What is a Round Robin?

Crazy Quilting International (CQI) members frequently participate in Round Robins. This page is intended to explain round robins for our newer members.

A round robin is a stitching rotation in which 5 - 6 participants sign up, and mail their block(s) out to be embellished by the other participants.

We offer two types of round robins: Traditional and Do Your Own Block (sometimes referred to as DYB or DYOB).

Both Traditional and DYOB Round Robins require:

  • A coordinator (the first person to sign up) that helps the group decide on a starting date (generally the 1st or 15th of the chosen month), reminds participants to mail their blocks on mailing dates, reminds participants to add photos to the specified album(s), and reminds participants to fill out the mailing database. (This person must have successfully completed a round robin already.)
  • Guidelines. Each participant needs to read through the guidelines for their round robin so they understand the obligations they are agreeing to. (These are designed to make the round robin an enjoyable experience for everyone.)
  • A mailing rotation schedule. This is put together by a CQI moderator. It includes the addresses for each participant and a monthly schedule for blocks to be mailed. A copy of this should travel with each participant's block(s).
  • Each member makes a booklet to travel with their block(s) stating what they like and do not like, leaving pages for other participants to leave a note about their work, and includes a copy of the mailing rotation.
  • A Mailing Database to track where the blocks are throughout the round robin. (This is set up by a CQI Moderator.)
  • A Photo Album designated for photos of the work completed by each participant on each block throughout the round robin. (Also set up by a CQI Moderator.)
  • An angel - a volunteer to step in to stitch for another participant if they are unable to fulfill their stitching responsibilities. (If a health issue or life crisis occurs, the block(s) may be mailed to the angel to complete the rotation(s) the participant is unable to complete.)


What is the difference?

Traditional Round Robin:

  • We offer Crazy Quilt International Novice Round Robins for new members. The Novice Round Robins are Traditional Round Robins. (A CQI Moderator acts as the coordinator in a Novice Round Robin.)
  • 5 members sign up.
  • Each member makes one 12-inch block with an additional 1 to 2 inches on each side, so it may be held in a hoop. (The block would be 14 to 16-inches with a 12" square basted in the center to be embellished.)
  • Following the mailing rotation: Person A mails their bare block to person B. Person B mails to person C. Person C mails to person D. Person D mails to person E. Person E mails the completed block to person A.
  • Each participant counts the number of seams and open spaces and embellishes one-fourth of the seams and adds motifs to one-fourth of the open areas. By the time the block returns home, it is completely embellished.
  • Expect a 5 month commitment with a Traditional Round Robin.


Traditional Round Robin Example:

For my Novice Round Robin, I cross-stitched a pink rose (from Leisure Arts: A Regal Rose and Distinctive Floral Alphabet) and pieced the block using the rose as a center piece. Note the basted seam marking the 12-inch area to be embellished. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

There are 14 seams on this block. Four stitchers will work on the block, so 14 divided by 4 equals 3 with 2 remaining. This means 2 stitchers would embellish 3 seams and 2 stitchers would embellish 4 seams. (3 + 3 + 4 + 4 = 14.)  This block also has 14 motif areas, so the division of work on this block would be the same as the seams. Each stitcher would embellish 3 or 4 motif areas. 

In my book, I let the ladies know this block would be used as a gift for my mother. I asked that the ladies please avoid using glue on my block and avoid using purple (the one color my mom does not care for.) I received this beauty in the mail at the end of our round robin.

These blocks may be saved and put together with other CQ blocks to create a wall quilt. I have heard of members using their blocks to create a CQ purse. I chose to make this one into a 12-inch pillow for my mother. 





Do Your Own Block (DYOB) Round Robin:

  • 6 members sign up.
  • Each participant makes six 6-inch blocks with an additional 1 - 2 inches on each side so the blocks may be held in a hoop. (The blocks would be 8 - 10 inches with a 6 inch square in the center basted to be embellished.)
  • Each participant embellishes one 6-inch block.
  • Following the mailing rotation: Person A mails their bare blocks to person B. Person B chooses 1 of the 6 bare blocks to embellish and at the end of the month mails to person C. Person C chooses one of the 5 remaining bare blocks to embellish and at the end of the month mails to person D. Person D chooses 1 of the 4 bare blocks to embellish and at the end of the month mails to person E. Person E chooses 1 of the 3 bare blocks to embellish and at the end of the month mails the completed block to person F. Person F chooses 1 of the 2 bare blocks to embellish and at the end of the month mails the blocks back to the owner, person A.
  • Each block owner will receive their booklet, 5 embellished blocks and will have 1 block left to complete when their blocks return home.
  • The blocks may be finished in any way the owner chooses. Some may be made into to pockets on purses. Others may be made into pillows/cushions. Others may be made into wall quilts.
  • Expect a 6 month commitment for a DYOB Round Robin.

DYOB Round Robin Example:

Though I do not have a completed project to share from a DYOB RR, I will share photos from a Winter/Christmas DYOB RR I participated in to give a visual idea.

These are the 6-inch blocks I pieced for the round robin. (Stencils and acrylic paints with a textile medium were used to create the words before I pieced the blocks.)

These are the beauties that were mailed back to me. The ladies did gorgeous work on their blocks. I embellished the one remaining and then pieced them into a wall quilt with blue borders. I am in the process of quilting the piece with snowflakes now. Then I will add fabric to the back and have a wonderful wall quilt to hang every December.


Tips For a Great Round Robin Experience:

  1. The main key to success for any round robin is communication. Life happens. Letting the coordinator and the rest of your round robin participants know if you will be mailing late or will be unable to complete a round of stitching is vital.
  2. Mail on time. If you will be late, communicate with the group. Everyone may be able to extend the mailing date. Or the angel may be able to step in and help. And, make sure someone you know is aware of where you keep your blocks and mailing information in case you are unable to mail them out yourself.
  3. Update the mailing database, so everyone knows the location of their block(s).
  4. Take a clear, high resolution photo of your work (and of the full block in a Traditional RR) and add it to the album for your round robin so everyone may enjoy your work. If you are unable to get a clear photo ask the person you mail to if they can post your photo(s) for you when they receive the blocks.
  5. As a rule, keep beads, charms and buttons 1/4th inch from the edge of the block so they may easily be sewn into a project when they return home.
  6. Add bubble wrap or thin batting between blocks (or folded sections of traditional blocks) to protect beads, charms, and embroidery in the mail. And use a padded or bubble lined envelope.
  7. Keep your tracking number from the post office.
  8. Ask questions if you have them.
  9. Ask for help if you feel you are lacking ideas.
  10. Have fun!
I hope this information is helpful. If you have still have questions about round robins, please feel free to ask in a comment. Others may have the same questions and we will do our best to answer.

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