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Swapping 'til you drop! - Quilting & Sewing Events 101 Blog Series

Today for the Quilting & Sewing Events 101 Blog Series we will be talking about “swapping ‘till you drop”! Quilting and Sewing Swaps! There are a variety of fun swaps out there: fabric swaps, quilt block swaps, pillow swaps, mini quilt swaps, hexie swaps and more.

Quilting & Sewing Swaps 101

What are Swaps?
A swap is an event held by a hostess, in which a group of people come together and swap handmade goods or fabric. It's a great opportunity to build a stash, learn new techniques, meet friends, and get super exciting goodies in the mail. Who doesn't like going to the mailbox and being surprised to see your swap items have arrived!

Fabric Swaps
Do you have a non-existent fabric stash? Or maybe you have a huge stash, but are bored with it? Fabric swaps are a great way to work on that stash.

Basic Group Fabric Swaps
The most popular fabric swaps are Charm Square (5"x 5") swaps. Typically a group of 28 or 56 people will come together to swap fabric (there’s a reason for these specific numbers as you’ll see below). The hostess will choose a theme for the swap such as I Spy, Rainbow, Fussy Cut, Novelty, Moda, Solids, etc. You will then buy 1 to 2 yards (depending on the swap rules) of quality quilting fabric in the specified theme, and cut them up into charms. If you cut carefully and accurately one yard of fabric will yield 56 charms. If there are 28 participants each person will receive 2 charms in each fabric, and if 56 participants each person will receive 1 charm in each fabric. Once you have cut up your charms, you will mail them to your hostess in a Ziploc bag labeled with your name and address, along with a prepaid self-addressed stamped envelope for returning your charms. Once the hostess receives everyone’s charms she will sort them out, and send back a new charm stack to each participant.

This same format can also happen with 2.5" Jelly Rolls, 10" Squares, and Fat Quarters.

Partner Fabric Swaps
There are also Flickr groups for one-on-one fabric swaps. Let's say you have a stack of fat quarters you don't think you will use. You can post a photo of your stack in the Flickr group where others can view it. If someone is interested in your fabric they can offer to swap with you. All the details of shipping and exchanging are worked out between the two of you. The most popular Flickr group for this is Fabric Swap.

Block Swaps
There are many different types of block swaps, each one has a different theme, some are traditional, modern, for beginners, improv, solids, wonky, stars, paper pieced and the list goes on.

I recently joined a block swap which is called Not Your Granny's Bee. We will be making Modern Granny Blocks using Katy at I am Ginger Monkey: Granny Block Tutorial. There are 24 members and each person will be making 24 blocks. At sign up I was assigned an orange and red color set. I will purchase or use fabric from my stash and make 24 identical blocks in the same fabric. This swap lasts for 3.5 months so it definitely gives you time to shop, cut, sew, and mail. Once I finish my blocks, I will post a photo of them on the flickr group and mail them to the hostess with my name, address, and return prepaid postage envelope. Once she receives them all she will sort them out and mail me back 24 blocks one in each color set. With that I will be able to make a 4x5 quilt.

Swapping Rules and Guidelines
Every swap hostess has their own rules and guidelines. Be sure to read the rules before you join and commit to a swap. Every swap usually has a specified deadline, and fabric and color requirement. If you don't abide by the rules it is not fair to the rest of the participants.

Want to host your own swap?
Ellison Lane Quilts wrote a wonderful blog post on how to start your own fabric swap. The information in this can also be applied to starting other swaps as well. Learn about it here.

Let the fun begin!
So now that you have a basic idea of how swaps work, think about the endless possibilities! That's right you can pretty much swap anything your little heart desires. Here are some really fun popular flickr swaps. Some may be in the middle of swaps right now, but new swap rounds will start soon.

The Pillow Talk {Swap}

Pillow Talk {swap} Button

The { Pillow Talk Swap} is a group dedicated to creating and receiving the coolest modern and urban pillows for their homes! This is a blind swap; however members will have the ability to select the possible theme, color ways, and create a helpful mosaic for their partners! Members will be paired with a partner by the administrator, according to likes, styles, and taste in fabric. They will then create a Pillow sleeve/ cover or a complete pillow. SWAP Sign ups are by invitation only, but if you are interested in taking part, Flickr mail {A La Mode fabric , sewdeerlyloved & /or scrapstudio}.

{ Handsome } Hexies - THE SWAP

{ Handsome } Hexies – this Swap is a group dedicated to creating and receiving the coolest modern and urban hexagons for their crafts! This is a blind swap; however members have the ability to suggest their favorite fabric designers, colors & preferred size! Members will be paired with a partner by the administrator… according to likes and styles in fabric. They will then create a heavenly stack of 25 hexagons to send to your partner. SWAP Sign ups are by invitation only, but if you are interested in taking part, Flickr mail {A La Mode fabric , sewdeerlyloved & /or scrapstudio}.

NuBees Monthly Block Swap

This group is open to all quilters who would like to participate in a block swap. The swaps runs for 30 days, making it easy to join throughout the year or take a short break as needed to handle life.

Sign-ups are open from the 15th to the 20th of each month. Hive assignments are sent out on the 1st of each month. All blocks are to be mailed on the 25th of each month.

During each swap, you will make and send out 5 blocks in the same pattern, but in different colors. Each block should measure 12.5 inch square.

Modernista Homemade {a sewing swap}

Do you love modern fabrics, quilting, and fabulous pieces to show off in your space? This modern swap will focuses on a room in the home each swap. The first room will be a sewing space (or room), and they rotate throughout the house! 

Modern She Made Swap

Do you love modern design? Do you love making high quality projects? Do you love making new friends? Then the Modern She Made Swap might be the group for you!

And I couldn’t resist!

I Love KONA ~ Charm Swap at Pile O' Fabric

So let me tell you doing this series makes it really hard to resist hosting a million events. They all are so much fun. I do plan to announce a very special event at the end of this series, but this week I could not resist! So I am going to be hosting an I Love Kona Charm Swap!

If you are a regular around here you know I love Kona, and I love solids. So of course I had to choose solids for my first hosted fabric swap.

Sign-ups start today! We will try to hit 28 participants at first, if more are interested then we will shoot for 56 participants. We cannot begin the swap until we have at least 28 people, so spread the word.

Details, and sign ups are in a new thread at the Pile O' Fabric Flickr Group.


Alyssa Lichner

Alyssa Lichner

Creator of Pile O' Fabric

Alyssa Lichner is a graphic designer turned avid sewist. She writes modern quilting tutorials and shares techniques and inspiration on her blog, Pile O’ Fabric. Alyssa has a passion for exploring different techniques and applying them to modern designs. She is thankful to have the opportunity to share these techniques, through her tutorials, patterns, and classes with quilters around the world. She always encourages her readers and students to challenge themselves to try new things and to approach quilting with a fearless attitude.