Swap blocks. Block swaps. You’ve probably heard about them and maybe even considered participating. Let’s delve deep into what a quilt swap is and why you should join in!
With 2019 upon us, you’ll likely start seeing various swaps being offered on Instagram and other social places. If you’ve taken part in one or more, you may already be well versed in the ins and outs of swapping. If they’re new to you, read on!
What is a Swap?
A swap is an organized way for quilters to exchange quilt blocks with one another. Often they’re set up so that each quilter creates a specific number of blocks, mails them to the Swap Mama who sends back different blocks to each participant. You have the option of creating as many blocks as you’d like to receive back. If you have time to create 5, then you’ll receive 5 different blocks back. Swaps are a GREAT way to add fabrics to your quilt that may not be in your current stash!
Occasionally, a swap may be organized where assignments are made for swappers. In that case, pairs are established and you each send blocks to the other. In this scenario, you make fewer blocks but you have the opportunity to really get to know the quilter you’re paired with. Oftentimes, these pairings result in small gifts being included with the blocks. Gifts like mini patterns, special thread fq cuts of fabric. It’s a way to form friendships as the swappers discuss color likes and dislikes, birthdays, families, etc. True friendships are forged.
Why join a Swap?
As mentioned, joining in on a swap is a great way for you to include blocks in your quilts that were created with fabrics you may not have in your stash! Quite a lot of quilters will share their most prized fabrics when they’re creating for others. And, joining in on a swap is a GREAT way to make new friends. Creating in your own space in your home can be isolating. It’s nice to anticipate mail from women who love fabrics as much as you do, who love sharing their craft. It’s a way to feel included and welcomed into a group.
I want to join a Swap. Now what?
Swaps are really informal so consider organizing your own swap with a few followers/friends on your social media. Hashtags are usually used so that everyone included in the swap can post pretty pictures of the blocks they’ve created or received. You can find swaps through Instagram (and Facebook too I’m sure). Local quilt guilds almost always have swaps going on. Local quilt shops sometimes offer swaps. If your LQS doesn’t have anything available, offer to host one. It might be a great way to make local friends!
Rules for Swaps
- If you’d like to set up your own swap, consider picking a specific block and providing a link to a free tutorial for everyone to follow (see below for a few suggestions). You want uniform blocks so easy quilts may be completed once the swap is over.
- Establish “rules” that set dates for shipping. You don’t want a swapper to receive 11 blocks from other participants but never ship out any blocks! It’s happened, so do your best to set firm dates for participation. Have check-in dates or shipping confirmation requirements.
- Decide on fabric choice. Do you want a scrappy swap or a Bonnie & Camille fabric-only swap? These decisions must be made in advance, both to attract participants and to have an organized plan before inviting others to participate.
- As the organizer, plan on making extra blocks in case you have participants who drop out. Life happens and swappers sometimes can be flaky (like all groups of people). You want to be prepared so someone isn’t left out of receiving their blocks! Then, if everyone participates as planned, you’ll have extra blocks made for your own quilt!
- Swaps are meant to be fun, so do your best to keep things organized but remember that we’re all human. People will ship late. They’ll forget (you need to use the hashtags to keep reminding them of important dates!). But, finishing a quilt made by many hands is a great feeling!
Blocks Perfect for Swaps
- Low Volume Plus Block ~ Craftbuds tutorial
- 12″ blocks ~ Scrapish.com has loads of block tutorials
- 12″ String Block ~ Childlike Fascination tutorial
- More 12″ square blocks ~ PatchworkSquare.com
- The Quilting Company boasts of over 150 FREE quilt block patterns. Check them out for inspiration!
The thing about quilting is that it has always been about using what we have to create within a community and sharing what we create. Swaps bring all of the elements of quilting together. We may not be gathered in a church quilting together the way our grandmothers may have done but we can share what fabrics we cherish to create special blocks to send to new friends for the creation of quilts meant to snuggle under. What could be better?