Would you like to try new techniques? Do you need a bit of inspiration and perhaps a plan for your quilting? Do you usually get bored after making two or three blocks of the same design? Can you commit to making monthly for a year? Joining a quilting bee, might be right for you!

How does it work

A quilting bee typically consists of 12 members who agree to make quilt blocks for each other during a year. Each month one member is the Queen (or King!) Bee. The Queen Bee selects a quilt block, or designs their own. Sometimes bees agree to use blocks from a particular book, other times the sky’s the limit. You can either meet up in person every month, or send the blocks in the post. If you are sending them in the post, it may be easiest if you are all in the same country, or at least continent.

Some Queen Bees send out all fabrics and asks the members to make the blocks using those fabrics only, others may send out one fabric which they ask the members to incorporate, but most often you are asked to use your own fabrics in colours or designs as specified by the Queen Bee. If all twelve of you love Liberty of London fabrics, you may agree to only use those fabrics.

Finding a bee

Keep an eye on Facebook (including UK Quilters United), Instagram, Flickr, etc for quilting bees looking for members, or ask if someone would like to set up a new bee together with you. You may like to keep an eye on quilters who’s work you like or inspire you. Check who else is following them; your new bee members may well be amongst that group!

Would you like to keep the quilt yourself, or donate it to charity? Some bees will actively be making for charity (e.g. Siblings Together), but the majority of bees are helping the members making quilts for themselves; although some members may also donate to e.g. Project Linus.

Making sure the bee stays together

  • Make sure you agree up-front how complicated or detailed the blocks can be; and stick to it! If you have agreed that the blocks should be fairly simple and max 12 inch finished, then do not ask for blocks which are 20 inch and take a week to make.
  • Some bee members will send some extras to the Queen Bee, and expects to receive the same when they are the Queen Bee. To avoid any disappointment or embarrassment, agree up-front if extras are welcome or not. Personally, if the bee members don’t know each other really well, I prefer sending and receiving an extra block or two, rather than chocolates, handmade items, souvenirs, etc. But, this is just my personal preference.
  • Use good quality fabrics in colours and patterns as requested, pay attention to size, press well and send on time!
  • When you are the Queen Bee, make sure you post a Thank You once you have received the blocks. If at all possible, try to make the quilt with a few months and share your make with your quilting bee.

Making your own bee sampler quilt

Since the very beginning of being part of quilting bees, I have made at least one test block of each design. I now have a great selection of blocks which I’ll make into a great Quilting Bee Sampler Quilt in the future. Below is a selection of my test blocks (and some bee / swap blocks), all in red, blue and white fabrics.

Please use the comments section below to share your ideas and suggestions for a successful bee.

/ Nina x

Credits: To my lovely bee members for making some of the blocks shown in this post