How to run a quilt swap

Jun 7


Michelle Steel

Michelle Steel

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Lots of quilters enjoy participating in a swap. The main aim of a swap is to get more of the particular object that you are swapping. Considering we are talking to quilters here, the things that they like to swap include, charm squares, completed blocks or pieces of fabric.


To organise a swap you’ll need participants firstly. These are easily recruited through your own quilt groups. You must have a theme to the swap that entices more people to join. Keep the rules simple so that people understand what they are doing.

Rules for swaps include the size,How to run a quilt swap Articles shape, design or colour of the fabric/block to be swapped. For instance, you could organise a swap of blue and white, 6.5" nine patches. You find out how many people are interested in participating, and that’s how many blocks each person makes. One for themselves, and one for everyone else. Set a deadline for the swap to be finished and that’s about it.
Other things to consider are these.

Is this a centralised swap or not? A centralised swap is where the swap hostess collects all of the items on the due date, swaps them all about, and redistributes them to the participants so each person has one of everything. The hostess needs to be organised and not mind spending a lot of time sorting it out. A non-centralised swap is where each individual sends/gives each other person involved in the swap their own item. If you are posting, this can become costly. If there is a person who drops out and doesn’t contribute, then you don’t always get the same amount back that you sent.

Are you swapping blocks?
Give a good description of the block that everyone is making. Include instructions. Make sure that it is within every ones sewing ability. Be very clear on the colours to use, if this is important. Be clear on what the finished measurements of the block should be. Be prepared to accept blocks that might not be sewn well, remember that there are all levels of ability out there, and we should encourage more quilters to join these activities.

Variations on a block swap.
Have the same block every month but change the colour scheme. Change the fabric every month to relate to a social calendar ie, Christmas fabric for December, hearts for February. Give each person the choice of block that they would like, and give them their blocks on their birthday. Choose a theme for the blocks such as hearts, stars etc.
Are you swapping fabrics?
Decide on what size the fabric should be. Fat quarters are nice, but you may want to take into account peoples finances. Choose a colour scheme for the swap. Often it’s hard to find a particular colour, so if everyone in the swap provides 8 FQ’s of one yellow fabric, and there are 8 people in the swap, everyone should end up with 8 different yellow fabrics. An excellent way to increase those bare spots in the stash. Rules for this sort of swap need to specify quality of fabric, to pre-wash or not, and believe it or not, some people are allergic to cat hair and cigarette smoke and we all know that these permeate the fabrics.

Are you swapping Charm Squares?
This is a great way to get lots of fabrics for those quilts that just need scraps. Decide how many different fabrics should be in each pack. Then you provide one pack for each participant. If there are twenty 10" squares per pack, and 10 people in the swap, each person will end up with 200 different fabrics. Excellent. Rules for this swap are similar to fabric swaps. You’ll need to be exact with the cutting measurements, just in case people want to sew the squares together as is. A good way to use up the fabrics in your stash that you may not wish to keep anymore.

Other things that you can swap include buttons, signature squares, or hand made items such as pincushions, Christmas ornaments and place mats. The variations on a swap are endless. Just be prepared to join in, accept what you receive in the spirit it is sent and you’ll have loads of fun, and make new friends too.

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