Tag Archives: round robin quilts

“First” Border SAHRR

On Monday the prompt arrived for the Stay At Home Round Robin’s first border. (Rosanne and Sue’s instructions and linky here ) In my title “first” is in quotation marks because it is my second border. I showed the orphan block that I used for a starter here. I knew I needed a mix of backgrounds somehow, since I was using a block from an exchange and didn’t have the same background fabric to add to it. Nor did I have enough of any one off-white to do the whole. I had decided on a row of squares in various creams and tans,then got the idea to extend the tail with one brown square in each row. I waited till I saw the prompt to see if I could combine my idea with the it; I couldn’t. So I added my rows.

It’s 16 x 16 here. It doesn’t show every off-white that I’ll be using, but it gives the idea of a mix. Too bad I can’t repeat that orange and brown print somewhere later on; mixed oranges and rusts will have to do. I haven’t dug into those fabrics yet because they are deeper down than the neutrals were.

The next row will use the spools of the prompt to add some more neutrals; they will give me a place to use my slightly darker neutrals. Again, a mix.

Here is the first layout.

I was deciding two things: to pair the two spools with the same fabric or different? to place them the same way or different? I’d made two per side for both design reasons and time reasons. I’d seen enough modern quilts to know that partial rows were an option, as is asymmetry. So far , the center is leading me to symmetry. As a design I was thinking of kite tails. Though looking at the piece the image of a juggler comes more readily to mind. Anyway, I made my decision and sewed it up.

Now it is 22 x 22, and the spools are 3-inch blocks. I’d considered 1 1/2-inch blocks, but the proportion didn’t seem right. (I’m not afraid of 1/2-inch squares.) I await the next clue.



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Starting Another Medallion

A while back I enjoyed a local guild project where we made our own medallion quilt by using (or modifying) one of two suggestions for each row (here). I hang my head to admit it is yet unfinished–one small final plain 2-inch border to go, then quilting. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start another. I learned of Quilting Gail’s Stay At Home Round Robin project (from Susan I think) and thought to try it. It will move a little faster–a suggestion a week instead of every two months! We’ll see how long I keep up.

At any rate, I had an orphan block (12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″) to start with from back when I was doing block swaps. I’d made a couple small quilts from my blocks received, and still had a couple waiting for a project.

This one should make a good center block and I have fabric that coordinates with it–buried too deeply to show now, but you’ll see them in time.

Visit Quilting Gail to see other starting centers and instructions in case you care to join.


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Three Finishes, Two New and One Old

Last week I blogged about the finished Fading Charms quilt, but photography at midnight is not ideal. And it took a couple days for the sun to shine in the daytime. But today the sun was in and out of the clouds. Sometimes back in by the time the camera actually clicked. That time lag in electronic cameras can be tricky. So here it is.

Fading Charms

38 x 56


And some quilting detail.

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And of course, I experimented on the busy squares so that the quilting wouldn’t show. Now I want to show it. The back gives you a glimpse.

And in case you want to make one too, here is a link to the tutorial. The tutorial is for 2 1/2-inch squares; I just happened to have two or three boxes of Keepsake Fabric samples that I wanted to find a use for. It started as a Leaders-and-Enders project as I attached pairs of 1 1/2 inch squares. Then an online group that meets F2F once a year decided we should all bring a Fading Charms top to the “Swarm.” So I had to move a little faster, and it became the primary project. This one is destined for Quilts Beyond Borders.

Now two finishes this week would be much more impressive if they hadn’t already been all finished but binding. Between other projects taking front stage and my forgetting to buy blue thread, these have been languishing. The oldest first.

Sesame Street Quilt

40 x 39

The three rows of “crumb” blocks date way back. An online friend offered a box of 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 crumbs, and I accepted. The box had 300 blocks. This was around 2007 or 2008. I used up all but the brights. At that time my stash did’t have many brights–how times and  my taste have changed. After I acquired the needed brights and assembled the top, it waited for me to be ready to do FMQ. That was about two years ago. Finally it is finished and ready to become a Linus quilt.

