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Joining a Block Swap

I have read emails from a number of new quilters that joining a swap makes them very apprehensive: do I know enough to complete the block, is my piecing accurate enough and what will I do if someone doesn't like what I send??? All are valid questions, but everyone should remember that we were all newbies at one time and there has to be a FIRST swap for everyone. There are a number of things that I double, and triple, check when I send blocks for a swap:

  1. What was the size of the block that was asked for? Was it finished or unfinished? Common sizes are 4", 6", 9" and 12"...these are most likely to be "finished" sizes, which means that your block should be 1/2" larger for the "unfinished" state that you will be sending. Be sure that you double check the size of the blocks that you are sending...if your block is not the correct size, the recipient will have problems joining it to the rest of the blocks.
  2. Was white, white-on-white or WOW called for as the background? Or did the host specify off-white, or tone-on-tone, or muslin? This is very important as they are different. If you have any question as to whether or not the material you are thinking of using will be the correct fabric, contact the swap host.
  3. Is a specific color called for? You can't use purple if the swap color called for was blue.
  4. What shade was specified? Be sure you check to see if the swap is asking for light, medium or dark fabrics. A fabric that is mostly white/offwhite with a print should not be used for a fabric described as "dark". I mention this because I once swapped blocks that were supposed to be dark/offwhite and received back mostly light/offwhite blocks...I was very disappointed. The workmanship was wonderful, but I couldn't use what I received for the project I had anticipated. This is something that should be checked carefully.
  5. Press your seams as you go along as if you were going to use the block yourself immediately. The block will get creased in the mail, but those creases are easier to deal with than having to go back and press all the seams.
  6. Double check how the swap host wants the blocks "signed". Sometimes a separate label will be requested attached to the block, and sometimes you will be asked to sign the block in a specific place. Be sure to follow those instructions carefully.
  7. Be sure that the blocks are packaged as requested. The swap host has figured out what she feels will be the easiest way for her to handle the swap and asked for the blocks to be sent that way. It is a big help to her if you follow her instructions.

The most important thing to remember about a swap of any kind is to have FUN!!! No matter what you receive is a gift from a friend and should be treated as such. I don't think I could put this last point as clearly as Kim did:

"I've been stressing myself out doing the blocks for this swap. Guess sitting on the sidelines on another list while recriminations flew over a double wedding ring swap, I'm a little nervous about this. So, in the interests of my sanity, I'd just like to tell you all: I did my best for these blocks. My best isn't even close to perfect. Therefore, if you receive one of my blocks and you
a. don't like the fabrics I chose
b. don't think my workmanship is "up to snuff"
c. don' t want to use this "ugly" block on your quilt,

then, please feel free to:
a. throw it out
b. take it apart and resew it
c. use it as "back art"

But, please don't feel obligated to tell me about it!!
Lie, prevaricate, look at it sideways, standing on your head with your eyes crossed or whatever it takes to say: "thanks for the lovely block, Kim."

In exchange for this total lack of honesty, I promise...if your block arrives at my house on the two days a month when I turn into a cranky perfectionist so even Harriet Hargreave couldn't piece to suit me, I shall put it aside and look at it again when hormones have calmed down for another 28 days. I know I'm going to love whatever you all send, 'cause you all sent it!"

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Holliston, MA
Last Updated 9Jun2002.

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