2020 Round Robin Challenge

In 2019, Janet McDonald introduced the Round Robin activity to EBHQ.  A total of eleven people participated.  Quilters enjoyed it so much that in 2020 twenty-one members signed up; twelve in the Traditional group and nine in the Improv group.

At the EBHQ Educational Session on January 27th, twenty-one adventurous quilters picked up giant blue bags, ready to embark on their Round Robin journey. Each bag contained the center block of a quilt top that they would add one round to and then pass on to four more quilters. 

Unexpectedly, the exchange format changed dramatically before the first switch happened. In mid-March, large gatherings were verboten due to COVID, so quilts couldn’t be swapped at our Ed Sessions as planned. Meg Nixon, our quick-thinking coordinator, made arrangements for the RRs to exchange their blue bags upstairs at Bay Quilts. Alas, within days, stores were required to close to the public too! So the next five exchanges happened in the parking lot of Bay Quilts.

Despite shopping for fabric being difficult, twenty-one spunky, undaunted quilters persevered. Often they had to reach into their stashes to finish their round and pass their contribution on. During a Thursday night Zoom in October, twenty-one finished quilt tops were revealed virtually. Everything worked out fine in the end! A satisfying success!

A 2021 Round Robin is now underway with 4 groups of 6 quilters each. Registration is closed for this activity.

For inspiration, below you'll find feedback from 2020’s participants about their experience. 

Click here to view a slideshow with larger versions of all these quilts along with commentary from the center block originator about the quilt they received back. The originator of each quilt top is listed first on the quilt, followed by the names of the five quilters who contributed to it, in order of their additions. 

To start a slide show, click on any photo. To enlarge any photo, click on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner. To read the commentary, click on the circle with the i inside.

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I loved the Round Robin experience; it was challenging on so many levels for me in terms of having to think outside my usual range of colors, fabrics, designs. It completely stretched my piecing and sewing skills, to say nothing of having to keep to a deadline which was so good in this year, when one day is much like another!  It forced me to be creative and innovative. I felt great after each new border was added!  I have really enjoyed getting to know some of the other quilters. Their notes as they worked on each quilt were inspiring too. —Caroline Lehman


 
     
 


Round Robins are both puzzling and exciting because of the surprise factors in pattern designs, color palettes, fabric choices, and skill levels. But that’s what makes them so much fun! You have to go into the process with no expectations for your final quilt. Serendipity is the name of the game, even if you choose to submit your own fabrics or general guidelines with your quilt center. Both years the newbies to the process (me among them) needed to get a few rounds under our belts before we felt free to experiment. It gets easier! —Katie Spangler

 
     
 



One of the advantages of RR is working for someone else, which helps you do your best. It challenges you to try new and more complex things; to use colors and fabrics you’ve never considered before; to get to know guild members……we'll probably all say the same thing! Thanks to everyone for all your efforts. —Nicola Hanchock


 
 
 

I found the Round Robin a very fun experience. I took part in both sessions, Traditional my first time, and Improv the second, and I enjoyed both equally. The anticipation of seeing what your next challenge was going to be was so exciting. All of this continued through to the very end when the completed pieces you worked on were revealed. I can't wait for the next RR. —Jean Wolslegel

 
     
 


I didn't have an idea of how really, really traditional some of the other quilts would be, in style and/or fabric. The first two I got weren't very traditional, so I was surprised by subsequent quilts. I ended up buying a lot of books to figure out what I was supposed to do. I think I have a grasp now. I've decided I'm more like Gwen Marston's Liberated Medallion than true traditional, and definitely not modern. I might try it again. Leah Brown



 


This was my second round robin, and I continue to find it fun and challenging. I enjoy the creative challenge of each new quilt, but it is a limited-time and limited-scope experience, so it does not become overwhelming. Working with colors/shapes/styles that are new to me really helps to grow my creativity. —Jane Voytek


 
 


This was a wonderful challenge. I wasn’t confident that I knew enough about quilting, piecing or any of the techniques, but decided, why not try anyway. Meanwhile, I would jump at the chance to do another improv round robin. I appreciated each of the tops individuality and when possible it was nice to have fabric choices in the “bag.” I appreciated that the quilters liked the fabrics I included and that they all expanded and enlarged the piecing. I particularly enjoyed meeting each pieced top as a surprise and figuring out how to best compliment its journey. As to mine, I love what came to fruition. —Marleen Merchant


 
 


I never participated in a round robin before, so I jumped at the opportunity to be in this one. I enjoyed the challenge of adding a new round to each quilt that came my way and was impressed with the creativity and workmanship of our members. A great experience! —Priscilla Read


 
 


Having the Round Robin quilts to work on during the COVID shutdown was a blessing in disguise. I was connected with the other Round Robin quilters and had an ongoing deadline-driven project that was fun and creative.   —Karen Springsteen


 
 


This was my first Round Robin—it took me awhile to get into the swing of it, but once in, it was a very enjoyable process. I realized I had so much to learn! especially at the Zoom Reveal meeting where we shared our finished quilt tops and heard from the sewists who created them, Sadly, most of the women who worked on mine weren't on the zoom, so I have no idea if they felt challenged and how. Regardless, I loved seeing the results and hearing from all the other group members who were at the Reveal. —Fredda Cassidy


 
 


As with the 2019 Round Robin, I really enjoyed working on quilts of such varying styles and aesthetics, all very different from what I usually do. My only quibble for the 2020 RR is that the last two rounds were only a month long rather than two; I personally appreciate the extra time. Diana Hook


 
 


I really really enjoyed doing this round Robin. I worked with fabrics I had not worked with before and had a blast coming up with ideas that would make the other quilters' work shine!  Challenging but rewarding. —Cathie Opila

 

 
 


I love Round Robins. Every time I get a new quilt it feels like Christmas has come! It's so much fun to open up the quilt and see what the style and color themes are. It's a challenge to follow the work of previous quilters and design something that supports the work they've done but also adds a new and interesting element to the piece. I can't wait for next year's Round Robin! —Julia McLeod


 
 


I have loved taking part in my first Round Robin quilt project. I eagerly awaited each new pieced top. It was challenging and stretched my skills working outside my color palette. I continue to be amazed at the skills of the other ladies and have pushed myself to learn more regarding design.  I am looking forward to the next Round Robin. Suzanne Duran


 
 


Each time I received a new blue bag, I opened it with trepidation, worrying about what I could possibly add to the top inside. I scoured quilt magazines and websites looking for inspiration before I committed to a plan of action. Having a stash of fabric included was helpful and gave me direction. Once the thinking was behind me and the cutting and sewing started, it was quite exciting and satisfying. I’d do it again! Paula Zurowski


 
 

 

I found the process of receiving each quilt exciting.  Each time I was able to see what I wanted to do and within a few days it was done.  This surprised me as I usually anguish over each addition to a quilt that I am creating.  There was something very freeing about working on someone else's quilt - weird but true for me. Marty Suess

 



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