More Black Belt Stitching Wizard Stuff

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Round Robin Musings

Today I received a lovely e-mail from Michelle one of my blog readers asking me about round robins.

would you be willing to share pics of some of your completed RRs with me (I
know you did a Wee Beasties one a while back, but I don't remember seeing the
final product) so that I can kind of see how they're laid out? Also, can
you give me any tips or guidance on RRs. I've been reading your blog for
so long, I feel like you're the "expert" to go to.

Gosh what a wonderful compliment you made me blush! I'll never say I'm an expert but in the online stitching world I can easily say I've been around the block a couple of times now!

Where to start? Well I'll start with a picture of my Wee Beasties RR (started in March of 2004). There are two reasons why I hadn't really posted the final product. First I still haven't stitched my own bug on the fabric, second I'd like to put in a border similar to the ones on Terrance Noaln's other Wee Beasties. As you can tell its not high on my priority list to finish.

This round robin I laid out in a bell pull format. I got a long narrow piece of fabric (longer than it really needed to be) I basted a line down the center to help the members of my RR center their bugs. I think marking the center of the area(s) your RR participants is a huge help, and a huge time saver! If you have a specified area you want people to stitch in and do not want them exceeding that size, baste the area that's the maximum size allowed. This doesn't leave them guessing for placement!

I think the keys to a smooth RR are :

  1. Know the quality/ability of the people you're stitching with. One of my early RR's ended up in the garbage due to a stitcher that had such tight tension she pulled huge holes in the fabric. The RR was ruined. I love doing RR's with members from the TWBB this way I know they're good stitchers... you have to be to complete a Teresa Wentzler Design. I go to The World Wide Round Robins BB when I want to sign up for an RR as all stitchers have to have references! This is also a good place to go to see what people are doing and how they're setting up their RRs.
  2. Be clear! In your note/letter/instructions to your RR mates clearly state your theme your likes, dislikes, colours you love, colours you hate. Do you want them to sign their area? Where should it be signed is there a specific alphabet you want them to use? Then include a working copy for them to use. Do you want their signature in a specific floss colour? Think about what you want to do with your RR if its squares for a quilt you won't want beads, embellishments and perhaps fibers that may bleed or can't be easily washed. This way your RR mates will not second guess what you'd like done
  3. Zig zag, serge, or overcast your fabric to prevent fraying, remember its being handled by a lot of hand depending on the size of your group (4-8 seems to be the averages)
  4. Baste, baste, baste! Baste your center marks on stitching areas, baste your "maximum size" or borders. This makes the stitcher's life much easier all he/she has to do is select a design and start stitching. I like to use sulky silvers for basting it pulls out very easily and as its a ribbon like metallic it won't accidentally or easily be pierced when stitching. (found in quilt stores)
  5. When an RR arrives in your mailbox... don't procrastinate! Stitch! When I receive an RR I start it right away! By committing to an RR you're committing to a schedule. If you're late you throw the entire schedule off or you force another stitcher to be rushed so she/he can make the next deadline. If I can when I receive an RR I'll start it that evening, if the person I mail to doesn't mind I'll often send the piece on as soon as I'm finished. Its a way of being generous, giving the next stitcher extra time if they want it. Also I don't forget about he parcel and end up being late sending it out.
  6. Selection - picking what to stitch (unless the chars are provided... but then there's really no surprise, you should just stitch it yourself!) is tricky! First I always consider how much time I can contribute to stitching the RR before the next mail date. If time is a factor the piece I select will not be as complicated. If I have plenty of time the design may be more complicated. Select something that matches the style of what's been done so far, if everyone has done primitive designs, a TW will stand out like a sore thumb instead of blending in and making the piece harmonious. Also take the colours used so far into consideration, if everyone has used designs with muted colours, don't use neon pink!
  7. Your parcel - Clearly mark everything with your name, address, phone number and e-mail address that way someone can get it back to you or contact you no matter what! Put all the items of your RR in a ziplock bag, once again label the bag! Some people like to include a little notebook for stitchers to put their thoughts, information on their contributions. Please keep this in mind... keep it small, slim and light. Often I get bumped up into the next cost category at the post office because someone has included a fat or heavy notebook or other items in their parcel. Remember that the flatter and lighter the parcel the cheaper it'll be for your RR mates to send.

The best thing I can suggest is do to other what you'd like done to you! Treat every piece as if you'd be hanging it in a prominent place in your house!

Now many things can happen to RR's along the way and some of them are sad. They can get lost in the mail (some groups insist on tracking numbers to help avoid this however this doesn't always work when you're crossing borders). RR members can go AWOL or life gets in the way and they become incommunicado... with your piece as well. There can be spills, stains, accidents.

Despite all these horrible things I've said I've only ever had two RR disappointments. The first is the one I mentioned earlier where there was one really poor stitcher in the group. My second bad experience is a group member going AWOL with several pieces! Despite phone calls, e-mails, and letters, even offers to pay for postage she refused to send them on. Most stitchers out there are good people, and most RR's come home successfully.

I hope I haven't scared off first time RR stitchers! Its a great experience otherwise I would have never done one again!

Oh and I've been playing with my new camera!

Here's one of my favorite day lilies I don't know its name but its stunning!

I just love how the light of the setting sun was playing on the trees at the top of my driveway tonight.


Katie said...

Oh wow! That Terrance Nolan RR turned out lovely, what a beautiful piece!!

Michelle said...

Dani, thank you so much for this! What a help you've been. Thanks for showing your Wee Beasties too - it will be so beautiful when it's finished. I'm off to start thinking about RRs!

Christine Doyle said...

I have had the bad things happen right at the very beginning. I participated in my first two RRs last year and to this day they are still missing. The kick in the pants is that for one (the one I really wanted back) I even got to see the finished product on the stitchers blog. Then she fell off the face of the planet. Grr.