Wednesday 20 June 2012

Bee Challenged!

Further to my thoughts yesterday about being queen bee in the Sew Happy Bee in July I have now got a list of words I would like which I think describes the process of making a quilt for me!

Here is my list:

  •  Dream  - done
  •  Design - done
  •  Cut
  •  Pin
  •  Piece
  •  Stitch - will be done!
  •  Trim
  •  Layer
  •  Baste
  •  Quilt
  •  Bind
  •  Label
  •  Love

I am trying to be kind to my bee members by not going for words like embroider and such - so the words are 3-6 letters long!  I have started the ball rolling with these two



And plan to make the other 6 letter word Stitch!

As you can see I want a solid fabric and a small patterned fabric.  I don't mind whether the word is in the solid or not however it is important that there is a contrast between the fabrics so the word can easily be read!   Busy prints will probably not work with this idea!  I would also like the fabrics to be modern and the colours clear though I do not mind what the colours are - the walls in my sewing room are white!

I am not bothered if the letters are chubby or skinny - in fact a mixture of letter height and width would improve the improv feel I think. So therefore there is no fixed size!  To give you a sense of scale my blocks are 6.5" x 12" and 6.5" x 13".  But skinny tall letters could make a block in the other proportion  - 12" high x 6.5" wide!  That would be fabulous!

Now I was hoping to suggest my bee members use the excellent tutorials I found on Tonya Ricucci's blog but since she has brought out her book Word Play Quilts I guess she has removed them!   The book is fabulous now that I have actually got around to using it!

So here goes on a few basics of her method:

She starts with strips of fabric of different widths - for the letters and for the background.  You do have to be careful with going too thin as you add other fabrics your chunky letters become thinner as the seams are sewn.  I was almost anorexic with my 'a' in dream!  

She generally starts from the middle of the letter and works out!  An 'e' starts like a log cabin - a small rectangle of background joined to a strip of letter fabric.  

 Carry on round with the letter fabric in an anti-clockwise way to the right of the 'e' 

And to the top of the 'e'

Now we turn our attention to the bottom of our pieced block and fill in a piece of background fabric

then back to the letter fabric for the left side 

and bottom 

Job done!

Now I am sure you all realise that the 'e' is the key to lots of words - being the most used letter in the English alphabet but turn it upside down and there is the letter 'a'

These shapes are the basis of many other letters with a circle and straight piece - your letters 

  • p
  • d
  • b
  • g
  • q
With just the circle we get the letters 'o' and 'c'.

Tomorrow I will show you how to do letters with a slanting line - 'r', 'h', 'n' 'u', 'm' and 'w' - unless you work it out already!

Another way to letters is the paper pieced way - thanks Jess for the tip off about this pattern Elizabeth Hartmann is bringing out on Thursday for all the letters of the alphabet as you can see here - called the Refridgerator Magnets Pattern - selling at $12.50 (about £7.95).  Now I am not suggesting anyone needs to buy it but it gives you an alternative look to the letters of the alphabet - more regular than my liberated letters!  It would be easy enough to draw letters on graph paper and make your own.  Just as I have done for the improv ones!

The truth of it is this - I want my bee members to make their own pattern and choose their own way of piecing as there is personality in the way we write and I would love to enjoy that too when I look at my wall hanging!


  1. Damn woman, you got those together quickly! They look fantastic, you clever thing!

  2. Fabulous idea. And while both blocks you have made are great, I love the design block. It just jumps out at you perfectly.

  3. I love them! This hanging is going to be fabulous!

  4. Ok! Can I please have Love and Bind? Jxo

  5. Ooo they look really good! :)

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Oh, fun! What a great idea, Nicky!

  8. I like it. I like it a whole lot! You could have taken the easy way and took the three letter words, but you didn't. Good girl.

    I'll take what ever words are left over. Just let me know in the end and I'll start stitching away.

  9. Oh you missed out "Ponder", "Unpick" and "Ignore for 3 years" xxx

  10. Fun! Although don't forget to flip them if you're foundation piecing, well, unless you want mirror words ;o)

  11. Lovely idea. Aren't you clever! Looks great, too.

  12. Great post and I hope you will recieve great blocks for a stunning quilt!

  13. boy you set the bar high!
    Love the blocks so far.

  14. This is a brilliant idea! It's going to be fab!

  15. love this idea Nicky - might have to put on my to do list for next year :)


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