Bee, myself and I: January

After making so many bee blocks for others and so few quilts for myself last year, I have set myself the goal of making at least three quilt blocks for myself every month this year in what I am calling my Bee, Myself and I sewing bee. I had a bit of a slow start to January, as I had to decide what I was making, draw templates and patterns, and choose fabrics from my stash, but my blocks are sewn.

I knew I wanted to make a flowering snowball quilt. I have been admiring Mary’s on her Molly Flanders blog since I first saw it. I had a chance to make this block for Stash Bee last year and realised that although it is easy to sew, the curved pieces do need cutting out by hand. For that reason, it is one of my chosen selfish bee blocks – I can cut them out slowly each month.

After upending my entire stash, I came up with this fabric pull. It is based on the 1930s prints I have, with other small-scale prints in red, blue and yellow. I will use an assortment of white fabrics to avoid fretting about having enough of any one fabric. I considered using pale prints for the background too, but I chose to stick to white. I was worried that prints in the background might be too busy on top of the small-scale coloured prints.

Flowering snowball quilt

I have fabrics pulled and the first test block made.

Flowering snowball quilt

The white sections will be solid white and any tone-on-tone whites I can find in my stash and scrap bin. I started cutting in the scrap bin.

Flowering snowball quilt

All of the centres will be navy blue.

As I was cutting out white pieces for the flowering snowball blocks, I realised that I still had a pile of scraps in white and pale prints, many too small to use in the flowering snowball blocks. What to do with them? I know! Start another project! On my Pinterest boards I had pinned American Patchwork & Quilting’s ‘Tone it down’ pattern. There was a quilt-along a year or so ago. That pattern looked like a great way to use up small scraps as the smallest pieces are only 1½ inches square.

Tone it down scrap quilt

This is my fabric pull. I am going out on a limb (for me) and introducing grey.

Tone it down scrap quilt

Who needs a pattern? Just scribble the idea out on some graph paper and off you go!

Tone it down scrap quilt

Half of the blocks will be in the ‘beach’ colour combination – aqua and yellow.

Tone it down scrap quilt

Half of the blocks will be in the ‘galah’ colour combination – grey and pink.

I am not entirely confident about the grey, but let’s give it a go and see how it turns out. If you are not Australian and have no idea what a galah is, it is a common but very pretty pink and grey parrot. The word galah is also used colloquially to mean a bit of a fool. I must be as mad as a gumtree full of galahs to be taking on two bees!

I sewed these blocks from just a sketch, but if you would like the pattern, you can buy it from American Patchwork & Quilting’s shop. As I was tidying up my sewing area yesterday and putting magazine clippings into files, I found that I also had a red and white version of this pattern I had torn from Australian Patchwork and Quilting, volume 21, number 1.

I have reached and exceeded my target of three blocks for January! Hurrah! Anyone is welcome to join in and set their own selfish sewing bee goals. The details and a button are here.

Already Carla and Diana are sewing along and making things just for themselves. Diana is focusing her time on small projects for herself, and Carla made herself a cushion (and her hubby made giant knitting needles, which have to be seen to be believed).


69 thoughts on “Bee, myself and I: January

  1. Love the quilt blocks. What a great idea to use an assortment of whites. I’ve been playing around with making patterns on graph paper and it has been so much fun! It reminds me of coloring as a kid 🙂

  2. You may not be aware but the “Tone It Down” pattern is a variation on an old design called “Charlotte Sometimes”. I made a version from the Material Obsessions 2 book, where fabric is cut into strips first, pieced and then cut into the sub-units. Sarah featured mine on “The Last Piece” blog back in February 2010. It’s a great block! And of course, the Flowering Snowball is lovely too! I love your fabric selection! I am about to start a quilt for myself so maybe I need to sew along!

    • I knew it was an old pattern as I had seen it elsewhere, but I did not know what it was called. Sadly, strip piecing does not work so well with scrappy. 😦

      Of course, the cover image on Material Obsessions 2 is a version! I had not made the connection. Silly me. I tried to see your quilt on her blog, but the archive links do not go back that far!

  3. The fact that you found a second copy of your intended pattern is clear proof that you should make it. I love the galah name for the colour scheme. Australia has a lot of unique animals, and the galah is certainly one that we find amusing. They are just so loud and insist on waking everyone up at 5am in summer. Your blocks are perfectly neat and symmetrical as always.

  4. This is going to be a lot of fun to watch progress. I think it is great that you have two projects for yourself and 4 blocks pieced already. I think that grey and pink go well together, so I’m pretty confident in your color pulls. Without sharing a tutorial, how am I going to gate crash your party?

  5. Bravo for venturing into galah territory. I think you’ll come to love grey in the end! The blossom snowball is lovely, but couldn’t you use a curved ruler to cut the fabrics? There’s one on Amazon called Creative Grids Circle Savvy which I’ve been eyeing up for a future snowball of a different kind
    I am in the home stretch on my big quilt, and I must say I’m looking forward to a little quiet selfish sewing. I’ll be with you next month!

    • I hope you are right about the grey. I had a lighter grey in mind, but nothing much lighter in my stash.

