I’ve been swapping for about 4 years now through various social media sites and within our local sewing group and guild.
Different types of swaps may include specific blocks, sizes & color combos. Handmade items such as pincushions and zippy bags. Some have strict rules that must be adhered to and some only have a theme to follow, such as butterflies, in which anything can be swapped as long as it has a butterfly.
Overall, I find this quilting activity rewarding and enjoyable and I’ve made many online friends doing it. I have had a few swaps that have proven to be challenging. For example, the color scheme is ‘off’ or the blocks I receive may be shy of the dimension requirements, but this never stops me from saying…”yes” to the next one!
Today I’m going to share with you a few tips, mainly focusing on block swaps, to help make your next swap successful for you and your partners.
Use quilt store quality fabrics for your swaps.
Use precise cutting. This is where it all starts. Accurate cutting will help ensure the desired block size. Here’s a quick refresher on Craftsy for tips on using your rotary cutter and mat.
Double check your seam allowance. A 1/4″ seam allowance is typically required for quilting. If your 1/4″ is off, your block will not finish the correct size. Invest in a 1/4″ foot for your machine. The 1/4” foot has a guide designed to help you achieve perfect 1/4” seams when piecing. The distance between the needle and the right guide is a true 1/4”. Or, stack painters tape as a reference along the plate to guide you.
Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Slow down your pace, it’s not a race! Take your time with each block.
Measure your block before swapping. A good Sewista is most likely to be able to work with about 1/8″ of your block being off . After all, we are not perfect.
1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4″ total.
But, if your block is 1/4″ off on each side…
1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2″ *this is not workable. No amount of “stretching” can resolve this problem y’all!
As you can see, my block is slightly off. Mostly, because I can’t seem to sew a straight line to save my life even while using my fancy pants 1/4″ foot but it is still well within an accepted allowance…within the 1/8″ allowance.
Press your work well after each addition. Press your seams flat, whether it be open seams or pressed to one side. Do not “iron”. This will cause stretching. Use Best Press or other solutions to “starch” your finished project. Nothing makes me smile more than a well pressed block. It’s my finishing touch. If your block is pressed, you will be able to make an accurate determination of whether it is the correct size.
One of our guild members, Trish, was kind enough to share her recipie for a homemade pressing spray if you’d like to make your own.
Mix a ratio of 4 parts water with 1 part POTATO vodka.
Add to a spray bottle. It’s important that it be POTATO vodka. Ask your local wine & liqueur store if they carry it.
Follow the design elements required for the block swap. For example, if your swapping for Halloween, and your swap partner or leader asks for a certain block size or color palette, try to accommodate those requests as closely as possible. This will ensure a cohesive final quilt for whoever is making it.
Don’t hesitate to ask for guidance. Like I mentioned, we are all here to learn from each other. I literally need Paige to explain paper piecing every. single. time. I do it! It’s ok to ask for help. Everyone has their own level of experience and what they are skilled in.
Use good judgement. Ask yourself…”Is this something I would want to receive“? Make something you don’t want to give away. Because if you love it, so will someone else.
Mail your project on time. If you have joined an online swap through sites such as Flickr or Instagram, make sure to mail your project or block out in time. Your swap partner will anxiously be awaiting it’s arrival. You wouldn’t want to dissapoint her!
Have fun! Use quilt swaps to make new friends, expand your sewing skills and be creative. But remember, the most important part, is to have fun!