American Patchwork & Quilting | Staff Blog - Part 3

American Patchwork & Quilting

71 posts.

Round Robin: Elizabeth


So I broke our few rules right from the get-go when I realized how hard it was to limit myself to only 20 fat quarters. I LOVE scrappy quilts, so this was probably the toughest part of the first round of the Round Robin. People who know my quilting style (and the colors I love to wear as well) will be completely unsurprised to read that I picked a brown, teal/turquoise, and green palette for my Round Robin. It’s my go-to color combo (even though I actually have nothing in my home that matches this!). For the design, I was inspired by a fabric that’s a cross between a stripe and curly parentheses.


I knew I wanted to make something that looked like this, and I thought the easiest way would be to do a bargello-style quilt. (I’m always in love with Mabeth Oxenreider’s bargello quilts, so she inspired this quilt, too!) See a slideshow of Mabeth’s bargello quilts here.


I sewed together 1-1/2″-wide strips to make a strip set…


…then chopped it into a few different widths of segments. I played around with the placement and width of the segments.

But eventually I came back to an arrangement that would most mimic the inspiration fabric.

I made the piece too wide and I didn’t want to lose any of my fabrics, so I broke another rule, this one about having a 12″-square quilt center. I reasoned that the width could be greater than 12″ if the height was less than 12″ (turns out other Round Robin participants had this same thinking!).


Finally, I packed my too-many fat quarters and my too-wide quilt center in a super-fancy shoe box and gave it to Nancy (three days past the due date). I’m SUCH a rule-follower!



Round Robin: Nancy

This is my first Round Robin! I am so inspired by the idea of creating these shared projects with my team. This will be so much fun!


I’ve gone through my stash and selected a scrappy palette of neutrals, grey, gold and teal. I want to do something improvisational with a folk art twist. I sketch out my flower block and get started.

I made the flower petals from the scrappy strips randomly sewn together in two color palettes. The background  for the flowers is a tone-on-tone cream.

I debated the flower centers, they could add more dimension with yo-yo centers. I went with a simple button for now.

This could develop in a strip as a table runner or be a fun pillow top. I’m passing my flower block on to Jill with my stash of fabrics and some embroidery thread. I think it would be fun to add some embroidery stitches for texture. I can’t wait to see what this turns into!

Quilt-Along: Oh! No Contrast? (or) OH NO! Contrast!


I’m blaming it on too many Christmas cookies, or maybe it was the egg nog, or the chocolate rum cake. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t my fault! I lost my way. That said, it took me two blocks to remember what it was I was supposed to be doing here. It was a low-contrast exercise, right? I get that it’s self-imposed, but I think I have a problem…a contrast problem. I’m addicted to contrast! Unbeknownst to me (until now), it’s a hard habit to break.


Left to my own devices and with little memory, apparently, I dove into my project and made these two beautiful blocks.


I was on a roll and feeling good about my progress, until I pinned them up on the wall next to my other blocks.

Yikes! What is that I see? Contrast!!! It’s oozing out all over the place. What was I thinking? The first four blocks I made are starkly different from the last three…what should I do? Well, here’s what I did.


  1. Had a good laugh. Seriously, I learned something about myself as a quilter. Old habits are hard to break. After years of looking for contrast in quilts, both personally (I like it) and professionally (because it is easier to see in photographs)—when relaxed and quilting, contrast is my natural go-to. To make myself get outside the contrast box, so to speak, I need to buckle down and really pay attention and remember what I’m trying to do.
  2. Thought about how to get back to form—or whether I should. You’ll have to wait until the next post to see what comes next.



Moving on, I do want to share one tip I have for working with more loosely woven fabrics like the ones I’ve chosen. It’s a tip that Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings shared with me a few years ago. Here’s the secret weapon:

Magic Sizing—I generously spray it on the fabrics when I press them before cutting, and use it again when I press the finished block. It really gives some stability to fabrics that might otherwise tend to ravel or curl. I’m a steam junkie, too, when it comes to pressing. So the combination of steam and sizing leaves me happy with the shape both give to my blocks.