      Yes, I guess I could have bought the plastic templates and cut the flowering snowballs blocks with a cutter, but I don’t mind tracing around my templates and using scissors. It is restful if not speedy.

      I look forward to your joining us next month!

  6. Definitely time to indulge yourself. You snowball block is gorgeous, I love your fabric selection. Once again, you must have a very impressive stash! Lots of happy sewing.

    • We think a lot alike, Sarah. I have a medallion planned too, but it might be slow going. I am being kind to myself with deadlines for that one.

      I am also being kind to myself when I foolishly cross wires when replying to your two comments! I am sure you will follow my train of thought even if I struggle. 🙂

      • For a lot of blocks, yes, they do have a lot of different names. For this one I’m not sure. One thing I think makes it confusing is a pattern designer may name her(his) quilt design something, like “Tone It Down,” and not explain the traditional name or names for the block used. I suppose at some point that quilters may associate the block with the name of the quilt, thus “naming” the block with another name!

  7. Hi! I love your new projects and will join the selfish sewing this year! Flowering snowball pattern is so beautiful but I haven’t even thought to make all those curves. But now I have just started a quilt with winding ways pattern which is similar that flowering snowball. I wanted to challenge myself this year to make curves and then saw Rachel’s quilt (Stitched in Color) and I had to start that. I like also your second project and perhaps I should join you because my scraps are very small. Your light colour fabrics are beautiful. x Teje

    • I love the pattern you have chosen, Teje. Are you using the Quick Curve Ruler or templates?
      I do not find curves tricky to sew. Just take your time and pin, and I am sure you will be fine. I find it helps to have the convex edge on the bottom when sewing too, but try both ways to see what suits you better.

      • I forgot to say that I don’t have ruler and cut with scissors. I cut the templates from fabric and with that I cut 2-4 at the same time.

    • The navy centres evolved, Michelle. Would you believe that I had red centres planned to start with? Then, when my fabric pull had so much red in it that I knew the centres would not stand out, I switched to plan C. Plan B was yellow for a brief moment.

  8. I, too, have both of those quilts on my bucket list. Absolutely LOVE your fabric choices..can’t wait to see what you come up with. I bought acrylic templates to cut the Flowering Snowball quilt but can’t remember the name of the shop. Makes cutting a lot easier for sure! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • I know that acrylic templates exist, Pat, but my self-imposed no-shopping-until-Easter rule and desire to start NOW meant that I decided to muddle along with my own homemade templates. They are not as fancy, but they work!

  9. Interesting that the Tone it down block has so many names. I have also bought the flowering snowball block for my accuquilt cutter. Both quilts are on my to do list. Love the planned scrappy colours of your Snowball blocks.

  10. Oh how much I love your Flowering Snowball. I hope to get mine quilted this year. I need to find a back for it.

    I also love love love your “Tone it Down” quilt! It will be a real eye catcher with those small pieces and great design.

  11. Lovely photos of lovely blocks. What an inspiration you are. I like the crisp look of whites with the colors, it really adds sparkle.

    I missed the link up deadline this month by one day, but not to worry, I have figured out my own selfish plan. I have a box of retreat projects that are in need of finishing. So far, so good, 4 little tops finished and ready to quilt. I will get them basted and blogged about today.

    I love the glimpse into your world down under. Gallahs are new to me. A charming bird here, a relative of your kookaburra, the belted kingfisher, lives and laughs in the trees by our creek. I love their mohawks.

  12. Love your flowering snowball blocks! It’s funny, I REALLY wanted to choose that block for Stash Bee this year, but being the hive mama and having to go first, I didn’t want to scare anyone off with curves right off the bat. I have a lot of first time bee-mates in my hive. Still might need to reconsider making these blocks as part of some selfish sewing.

    • I understand your nervousness about setting it as a Stash Bee block, especially if you have beginners in your group. The curves are not difficult at all, but many people are frightened by them (and Y-seams and a few other things).

      The Christmas block you did choose looks amazing, so it all was for the best, perhaps.

  13. I LOVE that Flowering Snowball pattern. I made and hand quilted two last April/May. That is how much I loved making the pattern. Somehow loving it made it go so fast. One is all Halloween prints and one with Spring time prints. My favorite type of quilt with lots of scrappy prints.

    • You made two in a matter of months?! That is a superhuman feat. You should wear one of your quilts like a superhero cape! 🙂

      I agree that it lends itself to scrappy, which is why I chose it – I wanted to sew entirely from my stash with whatever I had.

  14. They look great! I’m hoping to follow your lead and piece some blocks for myself this weekend before Feb starts on Monday – nothing like leaving it to the last minute!

    • I received Westwood Acres’ Inside Voices club parcels last year, so I am truly well stocked for scrappy backgrounds. As you say, now I have to use them! Now, no scrap, no matter how small, will be wasted.

  15. I had an intention of joining in but January ended up way to quickly but there are other months to come, right. I have those templates from Molly saved for a while as well 🙂

  16. Pingback: More humidicrib quilts | Granny Mauds Girl

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