My quilting group Stitch & Brue (Brue a play on words as the River Brue runs through and out to sea) are now going into our 8th year.

Each Christmas we go out for a meal and all exchange Secret Santa presents with the value of £5+, it’s a bit of a ritual in we have our meal, relocate to a nice comfy area and settle for the present giving. All presents will have been put into a black bag on arrival and we usually find a member of staff who will dish them out and then we open one at a time with plenty of ooing and ahhing over the lovely gifts we find inside.

Christmas 2018 was a little different all due to me finding a whole pack of unopened plain cream cotton shopping bags all for the princely sum of 50p each at the beginning of the year. For that price I couldn’t walk away and duly bought and had to put on my thinking cap on what could be done with them as a group challenge. At our next Thursday gathering all were given a bag with the instruction of decorating it and putting in the Secret Santa present and then to be secondly wrapped into a black bag to hide the decorated bag from view when taken to our night out.  To say this met with some moans and groans would be an understatement!!  All moans included comments of who’s would be best, I don’t know what to do, this isn’t for me, certainly pushed the group outside of their comfort zone. All moaning over they had 10 months to get a bag finished!

A few worked on them straight away, a couple worked together, others (like me) left it to the last minute and one even rang me on the night to tell me her bag was rubbish and she wouldn’t be joining in!!. A conversation and confidence booster resulted in the taking part a few hours later.

The opening of the black bags containing the decorated bags was one of the best evenings we have had, each bag was another great reveal with all trying to guess who had made them; some were obvious as you get to know peoples work and others just threw you off scent completely to who the maker was. A great fun challenge with everyone glad they had taken part and all up for doing the same again this year.

2019 and I have purchased the bags ready and am looking into buying a layer cake or some such fabric bundle and together with the bag will be a little fabric which will have to be incorporated into the finished shopper, just a little change from the year before challenge.

To anyone running or attending a group and looking for something different then this is a great challenge, it brought immense pleasure to the whole group and it’s great to see them used on a weekly basis back and forth to group every Thursday.

Below is a selection of just a few of the bags given and received.