Thursday, January 31, 2019

A few late additions

There will be a slight delay emailing out the mailing details - we have had a few late additions to the group this week (Allison is re-joining and Clare is new). I hope to have everything sent out by Sunday.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Thanks Laurina!

Everything looks great and having the emails will keep us on track!

glen In Louisiana

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

2019 Guidelines for your center block

Your "center" block this year will be the same as previous years. For those of you that are new or who might be a bit forgetful, I thought it would be a good idea to re-articulate the guidelines. I believe that following design guidelines leads to a more productive creative product. Imagine if I asked an architect to design me a house but did not say how big it should be or what style I wanted. They might make me a 6 bedroom modern house over 4 levels rather than the 3 bedroom one story cottage I had in mind. If I didn't specify that I wanted a 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms, what would I get? 4 kitchens and 1 bathroom, maybe? So, some of the guidelines here might seem obvious to you but it's still worth reading, just to make sure.


Your center block can be any regular shape (square, rectangle, hexagon, triangle) that fits inside a 9 x 9 inch square or an 8 x 10 inch rectangle. It can be smaller, but not bigger. The size limitation allows plenty of room for the next two quilters to add borders without exceeding the maximum quilt size of 20 x 20 inches.


Please (please, please) make sure that you use good quality 100% cotton quilting fabric for your center block (and all borders). This means no:
  • Poly/cotton blends
  • Heavier weight cotton fabrics
  • Silks, linens, or linen blends
  • Lamé or metallics
  • Lace, netting, or other sheers

I also recommend that all of your fabrics are pre-washed, especially reds. I don't want to start a big debate over this because I know that people have strong opinions. If you think that only "old" or "cheap" fabrics run, don't be fooled, it's not true.


Embellishments like beads or 3-dimensional pieces should be reserved for the final quilting/binding round. All center blocks (and borders) should be flat so that they can be quilted.


Use any construction method that you like - this is where you get to use your creative flair. The only limitation here is that things must be sewn down - this means that raw edge applique should be attached by thread, not just ironed on. Some unusual construction methods are okay as long as you sew them down and they can be ironed without needing anything else (pressing cloth, paper, non-stick sheets, etc.). These little quilts get quite a bit of handling on their journey back to you and we want to make sure that they stay together along the way.

Your center block should be something that was created by you. An orphan block that was the wrong size or not quite right is fine, or create a block from scratch using a new technique that you've always wanted to try.

Any of these techniques (or a combination) are fine:
  • Machine piecing
  • Hand piecing
  • English paper piecing (please remove all papers)
  • Foundation paper piecing (please remove all bits of paper from the back)
  • Needle turned applique
  • Machine applique (raw edge or turned)
  • Hand or machine embroidery

If in doubt, please just ask me. I don't want to stifle anyone's creativity, but it's important that your center block can be worked on by the other quilters without running into problems.

Styles and colors

There are no limitations to the styles and colors that you choose to use. The other quilters that work on your block will take clues from your block when deciding what to add. The color story might stay the same during each round or someone may choose to introduce new colors to complement what you started with.


The Cotton Robin is open to quilters at all levels - from beginner to expert. Regardless of your skill level, please ensure that your block is well-constructed and well-presented when you send it off to the next quilter. The person adding the first border should not need to "correct" anything before they begin. I am not a member of the quilting police and I acknowledge that everyone has a different view on quality. Here are some things to consider when you are creating / choosing your center:
  • Seam allowances - too-small seams can unravel so try your best to keep them to 1/4 inch.
  • Pressing seams - all of your seams should be pressed open or to one side (or a mix). Try to avoid bulky spots that are not pressed down well. Sometimes I take a small hammer to an intersection of 6 or more corners, even if they are all pressed well a couple of "taps" helps flatten them down.
  • Square it up - make sure all sides are straight and even. As other quilters add borders, the slight variations tend to amplify.
  • Stay stitch the edges - if you have bias edges or lots of small pieces, sew around the entire block 1/8 inch in from the edge, this will stop anything from shifting or becoming distorted. This is not usually necessary for most blocks, but it never hurts to be safe.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Getting in touch

I know that many of you have participated in the Cotton Robin before, so I probably have contact details for you. If your details have changed since last year, please email me with an update. I will be sending out emails soon, so I want to make sure I send them to the right address.

If you are new this year (Cindy), please make sure that I have a way to contact you - especially if you do not have an email address associated with your blog or Google account.

Either include your name and email address in your comment, or else send me an email (LAURINA at XTRA dot CO dot NZ).


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Welcome to 2019

Hi everyone and welcome back to the Cotton Robin. To follow up on Julie's post from a few days ago, I will be hosting this year's Cotton Robin to give Julie a break and to introduce a few new ideas into the process.

First, I should introduce myself: I am Laurina and I am an American quilter living in New Zealand. If you've been participating in the Cotton Robin it's likely I have worked on one of your quilts or you have worked on one of mine. I have been quilting for the past 10 years, but have been sewing most of my life. The Cotton Robin is probably my favorite thing in my quilting life and I look forward to it every year. When Julie asked for help, I knew I could not pass up this opportunity.

One of my favorites, 2014

I love the creative challenge of working with other quilters. Every round I work on, I try something different and I almost always draft my own patterns and templates. My quilting philosophy is to try everything at least once. If I were to pick one thing that drives my creative process, it is color.

This year we will be doing some things differently. For this reason, I will be spelling out the guidelines for you and I encourage you to review them during each round just in case you forget. I will post more about the guidelines later. For now, here is some information to get us started:

  • It you haven't done so already, let me know that you want to participate - comment on this post or email me.
  • Invite a friend (or 2) to join in.
  • You will be mailing the first block to the next quilter, not to me.
  • Your starting block should be completed and received by the next quilter by February 28 (this means you have over a month to get it into the mail).
  • Each round will be 5 weeks long (schedule of dates to follow).
  • I will be encouraging everyone to share more on the blog - we will still try to keep the work "secret" but maybe less secret than in previous years.
  • Get your creative thinking caps on.

I've posted on my blog about the Cotton Robin if you're interested in having a read. I will be doing a few more posts in the upcoming weeks and I hope that some of you will do the same.

A quilt I enjoyed working on (2nd border), 2017

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Long Live the Robin!

Hi everyone, 

After careful consideration, (and encouragement from her daughter) Laurina has decided to take over administration of the Cotton Robin!  Laurina has participated since the very beginning of the robin in 2012, so she know what she's getting into.

I've sent her the lists from the last few years, including email addresses.  You can get in touch with her (see the email list to the right side of this blog) or leave a comment here, or wait for her to contact you.  

I know she's going to change things around a little so that you don't have to all mail your center blocks to new Zealand (!) but I'll let Laurina provide all the details. 

Thanks for all these years of great quilts -- I look forward to doing the next one without having to think about what's going on in the background.

Happy New Year!


Sunday, January 6, 2019

the state of the robin...

Hi all, and Happy New Year!

I've had a few inquiries as to a Robin for 2019, and truthfully I'm just sorta burned out on it!  I'd be perfectly happy if someone else wanted to take over the admin -- and I'd probably participate -- but I  want to have a break from chasing people down, scolding/not scolding people for not following the rules, worrying that some people will be upset with what they received...  in other words, the "behind the scenes" stuff that I don't usually share.

If you're interested in taking over, let me know!


Saturday, January 5, 2019