Tuesday, March 8, 2016

BIG news for birders!!

(2/24/2017 -- I've had so many questions about whether there is a pattern for this quilt and the answer is "no".  The block pattern is from someone else and the "original" part is my setting.  So I have gone through the original post and italicized the sentences that explain how I organized the setting to help any who are interested in using my idea.)

Currently the International Ornithological Union recognizes 10,615 living species of birds worldwide.  That number fluctuates due to new discoveries, split and lumps.  But wait until they hear about the 36 previously unknown species that I hosted on my studio work wall this past weekend!!  LOL

These delightful blocks have been showing up here on my blog off and on since summer.  I collected them from my Stash Bee Hive 7 mates during the summer.  HERE is a link to the post I wrote to request the blocks (there's a link in that post to the Block Lotto post with the bird pattern).
I made a few myself and then another web friend and I traded a few blocks this winter. 
Since I was anxious to work on this piece, I included it in my First Quarter goals list for the 2016 Finish-A-Long.

This weekend had three totally empty days -- the time had arrived to set the top together.

I asked everyone to "name" the birds they made -- that's what all the pieces of paper pinned to each block are.
My first step was to square up all the blocks.  I stitched 2" wide background strips to the left or right side of each block.
Then I trimmed and squared up the blocks -- the heights vary but the width of all the blocks is consistent.
The next task was to "identify" all the species included in my collection.  I printed labels using a fabric prepared for printed with my inkjet printer. 
There was lots of stopping and starting as I moved through this project and one of the long pauses occurred while I figured out a simple and effective way to add the labels to the blocks.  I finally settled on fusible web which I fused to the back of the printed fabric before trimming the labels apart.
I experimented with hand stitching or machine stitching them in place and as you can see, I settled on the machine and used black embroidery thread.
Here's a close-up of the newest species of cowbird, the domesticated cowbird. 
They are easy to identify as long as you know cow breeds.
Once all the blocks were ready, it was time to make the setting decisions.  I found this yummy print last fall and thought it would complement the collection well.
I also won a scrap bag of polka dot strips from Moda during the winter and loved the way they looked with the birds.
Here was my idea before I began working with the blocks.
But as the auditioning progressed, I eliminated the warm colors and added grays, then the bird print was set aside for the backing of the quilt. 
Upon returning to the studio after one break, I decide the quilt was getting too wide and pulled away the sashing completely.  I not only liked the shape of the quilt better, but it brought the emphasis back onto the birds.  I achieved the "staggered" positions by alternating which side of the bird had the extra background strip added.  Then I set the vertical rows together adding another strip of background fabric between all the birds.  Another stagger was added by leaving that horizontal background strip off the top of the odd rows and off the bottom of the even rows. 
Finally I tried to spread the birds facing right around the quilt -- there were only 7 of them -- although I think one of them jumped out of the third row into the top row when I was snacking!?!
There was another series of auditions for the borders but I won't drag you through that.  In the end, I decided on a narrow line of black polka dot before adding a wider border of assorted gray polka dots.
All that remains to be done is to make the backing and layer it up for quilting.  There will be a significant pause as I ponder that aspect of this quilt.
I also have to contact the IOU and find out how to submit my discoveries. 
I'm sure they have no idea any of these species exist.   
 I probably should also figure out how to manage the onslaught of "twitchers" that will want to see these new species for themselves. 

Isn't quilting fun??

Mary Huey


  1. It must be spring if the birds have landed in Willougby!!!!! Lovely, lovely, and fun quilt!!

  2. Can not tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post. All the thought, color planning and bird naming has made for a FANTASTIC quilt. Would love to see a flock here in the North East.

  3. What a great quilt! I am a fan of the fabric bird species as well! I am inspired to breed a flock o my own here in the North East. Thank you Helen@Till We Quilt Again for recommending this blog post I thoroughly enjoyed it! Thank you Mary for discovering this new species of birds!!!


  4. I love this! I forgot to name my birds for you, but I'm sure you came up with the perfect names on your own. Great quilt.

  5. The twitchers will be expecting cups of tea while they contemplate all the new species! Thanks for linking up to #scraptastictuesday I really love these birds!

  6. It's looking great! I love the fabric species of birds.

  7. I love it! What a perfect flock you've got there!

  8. What a beautiful quilt, so much time invested in making it. A true labor of love.

  9. What a neat post. Love the idea of the borders. Next time I don't have enough of a fabric, I'm going to use your idea.

  10. Hi! Quilting is fun and so are your birds! I love this quilt! It's so beautiful because every bird is different, background is with low volumes. Thank you for sharing your process and ideas. x Teje

  11. I enjoyed your thought process through this wonderful quilt!

  12. Love these! I love the block lotto birds, and have used them in two quilts myself. They are so fun to make and add a lively touch to the quilt.

  13. Great post Mary! I love the way you resolved the design, the way you staggered the birds actually makes some feel further away than others, great stuff!

  14. Oh Mary these birds are fantastic. It was lovely to read the thought processes you went through to get the top finished. This quilt is going to be a stunner and I look forward to seeing the end result.

  15. This is so good, I love the grey background, you were right to discount adding more colour, the birds sing out their colours so well.

  16. What a gorgeous quilt. Those bird watchers will be making a beeline for your door!

  17. It's adorable and just in time for spring with new birdies arriving!!

  18. I love it. I've been thinking of asking for birds for my bee blocks and here are yours!

  19. What a great quilt! It has everything I love - cute birds, scrappy neutral background, and polka dots! You continue to be an inspiration to me!

  20. I love this quilt. We love watching the birds too. I love the polka dot fabric. What a nice way to document the making of this quilt. I enjoyed your post.

  21. This looks terrific. I love how you included the names on the quilt!

  22. This is so much fun. I love the sheer joy of it. I also like that the birds are not all lined up in neat little rows because real birds never are. Awesome job.

    Lynne Tyler
    (Millie is the cat)

  23. Totally in love with the birds! They were fun to make as well in Stashbee last year.

  24. Absolutely lovely and cheerful ! Enjoyed reading your post too. Thank you !