It has been eight months since this next one was quilted (Link here); the round robin was started in May of 2012 .

Round Robin front

41 x 41


I really had fun experimenting with the quilting, especially this motif from Leah Day’s collection of 400+ filler designs:

quilting detail


And a top one inch wider than width of fabric pushed me into pieced back terrain.

Pieced back

This one is destined for Wrap a Smile.

I’ll be linking up with  Let’s Bee Social , TGIFF , LAFF and Fresh Sewing Day.

1/16/15 Linking with Free Motion Mavericks because I didn’t find it earlier.



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Improvi Robin Comes Home

I have recently made the fifth addition to the last circulating quilt in my improvi robin group.

improvi robin as received

As received–44 inches wide

I had one idea involving white rick-rack that I “knew” I had.  Couldn’t find it anywhere, so on to plan B.  Oh I could have gone shopping, but it was the weekend of heavy ice and snow, and Portland doesn’t do well with heavy snow. I don’t do well with heavy ice. (Once the piece was in the mail, I did find the rick rack, of course.)

I knew I wanted to make an addition that extended the bottom zig zag, but not duplicate it exactly. It was 6 inches wide, so I went for 5 inches. Also a friend suggested adding  black gingham cupcakes. I didn’t have black gingham, but did have the race-car-flag checked fabric.

my addition

As ready to send home

And what little slide block did those checks end up by?  Cars from about the 50s.

I pondered what color “cherry” to put on top since red wouldn’t show up, then went the way of the four corner cupcakes that had none.  That way the big cupcake in the center remains the star.

The tan fabric to the lower left has the word cupcake and the saying of the woman to the right is “When I learned to sew I forgot how to cook.”

A round robin changes its character so much as it moves through various hands. One notices a need for light or dark, for this color or that, and adds it. The next sees the balance tip one way and adds something to rebalance the piece, and so it goes. I always think of a saying I once heard: walking is a series of unbalanced steps. In this case the one before me saw the need for red and big and plain.  I saw the tipping toward red and brought back the black and white. I kept the feature, large, in my upper border. Echo some, change some.

I was waiting to post this till mine returned.  This is what I sent out:

My starter block

As sent into the world

My robin mates went for a Wizard of Oz theme.

Returned blockI love the gray gold and green to the right–that says thunderstorm to me, suggests the source of the rainbow, and fits the emerging theme. And all those lovely bright triangles look so much brighter in contrast. I should find some bicycle print to add to it. It is the width of a child’s quilt–just needs some more length.

Into the “someday” pile it goes. Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday and I Quilt Thursday: buttons in the sidebar.


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improvi robin time

I’ve been sitting on this one for about a month, and now it is due tomorrow.

three shoo fly blocks and sashing

as received

I put this one out on my “design sofa” for a couple days before beginning the Christmas-entertaining clean up. My subconscious didn’t work too hard on it while I had company, so it was back to square one when I got it out again. The large, irregular light pink Shoo Fly block was the starter. There is big stitch embroidery around it and the one in the lower right corner, a red spiral in the center and outline.

I am not sure the ideal orientation. The above was my first instinct, but then I saw the bear print had the bears on their side. so I turned it to think about it that way, with the bears right side up.

Things I considered doing:

-dark green saw tooth strip or two

-some bias echoing the red curve

-inserts echoing the green X

-more piano keys

-more checkerboard

-something with the drunkard’s path quarter circle block

I prefer brainstorming many things and then choosing the best or, more realistically, the ones I have fabric or patience for. So I never intended on doing them all (in case you wondered).

Fabric. I have cranberry and dark green. Not much pink. Wished for the shade of gold hat was in an earlier addition. Wished for the green in the checkerboard. I found the pink that has yellow in it and decided it would suggest the gold and would work so long as it wasn’t too close to really pink pink. I hadn’t had the spiral print fabric long enough to remember it. (I’d bought the fabric for the Keepsake Challenge, then decided I wasn’t inspired.) When I saw that fat quarter, I thought it perfect in color and motif. But two borders of it registered as too much–it would have to be broken up. The yellow green came from that set as well.  My fabric choices were improved yesterday by the medium green from the free table at guild. It is one of the older colors that I would like to see return to popularity–if it does, I think I’ll buy a whole bolt. When I trimmed the sides of the piece, I ended up with usable bits of four fabrics–always good to maintain some continuity, so I decided to use them somehow.

