Conference season

This is the time of year when we usually have several in-depth conferences at HQ and do what we cheerily call “forward planning”. Decisions and conversations regarding PopUp classes, virtual or actual; blog, maintain or discard; articles and patterns, do more or do less – and so on. Quantities of caffeine can be consumed at these conferences and there is much scribbling in notebooks. The first conference is a week away and we will be trying out our new HQ venue. Wish us luck!

Part of our conference preparation is to look back at bygone classes and projects – here are a few random memories from the Rural Office archive –

classes, quilt shows

Quilts from the past

We enjoyed having a ringside seat at the Staffs Ps&Qs 40th Anniversary celebration in July – lots of quilts we remembered from classes we had taught together or individually and lots of excellent quilt chat (and cake!). Here’s just two samples – first from the 1980s, second from 2009.

Made by Eileen Jenkins, traditional needleturn applique and hand quilting.
Made by Sheila Hughes, machine pieced, longarm quilted

We’re still in the lazy part of August with not much to report – this may change soon!


Popping Up

Much later than planned we’re reporting in on our most recent PopUp class – in person and almost like it used to be before you-know-what. Everyone had a great day and just enjoyed sewing together with ample supplies of coffee, tea and cake. We had chosen a block designed by Jeffrey Gutcheon entitled “Proof through the night” as the creative focus for the class, the practical focus was revising the various ways of making HSTs (Half Square Triangles). Some students turned their HSTs into the class block, some took a different path and made other blocks and a good time was had by all!

Inspiration, Teaching

Monday Miscellany

Things have been relatively quiet at C&B Towers and also the Rural Office – we’re still tidying, pruning, re-organising, making lists and all activities associated with Good Intentions and Planning.  It has been great fun working through 15 years worth of pictures and worksheets from our Saturday classes – here’s our first Monday Miscellany selected at random, hope you enjoy!





Piecing, Teaching

String Quartet class report

Over at the Rural Office internet connectivity has been a fragile fleeting thing – sometimes there, most times not.  So battling against the odds, here’s our report on the String Quartet class last Saturday.  Everyone seemed to have a really good time (with the possible exception of Chris who was doing sterling duty supplying vital teas and coffees).  Usually we begin classes with a demo and instructions, this time we dived right in to sewing and stitching little bits of fabric together to make Friendship Star blocks.  Everyone made at least one of these blocks and we rather think that the random piecing technique may prove a popular option – we even had a few mutterings about “good thing to do for a Linus day” “think I’ll do this again” etc etc.  The first few finished blocks are below –



After the Friendship Star blocks we moved on to a quick demo of piecing strips and strings of fabric down onto a paper shape and worksheets were handed out.  Chris’s Monster Scrap Bag made a guest appearance and was carefully picked through as the day progressed – it really was somewhat reduced by the end of class!






So, well done everyone!  Our next Saturday class – Double Delight – is in September.  We’ve got a lot of 2016 planning to do in the summer break and maybe a little more beautifying of the grounds of C&B Towers.


Drunkards Square

– is the title of our next class. September is here and a new term starts any day now so here at C&B Towers the sewing machines and computers are whirring as we attempt to finalise worksheets and class samples. September 21st will arrive before we know it.

And – Drunkards Square? What’s that all about?

Everyone knows the traditional Drunkards Path pattern and a lot of us dread those curved seams (but they are really easy when you know how (or know how to cheat – Chris)).

Drunkard's Path block

Drunkard's Path

But a Drunkard’s Square??

Let’s just say we have a Cunning Plan. Yes, it is based on Drunkard’s Path. No, you won’t have heard of it. Why? We dreamt it up over one of those high-powered discussions at HQ last year and it’s a C &B original.

another conference

It’s simple, it’s different and, most importantly, you won’t find it anywhere else. Shall we say – it adds an extra dimension to this fascinating and versatile block.

Book a place now. Be there and be Square!

classes, Piecing, possibilities, Teaching

Saturday’s class – Four into Sixteen

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our Saturday class at Tittensor.  Having had to cancel the previous class due to snow and adverse road conditions we all enjoyed being able to set things up with warm sunshine, birdsong volume turned up and the gentle clack of bowls from the bowling green at the side of the car park.  Full house again to discover and explore a very simple technique with lots of potential and possibilities.  There were even samples, instructions and a demo! The technique part was based on Billie Lauder’s “Quick Tricks Squared”  and it begins with two 10inch squares. (Think Layer Cake).  Simple stitching and slicing leads from these two squares to two 4patch units –

starter 4patch

starter units

and then on from here with some further stitching and slicing

first slice

to arrive at something like this

finished block

So far so good.  Lots of fun and several blocks made.  But one of our favourite things is “What if?” so we went back to the start with the 10inch squares and instead of 2 fabrics, some of us tried out 3 different fabrics, some of us tried out 4.  And cutting at different intervals, and swapping slices around ……………… it was all very absorbing, and probably one of the quietest classes we’ve ever had!

finished block


two sets of blocks

definitely blue

more blocks

carried away

hands on

hands on

4 fabric blocks

4 fabric blocks

2 block combination

variations on a theme

more blocks

4 fabric block

more variations

3 fabric block

Maggi Birchenough had brought in a small selection of her yummy hand dyed fabrics and threads

Maggi's fabrics

hand dyed threads

we had a basket of fat quarters from The Corner Patch  and we put flyers out for Staffs Patchworkers programme and also the British Quilt & Stitch Village Show  which is (gulp) less than a week away.  So while we wait for everyone to rush and stitch their blocks together into wonderful quilt tops we need to put things together for our demo spot at Uttoxeter – perhaps more caffeine is called for?