Saturday, August 2, 2014


To finish out my posts on the amazing Free Bee quilting bee, I want to share the amazing blocks I received from my bee mates for my month in the group. One artist whose work I really love and admire is quilter Erin Wilson. If you are unfamiliar with Erin's work, I've included a few of my favorite pieces below. Or, click over and check out Erin's site yourself. Go ahead, I'll wait for you to get back ...

One series of Erin's that I particularly love are her quilt block "totems". Each of Erin's totems is a series of quilt blocks, vertically stacked, and cohesive in style and color.

I asked my fellow sewists to make me a totem consisting of 3 quilt blocks of their own design. I asked that the main part of the block itself be about 6" square, with approximately 2" borders all around, resulting in a 10" (10.5" unfinished) block. (I say 'approximately' because you can see that some of Erin's blocks are wonky, slightly off-centered, etc.)

I also asked that each totem convey a cohesive color story (red, blue, green, yellow, orange, brown, purple, pink, etc.) OR a 2-color story (green + yellow, red + orange, black + white, blue + green, etc.) I envisioned mostly solids being used, but always LOVE it if some peeks of modern prints popped up in the blocks. I love textured solids, too -- grunge, shot cottons, linens, etc.

Below is the gallery of totem blocks that I received from each quilter in the group.










And here's where I need your help, dear readers. I am ready to put these all together, but I'm a bit stuck. Do I sash them in rows and columns in a neutral (what color?) and have them evenly spaced in a grid? Or something a bit more creative? Should I turn these into 1 large quilt or, as Erin did, use them more for display (e.g. wall hanging(s)?) Looking for some new ideas here.



  1. Don't sash. In my opinion sashing will take it from cool design aesthetic to traditional square-square type quilt.

  2. what about a broken grid? like bricks? you'd have to fill in the ends with some kind of 1/2 block, but I imagine that the bee blocks would demand more attention this way than if they were in a traditional grid layout. regardless of what you choose, they are all gorgeous and will make a stunning piece.

  3. No sashing. I'd like to see them laid out together before I give you an opinion on totems or quilt...

  4. Love these, can you please post all on the wall without sashing? Hard to say without seeing all together. I'm inspired by them...can't wait....

  5. Very nice blocks all unique! With so many shot cottons, it gives you a chance to pull them all together in an irregular grid strip quilt with your own filler fabrics. Have fun and enjoy!

  6. Irregular grid. Fill in with black or similar darker neutral. I would keep them together within their color story in the quilt. They are VERY nice blocks.

  7. Lovely to see all the blocks again John! I’m working on my Windows of the Provence block lay out too and I’m finding it very hard to decide!

    I don’t think small sashings or adding a black fabric will do any good to the modern look of the blocks and their beautiful colours.

    You could make three totems of the 27 blocks and colour coordinate them. A real wide sashing in between, like 6 "or 8" in a lighter solid colour will add to the totem look (like in the last picture of Erin.

    You could ask the other Free Bee people in the Flickr Group. I still feel sorry that we aren’t active anymore.

    Good luck, I’m looking forward to see what you are going to do!


  8. It's going to be fabulous no matter what direction you take.....the blocks are wonderful. It's time for me to get my blocks together as well, I'm also a little stumped but hey that's part of the fun.

  9. What about the skyline layout used in Tula's 100 Modern Blocks book?? I think they would look great like that with a textured neutral background

  10. Yes, stack vertical with Grey between in different widths!

  11. These are amazing. I think you should make them into one quilt but in such a way that they look like hers leaning against the wall. I think it would have a lot of negative space with the totems along the bottom.