Last year my sewing group organised a cushion swap with the idea that if we liked it, we would try something bigger. We liked it, and this year nine of us are trying a quilting round robin. Not everyone is taking part as not everyone has time to take on a new project like this.
Those who are joining in are each putting together a bag full of quilt starter ideas, be it a central medallion or blocks that can be added to. The rules are very loose: almost anything goes. Each month or so, we will swap bags and work on a different quilt by adding blocks or a border.
I have made up my starter kit. So far it contains:
- a very large round block, inspired by Red Pepper Quilts
- some of the fabrics that I have used
- my notes and ideas
- my 10 degree Sew Easy wedge ruler, just in case anyone else wants to play with it.
I trimmed away the background from behind the circle to reduce bulk. It also frees up a huge piece of fabric to be reused elsewhere in the quilt top.
I chose to make this block because I had been itching to make a giant Dresden plate for ages, ever since I saw Red Pepper Quilts’. I also thought something bright and colourful would be fun for the group to play with. I really do not mind what they decide to do next, as long as the fabrics are as bright and colourful as they can be. I am encouraging them to raid my stash for more fabric if needed, but I would love to see what bright fabrics they choose to contribute too. I have set some fabric guidelines, such as ‘no brown’ and ‘lots of orange’.
I sketched some ideas, and I would be happy to see any of these – or something completely different that I have not thought of. Mostly, I sketched the ideas to prove to myself that such a large block could be added to by a group. I did not want to set an impossible task. I know that some of my ideas will not work for a round robin, but they are part of the creative process.
Pulling fabrics out of the cupboard and cutting them into 2½-inch strips was lots of fun. As I raided my stash, two things went through my head:
- ‘Goodness, I have a lot more brightly coloured fabric than I thought!’
- every song associated with round things, such as Dead or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round’ and Spandau Ballet’s ‘Round and Round’, which I sang (badly and loudly) as I cut.
The circle itself was surprising easy to make, thanks to the wedge ruler. The only advice I can give is to alternate the direction you press the seams on each wedge, but most quilters will do that instinctively. I did not need to follow Red Pepper Quilts’ tutorial, but I know it would be a great help if you are unsure how to put this together. The trickiest parts were appliquéing the centre circle on (there is a little puckering or easing around the middle on mine) and then squaring the enormous 40-inch block up after I had hand appliquéd the giant circle in place. I think I used every quilt ruler I owned, and I marked and checked and checked again before cutting.
The first swap handover day is 4 June. After that date, I will not see what happens to my block until it comes back to me in a year or so. In the meantime, I expect I will have a lot of fun working on everyone else’s round robin projects. Unfortunately, I do not know how much I can share here on my blog as I think we plan to keep everything under wraps.
What would you do if you were given a giant scrappy Dresden plate block to play with?