Robin with my additions

as sent out

Plan A was to make five square-in-a-square blocks either the same colors or various combinations and place them irregularly. Could be monotonous. Next I thought of the angled strips–quoting the piano key sashing, but not quite the same. That led to crossing it with the medium green, a nod to the earlier green X. I wanted something dark to make the smaller Shoo Fly stand out, and that led also to the dark extension of the mid sashing.

One more person will add to it, and then it will be returned to its originator to finish as she wills. I hope all participants post their finishes. You can see what gets has been posted here. (There are several groups, so more than the four I’ve shows are there.)


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Ta Dah!

I’ll bet you expected the announcement of my having finished quilting the Monkey Biz. Nope. I did finish the light color blocks, and since I had to change thread anyway, shifted to piecing the Improvi Robin that I’d been thinking about.

round 2 received

Starter and Two Additions

After taking the photo I rotated the piece, but forgot to take another photo. In the process I got different ideas for each direction.  But the bird in the lower right suggested I keep this orientation.

Ideas I considered:

Use the  aqua bird fabric of Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park line (because it was in the second addition and because I have some)

Do some slash and skinny curving inserts to echo the starter flower

Do more improve piecing like first addition in gold

Do something zig zaggy like the pink and white of the second addition

Follow addition 2’s lightening of value with pink and yellow

Make a cornerstone like the center of the big flower, aqua and cranberry –and maybe gold–square in a square

Use the peach of the starter flower (I didn’t have any, and though we are not forbidden from buying new fabric, using stash is encouraged)

With all those ideas floating around, I was in a muddle of indecision. Then serendipity–so many of my design decisions flow from serendipity that I wonder if I can even say they were design decisions.

Third addition

Robin with third addition

I had been piecing improv fabric as leaders and enders (thanks for the suggestion Susan!), and the colors were not exactly the background of the big flower, but mingled together, suggested it. From there on I knew most of my plan, made enough improv fabric for the chevrons and partial side border, made my half-square triangles and looked at it for a while. I abandoned the cornerstone idea as interrupting the lightening effect if placed in the upper corner, and unpleasing if placed lower. (I’d started out planning aqua birds to finish out the left border bottom, but didn’t like the look–don’t have a reason, just didn’t like it. I surprised myself by liking the dark gold and cranberry corner–after all I had started out to lighten the piece.

I went with my seemingly illogical hunch, but kept thinking about it.  I think the reason it works is that it gives the piece an overall structure that resembles a log-cabin light-dark arrangement.

What would you have done if it was your turn?  Or what would you do next?  I can’t wait to see the next two additions.


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It’s Improvi-Robin Time

I received a starter with one addition:

improvi robin received

as received

The start was the star and the surrounding diamonds and print to make it square. Addition one was ambitious: four points and the row of diamonds.

It sat on my “design sofa” for a couple weeks while I thought of what the quilt wanted that I felt like making. I briefly considered making more points. But I don’t like to paper piece. Just in case someone else might want to, I left that side alone. Remember our minimum requirement is to add to one side. I was leaning in the minimum direction.

When I work on a round robin I try to unify.  If a color in the original has been ignored, I try to use it.  If the addition has started something, I try to follow. Sometimes what is needed is change or contrast. I try to leave something new for the next addition to pick up on. I don’t always manage to do all three. Sometimes the piece isn’t ready for all three.

At first I thought to make my background lavender and aqua, picking up on the hint of change from black and white. But the bottom half of the diamond background to the left kept saying, “Pink” to me.  So in the background I followed the lead of the first addition by using all three. I pondered adding a new shape, but decided on less change. I’d keep diamonds, but make them larger. At first I thought of purple and deeper aqua diamonds. Then I decided I’d keep two colors in the diamonds like the starter, but make them horizontal. And instead of purple, which was well represented, return to some brights in the starter star.

