Let’s quilt again!

Sometimes it’s good to bring out a vintage WIP from its hiding place. Barbara “found” one such WIP in the stack at the Rural Office and brought it out for the Staffs Patchworkers 40th Anniversary exhibition. This piece has now travelled to the Overseas Office where it awaits cooler temperatures so that more quilting can be added in comfort. It will be interesting to see just how much more quilting is deemed necessary – how much is enough, how much is too much?!

procrastination, quilting, Travel

Stitching away

News is in from the Overseas Office that some stitching is actually happening, just not in the expected quantities. An orphan block has been rescued from oblivion** –

– and some simple outline quilting has been added since the above picture was taken. More quilting may yet be done.

** oblivion = one of several boxes of stash

One or two other projects are being similarly progressed with just the very essentials of outline quilting to begin with. The small unplanned wrinkles on the Sugar Loaf remake should quilt out and the Friendship Star/Nine Patch is going to feature easy straight lines.

The Project Inspection Department at C&B Towers expects to see considerable progress by the end of this month!

Free patterns, Mystery Monday, possibilities, quilting

Mystery Monday Finale

Having hunted out your units we look at putting them together this week. The version shown on the worksheet isn’t the only possibility and Chris has played around with her units turning them this way and that

before deciding on one, sewing it all together and adding a couple of borders.

Then there is the matter of quilting. In the ditch? Something a little more adventurous? In the end it was a mixture of the two. The birds in the border fabric were traced and turned into quilting stencils and stitched in various bits of the quilt. A variegated thread was used to stitch in the ditch around some more prominent parts of the design and a wiggly line was quilted in the borders –

And the finished quilt – (which possibly needs more quilting in the border . . . . one day)

We hope we will get to see photos of your finished Mystery Quilts – email them or post on Instagram and tag us!

classes, colouring in, quilting

February update

If it’s February it must be just a bit nearer longer days and shorter nights and maybe better light to sew by (although it goes without saying that our sewing spaces are wonderfully illuminated with the very best of task lighting….).

Chris has had such a busy start to the year with a full schedule of classes at The Corner Patch – not that much humming of sewing machines over at C&B Towers, just the whirr and clatter of the printing press as worksheets are put together.

From  the Overseas Office there are reports of lots of silent sewing/quilting but very little pictorial evidence so far.  However,  you will note that certain C&B traditions are being upheld –

IMG_8497     IMG_8452  IMG_8441

In other news our Electric Quilt Doodles page has been updated for the month – why not click over and take a look? And download the colouring sheet for a quiet coffee break.

Piecing, quilting

Quilt Wrestling

No, not a new Olympic sport – merely the gentle (?) art of trying to get a large quilt layered up and under a domestic sewing machine in a relatively confined space. Chris seems to have been doing a lot of it lately as part of a drive to get a few UFOs out of the way and off the list. So, having created a backing and pressed it, it is necessary to create a large enough space to lay it out flat. . .

First – move the furniture . .

move furniture

next – move the books . . .

move books

Lay the backing out and pin it to the carpet.

pin to carpet

Spray glue onto the wadding and stick it to the backing – trying not to get glue on the carpet!

quilt layer

Glue the wadding again and stick the quilt top down, smoothing out as many wrinkles as possible.

quilt layer b

Carefully pick up the quilt sandwich and lug it upstairs to the sewing room. (note the technical terminology – Barbara) Don’t forget to remove the pins from the carpet first. The quilt layers now need to be pinned as the quilt is too big for just glue to hold it together. The sewing room floor is hard with a vinyl covering – ideal for pinning, unlike the sitting room floor where it is just too easy to pin the whole thing to the carpet and picking it up involves a lot of unpinning, repinning and bad language. But the sewing room floor is also too small to spread a big quilt out . .

sewing room floor

. . so it has to be glued together downstairs and can then be safely pinned in sections upstairs.

fold and pin

fold and pin b

The small brown cushion thing is a garden kneeler, a Christmas present from little sister who was somewhat bemused by Chris’s delight with this small gift and even more bemused when she announced it would ‘go upstairs straight away’. Isn’t the garden outside? It was when last we looked?

