Tag Archives: quilting bee


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?

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 January blocks

Stina requested two 12.5” blocks for the first Scandibee quilt ever to be made. The design she had chosen was simple improvisation of strips sewn together, and for one of the blocks she asked for a favourite colourway, whereas the other should be low-volume colours of choice.

Auditioning fabrics is usually quite easy for me, and since I found that the green section was mostly missing in the contributions of others, I decided to go for both warm and cool greens as well as various tints/shades/yadayada. At that time I didn’t even look at the low-volume fabrics yet, but simply sat down to cut, press, and sew, then press some more. Here is my first block:

NWF Scandibee January block 1 2015-03-20

If you’ve followed my other projects, I’m sure you recognise some of the fabrics already. Also, in public I hereby confess my love for the Lizzy House Jewels pattern. It is unbelievably versatile, and, while simple, it gives nice movement to a patch.

Another emerging favourite is the screen/drawn texture, which several designers are now including in their collections. The lime green above (it really is a bright lime rather than yellowish green) is my favourite size, too, in that this one fits also in foundation paper piecing on smaller templates without losing the quaint tone-on-tone effect.

While I have some low-volume fabrics already, as a category it isn’t one I’ve been investing in actively, and once time came to shuffle ideas around, my mind went blank. Nothing seemed to fit together! I don’t think I’ve ever had the experience before, so it was with utter disbelief that I rummaged back and forth without feeling any kind of clicks anywhere. This still amuses me to no end how I ended up racking my brain, because I’ve pulled fabrics for other projects after this block – without any problems whatsoever. In fact, I had forgotten all about this short-term misery until searching my memory again, when writing these words.

Clearly I have something to show, though, so without further ado, the second January block in low-volume fabrics:

NWF Scandibee January block 2 2015-03-20

I think it works quite well, and Stina, the January Queen Bee, seemed happy enough, but if you count the number of fabrics and compare it to the first block, if nothing else then this tells you what a challenge it was. Who knew how difficult a few rectangles could be…

In other words, what I have learned is that I might want to focus actively on both tone-on-tone and white-on-colour patterns in general, and those in particular when it comes to low-volume fabrics. The latter is a popular category in quilting currently, so if I intend to do projects together with others, then that in itself is a reason to expand the section a bit at some point.

As for the technique, it is a wonderfully quick way to make good use of strips on the longer, thinner side, and I can very well see myself making a scrap quilt like this in the future. All colours of the rainbow, yum! And finally, I do need a 12.5×12.5-inch ruler, because the 16×16-inch one I have is a tad too large for comfortable squaring up of blocks, when utilising the nifty diagonal lines on both ruler and block in some cases.

The Scandibee collaboration is well under way already, but I still want to take the opportunity to say how much I appreciate the ladies and their skills. Sewing with them pushes me in more ways than I had imagined to become a better quilter, and on Instagram in particular their cheerful, supportive comments are worth their weight in gold. Thanks ladies, you rock!

Scandibee Christmas mugrug swap – What I got from Stina!

In my previous post, I showed you what I made for my swap partner Sigrun in the Scandibee Christmas mugrug swap, and now it’s time for Stina’s lovely mugrug to make an appearance.

NWF Scandibee Christmas mugrug swap - From Stina 2015-03-19

In my inspiration mosaic, I had picked different styles, colours, and both solids and patterned fabrics, to make the task as fun and easy as possible for my swap partner. The only thing I asked for was a mugrug suitable to use all around the year.

When Stina’s project arrived in the mail together with a fun little notebook and a pretty charm pack from the Eden collection, I just couldn’t believe how she had done all that work for me!

The scallops, the perfectly chosen fabrics, the neat echo quilting, the wonderfully pieced back, and finally the thoughtful “here & now…” handstitched in place made my heart go all warm and fuzzy. And then I haven’t even mentioned the binding, which looks like my kitchen curtains! I still haven’t figured out whether it was a lucky coincidence or Stina maybe had read about my sewing project here on the blog.

Now I keep switching between my everyday mugrugs and this prettier rug, because I don’t want to dirty it up more than necessary, but on the other hand, I always pay attention to Stina’s encouragement to stay in the present in real mindful style.

Before I stop writing for now, I still want to mention that Stina is a really accomplished quilter, so please go visit her on her Kviltstina website! Recently she was featured on the cover of a Swedish quilting magazine, Rikstäcket, with her beautiful quilt “Små och Stora Knappar” (Small and Large Buttons).

Scandibee Christmas mugrug swap – Happy Hexagon Trivet

Yes, indeed, we are already in March, but I never blogged about my mugrug that I made for the Scandibee Christmas swap, so here goes!

The inspiration mosaic made for her anonymous swap partner, yours truly, by Sigrun had lots of vintage elements going on.

NWF Scandibee Christmas mugrug swap - Inspiration mosaic 2015-03-19

The kitchen items stood out to an extent that I decided to build the theme around “Put A Lid On It” in the Nite colourway, from the Kitchen Collection by Michael Miller Fabrics. To my luck, I happened to have matching colours and patterns to bring out various details from the focal fabric.

I already had in mind Ayumi Mills’s “Happy Hexagon Trivet” pattern from “Patchwork, Please!” (written as Ayumi Takahashi) and it was so much fun to choose which part of the kitchen fabric would end up at the end of the tunnel of sorts.

Due to its hexagon shape, the size of the trivet was a bit large for a mugrug, so I scaled it down. If I recall correctly, the mugrug ended up being around six inches for two apothems.

My process collage shows some especially memorable moments, all a first of some kind.

NWF Scandibee Christmas mugrug swap - Process collage 2015-03-19

The pattern isn’t difficult at all, if you have a basic understanding of how to do foundation paper piecing, but progress is quite slow. And since I was making the mugrug for someone else, I wanted to pay attention to fabric placements, pressing well, and so on.

While I had enough knowledge to pick this pattern, it ended up being the first time I sewed in place the last fabric piece to an FPP project, when I got to rip out the foundation paper (oh my, the tiny size of some of the pieces!), and – believe it or not – when I did proper binding by hand, rather than use bias tape. Quilting neatly wasn’t easy either, in particular when arriving at a vertix to pivot around it, but I finished the project and Sigrun posted a photo of it as having arrived at her address.

NWF Scandibee Christmas mugrug swap - Finished mugrug collage 2015-03-19

In general, I think small projects like this Happy Hexagon Trivet might look simple at first, but if you throw in a range of new things to deal with, not only do they become time-consuming, but also unexpectedly large in one’s mind. Maybe this is partly due to my tendency not to want to wing things and risk failure or sub-par quality of sorts, but whatever it is, I feel I’ve stumbled upon the reason why the mere thought of constantly cranking out something crafty is overwhelming.

I tend to challenge myself thoroughly in my projects, even when it isn’t a conscious move, and one can’t learn new things all the time, but time is needed to process them to allow them to actually sink in. Do you know what I’m trying to say here? Feel the same? Or maybe have a less “serious” approach to your craft?

After some reflection is out of the way, I’ll wrap this project up with a pleased sigh and a conclusion I might use the pattern again one day. Can’t say that of all of them!

P.S. The collages were due to bad lighting conditions in December, but I like the condensed format so much that I think I’ll use the nutshell versions in future posts. Not that I mind longer blog posts, but the scrolling can get a bit tedious sometimes.