Creative Embroidery, Round Robin 1: Washington to Oregon to Texas

Creative Embroidery, Round Robin 1: Washington to Oregon to Texas

Posted by Christen Brown on Feb 24th 2023

Round Robin Beginnings 

I have a new book coming out in March of this year, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with The New. The emphasis of the book is to create something new from your vintage and new stash of fabrics, hankies, table linens, doilies, laces, appliqués, trims, ribbons, threads, buttons, beads, notions, and more.


To help me promote the book, I asked a few good friends to participate in a Round Robin block exchange. So, what is a Round Robin, and how did this project get started?

I asked each artist to create a 10”- 12” pieced square, in any type of fabric or color combination. The block construction could be contemporary, classic, or vintage; and constructed as a crazy-pieced, strip-pieced, patched, or a whole-cloth base. The base could also include doilies, laces, or ribbons. Once the block was created, each person then gathered the threads and embellishments that they also wanted to include on their block. Then the block travelled on to the next participant in the group, and then to the next, and then back to the owner.

Introductions Please! 

Let me introduce you to the participants of this Round Robin Group. Founder, artist, and teacher Lynn Woll of Create Whimsy, and her friend and colleague Chardel Gibson Blaine, an artist, teacher and owner of Flying Goat Studio, who teamed up with my friend of many years, Patti Medaris Culea, a fiberart and cloth doll artist, teacher and author.

Here are the fabulous contributions that came from this group of grand ladies. I love each block, and felt that they really created some heirloom works of art.

Lynn Woll

Doilies Adorned

LynnBlock1Round 1: Lynn

Lynn I started with a square of linen, a green doily edged with multi-color crochet and a crocheted doily in the center. Inspired by Mandalas, I attached the green doily with the buttonhole stitch and used the French knot stitch to attach the crochet doily.

Round 2: Patti 


In Lynn’s package were embroidery threads in colors matching the trim on the large doily. I anchored the outer crocheted trim with the French knot stitch using threads that contrasted but matched the colors in the trim. 

Along the green part of the large doily, I made hexi’s using cotton fabrics that matched the colors on the crocheted trim. I attached the hexi's, using my new favorite stitch, the fleet stitch. I also added in some more embroidery to anchor the crochet trim.

Round 3: Chardel 


I pondered a bit before deciding what to do and took it one step at a time. I created a serpentine row with a laced chain stitch around the hexis. Then the doily said it wanted something, and I really wanted to use the rickrack somewhere. I wove it through the doily and secured it with the French knot stitch. The linen background looked lonely, so I filled it with seed stitches.

Final Notes from Lynn

Who knew that two vintage doilies could create such a peaceful embroidered work. I find the piece calm and comforting and plan on finishing it as a small wall art piece.

Chardel Gibson Blaine

The Old Homestead

Thornton Log House c1905 CDA

The backstory: My great-grandfather, born in 1860, built a log house for his growing family when they moved from Michigan to Coeur d-Alene, Idaho. The house, built in 1905, has sheltered many families over the years. I sought out the house in 1979 and knocked on the door, explaining that my great-grandfather had built the house. The owner said, “You’re kin to Jim Thornton? Come on in!” It was like walking into a time capsule with the aged hewn walls and original kitchen. The house, little changed, still stands with another family providing the TLC.

Round 1: Chardel 


I found a napkin monogrammed with the letter “G” in a resale shop in Sisters, Oregon. My family name is Gibson so this seemed like the perfect item of old to blend with new stitches. Inspired by my families’ story and history, a log cabin block fit the family theme.

I clamp-dyed the vintage napkin with Sharpie markers and isopropyl alcohol (How to Dye Fabric with Sharpies). I chose my dad’s favorite color palette of blues and greens, the colors of the lake, trees, and sky, reflected in my family’s roots in the Pacific Northwest. I added seed stitches the first round of logs in the center. 

