I have loved Laura Heine’s collage quilts ever since I first saw them. I remember going to a quilt show with my mom about 12 years ago and being in awe of her collage creations. Back then, I told my mom something along the lines of, “I love this, but there’s no way I could ever do something like that.” Fast forward to more recent times and I’m still in love with the collage patterns, but I also still felt intimidated to do my own.
Early in 2022, I found myself again at a quilt show admiring Laura Heine’s collage quilts. This time, I was seriously considering buying a couple of different patterns. One of the patterns I really liked was her ‘Teeny Tiny Bee.’ There was a booth selling both the pattern as well as a fabric kit that they had curated to go with it. I loved the sample they had on display using their kit and I actually preferred it to all the other bee kits I saw at the show. In the end though, I decided not to buy it. I did however, end up buying a different Laura Heine collage quilt pattern and fabric kit to make as a gift for my mom. Unfortunately, the instructions were a little hard to follow and I wasn’t sure where to start.
So, imagine my excitement and relief when I discovered a collage quilt class somewhat local to me that would teach participants how to make the very bee collage I liked, using the kit that I preferred. And the class just happened to run during the time that LittleBookLover would be at school and even though it was a 45 minute drive, I would have just enough time to take the class and be back at the school in time to pick up LittleBookLover. Pure serendipity and the perfect way to get some experience before starting on the collage for my mom.
It was so nice to be able to go and learn in person how to create the collage quilt! I really enjoyed the class and love the way my bee collage came out!
Some of my favorite details:
The first step was prep work. I backed all of my fabrics with Steam-a-Seam 2 (which has become my absolute favorite fusible to work with! If you haven’t used it before, I highly recommend it! I also used it along with some fabric scraps from this project to create some bee collage cards. I included a little info on how the Steam-a-Seam works down in the comments on that post).
After the prep work, I expected the first step would be to start building the background, but it turned out that the background is actually last. First, I covered the bee pattern with my ‘goddess sheet’ a thin teflon sheet that allowed me to see the pattern underneath it (I later bought a transparent silicone applique mat, which also works well and has the added advantage of being heavier, therefore making it less likely for the pattern to shift underneath). Next, I traced the design onto the Steam-a-Seam paper backing. You can see in the pic that the way to do this is to peel back the fabric, trace the design on the paper, then press the fabric back into place over the traced design. Then it’s just a matter of cutting out the traced piece. I built up the bee on the goddess sheet, making sure to overlap the fabric pieces. I used a few different black fabrics and layered them to create the bee body. Once I had created the bee, I pressed it with the iron while it was still on the teflon sheet. Because I had cut my pieces of fabric so that they would slightly overlap each other, it fused all the pieces together and I could then pick up the bee off the teflon sheet.
I moved the bee onto my Pattern Ease (which had already been cut to the final size I wanted my collage to be) and started to build the background underneath it. This was definitely the most fun part of the whole project! I loved adding all the bits and pieces and figuring out the best placement for everything. I also enjoyed finding some fabrics in my stash and picking up a few new ones to really give the project my own spin. Susy, the collage instructor, is a big fan of using selvages to add to the fun of the background. I ended up using two different selvages and just love the extra bit of whimsy they added. One of the nice things with a collage project like this is that it’s very forgiving. If you look at the honeycomb in the bottom left corner in the third background progress shot compared to the pic below the next paragraph, you will see that I ended up adding more honeycomb to the right side in order to get the shape that I wanted. I also added hexagon bits to the piece in the top left corner in order to fill it in a little more. After all was said and done, and the bee was quilted, I couldn’t even tell that those spots had been pieced together.
Once I had the layout completed to my liking, I fused it all together with a hot iron. Then I used steam to make it all permanent. I’m not 100% sure what happened, but I think maybe some of the fabrics shrank a little bit when I fused it, because once it was all fused together, instead the finished design laying flat, it ended up with a bit of a ripple. I was hoping the ripple wouldn’t be as noticeable once the bee was quilted, however it’s still there and it bothers me that it doesn’t lie flat. But, oh well, there’s nothing I can do about it other than enjoy my bee and try to make sure I don’t run into the same issue in any future endeavors.
I knew that before quilting it, I would need to do some tension tests to make sure my machine settings were ready to go. That felt like a big burden and was not something I was looking forward to, so I was super relieved when I found someone who offered to quilt it for a very reasonable price (I have since quilted a different collage quilt and it turned out I was making a much bigger deal of it in my head than it was in reality)! Once it was quilted, it was just a matter of binding it and creating a label - it sounds so easy, but for some reason, I had sooo much trouble binding the darn thing. As a result, it sat unfinished for about a year until recently when I finally pushed myself to finish it. The binding continued to be a pain, but I just kept seam ripping and trying again until I finalllllly got it done . I decided to bind it with some gold holoshimmer thread, so it has pretty, shiny finish. I used my embroidery machine to create the label on some white felt.
This was definitely one of my favorite projects that I have ever created!