The big reveal

Earlier this week, at one of our regular sewing mornings, my sewing group revealed the finished projects made as part of our round robin swap.

The rules of our swap were simple: each person taking part put together a bag of quilt starter ideas, be it a pattern, some fabric, a central medallion or a block that could be added to. Almost anything was allowed. Every four weeks, we swapped bags and worked on a different quilt by adding blocks or a border. The project was a lot like our Possum Magic round robin, except everyone was local, we had less time for each round, what we could include in each bag was not limited by postage rates, the projects were kept secret and the rules about what went into each bag were completely open.

Technically, we finished a few weeks ago, but we wanted to wait for a date when everyone who took part could be together for the big reveal. It was so worth it!

In May last year, I made a large, scrappy Dresden plate block. In early June, I put it in a bag and handed it over to eight other ladies in my sewing group. I did not see it again until this week.

Giant scrappy Dresden plate made by Granny Maud's Girl using a 10 degree wedge ruler

This giant scrappy Dresden plate block is 40 inches across.

They gave me back this.

Medallion patchwork quilt with Dresden plate centre

I think my face shows how I happy I was when my quilt top was revealed.

I am so very impressed! It is bright and cheerful. Rereading my notes, I notice I asked for ‘bright and colourful’, and they certainly met the brief.

While they were working on my quilt, I was working on theirs. I apologise for the poor photographs, but I will try to convey the variety and fun of each project.

The block-based projects


Carol asked for a complicated and brightly coloured foundation paper pieced block. She included a beautiful selection of tropical fabrics, some bought on holiday in Hawaii, and we were encouraged to add fabrics from our stash. Many in the group had never tried foundation paper piecing before. Lessons were arranged and everyone did a sterling job.

Foundation-paper pieced patchwork blocks

I adore the secondary pattern Carol’s blocks form.


Denise upended her well-stocked stash and pulled out all the Asian and Asian-inspired fabrics. Her collection included beautiful panels bought in Japan (which she encourage us to cut up, but none of us had the heart to do) and traditional hand-dyed prints from Indonesia. We went to town. Some of the blocks in this collection are stunning. There are Japanese torii gates, crests and sashiko, as well as lanterns and carp. I should have taken an individual photo of every block while they were at my house, but I was silly and forgot.


Deidre asked us to make leaf blocks in combinations of rust and navy. She provided a layout map with block sizes, but we could do anything we liked as long as it was sort of leafy. She has been making some other blocks to add to this collection before assembling them into a top.


Nikki’s project was the easiest. She just wanted lots and lots of colourful hashtags. She even supplied the fabric.

Hashtag patchwork blocks

This is only a small selection of the many, many blocks that will make up Nikki’s colourwash quilt.

The medallion quilts


Sharon wanted a Christmas quilt. She said she was happy with whatever came, as long as it was Christmassy.

This actually started out as a block-based project, but Denise, always a star contributor in our group, took the blocks and laid them out, added appliquéd corners and borders and transformed the whole project into something amazing. She was frantically sewing until the morning of our big reveal and still has one border to sew down.

Patchwork Christmas quilt

Sharon’s quilt is all about Christmas.


Gail wanted rich, jewel-tone blue, green and purple stars on a white background.


Elgar likes cats. We did not deliberately set out to make a cat quilt, but when Denise suggested appliqué in the outer borders, we knew it had to include cats. I am rather proud of the needle-turn paws I sewed.


Trena is from the USA and based here in Perth temporarily. Her bag included a Dresden plate block, and some Terra Australis (by Emma Jean Jansen) fat quarters. I wanted to do some appliqué after admiring the kangaroos and flowers Denise had added to the centre, but when it was my turn, half Dresdens seemed more appropriate. Others carried on the fun appliqué later.


Am I not a lucky duck!?

Medallion patchwork quilt with Dresden plate centre

Isn’t this lovely?

I think my quilt is perfect. I do not have to do anything to it except choose a backing and start planning how to quilt it.

I was the one who suggested and planned this round robin, but I think that everyone in the group merits thanks. I watched everyone collaborate, plot and trade fabric and ideas to make it happen. I particularly like how people came up with ideas for borders that needed many hands and then pitched their ideas to others to make it happen. I saw Denise and Deidre both do that, but I know a lot more was going on that I was unaware of, such as whoever planned my four-person flying geese border (which has perfect points). I saw the care, thought and attention each person tried to put into their contribution in every project. Our local sewing group has almost thirty members and only nine felt they had the time to join in, but we all chipped in moral support and ideas.

Has your sewing group organised a swap like this one? How did it go?

42 thoughts on “The big reveal

  1. That is an absolutely outstanding effort by all of you! And yes, I can quite see why you adore your quilt, which certainly answers the brief. When they’re all done and quilted, it would be amazing to see a photographic record – I think you guys should hold a show. … and yes, I can quite see why you’ve been a little, um, over-committed recently!

  2. I think yours is my favourite out of the lot, with Trena’s a close second! One of my favourite parts on yours is the zigzag border. So simple yet it helps pull everything together! How big did it end up?! It looks huge!

    • Trena sewed that zigzag border, I believe, and I agree that it was just the right choice to balance all the colour and the black and white prints I had used.

      It is big – almost 80 inches or 2 metres square. I am thinking of using my recent Massdrop backing fabric purchase (2.5 yards of wide back in a text print) on the back.

  3. I think you know how over the moon in love I am with these quilts and the joint effort. . .I must seriously look into finding a group of quilters to make one of these. . .can’t wait to see how you finish it off – thank you for sharing!

  4. Wow Carla, what a great quilt (for all of you)… I wish I could find something like that here where I live …. It must be a great experience working together on all those different quilts. I love the picture you are beeing surprised about your quilt… you are looking a little bit like “Alice in wonderland”.
    I had my 1st blogiversary this Monday… just want to tell you that I follow your blog since I started running mine…. I am alway curious about your new posts. Thank you.

  5. Gorgeous quilts! Lots of talented folks. Every one did their very best work on each quilt. You are all lucky to have each member end up with a beautiful quilt.

    I love that black and white chevron on your lovely Dresden quilt. So simple but it was the one border that brought everything together .

    • Some people did not join in for that reason, but I did not find it scary. If I ever had to cut up and refashion another’s work – that would be a different story! Anything I do here can be unpicked.

    • I was more than a little nervous. What if I didn’t like it? Would I have to smile politely and pretend? I am a rubbish actress and could never win an Oscar. Luckily, I loved it and my acting skills were not tested!

  6. You did really well to keep everyone’s quilts unique. I think yours looks great, though very big!! Either that or you’re really tiny! I love your centre and they have just worked out from there. I’m sure you’ll treasure it, especially as you know all the people that contributed to it too. What an exciting day it must have been.

    • It is big! I am actually average height at about 5ft4in, even though my husband calls me runt and my stepdaughter grew taller than me at the age of 11.

      It was a fun ‘sewing’ day even though we didn’t sew a stitch.

    • I am thinking of having it professionally long-arm quilted because of its size, but I also want to add some colourful perle cotton hand quilted details, especially around the friendship star border that was the first border added. I am still thinking. All suggestions are welcome!

    • I hope you are allowed to say that. I think it is the best for me. The others are lovely and better suit their owners’ tastes. Wouldn’t it be awful if I secretly coveted another’s quilt? That would be like coveting another’s ox or ass! Very Ten Commandments!

  7. Pingback: The truth about group sewing projects | Granny Maud's Girl

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