An Ode to my Quilt Bee

This is an ode to Sarah C., Laura, Jamie, Liz, , Ashley, Simone, Sarah H., Robin, Tina, Stacy, Tori, Amanda K., Cass, Tanya, Amanda M., Megan, and Mary. (Gosh I hope I didn’t forget anyone.) You all are the bee’s knees. 🐝❤️‍🩹

During 2021, I had the pleasure of becoming part of the New Year New Bee quilt bee with a group of lovely quilters. Some I already knew and some I got to meet through the bee. It was hosted through email and Instagram. I had heard of quilt bees before but wasn’t totally sure what they were all about. In case you’ve been wondering too, read on to hear a bit about my experience, why I love being part of a bee, and ideas for starting your own!

From what I’ve learned, quilt bees are known to have been around since the mid 1800s. They were a social event as well a way to collectively complete textile work.

Modern quilt bees may be hosted in person, such as through a quilt guild or charity group, or online. The members (which I like to call bee mates) take turns making blocks for each other to help complete a quilt.

Bees are not only a great way to learn new quilting skills, but are the perfect way to meet new friends who have similar interests. You can work together on quilts for each other as well as charity projects or quilt show submissions.

Maybe you know someone who is in a quilt bee who can invite you to join! If not though, you can always start your own!

Instagram has such a beautiful quilting community and is a great place to connect with other quilters who might be interested in being part of a bee! Team up with a quilty friend and invite others to join you! You can also host a group chat on Instagram to support and get to know each other as you work through your year of blocks and quilts!

A common way to run a quilt bee is by having 12 members, one for each month of the year. Each person is assigned a month when their quilt will be made by the group. When it’s your turn, you choose a block and a color scheme and let the rest of the bee know. Then everyone makes blocks for you. The number of blocks being made by each bee mate can vary but in our group we did two 12” blocks (12.5” unfinished) so everyone would have a throw sized quilt to put together after they received all of their blocks and made two for themselves.

When I found out I had breast cancer, I decided to drop out of my quilt bee for 2022. I had surgery coming up quickly after I was diagnosed. I was already behind on making blocks for the first few months and just felt a lot of uncertainty about what the rest of the year might look like. I was so disappointed to not be able to continue, but I had all of my quilt blocks to make the previous year’s quilt so I made it a priority to sew them together and send the quilt top off to one of my bee mates who is such an amazingly sweet and talented longarm quilter.

Sarah @stitchmodequilts suggested a perfect pantograph and did the binding for me too. Plus she got it back to me so fast and I’ve been enjoying snuggling it throughout my recovery!

Beautiful photos by Sarah.

What I didn’t expect was that my quilt bee (and friends) would make another beautiful quilt for me using the block that I was planning to ask for this year! (And backed it with my favorite strawberry print and the cutest label!) I couldn’t have felt more special and loved! These quilts have brought so much solace to me during a hard time.

More lovely photos from Sarah.

I’m just so grateful for my quilt bee. For the friendship and love and comfort you’ve given me, that I couldn’t possibly put into words… thank you.

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