A good thing about belonging to a patchwork and quilting group, apart from the social element of spending time with like minded people, is that you end up doing things you wouldn’t otherwise do.  Of course it depends on the group.  I joined the Beartown Patchwork & Quilters group about three years ago and it is an active group of about 50 members who meet twice a month.  Of course some of these ladies have completed every group project going and are tired of having challenges thrown at them, but others love them and look forward to a new one.

My first group challenge was the Xmas one.  That seemed to cause a stir in the room as it was announced and lots of people reached out for the pack which included a piece of Xmas fabric.  The idea was that members were given two weeks to create a 12.5” block of any style but it had to incorporate the Xmas fabric somewhere.  At the next meeting members handed in their blocks and were given a raffle ticket.  The blocks were put into piles of similar types and in groups of 3 to 8 blocks. These were then raffled and a small number of members won a pile of blocks.  In January and February these blocks came back as table runners, lap quilts and cushions.

This last year I was lucky enough to win 5 blocks!  What an assortment they were.  All lovely (of course) but two were only 8.5” blocks (?) and one needed raw edge appliquèing,  So I set about making a table runner out of these blocks with some extra fabric from my stash.  It took me a while but I managed to take it to show at the January meeting and I was able to identify who made which block. Nice collaborative project and it was something I wouldn’t have created on my own.

Work in progress. The finished piece had a red border and green binding.  

The next project I took part in was a Pillowcase Challenge.  This is where you put a block of any size in a pillowcase, mark it with a symbol so you know it’s yours (but no-one else does) and you put it on the table for someone else to pick up.  You can also add some spare fabric if you want to.  The person who picks it up adds something to the block so it could be a border, another block, some additional stitching etc.  You add your symbol to the label when you take it back and then pick up another pillowcase to work on.  This goes on for 4 or 5 rounds with no one knowing whose piece they are working on.  When the pieces were finally handed back to the owners it was great to see the reveals! Most were truely beautiful pieces of work whilst others were more ‘unusual’.  


I know I gave people a challenge by not putting in a traditional block at the beginning (I have learnt that lesson) and members told me they didn’t know what to do with it.  I had put in a Foundation Paper Pieced (FPP) house from a series in the UKQU Block Swap BOM 2017.  The first person added button and bead flowers, embroidered smoke and bird, a path, lawn and sky with mountains in the distance. The second person added tree-like fabric either side….. and so on.  I am sure I didn’t make life easy for anyone, but then I had my own challenges with the growing pieces that came through my hands.


In the end I revealed quite a sweet piece when I opened up my pillowcase.  It is about 36” square and will make a nice wall hanging for a child’s room.  I was thinking I might add a ‘little red riding hood’, a book title and a column of the start of the story, but then….. I might not!   What would you do?

This year the group is celebrating its 35th anniversary with an Exhibition in Congleton (I will be writing more about that). I am on the exhibition committee and for some time we have been creating two group quilts which we are raffling in aid of the British Heart Foundation.   So the committee got together and decided which quilts we would make, purchased the fabric and had a day cutting the first one and packing pieces up for members to take away and piece.  The pack contained fabric for two blocks and clear instructions about cutting and colour.  Some members happily did more than two blocks and the gradually came back in.

Committee members spent another day piecing the blocks together and while a few had to be discarded because of size or putting in fabrics the wrong way up etc. we still had sufficient to make a good sized double quilt.  We added borders, layered it all and sent it off to a long arm Quilter (the lovely Alison Forbes, Quilting for Bees, Poynton) who gave us such a great discount as it was for charity.

Second quilt in the sandwiching stage, 

We created a second one using the same pattern but without the cream and arranged differently.  This has been home quilted by one of the group.  It has been a joy to work on both of these quilts and there was a great deal of camaraderie and a great deal of learning that took place.

As part of this process we worked out how much it had cost to make the first quilt and we will be displaying the costs at the exhibition so members of the public can see the value of a hand made quilt (without any profit added on!).  Costing out labour at only minimum wage, the cost of the 1st quilt is over £1,200.  Who ever wins it will certainly have something to love and cherish for years to come.

Have you engaged in any group projects or challenges? Is so I would love to hear about it.