This post is a little bit of a departure from my usual, quick posts, but feel free to skip ahead and just look at the pictures!

I’m participating in two quilting bees this year. I signed up for the Stash Bee and got my Hive 3 assignment at the start. Danny, the organizer, was in need of alternates, and I quickly got another assignment for Hive 8.

Each month, the assigned “queen” requests a certain style of blocks, sometimes with a specific color theme. I happened to be assigned to be queen for June in both of my bees, so I recently needed to decide what kinds of blocks I wanted to receive.

It might not seem challenging to come up with a quilt idea that you’d like to have help creating. Maybe there’s a favorite block that takes a long time to piece, and you’re just itching to have a group of people send you several blocks so your quilt comes together faster. Or maybe there’s something that you’ve been wanting to try, and being queen is a good excuse. I found it challenging though; the decision seemed daunting.

I had a few ideas in mind, but before I share the idea that I decided to use, I thought I’d list some on the things that influenced my decision.

  1. There is a wide range of skill in most bees. I wanted to choose a block type that would appeal to beginners and experts and wouldn’t depend too much on accuracy.
  2. There is a wide range of fabric to love out there. Even within the category of “modern,” there are a lot of different directions that a quilter can go when you say something like, “blues and yellows.” I wanted blocks that I would love, whether or not I shared the same taste in fabric.
  3. Some months are just busier than others. I’ve loved some of the more complex blocks I’ve been tasked with – I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also breathed a sigh of relief to see an easy block request. I thought it’d be clever to come up with a block type that would allow various investments of effort and time.

So I decided on a low-volume improv theme. With butterflies.

My husband currently studies the ecology related to a rare and endangered butterfly only found on a military base south of Raleigh. No where else. The team hired him because he’s a plant guy, but he’s learned – and shared with me – quite a bit about butterflies during our time here. Butterflies are sort of an “in” thing right now in the fabric world (or maybe they’re always popular?), so I thought I’d love to have a butterfly quilt to remember our time in Raleigh, which will likely come to an end in the near future.

Three recent quilts also inspired the butterfly aspect of my theme:


Left to Right: Maureen Cracknell, Jolene @ Blue Elephant Stitches, Michelle @ Factotum of Arts

Another big inspiration for the improv bee approach is this quilt from Rachel at Stitched in Color. I contributed to this Love in Carnival Quilt as part of the Love Circle of the do. Good Stitches bee. She asked for traditional blocks with a specific color scheme and fabric type, and the result is amazing!

Love in Carnival for do. Good Stitches

So, my only ask for June’s block was a butterfly theme with some low volume somewhere in the block – it could be a little low volume with some super-saturated bold colors or it could be all low volume. I told my bee mates they could take a butterfly print and frame it with a round or two of courthouse steps.  They could piece some butterfly blocks like they’ve done here or here.  Or, if they happen to have a little more time and want something more complex, they could try one of Tartankiwi’s totally awesome paper pieced butterfly blocks (the ones in Michelle’s quilt above), there’s a 5″ option and a 12″ option. Lastly, if their month is crazy busy, I instructed them to take a break and just send me square or two of butterfly themed fabric from their stash.

I had to create a tutorial as a member of this bee, so I couldn’t just leave it open ended. (Or maybe I could’ve?) I chose a simple economy block to highlight some butterfly fabrics.

Stash Bee Economy Blocks for Hive 3 and 8

I’ll make more blocks for the quilt once I see what comes in, and I’ve started gathering a few fabrics for that purpose.




Sarah and Alison have already made their blocks, and I think they’re great! I love the variety I’m already seeing!



  1. Sarah @ Berry Barn Designs

    Your fabric pulls! Adore! And I’m reading the latest Barbara Kingsolver book – Flight Behavior – and thinking of you as I go. It takes place in TN (making me miss it!) and revolves around Monarchs. 

  2. Rachel at Stitched in Color

    Oh, good luck on your queen-ing! Sounds like a fun sew. I agree – it’s great when members can do simple or go intricate depending on their skills/time. Sometimes you get really special things that way!

  3. Pingback: Paper Pieced Butterfly | Ants to Sugar – Fabric. Quilting. Some modern. Some traditional.

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