## A mystery and too many quilts

Way back at the beginning of the year (and how is it May already?) we promised a new Mystery quilt. At long last it has arrived – just a couple of months late. The Needs List is ready to download and we’ll post a ‘cutting plan’ towards the end of the month. ‘Mystery Mondays’ are back – just one step each month and ending in November so you could use Christmas colours perhaps.

In the meantime Chris is having a slight panic – giving a talk means emptying the cupboards, sorting out the quilts, deciding which ones to take, which to leave behind, which best illustrate the general theme of the talk – and just how many quilts will folk want to see before they get bored with ‘and here’s another one I made’. All of which means the quilt cupboards are (almost) empty and the floor downstairs is rather full. Too many quilts!

It will be alright on the night (as the saying goes)! In the meantime its back to sorting those heaps into different (smaller?) heaps, putting the rejects back in the cupboards and organising the others into some sort of order.

To add to all this excitement this week is Quilts UK! at Malvern. We’re both hoping to be there – just neither of us has decided which day to go – Barbara has to make it back from the Overseas Office and Chris is undecided whether to make a weekend of it and stay with ‘little sister’ not too far away and maybe drag her along too – she needs a hobby now she’s retired (and how is she old enough to retire?!). As ever, procrastination is our theme. Perhaps we’ll see you there, buying fabric to make our Mystery!

## March Doodles

A mathematical title for this month’s block – Four times Nine, according to the EQ Block Library. This is the EQ default colouring –

Switching in some green, add more pink, taking out some of the green and putting a different blue back in – we never tire of playing with EQ!

And on to some straight-set quilts, default colouring first, finishing with a mixture on point with a little magic infill courtesy of EQ.

Download a colouring sheet here to plan your own Four times Nine quilt. Happy stitching & colouring!

## Popping up in 2023

Even though 2023 has only just begun we are already looking ahead to our PopUp Mystery day on Saturday 18th March. Lots of office work and admin at C&B Towers and quite a bit of fabric cutting and stitching over at the Rural Office.

It’s going to be interesting to see all the different versions of the Mystery. And still on the topic of things mysterious we are going to respond to popular demand and post a vintage C&B Mystery here beginning in March – sharpen your rotary cutter, check your stash and dust off your sewing machine!

## Stellar Sampler

It’s nearly the end of the year (how did that happen?) and we’ve reached the last few of our stellar blocks. These are more eight-pointed stars, somewhat akin to the Blazing Star blocks from last month. You can download the 12 inch patterns and blocks to colour for all the blocks featured today here – it is free remember)

If you divide that up a bit you get Morning Star (we have dubbed this Morning Star 2 in the download – you’ll see why in a moment)

Take the centre points of Key West and add pointed corners to make April Star

If you then take those points and divide them you get Shadow Star

Divide just the corner points of April Star to make Star and Cone

Or make the centre points shorter (and thus fatter at the end) to make Guiding Star

Then we come to our other Morning Star – a Blazing Star / April Star / Key West with added bits!

But we couldn’t leave our stellar year without reminding you of the Tangled Star block

You can find a pattern to make a runner using this block over in our Payhip shop along with many other patterns for runners, quilts and table toppers.

We hope you have enjoyed our exploration of some of the multitude of star blocks – and please download the patterns (they are free) and play with the ‘block to colour’ pages – split up the various bits of the stars and design your own extra stellar blocks.

## Stellar Sampler

Browsing through the star blocks in BlockBase and Electric Quilt Chris came across a star called Star and Dot which looks a bit like a Blazing Star with bits missing. Further browsing produced a few more stars in the same family.

Then add a few lines to make New Star

Or add spiked corners to make Blazing Star

Split those corners to make another version of Blazing Star

Change the corner and centre to make the Emerald block

Or add in lots of extras to make Optical Illusion

You can download the cutting instructions for all these blocks (12 inches) and blank blocks to colour here. You could also use the blank Star and Dot block to design a block of your own.

One of the blocks featured recently over on our Meadowside Designs blog was one called Thrifty – rather appropriate we felt in these times. It’s very simple – just lots of squares.

But you can make some interesting quilt designs with it by changing the lights and darks around

Then we thought what happens if you combine the 6 inch block from Meadowside with a 12 inch block? We called it Double Thrifty!

You can download the rotary cutting instructions for a 12 inch block here, for a 6 inch block from Meadowside Designs here and a Double Thrifty quilt to colour in and play with here.

Once you start moving the lights and darks around in a quilt design it gets very interesting indeed! As each Double Thrifty block is 24 inches you have a big quilt in no time at all. Here the quilts are set 3 x 3 instead of 4 x 4 (so 72 inches square instead of 96 inches) without borders.

To be very thrifty remember that you don’t have to use all the same fabrics throughout, just the same colours (more or less), so it worth hunting through the scrap bags to see what you can find.

## Stellar Sampler

We’ve another family of blocks to explore this month – the Eight-Pointed Stars, based on the LeMoyne Star

You can download cutting instructions for 12 inch blocks and blank blocks to play with here.

Taking Lemoyne Star as a starting point you could add some extra little points – we called this one Double Star

But those corner squares looked a bit plain so we added four-patches and, with our usual panache, called it Double Star Variation

Or you could start dividing the star points – to give a block often called Blazing Star

Another division of the star points and turning the corner squares into half-square triangles gives us EQ Star

The blocks above are all included in the download but there are lots of other variations to the basic star – dividing the star points in half lengthwise and adding half-square triangles in the corners gives us a block often called Silver and Gold

Using stripes – or strips – to make the star points can make Spiderweb Star

or Wrapped Star

If you go searching you will find dozens of other variations like these, or you can draw your own using the blank blocks in the download – the templates included should be enough to make many of the variations.

## September bows out

We’ll be auditioning some possibilities for our new HQ very soon (see previous post) as staff transfer from the Overseas to the Rural Office. One of the topics high on the “discuss” agenda is – to pop up or not to pop up? and when to pop up? Our in person and virtual pop up classes have been immensely popular but it’s not always easy to match inclination with diaries and venue bookings. Another topic, lower down on the agenda, is linking “Ragged & Rescued” (Barbara’s 2023 theme for lectures and classes) to our Heritage Quilt series. There’s a fair amount of quilts and patchwork stored at the Rural Office which fall within the Ragged & Rescued category and make interesting viewing.

Looks like we might need several coffees!

## Almost autumn

There’s something about September – back to school, back to classes, shortening days and making plans. We are currently searching for a new UK HQ where we can meet up, drink coffee and swap ideas – our old HQ has been refurbished and is under new management and has lost it’s comfortable vibe. Hopefully we’ll find just the right spot before too long.

Meanwhile it’s review and sorting time (again) at the Overseas Office – Barbara has been reviewing the Overseas Stash which only occupies one basket and two small boxes.

Compared to what is sitting in the Rural Office this is a mere drop in the ocean and yet it seems to have been more than sufficient for the past couple of years. From this we deduce that 1) Barbara doesn’t make much or 2) Barbara still has so many projects to finish that quantities of fabric are not actually required.

On with reviewing and planning!

## Over on Meadowside . .

We are continuing our jaunt through the alphabet with patterns for 6 inch blocks. This week we have reached Q. But are there any blocks beginning with Q? There are a few, many of them more suited to hand stitching over papers (which is very much not Chris’s ‘thing’) so we went for the one that can be rotary cut and machine pieced – Queens Petticoat.

But, looking at it, all Chris can see is a hat – with a feather!

What do you think?! How could you colour it so it looked more like a petticoat and less like a hat? Instructions, a block to colour, and more colourings of the block can be found on the Meadowside website.