Round Robin Challenges

My friend Janet made this beautiful block. She is in my small quilt group. As you may remember, last year my group did a round robin project. This year we are again, but we’re doing mini-medallions. The finished quilts must be no larger than 18″ to meet the rules of our larger guild’s annual challenge.

Because of the small size, only four people will work on each quilt. Each owner began their quilt with a center block. After that, three people will add borders, with the total width of the added border no more than 2″. I’ve added the first border to Janet’s. Her appliqué is lovely and traditional. I wanted to honor it to highlight her work, but also setting the piece up for later borders.

While it would be natural to continue with the reds, greens, and creams, I thought about some color problems I’ve had with my own medallion quilts. More than once I’ve backed myself into a corner by using too few colors in the center. I was afraid if I stuck with those, it would be hard for later borders to broaden the spectrum. While sometimes a quilt is intended to have few colors, this one doesn’t need to.

My first thought for a new color was cheddar. In the early 1800s, chrome yellows and cheddar oranges often were use to accent red and green appliqué quilts.

I also wanted to do an appliquéd dogtooth border. One reason to appliqué rather than piece it is because appliqué is a traditional method for making the spikes. Take a look at some of the amazing, toothy borders in this blog post by Barbara Brackman.

Another reason is simply because I haven’t done one this way before, and I have long wanted to try it. Brackman’s post also includes instructions. I did make a test piece this way, and I also started a border with appliqué. But after beginning, I decided I wouldn’t be happy with the outcome, and that it would take me far longer to complete than my time available.

So I began again.

Part of the challenge was in the size of the block. Its finished measure is 5.75″. Quick, tell me what size piecing works easily with that…

Yeah. None.

I could have added a spacer strip to take the center to … what? Taking it to 6″ would require a spacer finishing at 1/8″. That would be really hard to do. And larger numbers don’t work especially well, either, unless I took it all the way to 7″. I’m constrained to a maximum of 2″ width. I didn’t want to use most of it on a spacer unless I had a really great fabric for it, rather than just a place holder.

I decided on a sawtooth border, to maintain the idea of the spiky appliquéd dogteeth. If I arrayed them outward, I could leave a gap in the middle of background fabric. The design would maintain its symmetry. The border is 1.25″. With four teeth, they cover a total of 5″. That leaves a gap of 0.75″. It’s a gap-toothed quilt!!

(I actually think the sawteeth create a crown encircling the heart. That’s a much more romantic notion than gap-teeth…)

I picked the background fabric for its blend with Janet’s background. In addition, it has a small blue ring in the print. Though it is subtle, it allows another color avenue, which I took advantage of.

The corner blocks are slightly darker than the background fabrics, giving a little more weight and easing the transition from the bright cheddar teeth.

Finally, I found a cadet blue in my stash. The print has red, green, and gold. The style complements the traditional heart. I added strips of that to finish the center at 9″. That should make easier work for the next quilter.

What do you think? What ideas would you consider for the next border if you were the next quilter?

6 thoughts on “Round Robin Challenges

  1. Thread crazy

    Melanie – I like the sawtooth design as the center heart design has your eye going one way, but then the sawtooth border takes your eye out in all directions, like a star burst. Then the blue “stop” border does just that – stops the action of the sawtooth. I like that. Great job.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      🙂 You are seeing exactly what I hoped for. Thanks for your comment.

      My group met today and we shared our progress. I think everyone is pleased so far.

  2. Lynne Quinsland

    your thought process, and gift for capturing it in words, amazes and teaches me. i think i learn more thru your simple short posts than i could in a years worth of classes. i just love seeing how you pick what works and what doesnt and why. i know i would be so honored to have such a thoughtful person work on one of my rounds in a round robin. i have been burnt too many times by people just slapping something, anything, on and calling it good no matter that it has NO place on that particular quilt due to bad design, color, or implementation. i am always so disappointed after i have agonized over really doing their piece nicely.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Thank you, Lynne. I can’t say that every one is a success, either for my own projects or within round robins. And I also can’t claim I have a very deep thought process for each one. But I do try to make each one *better* in some way, or more complete.

      Thanks for reading and commenting today.

  3. Doreen

    I love that!!! It pulls enough additional color that the eye naturally will move outward. I would do the next border with heavier color/less ‘open’ background. Not exactly sure of pattern, though. Looks wonderful!!!!!!

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Thanks, Doreen. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Not even as much for how it looks now, but how it sets it up for the rest.

      Thanks for taking a look. Have a wonderful day!


Thanks for your comments. I don't check them often. Please email me if you have questions.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.