When I was first exposed to quilting, it was because some mums in an online group were doing it. They were all amazingly excellent at it and I started by (very badly) copying what they were doing. With their enormous support, I slowly improved my skills and developed my own likes and dislikes. Sure, I probably should have made a sampler quilt to build my skills in a structured way, but I have never really been one for following rules or recommendations. I prefer the ‘trial and error’ method of learning!
Along the way, I have had the privilege of being part of a few different quilting bees. It is great fun when everyone joins in and you create a feeling of belonging. You help the others make their quilts and you get your own amazing quilt to keep at the end of it too. However, unless you set up your own bee with friends you already know really well, it can unfortunately be a bit of a hit and miss.
The bees I have been part of have all been put together and worked slightly differently. Some were set up because we loved a particular quilting style, we came from the same part of the world, or because we all wanted to do something for a particular charity. In one of the bees, we had to pick blocks from a specific book, other times we had set a maximum size and other times we didn’t really have any rules at all.
More often than not, I have been given a block design to make, and a request for colour scheme. In some cases, I have actually been sent the ready-cut fabrics to make the requested blocks in, with very precise instructions on exactly where each fabric should be used.
Other bees have been less prescribed, with only e.g. finished size and colour scheme specified. In some cases, the request has been for improv, and ‘think of the sea’ or ‘summer’. In both these cases, it has been up to me to figure out what I am making. A bit of a challenge, but still freedom to create something based on my own abilities and inspiration.
So, why do I tell you all of this?
When I joined my first quilting bee a few years back, I wasn’t feeling confident enough to go ahead and make the requested block in the specified colours immediately; instead I decided to make a test block.
Ever since this first time, I have continued making a test block for all my bee blocks; thus creating blocks for my very own, unique sampler quilt, consisting of bee blocks.
Having participated in a few different quilting bees, I have accumulated a rather interesting and eclectic mixture of quilt blocks. The blocks come in a variety of sizes, but since I have kept to the same colour scheme, I am hoping that someday, when I find the time, I’ll be able to put them all together into my own, unique sampler quilt showing the quilting bee journey I have been on.