Shabby Miss Jenn

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Round Robin Quilts

I belong to a quilting group called Cyberbee, and have for over 10 years now. Up until this year, we met quarterly. We've just changed our schedule to meet 6 times a year, at roughly 2-month intervals.

We routinely do challenges and exchanges together. Several years ago, eight of us decided to do a round robin exchange. For those of you who haven't heard the term, a round robin is a progressive quilt top. The group decides on the rules; in this case, the borders were to be triangles, curves, squares, 2" wide border (could be anything), applique (on a new border), embellishment (of any of the previous sections), and "anything goes".

Each member makes a center square, and puts together a package containing a note describing their likes and dislikes, perhaps the colors they do (or do not) want in the quilt, even the fabric, (all or some) to be used in the quilt, a preferred size, and often a disposable camera so pictures can be taken at each step. They then pass that package to the next person "in line", who adds the border in the agreed-upon style. It then gets passed to the next person, and so on and so on. The quilt top belongs to the member who made the center block.

Our group additionally decided that we wouldn't get to see the tops in progress - we actually kicked the member out of the meeting room while their top was brought out and ooohed and aahed over by the group, progress was discussed, and often opinions were sought on where to go next with the project. After 14 months, all the tops were done and we had the big reveal. This was 2 years ago, and the tops are in various stages of completion, from still contemplating how to quilt them, to partially done, to finished.

Lots of lessons were learned with this project. How difficult it is to put the first border on the center block - it can do so much to define the rest of the project. Embellishment and applique were a breeze for some gals, and for others of us, a real struggle. ( I personally had a really hard time with embellishment - just like I do on scrapbook pages.) We each tried to make our borders be in context and in scale with the rest of the quilt. Adding the final border was almost as hard as adding the first border! Another thing we learned is that the tops took on a life of their own. They "spoke" to each of us as we worked on them.

And they are spectacular and I want to share them with you today, even though we got them back in 2007. There were a lot of speechless moments and not a few tears shed as we saw our quilt tops for the first time.

This first one is Michelle's: she wanted to use peacock colors and had an actual, 3-foot long peacock feather in her package as inspiration for us. The appliqued peacock, and the use of actual peacock feathers as embellishment on each of the blocks in the wide border put this quilt over the top.

This one is Mary's - her center block was a spectacular applique. We all decided it looked like Mexican tiles and went with that theme. She originally wanted a wall-sized quilt that she could hang in her kitchen. This one really had it's own agenda though, and became a bed-sized top.

This is Holly's. In addition to being an incredible quilter, Holly is a beautiful singer. She was inspired by a brooch to make the her center block, which was a musical heart. She wanted to stick with a black/white/red/pinkish color scheme.

This is Jeanne's flower cabin. She and her husband have been building a log cabin home in the mountains for her retirement. It will fit in beautifully there!

Jenny's Elvis quilt - this might just have been everyone's favorite quilt to work on. It certainly was a ton of fun! What you can't see in this daylight picture is the LED flashing lights that go around the pale yellow colored edge of the jukebox! It really looks amazing.

Alice wanted somthing fun and funky, and I think this fit the bill. Many of us were calling it the Carribbean quilt when we were done with it because it reminded us of fun at the beach.

This is Tess' reproduction quilt. She provided all of the reproduction fabrics to be used in it, along with the stunning Mariner's Compass center block. Her mom passed away while the project was on-going and Tess decided to drop out. But we decided to do her borders for her until she was ready to get back to it. I can't remember who did the applique border, but what we found out at the reveal - through her tears - was that Tess' mom really liked eagles. It made a special quilt mean that much more to Tess.

And last but not least is my quilt, which I call Pomegranate Star. I spent weeks just staring at it after I got it, stunned by how wonderful it is. It's now quilted and hangs in my living room. I see it each time I use the stairs.


  1. Those are amazing quilts! I am always astonished at how much time and effort is spent in doing these. The story about Tess and the eagle is just perfect.

  2. Oh my gosh, these are stunning! I would never have the patience to do something like that. It annoys me to have to stitch on a button for crying out loud! I admire you for doing this!!!

  3. How fun to revisit these quilts, and kudos to you for still being the only one to FINISH their quilt! I agree that the last row was the hardest, since I put the last row on YOURS. But I love it!!!

  4. My Webshots album with the progression of each of these quilts has been viewed almost 40,000 times. I think we did a great job! Mine is so pretty, I must get it finished so I can enjoy it.

  5. They are all so beautiful... what a neat project!