Monday, January 21, 2019

Inspiration - Cotton Robin 2018

As I start the planning for the Cotton Robin 2019, I started reflecting back on previous years' work. Since my blog posts stopped a few years ago, I've done very little quilting. I'm trying to gain a bit of momentum and I enjoy documenting what I've done, if only for myself.

My center block for 2018 was a paper pieced pineapple block in blue and coral. I grabbed everything from the scrap pile in the color scheme and used a pattern that I found somewhere online. When looking for a pattern, I wanted one with a reasonable number of narrow rows so that I could get more fabrics in and keep the block small.

My center block

The block was passed to three other quilters: Traceyann, Shannon, and Diana. The finished quilt kept to the original color scheme and I especially like the way the original pattern extends from the center out to the edges. There's a real feeling of movement as if the center is opening up like a flower or firework.
Finished mini quilt

I worked on three other quilts. I added the first border to this quilt started by Julie. After staring at the red, black, and gray colors for a week I decided it needed another color. I chose a fresh green background for some more pinwheels and I set the original block on point. The measurements for this one were a little tricky which is a common challenge, especially when you put a square on point. The finished quilt by Glen and Marie was one of my favorites for this year.

First border added
Julie's finished quilt

The second border I added was to Elizabeth's center block that had already had a border added by Tish. I wanted to incorporate some of the greens and blues from the center into the border, so I made some small freehand plus and x blocks and used some strips of the same fabrics to square it up a little. I decided to only add the little blocks to the sides - this was partly due to the size limitations that we have.

Second border added

Nan did a great job with the spiral quilting.

Elizabeth's finished quilt

The last quilt I worked with was started by Andrea and added to by Nan and Rachel. I wanted to quilt it with a pattern to match the cat theme, so after a bit of doodling and some trawling around the internet, I came up with balls of yarn for the cats to play with. I wanted to bind the quilt with something other than the obvious red, so I picked out the turquoise from the paw print fabric and one of the cat's collars.

Quilting detail

Andrea's finished quilt

I have to say that I really liked how all of the quilts I worked on turned out last year and I'm really looking forward to this year's Cotton Robin.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Cotton Robin 2019

For the past seven years I have participated in the Cotton Robin, organised by the lovely Julie of Floribunda Quilts. Each year participants make a block of their choice and three other people add to it (two add borders and the third quilts and binds the quilt). The result is a mini quilt that gets returned back to the maker of the original block. There are few rules except for the size so that the work can easily be sent in envelopes between participants who are scattered around the globe.

Finished quilt 2016

I can confidently say that this is something that I look forward to each year and especially recently since I have hardly touched needle and thread except for the pieces I have worked on as part of the Cotton Robin. This year Julie thought that it might be time to take a break and I have stepped in as host this year. I have some ideas about how I can use the tried-and-true format and also help add to the community of the group. One thing that makes this a challenge is that during the Cotton Robin, everything is kept a secret - nobody knows who is working on their piece and there are no photos of the work in progress. I will be changing this a little, partly out of practicality, and partly to make it more interesting.

Finished quilt 2013

If there is anyone out there who might like to join in, please let me know. We usually have around 20 quilters with a range of styles and abilities - to join in all you need is commitment and creativity. The commitment part means that you will follow the guidelines and schedule and follow through to completion. I know that sometimes life can get challenging but this is an important part of participation. The creativity part is the fun bit - I use the Cotton Robin as a way to try new techniques or do something on a small scale that would be overwhelming on a larger scale. I love the balance between developing new ideas and working with what I'm given. Sometimes the style of the piece is not my "usual" thing or the colors are outside of my comfort zone. I try to be true to the original intent of the creator of the original block while injecting some of my own personality in at. Hopefully the end result will be something that no one person would have done.

Finished quilt 2015

Along the way I've learned to not be so precious about my work. None of the finished mini quilts are exactly what I expected, but I gain a new appreciation for the ideas of other people as I go back to look at what I've done year after year. In most cases the starting blocks that I make are experiments, so I'm not strongly invested in them from the start. Some people use an orphan block to start - something they did in a class or workshop, a mistake or reject from another project, or something started and never finished.

Finished quilt 2012

You can choose to add a note with your block if you want the other quilters to have information about your preferences. I don't usually do this because I hope that my block provides enough information about my preferences and I don't want to hamper anyone's creativity. I do sometimes add a simple suggestion to use bright colors, especially if my block is neutral or monochromatic.

Quilts I have worked on (borders or quilting/binding)

I'll be posting more about the Cotton Robin in the next few weeks as we gear up to get started with this year's quilts.

Monday, May 23, 2016's been a while

I seem to have left my poor blog unattended for a while. Life has been a challenge lately and although I have been doing some sewing, I also feel like I have not accomplished much. So, I suppose writing this is a way to prove to myself that I have been productive.

My last post was the start of my participation in the Splendid Sampler. I'm sure that you know at least one other quilter on the internet that is doing this one. I'm amazed at how many there are. I've done the first 28 blocks and am up to date (the 29th was just posted this morning). I confess that my mother who is visiting me did the rabbit and the sewing machine - my tolerance for applique is very low. The last block also needs a stitched thread from the spool to the needle which I'll do sometime soon.

I'm please with most of the blocks, although a few of the earlier ones could use a bit more contrast. As I pull fabrics out of the scrap pile, I am discovering a more diverse range of colors that still fit in my palette. Throughout this project I am trying a variety of techniques - so the applique is done differently on different blocks. I'm just trying to choose the method that I think will work best at the time. I did some free-motion machine embroidery (first time) and have done some hand embroidery (it's been a while). My one complaint is that the 6" finished block size is small which makes some of the pieces really tiny.

I finished the Monday Modern brown challenge. I was a bit late for the deadline - I had the front pieced and quilted but didn't manage to get the whole cushion cover done. I like the way it turned out and also liked the fact that I didn't try to hide the ugly brown and made it the center-piece of the design. The cushion now shares the slightly-crowded day bed with all of my other cushions.

I really enjoyed quilting this one. The back of it shows the quilting detail.


A few months ago I thought I needed a hand sewing project. Hand sewing really isn't my thing, but I found that there are times when I want to have an on-the-go project to work on. I purchased a Fiskars hexagon hole punch a while ago, so I started an English Paper Pieced project using scraps. These hexies are pretty small (1-1/4" straight edge to straight edge). My 12-year old likes to pick out the colors and scraps for the next batch, but it's slow going.

There's no grand plan for this project, I will just carry on until I decide to stop. I've started preparing some light neutral pieces to go between the diamonds. I figure about 100 of the diamonds should do the trick!

Finally, I am once again working on the Cotton Robin round robin. Unfortunately, this one is all done in secret, so you will have to wait for the big reveal sometime in July.