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In October, Allie asked us to make ladders for her Quilts Unscripted Bee. She asked that we make blocks that are at least 8" on each side with a ladder going all the way across the block, edge to edge. "The ladder can be curved, straight, leaning, have mismatched rungs, be missing rungs, anything. It can go halfway up the block and make a sharp 90 degree turn. It can be wide at the base and narrow at the top or vice versa." Allie provided the white background fabric and asked us to use choose from a palette of bright, candy colors... mustard and pickle also welcome.

I always start by building a pile of potential fabrics for my bee blocks. I had yardage of pickle so I pulled some of that as well. The white background fabric here isn't shown, but wouldn't a rainbow ladder on a pickle background have been amazing!? I pulled scraps that were maybe big enough to be the rungs of my ladder. That's how I narrowed down my palette for this one.

This is what the messy middle looked like. I freehand cut non-rectangular white quadrilaterals for the space between my rungs. Then I chain pieced them onto strips of pickle that would be the vertical sections of the ladder between the rungs. This was the order I worked in since I wanted my rungs to stick out of my rickety ladder. Note that due to the varying widths and angles, none of this lays flat at this point. I trimmed the pickle between each white section after this photo.

Then I added on the expansive white background to the right and left of each section. At this point I trimmed the top and bottom of each section in a straight line. Note that nothing is a rectangle here. Just embracing the chaos.

Auditioning the colors I realized I should have had one more section of vertical ladder pieces so I opted to edit out one of the purples.

Measuring for width so that I would mostly have the ladder rungs overhang the pickle, I recut some of the pieces. At this point I added white to the sides of each colored run (not shown).

Here's what it looked like before I trimmed up the left edge of the block. I trimmed down a couple pickle sections before piecing in the rungs to increase the wonk and keep the ladder mostly moving straight up my block.

Tada! The finished block is 13" x 17"

 

For my second ladder I took inspiration from a spiral staircase. This is the sketch I drew from a reference photo.

I decided each of my steps, or ladder rungs, would be turquoise so I pieced oversized pieces of white and turquoise.

I used my drawing as my guide to trim my pieces at the same angles (adding seam allowance).

You can see the creases in my paper because I folded the portion I wasn't working on out of the way when I compared the paper to the fabric. This is the lower section all pieced before trimming.

And both finished sections, untrimmed. This was the easy part... because now I had to make it all go together and add in the curved "vertical" parts of my ladder.

I created a freezer paper template for myself from my paper drawing (a technique I learned in Carolina Oneta's class), marked some reference points and labeled the top edge of each piece with an arrow. (I noticed after this photo that my two white pieces were switched.) Then I pieced each have by sewing the orange onto the turquoise and white sections and then added the large white background section. Once each side was together, I pieced each side onto the yellow.

I am so proud of this block. It finished at 12" x 13". There were so many make it work and trial and error moments that went into it. Is it perfect? No. But I won't point out the little mistakes I made and instead choose to revel in the engineering marvel of a spiral staircase turned into a ladder quilt block that lays flat. :-)

I'm looking forward to seeing how Allie intertwines all the ladders she has received!

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In May, E. A. asked us to make two-color blocks that contained the word "hope."

For my first block I chose Kona Cerise and green to make some skinny strip letters. My skinny strips finish at 1/8" wide. I created boxy letters improvisationally, but aimed for the letters to all be about the same height. The letters are about 6 1/2" tall and the block finished at about 12" x 10".

In my second block I chose a much lower contrast color combination with dark purple and dark grey. I improv cut all the pieces for my letters in a variety of chunky styles.

Here are my finished blocks and here's a peek at the full quilt.

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In April, Isabelle asked us to make confetti inspired pieces for her. She gave us tons of flexibility in what we made for her. "Please create blocks that are abstract, and feature small pieces (1”-ish) within the design. The percentage of small piecing that makes up the block is less important than the impact of the small pieces used in the overall design of the block. Negative space, strip piecing, curved piecing, geometric design – anything goes."

 

I pulled out my smallest solid scraps, including some pieced bits. Do you see the legs from my "watch me grow" block for Carole? I just started pairing them up with other pieces that had similar lengths.

Then I chain pieced and repeated the process. At this point, I looked for fun combinations and let the fabric inspire me.

In this set, I focused on a limited palette and made small improv 4-patch units then joined them all with the same dark purple fabric.

The finished piece is about 10" x 8" (and not rectangular).

In this section (about 5" x 7") I focused on the pattern in the geometry as I pieced it.

And in this section (about 5" x 7") I used additional teal "negative space" and repeated the element of the strips from those teal and plum sections that were leftover from blocks I made for Carole.

Since I had been working in green solids a lot around that time, I included a section of green scrappy slab. And some of my smallest sections stayed small.

Here's the whole pile of blocks and bits that I sent to Isabelle. I enjoyed the freedom to create whatever I felt like in the moment and look forward to seeing how Isabelle puts together this puzzle with all the pieces from the ten members of the bee!