from all over Europe. Be sure to check our Flickr pool from time to time (button in side column)!