Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blogging the Process : my 3x6 bee blocks

One thing I'd like to start doing more is doing some Blogging the Process posts. So often you just see blogs with pretty pictures of finished items, but for me, I like it when they dig deeper and SHOW and TELL me what went into creating an item. Sometimes they'll be kind of like tutorials, with step by step instructions, but sometimes it will just be how I picked the fabrics, how I decided on an idea, etc. Just the process. So much of what I enjoy about sewing is the process, anyways, it makes sense to talk about it more.

There's even a whole movement to get people started talking more about the process of creating - the Process Pledge.

The Process Pledge

I am in a Virtual Quilting Bee called the 3x6 bee. Every quarter out of the year I'm paired up with 6 other sewists from around the world - we all specify to each other a color scheme we'd like to have, and then everyone picks ONE block style, making that specific block 6 different times, in each of the other members chosen color scheme. Make sense? The colors that I chose are aqua / green / white. So at the end of the quarter, I'll receive 6 different quilt blocks from my bee members, they'll all be different STYLES of blocks, but they'll all be made out of aqua / green / white fabrics. So they'll tie together without being identical. Cool idea, huh?

my test 3x6 bee block - 2nd quarter

So when it came to making my blocks for my bee members, it started out when I fell in love with this quilt and these blocks that Melanie at Texas Freckles came up with.

do. Good Stitches December "Love" Quilt
(photo credit: texas freckles)

Aren't they pretty?! And then a few weeks ago I was watching some quilting tutorials on You Tube and remembered this video of a method of making half-square triangles, and I knew it would work to make these scrappy versions, too. This is what I did:

Gathered a bunch of strips that were about 8 inches long and between 1 and 2 inches wide.

process tutorial - 1

Sewed the strips together until they were approximately as wide as they were tall (mine were about 8 inches square, but they could be bigger or smaller, doesn't matter much)

process tutorial - 2

Trimmed the blocks up so they were the same size as each other (mine were about 7.5" squares at this point). Lay the blocks right sides facing, with one block's strips horizontal and one block's strips vertical.

process tutorial - 3

I am not usually a pinner, but it really helps on this block. I pinned a few of the sides and then starting at one corner of the block, sewed around the entire perimeter of the block with 1/4" seam allowance, all the way back until I met up with my starting point. Yes, you basically sew the block together at this point!

process tutorial - 4

Now the magic! Use the diagonal lines on either your ruler or your cutting mat to cut the blocks twice on the diagonal from corner to corner. This is what it will look like after you make the cuts:

process tutorial - 5

And then after you flip open the blocks:

process tutorial - 6

Isn't that cool? And so quick! Now just trim up the 4 smaller blocks and figure out which way to arrange them. You can get lots of different looks by changing the direction the diagonals lay. This is what I decided on:

process tutorial - 7

And then I just brought it up to the required 12.5" square block size by adding white on the outsides.

3x6 bee block - process post

This bee member had requested red / aqua / white for her block colors - didn't it turn out pretty! Let me know if you try out this method of making this block!


  1. Awesome blocks! I totally love this method of HSTs. It saved my life last quilt! :)

  2. you are such a smarty pants, Erin! I have never heard of this method before and when I read, "sew around the perimeter of the block", I thought it was a typo until I saw the end result. That's way too cool!!

  3. This works for 'ordinary' h,s.t too I just made a whole load of pin wheels by stitching each pair of blocks the whole way round - it's great to find a short cut isn't it!

  4. good idea for using the easy HST method with the strips!

  5. Love it! My new favorite. Love the colors and the technique.

  6. Ok...talk about a total paradigm shift in my life! I've been avoiding all the HST quilts that I have in my head because I couldn't imagine all that marking lines, etc. But now?! Let the HST madness begin!!

  7. Wait, I don't have to line up seams on my HSTs? Oh, I think I'm in love! Can't wait to try it out. Thanks for the great tip. :)

  8. Looks great and thanks for showing us an easy way to make the blocks.

  9. Very cool! Thanks for sharing your process. I'll have to try this method.

  10. I love your block! The border gives a nice break from all of the colours in the centre part, what a great idea!

  11. Wow. This is the most useful tip I've read in a long time. Can't wait to make some HSTs using this technique.

  12. Hmmmm.... I am super duper intrigued as I HATE HST's with a passion!

  13. Love those colors! They look so pretty together. I also picked up your Mug Rug Madness Button for my blog...kiki-itssewkiki.blogspot.com. If you have time check it out and consider becoming a follower. I'm following you know and look forward to seeing more of your work!


  14. What a great block, pretty and fresh colors. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I saw this way of doing HSTs over on That Girl That Quilt, but would never have thought of doing it with strips. Awesome, and such a great way to use up scraps. Thanks!!

  16. Thanks for the tutorial! Love it.
    I post my works in progress all the time, but don't explain why I choice what, because all my stuff is scraps. I might try to explain why I pick what pattern or scraps. Thanks for that idea also~

  17. Lovely blocks, it sounds like a fun bee! I also appreciate hearing about the process of making an item, not just seeing the finished product.

  18. OH MY Goodness Gracious! Brilliant! I'd seen the HST method before but I love it with the strips! Thanks so much for sharing how you did it.

  19. oh i love that i am going to try using my scraps. thanks !!!

  20. thanks for this idea Erin - I'm definately going to try it soon with some leftover jelly roll strips that I wasn't sure what to do with

  21. Was just over at Rebecca's blog {http://rebeccasrags.blogspot.com/2011/04/wip-it-out-wednesday.html} you are brilliant. I will definetly be making one of these!

  22. Great tutorial! I used it to make a mug rug today. Thanks so much!

  23. I may try this in my current bee starting in August. I've never done a string block, nor have I ever participated in a bee - so both will be fun :) thanks for the great tutorial!

  24. LOVE the block that your created and enjoyed reading about your process. good work. SMILE.