The year 2020 will be remembered by virtually everyone on the planet as the year that humanity confronted the Corona Virus (Covid 19). In January of this year, quarantines, social distancing, and facemasks were not yet in the common household vernacular and we were actually celebrating the intro into the Roaring Twenties once again. At that time, I paid my annual quilt guild dues and was looking forward to getting more involved in the guild through swaps, challenges, and lectures, etc.
During the January meeting of the Cotton Boll Quilt Guild, I signed up for participation in a year long round robin swap. The premise was that we would group up into teams of 5-6 members, make a block to start, and then pass that block around to each member who would then add an additional border or rows to it. We ended up with two “teams” and each team got to work. My team decided the name for our group would be the “Rowdy Ravens” and we would swap the tops in a circle alphabetically. This meant that I would be receiving a top from the same person every time and sending it on to another person who remained the same. Like we were sitting in a big circle and rotating the tops clockwise. The whole idea was very exciting because we would all end up with a finished quilt top at the end of the year that had been assembled by six other people. Cool, no?
THEN COVID-19 HIT
In hindsight, this round robin was probably the best thing for all of the Rowdy Ravens, because it allowed us to stay busy and focused on something creative all year long. The only thing we really had to adjust was the way we handed off each quilt top when it came time to swap them around. Due to social distancing, I used my vehicle for a drop off point for the person I was getting a top from, and I was able to drop off the top I just worked on to the same person by leaving it on her porch each time. We only had to do a swap around 6 times, so it was really easy to coordinate.
Anyway, what follows is a chronological progression of the quit tops that I got and passed on. In the last post of this series are the pictures of all the completed tops.
I started my quilt top off with a paper pieced block of the Cheshire Cat. I LOVE Alice in Wonderland and so I decided that would be my theme for this top.
The carpet he is laying on is the text of Through the Looking Glass and his teeth are made from glow in the dark fabric.
To help the quilters in the group keep to the theme of each quilt top, we were supposed to include some fabrics and some instructions on what we really wanted to see in our tops when they were completed. Some of the group members went for totally free for all and others, like me (LOL), went for a more structured set of instructions. Here is what I included in my bag for the start of the round:
Thank you for joining in on this excellent adventure. You are about to read the final and long-lost chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This chapter has not been published and I invite you to lend your thoughts and expertise to the story as we travel through the next few months together.
In this chapter, Alice has decided to create a quilt containing memories of her adventures in Wonderland. This is where you will add to the story. Each month, as we pass the swap quilts around to each member, your task on this quilt will be to choose one character(s), scene, or item and make your row/round with that in mind.
For example, I have begun the quilt with a paper pieced Cheshire Cat. You can feel free to add the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar (and mushroom ), the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, any number of the rabbits included in the book (or all of them), teacups and/or pots, decks of cards, clocks or pocket watches, or any other theme worthy idea you may come up with.
You do not have to make the actual item. For example, if you wanted to represent the decks of cards, you could use the “card trick” block somehow in your row/round to represent the deck of cards. No need to paper piece or applique every character, item, etc.
I ask that you try to stick to the following general guides, but beyond these, please have a great time and use your imagination!!
• Please use Black (shades of grey are fine), White, and Red as your main color choices. The fabrics you add can contain other colors (I love bright colors), but try to keep the theme of the whole quilt in these three colors as much as possible.
• Please incorporate some (not all must be used in every row/round) of the included fabric(s) in your row/round. If you need more, let me know and I can order more. No need to use a lot of any of these fabrics, it just helps to keep the quilt tied together when there are similar fabrics scattered throughout.
• Try to keep the Cheshire Cat from being the center of the quilt. I would prefer that he not be a bullseye on the front of the quilt. Up in a corner somewhere would be great. In other words, you could put a row on two sides, or three, etc.
• Please prewash any additional fabrics you choose to use, especially reds.
• Please be careful when ironing close to the cat’s face. His face fur is Minky and will melt if pressed with too hot of an iron.
Do write about what fabrics you use, what patterns you chose, and why, and include progress photos (printed on plain paper or a link where I can download them would be fabulous).
Thank you all so much for adding to my Wonderland story quilt. I can’t wait to see the final result!! ~Deborah
The Cheshire Cat:
The Cheshire Cat is sometimes interpreted as a guiding spirit for Alice, as it is he who directs her toward the March Hare’s house and the mad tea party, which eventually leads her to her final destination, the garden.
I chose to paper piece this cat and make, based on the description above, him the main focus of the quilt. He appears throughout the story of “Through the Looking Glass” and gives Alice good advice to aid her on her journey of nonsense.
He was pieced from a variety of scraps I had on hand, has a black velvet head and grey Minky face. He is floating in the clouds and is sitting on a pillow of the text from the story recounting the famous tea party with the Mad Hatter. Finally, his teeth glow in the dark. No, really, they do. Don’t let him scare you at 2am when you go to get that glass of milk from the fridge ~Deborah