About 2 years ago, I was approached by some friends (I can't remember who exactly started it) to join a Round Robin quilt swap. I've never done one before, but my Mom has, and it's been fun to see some of the things she's done for them -- and to see what she's come home with! The girls wanted an 18"-ish center, and there just aren't a whole lot of patterns out there written for 18", so I decided to try out a brand-new, never-before-seen, Natalie original pattern, which looked a little something like this:
The only problem was, I REALLY had a hard time letting go of this. Because I'd never really put myself into others' care, I really had a hard time trusting them to take care of my baby. Would they completely lose the center? What if they hated my block? What if they took it in a completely different direction -- and it came back to me and I hated it?
We had a rule that nobody could see their quilts during the swapping process, so it would be a total surprise at the end, so I stewed about things for a little while. And then, finally, I just had to let myself be okay with releasing my baby into the big, bad old world, and letting it grow up.
We had a phenominal group of quilters working on the swap, and I feel everyone really tried hard to give it their all. Sometimes a simple stop border was all the quilt needed -- and sometimes a really challenging border was needed. But it was really fun to have that mental challenge and stimulation, and I know now that everyone was really working hard to make great borders for everyone else.
The truth is, my quilt came back COMPLETELY changed. It really had grown up -- but I LOOOOVE the direction it took. When I got it back, the last girl had put a gorgeous ending border on it, but when I put it on my bed I realized that it would be too small to cover my sheets (especially with a 1-3% shrinkage factor). While I love my children dearly, this was MY quilt, and I really wanted it to go onto my bed.
So I decided to make one more 6" border, all the way around. And then I was stuck. There were so many amazing ideas in my quilt -- did I highlight the arrows? The braids? Did I repeat some of the center pattern? It seemed the choices were endless -- and I really, REALLY didn't want to mess up this beautiful quilt!
So I left it for about 6 months. In that time, I pulled it out at least 10 times, and put it on my bed a couple more times, and didn't get any inspiration at all. Then Christmas came and wiped me out, so all January I sketched out ideas and planned and finally came up with a plan. I decided to use all the same fabrics as the center to make four separate borders, with 6" farmer's-wife-inspired corners. The top border would be like Allison Harris's Scout pattern (which I already own), the bottom border would be a snail-trail design, the left side would be military stripes, and the right side would be a nod to the tribal/Navajo blanket design trend that's so popular right now.
As you can see below, that plan changed and evolved -- now it has simple, chubby plus signs on top (a friend told me it might be Puss in the Corner?), a cute block I found on Pinterest (bento box maybe?) for the bottom, and plain corners. The left and right sides stayed virtually the same as the plan.
I paper-pieced the military stripes (do you see it that way? I really think they look like that!) so they would have accurate center matches, and I think it worked out really nicely. If I had it to do over, I would have changed a couple of things about the placement on the left and right borders, but now that it's done I won't change a thing! The chubby plus signs and bottom border turned out EVEN CUTER than I had imagined, and I think the white background makes the whole quilt just a little lighter than it would have been without that extra border. I'm so, so pleased with the end result -- and I'll tell you right now, I would do another Round Robin in a heartbeat!
I did learn a couple of things the hard way. First, to respect others' work. I had an idea for one quilt to change a border, because I felt like it just didn't go with the rest of the quilt. In the end, I just added to that border, adding some applique on top of it. I feel like that was a much better choice -- and that it would have been so disrespectful to change the hard work someone else had done. Second, I am REALLY good at waiting for things -- sometimes the anticipation of a really fun present is better for me than the actual present. Now, don't get me wrong -- I ABSOLUTELY LOVE my quilt, but I was afraid right at the end that I wouldn't, and then I wouldn't even have anything else to look forward to! Third, I had to learn to trust other quilters with my own ideas. It was really hard for me, because I guess I'm a bit of a control freak, but I think it was so good that I reached out and did something outside my comfort zone -- I really grew from this experience, and I think it's made me even more prepared to write my patterns!