Why You Should Swap Quilt Blocks
One of the hottest things among quilters online these days is swapping. People swap blocks, small quilts, particular fabrics and more. I thought it would be fun to show you some of the swap blocks I’ve made and talk about how a swap works. Of course there are endless variations, so this is just the tip of the iceberg!
When I turned 50, I was in a new season of life in many ways. I treated myself to a retreat with Mary Lou Weidman in Spokane, WA. Mary Lou teaches improvisational piecing techniques—unbelievable fun! Some of the quilters from that retreat and other events that Mary Lou has hosted formed a swap group on Yahoo.
I’ve done about six swaps with this group, though there have been many more. When a swap starts, I evaluate carefully whether I have time to give it my best effort, as there are a limited number of weeks to complete the swap and mail off the item(s).
In a well-run swap, the instructions are very clear but you do have to read them. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t. You can see from the photos that we swapped wonky, improvisational blocks but many swaps feature traditional blocks and even very easy blocks.
These Lifesaver blocks were featured in a swap hosted by Denise Russart of justquiltin. You can read more and see many wonderful ideas for using the blocks in her posts. Here’s one teaser:
Now if that doesn’t make you want to swap, I don’t know what will. Be sure to visit Denise because you won’t believe the wonderful variety of ways these blocks can be used. Amazing and gorgeous!
When you sign up for any swap, be sure to read the rules. Then follow all of the rules exactly. If you have questions, it’s fine to ask. It’s much better to clarify than to make blocks the wrong size or make a misstep. It’s fine to be a beginner (in quilting or in swapping) but do make sure you know and follow all of the guidelines!
Keep in mind that it’s very important you honor the swap deadline. If just one swapper in a group does not, it creates headaches for the host. Of course life happens, and when it does (I’m talking your house burns down, or you have a major illness or a death, not that your kitty has a hangnail!) the main thing is to communicate clearly right away with the host. In these cases, it can be worked out and everyone will be gracious if you communicate.
Communication is key to a successful swap. Always check in as requested. Thank others for the blocks you receive. Be gracious and complimentary even when blocks aren’t perfect or don’t appeal to you. Kindness always!
Then it’s great if you create something with your blocks within a reasonable time frame. That being said, I have several sets of blocks that I haven’t yet used. Just above is a quilt I made recently from house blocks I received in a Mary Lou Weidman swap. I experimented with Christmas trees and selvages, and eventually wrote a tutorial.
When you make a quilt, do share it with your swap friends and others for inspiration. My quilt isn’t perfect (that’s why I named it Hot Mess Christmas) and I had a lot of mess-ups, but in the end, it’s a fun little piece that serves its purpose.
Heather Valentine of Scrappy Girls Club has a mini quilt swap going on now. This is for a finished small quilt and sign-ups are open until Tuesday, Oct. 17. If you miss that one, she hosts swaps regularly so check out her Facebook page for upcoming events. Go on, Sign UP!
I just finished a swap where we exchanged mini quilts with teal fabric in them; the proceeds went to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. I’ll alert you to Beth Helfter’s Teal Mini Swap next year.
I will try and keep you posted about other swaps I hear of. It’s a good idea to follow some quilting bloggers and to get on Instagram, where you’ll hear the latest news! I’d invite you to follow me there: @stashbanditquilting.
Tags: block swaps, Denise Russart, Heather Valentine, Mary Lou Weidman, quilt swaps, scrap quilts
I’d love to do a swap, did one years ago….so fun
Loved meeting you at Mary Lou’s retreat and swapping blocks with you! At our recent guild show I won a vendors rosette for our ladies!
I’m so glad to hear that, Sandi! Congratulations. I hope our paths will cross again someday soon!
Your Hot Mess Christmas is absolutely my favorite of your quilts (that I have seen) so far! I love it!!! You are inspiring me to make some Christmas or Holiday quilts. I only have two Christmas season quilts. I obviously need more!
Great article about swaps. They are one of my favorite things to do – so much so that there are many baggies of swap blocks waiting to become a quilt when they grow up. 🙂 And there may be some lifesaver blocks among them still waiting!