If you follow GE Designs on Facebook you might have seen some posts and pictures this summer of a roadtrip I took with 3 other designer friends, Terry Atkinson (Atkinson Designs), Terri Degenkolb (Whimsicals) and Kari Carr (New Leaf Stitches). Picture is taken in the Better Homes and Gardens test gardens.
The trip took us to Des Moines, Iowa....more specifically to the Meredith Corp. headquarters....and even more specifically to the editorial wing of American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine. We spent a couple of days doing some tapings, photography, a little bit of sewing and a lot of laughing, hooting and hollering.
I have to track back a whole year to start this story from the beginning. I had been walking around with an idea in my head for over a year, to do a different kind of Round Robin. As a designer, it is such a thrill and blessing to be able to do what you love and what started out as your hobby and favorite thing to do, quilting, as a job. But there are times where creativity is the smallest part of my job and I get stuck in the business side of things. I had talked to other designer friends about it and we all go through the same things. I wanted to do something to push my creative boundaries, took me out of my comfort zone and have fun with just making something for me.
I had never done a Round Robin before but always wanted to. It's been one of those things on my Quilting Bucket List. The rules sometimes associated with Round Robins though were a little bit of a turn off for me so I definitely knew I wanted to defy those rules, being kind of a non-rule-follower all my life.
The first NO RULES ROUND ROBIN email went out to 3 of my designer friends in November last year and amazingly, they were all ready to jump in the deep end with me. I knew that we all get along really well, they do exceptional work as designers so they would do nothing but elevate my quilt with their skills. I also love the fact that our styles are all very different from each other. That needed to be part of the challenge to really break us out of our comfort zone.
Here are the main parts of the letter I sent to them:
Each designer makes a center block that can be ANY size and ANY shape! She packs her block in a box along with 20 fat quarters that coordinate with the block and overall look of the quilt along with 3 yards of background fabric. Box gets sent to next designer.
The next designer makes the next step, which could be borders around the whole block, 3 sides, 2 sides or whatever she feels should come next. No rules, no set sizes….total creative freedom!! You can use the fabrics that are in the box or add to it if you feel the need to from your own stash or go shopping!
Boxes go around to all 4 designers and the top with your center block ends up back with you where you decide how you want to finish it. Add a border, just binding, scallop or whatever you feel the quilt needs!
Throughout this process we journal our thought and steps and take lots of pictures. We also keep notes on measurements so we can write up a pattern later.
Even though we don´t want to know what the others are doing, I think it would be good to let each other know which style of fabrics you are using so we end up with 4 very different looking quilts and styles. For example, if I want to use black & whites, no one else does…..if one wants batiks, that will be the only batik one. You get me?
We set specific dates for when the box needed to be shipped to the next designer, which gave us about a month for each step.
Off I went to pull fabrics for my quilt. I decided I wanted to use a black background and chose one of the prints from my Nordic Visions fabric line. The other fabrics were all from my stash in yellow, orange, green and grey, some designed by me and the rest from many different fabric companies and designers.
I wanted to do something different so I started by making some strip sets and playing with a 15 degree ruler. When assembling the units I realized I didn't quite have enough to finish a full circle so I improvised and came up with an asymmetrical block, which just made things more interesting. I knew I wanted to have a rectangular block from the get go so this is how it turned out. I finished by floating the designs on the black background by adding the small border.
As I sent my box of fabrics and my finished center block, I was already thinking that writing this up as a pattern was going to be a nightmare. I had just been able to let my creativity flow freely without the limitation of having to instruct and decided then and there that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of the experience. The funny thing is....the other designers had exactly the same experience! And when we released the pressure of having to write instructions, our creativity was fully unleashed and opened us up to discover things we didn't know about ourselves.
I sent my box to Kari Carr and to see what she did with it, check her blog here.
From Kari, the box went to Terri Degenkolb, see what she did on her blog here.
Terri then sent the box to Terry Atkinson, look what kind of magic she did on her blog here.
Instead of sending the box back to me for me to finish like we intended, Terry kept my quilt under wrap until we got to APQ headquarters. They had planned a big reveal ceremony where they photographed and videotaped the moment when we saw the quilt finished.
The shock and awe was real and indiscribeable! Kari and Terri were genuinly surprised too because they hadn't seen it either since they worked on their part.
I was truly speechless! A rare occurrence, believe me!
Wouldn't you be speechless?
This is my favorite quilt of all time!
Hugs were in order even though they can not describe how thankful I am to these very special girls.
After the big reveals of all the quilts we got to go and hang out in the APQ crafting suite. There we put our heads together and made decisions about all of the quilts, if they needed anything else added to them or not. We all feel like we own a little piece of each one so it was only logical that we made those decisions together. We all agreed that my quilt was complete as is!
Same day of the reveal, I decided to contact Angela Walters and see if she would quilt them all for us. It was such a team project that we felt it would give the quilts even more comraderie if they were all quilted by the same person even though they were all so different. She really elevated each one of the quilts with her amazing quilting.
For the next few weeks we will be blogging about the other 3 quilts, the challenges, plans, change of plans, frantic despair and everything else that went on in the 5 months we worked on this, so please make sure to visit next week. Also make sure to check the other Round Robin Rebels blogs listed previously for their contribution to this quilt.
The magazine will be on newsstands really soon and if you are a subscriber, you might have it already. On top of that, APQ has put together videos and slideshows from our visit on their site AllPeopleQuilt.com so I highly encourage you to check that out after you read the article in the magazine. Here is the link to the slideshow of my quilt.
But that is not all!
We are not done!
We all agreed that we would do this again in a heartbeat. Whether it will be in the same form or not, we will have to see. But we want all of you to give it a go. Find 3 friends and get your own No Rules Round Robin going. Then like our Facebook page and share your journey with us. Tell us about your plans and introduce your Rebel friends:) There you will get first hand information about our next Rebel project and personal challenges.
Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2013 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.