My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Round Robin.

Have you ever participated in a quilting round robin?  Have you ever organised one?  They sound like fun - the general idea is that you make something, you pass it on to the next person and they add something, they pass it on and the next person adds something and so on, until it gets back to you.  Of course, anything that sounds simple often isn't!

My half of the round robin I am doing with my sister - very casual, no time limits!
 Some things to think about before you embark on organising a round robin. 
  • Do you want a row-by-row (where everyone makes the same size row just different themes) or a medallion quilt (where everyone adds a border to a central block - the borders get bigger and bigger quite quickly)?
  • Do you want a co-ordinated fabric look?  The owner would have to include fabric that every contributor could use.
  • How big do you want the final size?  What will you theme/s be?
  • How much time do you give to complete each round?  Medallion styles may need extra time for the large size borders towards the end.
  • What are you going to do if contributors pull out halfway through?
  • Local, national, international?  Postage can get expensive and time consuming.
  • Who will be participating?  How are you going to get them to join?  Beginners will need more explicate instructions, ie. stipulating 100% cotton fabrics, than experienced quilters.
My central block for an international round robin I participated in.

I decided to organise a row-by-row round robin for my local quilting guild.  This is what I put in the newsletter:

 Charlotte is happy to co-ordinate a monthly row-by-row round robin if there are enough keen participants.

How it would work:

1. You provide at least a metre and a half of a feature fabric (or a metre and a half total of several fabrics) that you would like used throughout the quilt (more fabric would allow people to use more of it in each row).

2. The first month, you make the first row for yourself, using your feature fabric and other fabrics from your stash, to set the style of your quilt.

3. The completed row is put into a bag with your information sheet and your leftover feature fabric and passed to the coordinator who then passes it to the next person in the group.

4. The next month, you are working on someone else’s quilt, making a row for them, the theme of that month would be given by the coordinator. You use some of their feature fabric that they have included in their bag and any other fabric you need comes from your stash.

5. Eventually your bag comes back to you with the completed rows and any leftover feature fabric. You then get to choose how to put the rows together. Once all the quilt tops are together there will a grand show and tell with a viewer’s choice prize!
 The rows will be completed monthly and the agreed size of each row is 8” x 40” finished (8 ½” x 40 ½” with seam allowances). This can be made up of one panel or five 8” blocks, or a combination of blocks and panel if you wish.

Themes will be things like: stars, birds, traditional, curves, flowers, water, boxes. All of which are open to your own interpretation. For example, stars could be five traditionally pieced Ohio Stars, or it could be a panel of appliquéd stars, or a mix of two star blocks and three appliquéd blocks, or using a star fabric!!

If you can’t always make meetings – no problem! You can pass your completed row/s to a friend to pass on, or organise to meet the coordinator someplace else. You could even post it if worst came to worst!

When you get the rows back, you can add sashings, borders and even more rows – horizontal or vertical - if you want to make your quilt bigger.

This is the starter row I made for the guild round robin.
 We have eight people from our guild joining in and so far it's been great.  As a group we decided that we could make our rows anything from 6" to 10" high for a bit of variation.  I have had hiccups with work and couldn't attend the last two meetings so the group swapped all the quilts for me and chose a theme from the list I had given them.  We also have a couple of people who have gone on holiday for a month and we've been able to work around that because we are small and local and all know each other.

This is what I got back from the international round robin.  My block is sideways - I thought it was obvious, but I guess I should have labelled the top!  These are things you learn once you've participated in a few round robins.
Have you ever participated in or organised a round robin?  What did you learn?  How did you enjoy it?  Have you any hints and tips for first timers?


  1. I love this post for obvious reasons and I think it is quite invaluable for people wanting to give this a go. Your suggestions and tips are great. I really do love the international quilt.

  2. You have put some great tips for those wanting to start one up.
    In our group our first year we did more of a sampler type, any sized blocks, we put our our fabrics in the bag along with a note book with what we liked AND dislike.We each wrote notes, shared recipes etc,then when got our bag back not only did we have our quilt top,or blocks we had a mini diary that everyone had wrote in.Some ladies had very set ideas on what they wanted, others were very open, even down to not putting any fabric in her bag!
    The next year we did a Row-by-Row, we made the first row,which set the width and we specified how long we wanted it (eg if we had a wall in mind to hang it on),we had the note books again. This year is set around our own chosen poem or year who knows!!
    We get together monthly, not everyone makes it to every meeting, but we try as it is so much fun,lots of laughs.

  3. As a keen participant of both of these round robins, I would have to say that I prefer the row by row version, where the rows are not attached by the participants, and the owner holds the ultimate POWER! And the organiser isn't too bad either :)

  4. Great post Lottie! I've shared it over on my "virtual quilting bee" the Patchwork Living Blogging Bee on the Frugal Kiwi that also automatically shares to the fab blog Attainable Sustainable. There are some other great posts others have shared if you want to visit


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