Once pinned the quilt was tossed over the bannister and the landing bookcase – with a couple of pillows under it keep it as crease free as possible. . .(is this a crucial step in the proceedings? Barbara)

over banister

. . .  all ready for when Chris next has a free day to fire up the machine and get stitching.


Must remember to get some thread too.

Projects, quilting

Singing our praises ..

Every once in a while we try to remind ourselves that its ok to point out some of the stuff we do apart from “just” teaching  – but it’s not always the easiest thing to do yourself.  So Barbara thought this short post should be a reminder of some of  Chris’s output.  Every month you can read Chris’s regular “Wandering the Web” column in Patchwork & Quilting magazine.   Then there are the countless projects Chris has had published over the years in Popular Patchwork magazine – her Autumn Star Sampler is in the current issue



Here’s a glimpse of a very recent finish from the Stitching Studio at C&B Towers which may well be a future magazine project –


And did you know you could find a selection of Chris’s downloadable patterns at Meadowside Designs and also on Craftsy?  (Chris reports that the current favourite is the Hallowe’en Spider!) (largely ‘cos it’s free I suspect – Chris)

classes, quilting

Busy week

While Barbara has been teaching in Denver Chris has been busy teaching here. Although with the lovely weather we’ve had this week it’s amazing that students have turned up at all (let alone teacher) – everyone’s been saying they could do with being in the garden, so some classes were perhaps more condensed (shall we say) than originally planned!

So on Wednesday evening we spent a couple of hours playing with machine quilting – straight and slightly curved lines with the walking foot and then doodling with the free motion, just to get the feel of it. Plenty of time to practice later at home (once it starts to rain again).

machine quilting

Thursday was Dresden Plate day in Technique of the Month at The Corner Patch. Chris had brought along a few examples thrown together carefully stitched (or glued) over the years. These were all round ones – as you might expect – but we need to fill a space 4 x 12 inches so we had a choice: make three very small round plates or one large(r) oval plate. Chris was attempting to demonstrate the oval plate. No photos of that as Chris forgot the camera on the day and now can’t find the sample! It’ll be in the bottom of a box or bag somewhere. Or still at the shop?

dresden plate a

dresden plate b

dresden plate c

dresden plate d

dresden plate e

On Saturday we were back at the Corner Patch for Block of the Month and a different Technique of the Month (Saturday students are a month behind Thursday’s because it snowed in January). Block of the Month was Star Puzzle which gave us some more practice in Half-square Triangles and Flying Geese. We’ll have to show you an EQ picture as once again Chris can’t locate the sample (must be a Black Hole in the sewing room this morning – Chris). (I blame paint fumes from too much garden fence painting – Barbara).

star puzzle

In the afternoon we looked at hand piecing – mostly hexagons and diamonds. But seeing as it was Chris attempting to teach this we also looked at techniques for machine stitching these shapes.

hand piecing b

hand piecing a

hand piecing c

hand piecing f

Now its time to start putting everything together for the Chris and Barbara class this coming Saturday – Tumbling Stars – and really Chris ought to prepare for an EQ evening class she’s teaching next Wednesday and the following Saturday workshop – making a picnic table set using a charm pack – both at the Corner Patch (and Jane says she has a couple of places left). Here’s a picture of one of the table mats –

Charm square table mat

As the sun is still shining, its time to go back into the garden. Lesson plans can wait until its raining!


