Tuesday, December 22, 2020


One of my great joys, creatively-speaking, these past years has been being a member of Bee Sewcial, an improv, solids-only bee. I remember I had stepped back from all my bees when the invitation came to join Bee Sewcial. And I couldn't resist. Let's just say it's often been challenging, and that's exactly why I joined in. I think it's helped shape my personal work in a way that I've really enjoyed and been grateful for.

That said, puzzling is always the hardest part of these Bee Sewcial quilts for me. Most often (all but once) I received back blocks in a whole range of shapes and sizes. That's part of the challenge, right? And it leaves alot of room for the maker's own inspiration and interpretation as they respond to the given theme. Since I've used a variety of methods to puzzle my blocks together over the years, I thought it might be interesting to actually note what those have been. So here's a listing of my Bee Sewcial quilts, the prompt given to my bee-mates, the quilt size, the year the quilt was finished, and a brief description of how I puzzled the blocks together.

1. Mod Mood, Bee Sewcial Goes Mid-Century, 62" x 65", 2015 - For this one, I used a technique I'd seen Katie/Sew Katie Did use, and it let me create some order in the midst of the chaos of various-sized blocks. I began by making an 18"x22" frame of painters tape on my design wall, then pieced together a few blocks to fill the space, using other solids as filler as needed. And so it continued, making several more composite blocks in the same manner. When I still had blocks from my bee-mates left over, I made a few more smaller block sections. This post shows the 'grid' I created, which pretty much disappears in the final quilt.

2. Baconrific, The Bacon Consideration, 56" X 64", 2016 - For this one, I placed all the blocks on the design wall, forming a large rectangle, though a few 'holes' were left remaining. I filled some of them with my own bacon-inspired blocks, made to fit; but in three instances, I filled the spaces with circular "pancetta blocks," aka Improv Layered Circles. Besides doing their filler work, the trio of circle blocks added some extra interest, at least to me.

3. Looking Up, Looking Up, 75" X 60", 2018 - This quilt received the most traditional of finishing techniques - improvisational sashing. 

4. Homage, A Sketch Inspired by Gwen Marston's Liberated Patchwork Style, 56" X 60", 2019 - Once I put all of my bee-mates' blocks on the design wall, I followed my own prompt and made more improvisational 'sketches' to fill in the blanks. Nothing more than that.

5. Modular, Modular, 68" X 82", 2019 - This is my only Bee Sewcial quilt that actually uses some negative space to show off those blocks. I also used thin (1/2" finished) orange sashing(?) to add some movement as well as to connect with the orange segments in each block. 

6. Rings, Improv Double Wedding Ring blocks, 60" x 60", 2020 - For this quilt, I actually asked for two 12 1/2" blocks. I had in mind to arrange them in a pretty traditional arrangement, but no ideas beyond that. Though once I'd received the blocks, I did try arranging them more separated, but I really loved how they looked right next to each other. That way they also better reflected the traditional design. So then, that left how to 'frame' them to make the design look finished. Let's just say the blocks were up on the design wall a long time before this improvisational frame came into view. And once I had that vision, the rest, as they say, was history. And lastly, I think revisiting the improv stripes used in some of blocks really helped integrate the frame and make the design a 'whole.'

So thanks for indulging me! I've had this post in mind for a long time - both for you and for me - and I'm glad I was finally able to made it happen.

I’m participating in a 31 day blogging challenge!


  1. Love the diversity of the paths that being part of the BEE allowed you to travel. These are a great examples to encourage others to explore group creativity challenges. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Blog challenges! That'll give you something to do.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Each is so unique and amazing in its own right! Love how you put each and everyone together.

  4. Our Mt Battie Modern Quilt Guild in mid-coast Maine started a challenge two years ago now based on the Bee Sewcial group’s work. I just got blocks back from my prompt, “shapes,” each made with bright solid colors, so it is really fun to see all of your quilts and to hear about how you thought about creating a quilt from the blocks you received for your prompts. It is all a lot of fun, too, and each person’s quilt product from our prompts has been so fun to see. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. it's interesting to hear your process for each of these. I think my puzzling process is a combination of many of these and always evolving. Sometimes, like your last one, the blocks hang out on the design wall for quite a while before the final vision comes together. I'll walk by and move things around until it just feels right...

  6. I agree with Ellyn... your process for puzzling is interesting. Every theme quilt follows a different cue, and that's what makes each of these quilts so successful. I know for a fact that it's impossible to predict how a theme or concept will play out, which is why the term "improvisation" must be used to describe this sort of flow, from a point to a different point. You do it very well, Debbie.