Until next week,

Jennifer Keltner,

Executive Editor


P. S. I hope you’re having fun quilting along too. Please share your successes (and foibles) with the group by using the hashtag #APQquiltalong on any uploaded photos to your social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.



Now, check out these other Quilt Along participant’s blogs:

  •  Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, Amy’s planning to make a guy-worthy quilt, with a scrappy mix of blue, green, and gray fabrics.
  • Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, A rich, vintage look in hues of beige, purple, and rusty brown is what Anne is seeking.
  • Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, A scrappy, cheerful assortment of Bonnie and Camille prints ups the contrast.
  • Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co., Carrie adds a French twist, working in a scrappy three-color palette of French General fabrics.
  • Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane, Jane’s version is all about text-ure—text prints mixed with solid-color wovens.
  • Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop, The big blocks pop when separated by colorful sashing on Kimberly’s quilt.
  • Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, Lisa turns up the volume with black backgrounds and cream and tan print patchwork.
  • Lissa Alexander, Lissa shares her experience and tips about the process of making the featured version of Tone It Down.
  • Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, A fan of primary colors and American Jane prints? Sherri’s version might be just what inspires you!



Staff Round Robin

We were super inspired by the four awesome designers who chose to do a Round Robin for our February 2014 issue (buy the digital issue here).Gudrun Erla, Kari Carr, Terri Degenkolb, and Terry Atkinson agreed to a quilting round robin in which they each would design their own center motifs and entrust the other three to progressively build their quilt tops. In addition to the center motif, they had agreed to ship 20 fat quarters and a 3-yard supply of background fabric to the next quilter. Other than these basic parameters, they were left to their own devices–no rules, no constraints.


Although it caused them a little stress, all four agreed that it pushed their personal boundaries and forced a different kind of creativity. See the four finished quilts and read about each of their journeys here.


Four of our own staff members decided they were up for the challenge of an office round robin. With the holidays approaching, they opted for a mini version of a Round Robin.


Here are their rules:

  • Their quilt centers (round 1) will be no larger than 12″ square finished.
  • When giving their quilt center to the next person, they will include 10–20 fat quarters and 1 yard of background fabric.
  • Just like the original No-Rules Round Robin, they won’t be able to see their quilt center again until the big reveal after the final round.


The order they are going to go in is Jill Abeloe Mead (editor), Jody Sanders (editor), Elizabeth Beese (senior editor), and Nancy Wiles (design director).


The dates for completing each round of quilts and passing it to the next person:

  • Round 1: 12/6/13
  • Round 2: 12/24/13
  • Round 3: 1/14/14
  • Round 4 (reveal): 2/4/14


Each will be journaling about their process on our blogs, so make sure to come back and read!

See Jill’s blog.

See Jody’s blog.

See Nancy’s blog.

See Elizabeth’s blog.


Want to host your own Round Robin? Get our cute invitations, journaling cards, and quilt labels to get started! Print them here. 

Round Robin: Jill

My “big” plan for 2014 is to make my sewing room the happiest (and most organized) place in my home. Can’t think of a better way to start the decorating than with a wall hanging made with my favorite fabrics and created by my friends/coworkers.


I’ve always been fascinated by spools of thread: luscious colors, interesting textures. The spools I’ve stitched for the center of the little quilt top show off a lively stripe that I’ve always liked. I used this stripe in a big quilt and have always wanted to add it to a smaller one. I like the way this uneven stripe works for the thread…each spool looks a little bit different. I’m not one for symmetry and I’m kind of a minimalist, so it will be fun to see what each other quilter adds to the center.


The box of fabrics that will accompany my quilt center is chockfull of my favorite polka dots and solids. The background fabric is my all-time favorite, go-to choice…a white dot printed on white background. In addition to the colorful dots, the theme-setting stripe, and assorted solids, I’ve added an uneven black-and-white dot and an uneven black-and-white stripe. My quilting mantra: add small dashes of black-and-white to make other colors sing.



-Jill Abeloe Mead

December 2013