Fluff in the machine

Chris has been busy finishing off things.  One thing we always say to students is – remember to clean out your machine and change the needle regularly, preferably each time you start a new project. Chris was quilting a not very big quilt (about 36 inches square) when the bobbin ran out. After a few mutterings a new one was ready but when Chris took the old one out there seemed to be quite a bit of fluff in the feed dogs; despite having de-fluffed the machine before starting. So … the bobbin race and feed dogs were dismembered and thoroughly cleaned out with the handy brush provided for the purpose. This was the result –

All that fluff from half a quite small quilt. Yeurgh. No wonder the machine was starting to make noises.  So Chris’s new resolution is – when quilting, do what we preach in classes – clean the fluff out every time the bobbin is changed.  As well as every new project.  And actually, looking at the state of Chris’s sewing room, perhaps wielding the vacuum cleaner after every quilt has been finished would not be a bad idea – the fluff everywhere isn’t quite the same proportions as the fluff in the machine, but there’s a fair amount of it on every available surface.  This of course is why we buy fabric – to cover every available surface so the dust and fluff don’t show.  Then there’s the whole other thing about frequent and judicious use of the lightweight sewing machine oil that should be within easy reach of every sewing machine …  and the new needle for every new project…..  We were really careful to point out all these basic ongoing maintenance issues in Right From The Start

Very much a case of do as we say perhaps?!

Footnote:   Unrelated to fluffy machines and good maintenance practice, you might want to hop over to http://tallgrassprairiestudio.blogspot.co.uk/ to take a look at the excellent tutorial on stitching curved seam units.

Free patterns, quilting, Travel

Meanwhile …

… Chris is once again in sole charge of C&B Towers as Barbara has gone off in search of sea, sand and sun – not necessarily in that order. Hopefully she’s found at least one of them, but as she is wi-fi-less (horror!) we won’t know until she’s back.

So what has Chris been up to? Quite a lot of quilting, actually. The ‘really ought to get that finished’ pile has been reduced ever so slightly. Two cot quilts are complete, and washed, ready to hand over to expectant mum in a couple of weeks.

Not only that, but the pattern for them has been written up and you’ll find it here.

Slightly flushed with this success Chris moved on to a couple of tops that have been sitting about for quite some time. First out of the bag was an autumnal one. Chris had been so pleased with how the patchwork turned out that she didn’t want to ‘ruin’ it with inept quilting. Sound familiar? Chris gave herself a good talking-to: time to get over such silly ideas and just get on and quilt – no one ever got good at something by not doing it, did they? So a bit of in-the-ditch and a squiggly curve or two in the borders later and its done. Even got the binding on!

And finally … the quilt top Chris was making at Uttoxeter has had a border added (thanks, Alison, for having just the right fabric in stock!) and once more into the ditch and another squiggle round the borders and it too is done. The binding is nearly on that one as well, another good Proms concert to listen to will see it finished. Thursday night perhaps?

But today has been paperwork day and ‘tidy up this chaos’ day. Which meant putting away some old photos which had come to light in a rummage for something else entirely. And this one caught Chris’s eye. It would seem that wrapping up warm for a day on the beach in July was normal even back in the ‘olden days’ – think this was probably late 1920s or early 1930s – Chris’s great-grandmother was not going to catch a chill!


Too much sun?

Whatever’s happening – has Chris had too much sun? Is it the effect of going away on holiday?

You may remember seeing this some months ago when Chris was attempting to make a back large enough to fit, with enough overhang for longarm quilting.

And now ….. Here it is on the kitchen table being tacked. By hand. No pins. Does this mean …. I fear it it does … Chris is going to attempt to (dare we say it?) hand quilt this monstrous thing.

The reasoning behind this seeming madness (and for those you who don’t know – Chris does not (repeat, not) do hand sewing) is that quilting by credit card is unaffordable at the moment and the thing is too large to be mauled around inthe small space where the sewing machine resides. So … hand quilting it is. For the moment. Do not expect to see a post of the finished article for some years. The last quilt (also a Welsh design) that Chris started hand quilting is still not finished some 20 years later! Although, thanks to stirling work by Ann Jermey, it’s not far off and ‘will do’ for now (and probably for ever, unless Ann comes to stay again).

It was made with Viyella ‘ends of rolls’ from a long-defunct shop (anyone remember the White Hart fabric shop?) and has a wool wadding which – as you can see- is bearding horribly. Never mind, it has been bound and lives behind the settee where it does a great job as a ‘poorly’ quilt for snuggling up in when watching daytime tv and nursing the ‘flu.