So I did this:

my addition to the robin

as sent

If I were to do it over, I’d do three diamonds so that the size leap was not so big. I often don’t see the size right in my head when I am designing. So I laid it out after I’d cut the pieces, but for some reason, the size didn’t flash caution lights.

Once these robins leave my hands, I don’t have  photos of the follow up additions. There is a FlickR group where some of us are posting and a Threadbias group where I am in the group sometimes named Robin Hood and sometimes Group 2. In both places, I think you can view without joining, but not comment or post photos. (Let me know if I am wrong on that.)


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A Different Sort of Round Robin

I have probably mentioned that I really enjoy Round Robins. Till now, I’ve participated in traditional ones where one starts with a center block, usually 12 x 12, and sends matching fabric along with it, and members each add a border. Sometimes the size of border is stated; sometimes more directions, like a border using triangles; an applique border.

This one is an “improvi robin.”  The only rule is No Whining.  The starter has no predetermined size.  The additions can be most anything, minimum, add something to one side.

So here is the starter I sent out.

improvi robin start block

10 x 12

It will be about 5 months till I get it back with four additions. We do post photos on Threadbias in the Improvi Robin group, but that gives only a hint. I am eager to see it in real life. It seemed appropriate to do an unconventional block for such an unconventional project (though conventional was okay too).

This is the starter I received:

improvi robin start 2

14x 13

Another unconventional block–even the flying geese are irregular. And the words on the medium fabric are, “Blah, blah, blah.” Plan A was to put something on the top for the triangles to be pointing to, but it seemed too close.  One challenge of knowing there are borders to follow is to not do something appropriate for ending too soon. So I moved to Plan B.

improvi robin 2-2


You can see I used some of the Blah-blah fabric.  We had the choice of sending along fabric or not and of using it or not. I do like the continuity of seeing at least a small bit used throughout.

I have received a starter plus one addition, but I’ll wait to show it till I can also show what I added.


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The Lost Is Found

The round robin project started in May. Four of us sent center blocks to the next person on the list, but only  three arrived.  The lost package could not be traced or found, so the maker created another one that we all added to.

Then in September, the lost arrived in the second quilter’s mail. We decided to send it around and surprise the quilter. She has seen it now, so no more secrecy.

This is what I received:

Starter block plus two additions

I immediately knew I wanted to add blue and green in the next border. My first thought was to match the medium value of the center, but I didn’t have any such fabric. I also wanted the blue and green to read almost the same value. I found some darker that actually ended up working better than my original idea would have.

Center with added border

My first thought had been checkerboard of one inch squares, but it was too small a scale. Second thought was alternating 2-inch squares, but that was too plain. Luckily the measurements allowed alternating 4-patch and plain, then alternating the plain blue and green.  The border seemed skimpy, but I knew there was another addition coming.

I do not have a photo of the finished piece, but the next border is a black background with a small print that includes red and blue. It takes care of the skimpiness of my border quite nicely and complements the colors. And the maker of the center was excited to receive two tops!

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Round Robin

Round three completed

First I should say that you should never believe me when I say, “I’ll finish it today.” Something always comes up to distract me. But nevertheless, my part is now finished.

The serendipity was twofold.  First I had some green fabric like the fabric in the left mountain.  Plan A was to mix it with other greens and add other lavenders in the bottom checkerboard. The second was having bought just the right fabric without even planning it.  The sampler of Fair Trade cotton from Uganda  mentioned a couple posts ago turned out to supply the perfect tones.  Since many of the dyes were natural, the colors were muted. They echoed the colors in the camouflage and distracted less than Plan A would have from what was already in the piece when I received it.

Meanwhile, remember the piece I sent out?

Variable Star Block

Center block

Round Robin come home

Awaiting border and quilting


It has made the round of three quilters and has come home.  It is large enough as is, but I think the corner stars will look better if I add a small dark blue border, so that is my next plan.






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