Of Bees and Blocks

This month, ECMQG started its own quilting bee.  Well, "bees" actually - we had enough willing participants to make up threebees!

First, a brief explanation

A virtual quilting bee is a group of quilters who come together through some form of social media to make each other blocks for a quilt.  Each group is called a "hive."   Hives are usually made up of 6 or 12 quilters, and the bee usually runs for the same number of months as there are participants.  Members of the hive agree that they will make blocks for each other for the entire duration of the bee.

In a 12 month bee with 12 members, each member makes one block per month (one block for each queen,) so each queen has 12 blocks when her month is finished; in a 6-month bee, members usually make 2 blocks each month so that the queen still ends up with 12 completed blocks. Twelve blocks is - as Cindy often reminds us - an "insta-quilt."

Each month, one quilter is the "queen."  During the queen's month, the members of the hive make blocks for her, to her taste and following her instructions.  The queen will decide what block she would like and let the members know the block, fabrics, and preferred colors by the first of the month.  Members then have a month to make the block(s) for that month's queen.


Queens should use easily accessible patterns or tutorials or provide the directions to the hive members.  (Please be aware of copyrights and intellectual property - remember that someone has put creative energy into designing the block.)  In general, members should be courteous and not make copies of directions from books or magazines without permission.  

If the queen wants a scrappy block, members sew from their stash or scrap basket in the queen's preferred colors.  If the queen wants a particular fabric or collection of fabrics, she provides those specific fabrics to her hive-mates. 

While it is true that "life happens," it is considered very rude to drop out of a bee before the agreed-upon term is up, particularly if you have already had your turn as queen and received your blocks - that means someone has made blocks for you, but won't receive any in return.

With that brief explanation,  let me introduce you to the members of our hives.

Hive #1 #sewbeeit

Hive #2 #sewnewbee
Ann Marie

Hive #3 (aka #beeimprov)

(When Hives 1 and 2 have names, let me know and I will add them here.)

The members' names in BOLD are our first queens.  Each of them has decided on a block and distributed directions and (possibly) fabrics.  Their members are busily stitching beautiful blocks for their queen to enjoy!

And our bees will run a bit differently than traditional bees - instead of running for a calendar month, our bees will run from guild meeting to guild meeting.

Next Steps

Each hive should take the following steps:

1.  Give your hive a name and a hashtag (#).  Members should mark all posts on social media with the hashtag your hive chooses.

2.  Decide the order of the queen's months.  Take into account your individual schedules.  Will you have time to plan?  To answer questions from your hive-mates?  Are you planning to be out of town or have work commitments in some months that would make being the queen (or planning to be the queen) difficult?  Take these factors into consideration when you assign the months to members.

3.  Decide how you will communicate.  Group text messages work well for iPhones, but not as well for a mix of iPhones and Android phones.  

Instagram (IG) is a great choice for instant communication and inspiration, but is not as good for storing and saving directions.  Facebook (FB) is terrific for storing information, but not as good for instant communication and inspiration.

Facebook is especially good for private communication if you start a special group for your hive.  You may want to send the initial instructions via email, then store them for reference on FB, while communicating instantly on IG.

However you choose to communicate, communication is ESSENTIAL and must be accessible to all members of the hive.

Note:  It may be that members will need to join a new social media forum in order to participate in the hive.  Part of the fun of a bee is the communication and the ability to get to know each other better than you can do just at monthly guild meetings.

4.  Insist that members post at least one photo each month to whatever social media forum you've chosen.  (If you choose IG, also tag with your hive name and #ecmqg so that other guild members can see how much fun you are having!)  

Social media is both the impetus and the strength of MODERN quilting.  Modern quilting was born online and lives through the social interaction of the online community.  It is the interaction on social media that keeps us growing, learning, and excited about quilting!

5.  Members should always use quilt shop quality fabrics (QSQ) and make blocks to the best of their ability.  

It's okay to make a practice block.  Especially when a technique is new to you or when the queen has provided only a limited amount of fabric.  

6.  Members should make it a priority to respond quickly to communication from other members of their hive, even if it's just to say "OK" to let people know they've receieved the information.

7.  Keep all communication positive.  It's okay to say, "I don't care for that color," but is in bad form to say, "Why did you choose such an ugly color?"  There is a difference.  Tactfulness counts.

8. Most of all, have fun!


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for setting some rules and regulations! I do Facebook, but do not yet do Instagram. My phone is not a smartphone, but I'm planning on getting one soon and starting Instagram. Love the idea of learning from my fellow quilters!


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