Approximately 23 years ago, my friend, Rose Marie, and I decided that we wanted to do a Round Robin quilt.
There are many different iterations of how a Round Robin can be set up, but we wanted the kind where you start with a center block, and pass it around to other group members for them to add to it, and then eventually get it back.
We briefly discussed trying to get a larger group together, but we had only just joined our guild, and didn’t really know many other quilters in our area that well yet. So we decided that we weren’t going to let that stop us — we’d just do it anyway, the two of us by ourselves!
We made ZERO rules, which kept things pretty simple. We each made a center block, and swapped them with each other.
Here’s what I started with:
And here’s what Rose Marie started with:
We did not pass any fabric along with our quilts — we each let the other use from her stash for what she wanted to add. No rules!
She added a round to mine, and I added a round to hers, and we swapped them back again.
I actually did foundation paper piecing and hand piecing on this round for her!
Then it was time to add another round for each of us, this time to our own quilts.
Mine. I got a bit ambitious with the hand applique!
Rose Marie added a bunch of comets to hers this time. The white stars are pieced, then appliquéd on.
We swapped again, then each added another round to the other’s quilt.
Mine (at the time, my favorite color was purple, and boy, did she oblige me!):
Rose Marie’s, upon which I got SUPER ambitious with the hand appliqué, and did this ENTIRE row of sunbursts, which I drew myself. There are four different designs, and I made four of each one — what was I thinking??? I evidently had lots of time on my hands!
By this time, they were getting up to the size we wanted, so we swapped back one more time, at which point we each had our own quilt back, and were to add one final round to finish them up.
Borders, really, was all they needed. So I added a row of star blocks to the top and bottom of mine to make it fit a bed, rather than be square, then added my borders. I had actually won these star blocks in a guild block exchange, and didn’t even have to make them myself! I thought it was a great time to use them in a project!
Rose Marie stuffed hers in the closet, and didn’t touch it for about 20 years!
I sent mine out to my machine quilter right away (because this was well before I had a longarm machine of my own) — it was quilted by June Magers.
Then I started using it! It’s been on my bed off and on for 20 years, drug around for a lap quilt, and washed and washed and washed. It’s got faded spots, worn spots, and has been well loved.
Rose Marie finally drug hers out of said closet, and put her final borders on, then asked me to quilt it for her — only fitting, right?
And because this was a joint project, we both agreed that we needed to hang them in our local quilt show at the same time, just for the sake of the story! Even tho my quilt is faded and worn, I hung it, and Rose Marie hung her newly finished creation.
As we were discussing them, we both had a chuckle over how much work we put into them. I mean, all that hand piecing, and hand appliqué on my part? And all the different techniques we had both tried: appliqué, foundation piecing, etc. Rose Marie said: “Yes, and I was deep into my learning curve at that time.” I replied: “It appears that we’ve both come a long way since then. I think we should do it again!”
So . . . Rose Marie and I are embarking on another Round Robin project — 23 years later — just to see how different the next ones turn out compared to our efforts of a couple decades ago! She handed me her new center block at the quilt show last weekend:
I’m giving her the center block of my mystery quilt that I decided not to use earlier:
I can see one major difference right off the bat, can you spot it?
Last time, I did traditional colors, and Rose Marie did brights. This time, mine is the bright one! It’ll be interesting to see what develops.
Our only rule this time? We can’t take 23 years to finish them! I’m not sure either of us will live that long! Haha!
And we’re off and running! I’ll keep you posted . . .
And all of this is to say to YOU:
• Don’t think that you have to get together a big group to do a joint project. While Round Robins typically have 5-7 people in them, it doesn’t have to be that way — don’t let that stop you! Just choose your best quilty friend and challenge each other!
• This is a good way to challenge yourself (and your best quilty friend) to do something you normally wouldn’t, and get you thinking outside your normal quilting box. If you need some inspiration to jumpstart your creativity again, this might be a good project for you to try!
• If nothing else, it’ll be fun and something to do with a friend, and you’ll both end up with a finished quilt to show for it. You can make up your own rules and do it however you want.