Tag Archives: M’liss Rae Hawley

Lessons: Round Robin Books Review

The Quilting Party, Artist Unknown, c. 1840-1850.

I’ve recently provided reviews on almost all the medallion books there are, as well as five books on quilt borders. Before I finish with reviews, I want to include four books I own on collaborative quilting. Two specifically consider round robins, while two are a little different.

Round Robin Quilts by Pat Magaret and Donna Slusser, 1994
It’s surprising how much great information is packed in this older book. It covers round robins as a friendship or small group project. Besides the familiar medallion format, the book suggests a handful of variations. Considerable space is spent discussing options for group rules, including having no rules at all. Photos are abundant of real projects, and while not all the individual projects are inspiring, they give a sense of the possibilities. Besides group dynamics and projects, the authors also cover both design and construction in depth. In fact, the design discussion here includes elements (line, shape, color, value, texture, and space) as well as principles (unity, emphasis, balance, scale, and rhythm.) It is clear, easy to read, and is written with a friendly tone, befitting the projects. I honestly don’t remember where I got this book, but I’m glad to have it. It is one of the best two medallion books I own, along with Sally Collins’ Borders, Bindings & Edges, reviewed here.

Round Robin Renaissance by M’liss Rae Hawley, 2006
As the title says, the focus here is on round robin (group) projects more generally, including medallion quilts, row quilts, samplers, and others. The section on medallions is small and provides two patterns with very specific sizing for elements. The other types of projects seem to be similarly rigid. More disconcerting, though, is the section on behavior by participants. Hawley recommends substantial paperwork be passed with projects, fully-specified fabrics, same-brand rulers to ensure consistency of sizing from all participants… She has a list of rules for how to be a “perfect team member,” and even recommends wording for when you need to tell another member that their work isn’t up to your standards. Honestly, it is just odd. If any group suggested I participate in such a constricted and obsessive way, I would certainly decline. If you want that much control over your quilt, make it yourself! (I just donated this book Monday at my guild meeting.)

Freddy & Gwen Collaborate Again by Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran, 2009
Following up on their prior book Collaborative Quilting, Marston and Moran play with bright colors, bold designs, and liberated piecing. The range of formats includes block, strip, and medallion quilts. They show how to create the various parts used in multiple quilts, and then include a gallery referencing which parts were used.

The point of the book isn’t actually to advocate for working in pairs or groups. It doesn’t discuss the logistics of collaboration, or the benefits or pitfalls. However, the influence of both designers is visible in the joyful results. In my opinion, that speaks for itself. This book is just fun to look at, which is why I bought it and why I still own it.

Setting Solutions by Sharyn Craig, 2001
Of all the books in my personal library, this is one I would reach for if I could only keep ten books. It isn’t about medallions, it isn’t about round robins. It’s about solving problems. Problems that are common for group quilts include blocks that are sized differently, unusual numbers of blocks, and oddly colored blocks. Craig addresses all these issues with creativity and practicality.

For a more complete review, see my post on the best book I don’t own. (I own it now!)

Do you have a favorite book (or other resource) on collaborative quilting? Certainly these just touch on the subject. Block swaps, bees, friendship and album quilts, remembrance quilts, political quilts… There are many ways to work together in quilting. Do you have stories to tell about working with others on quilts? I could tell you stories… 

Border and Medallion Books

I love quilting books.

A couple of days ago I blogged about buying books. One of the things I mentioned was the idea of creating a written inventory of my personal library, seen in the photo. Done!

I used an Excel spreadsheet to record the title, author, and publication date for each. I also noted the category of the book. Categories include History, Patterns, Machine Quilting, etc. To preserve the list, I uploaded it using Google Docs.

The listing gives me a record for insurance purposes. Also I can easily check before buying something new! (Not that I would ever buy the same book twice…)

Some are pattern books, though I rarely buy those anymore. Others discuss techniques for piecing, applique, embellishment, and quilting. Still more provide research on quilt and fabric history.

I’m also on my local guild’s library committee, so I get to inventory more than 300 volumes each year, cull old ones, and order new! On top of that, my local public libraries carry an impressive selection, though not as large as my guild’s. Between the four collections, I have access to a lot of books, new and old.

Lately I’ve been immersed in medallion quilts and border treatments. There’s so much variation in how different authors present their take on the subjects! Some provide patterns with little discussion of process. Others get into the guts of technical piecing, sharing each sixteenth inch for accuracy. And some give us great eye candy and perhaps some historical context. My quilt history books are especially good at this.

For those interested in medallion quilts, whether made by yourself or in a round robin, I wanted to give short reviews of a few I use.

Borders, Bindings & Edges by Sally Collins
This book (from my public library) presents the outer parts of the quilt as equal in importance to the center. Whether you’re making a medallion or other format quilt, Collins provides great ideas for finishing. Borders receive the majority of attention, but bindings, piping, prairie points, and other edge treatments all are discussed.

I like this book because she provides technical discussion of how and why different strategies work. Some quilters may find the math intimidating, but it is presented clearly for those of us who just need some brush-up. I might purchase it in the near future to add to my own library.

Beautiful Borders, Backings & Bindings by Jill Reber and Margaret Sindelar
Again borders receive the majority of discussion here. There is a great gallery of ideas and a large section of projects. Though the treatment is much more simplistic than in Collin’s book, there are great tips and lots of photos and helpful drawings throughout. I own this one and use it as a resource regularly.

The Border Workbook by Janet Kime
This is new in my personal library. I bought it because it gives specific instruction on more than two dozen borders. There’s a little bit of information on problem solving and some technique/math help. Mostly though, it’s just borders. I like the book though I haven’t used it to develop any particular project yet. One minor weakness is the border blocks and treatments are given as specific sizes, so it may be hard for some to translate those to their own needs.

Round Robin Renaissance by M’liss Rae Hawley
As the title says, the focus here is on round robin (group) projects more generally, rather than on medallion quilts or their borders. The section on medallions is small and provides one pattern with very specific sizing for elements, though she does provide some variations. I own the book, as I have interest in round robins as well. But I won’t find it very useful for more general medallion designs.

Classic English Medallion Style Quilts by Bettina Havig
Published in 2003, this book shows traditional styling. The author asserts you can make an authentic English-style quilt using a center block and borders that alternately are pieced and wholecloth. There are ten types of border block units with instruction. In addition, Havig gives patterns to accomplish her own designs, and a section on designing your own variations based on them. I find the charts very confusing, though, and will use this book more for ideas than instruction.

Liberated Medallion Quilts by Gwen Marston
Marston is best known for her exuberant, “liberated” style. With its wonky, non-standard styling, liberated piecing gives plenty for the eye to enjoy. In this book she extends that styling to the traditional medallion format, and provides plenty of evidence for the notion that liberated IS traditional. The quilts in this book are playful and unique, a treat to look at.

In text Marston argues for design-as-you-go, but she doesn’t support that with strategies the reader might use to design their own quilts. In addition, though I love many of these quilts, the liberated style is not how I like to work. So I use this beautiful book for inspiration if not instruction.

Do you have any of these books? What do you think of them? What are your favorite border or medallion quilt books?