The threads I sent along with the block are all hand-dyed by Elin Noble. Lynn and Patti were free to use any of these threads and/or add threads and/or embellishments from their collections. I hope they had fun!

Round 2: Lynn 


I chose to use the cross stitch around the edge of the border, to represent the fence surrounding the log cabin homestead with the fence. The big grey/brown French knot stitches were a nod to either a path, road, or riverbed. And then the wheat sheaf (stem, lazy daisy, and French knot stitches) for the crops they grew to feed the family. 

I can’t wait to see what Patti adds to the Gibson family memories!

Round 3: Patti 


I loved working on Chardel’s block. I love the story and how she used colors and a log cabin design to represent her family’s homestead. After receiving the block from Lynn, I loved her fence, the rocks, and the wheat sheaf. I thought what I can add and not mess it up?! I used the snail trail stitch to accentuate the center block with the “G” embroidered on it. I then I copied Lynn’s wheat sheaf on the opposite side using the stem stitch, lazy daisies, and French knot stitches. 

In the photo, I saw some flowers on the right side so I added some flowers using the lazy daisy and French knot stitches, and some beads, of course. I loved the threads and used several of them. The only thing not included with the block that I used were the beads for the center of the flowers. 

This was so much fun and really pushed me. But it was also wonderful using embroidery stitches and learning new ones like the snail trail stitch.

Final Notes from Chardel 


I loved the block when it came back to me! Lynn and Patti added beautiful, thoughtful details that help tell the family story. 

I added a blanket stitch around the center square for the warmth of family. Then I added some shading to the “G” monogram with running stitch to give it some depth, and lazy daisy stitches for raindrops in the upper right corner. Laced running stitch adds additional framing with the stitches flowing off the edges, carrying the family that began here on to build their own family “homesteads”. 

I love this block and plan to frame it just as it is.

Patti Medaris Culea

In the Garden


Round 1: Patti 

I love drawing people and when I received the assignment from Christen I decided to draw and color a woman gathering flowers in her garden. I drew her and colored her on a piece of peach cotton batik. Using a crazy patch design, I sewed various pieces of silk dupioni. On one piece, the brown silk, I attached a piece of old lace from one of my great-grandmother’s tablecloths. It's well over 125 years old so lots of holes which made it easier to cut up. 

After the crazy patch square was completed, I cut out the lady and machine sewed her to the center gold piece using gold thread. Her dress is from an old piece of lace I found in an antique store in Strasburg, France. French lace is so exquisite. 

In her hand I hand stitched a lace butterfly I purchased at the lace museum in Brussels, Belgium. A piece of old trim was stitched along the brown silk on the left side using the feather stitch and French knot stitch.

Round 2: Chardel 


I’m sure this sprite has a story! I couched the black & white flower trim along the bottom and added a horizontal line of old trim with the berry stitch variation of the lazy daisy stitch with beads at the ends of the berries. A field of French knot stitch flowers is on the orange field at the upper left. 

Round 3: Lynn 


So much fun. I remembered that Patti enjoyed Steampunk! I want to incorporate it into the piece. I also wanted to bring the orange to the lower right. I did add a bit more of the trim to the lower left to make the piece balanced. 

Final Notes from Patti 


When I received the almost finished block, I added a few more of the black and white flower trim, and the pink flower trim. I wanted it to look like she was walking through her garden and a butterfly landed on her hand. At the top along the beige piece of silk I used the cretan stitch and added beads. Feather stitch ran down the brown piece of silk. Along the top edge of her bodice, I added a beaded picot trim and an antique button at the center. And finally, a beaded flower in her hair.

Christen’s Final Notes

Again, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to my friends Lynn, Chardel, and Patti. Thank you so much for participating in this Round Robin adventure! My deepest appreciation is sent out to each of you! 

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Christen Brown teaches embroidery, quilting, crazy quilting, ribbonwork, mixed media, and beadwork in her best-selling books. With a degree in fashion design, she has shown her work in galleries and fashion shows internationally. She lives in Escondido, California.