Sunday, January 15, 2012

Want to swap?! How to get involved with modern online sewing and quilt swaps!

Inspirational mosaic I made for The Fab Little Quilt Swap

As I was putting together this mosaic I remembered that I had promised to write a little "how to" for online modern swaps for my local modern quilt guild.  There is no doubt that I love swapping.  I love the stalking of my partner, looking at all the inspirational mosaics, seeing pictures of fabric stacks, and wondering if that wonderful item could be for me!  

Swaps are starting back up like crazy since the Christmas season is over!

Sewing Machine Cover for the Urban Home Goods Swap

There are swaps done through Facebook, different crafty forums, blogs, and even Twitter.  However, if you are looking for modern sewing and quilting swaps- Flickr is where they are happening!  I think there is a good reason for this as well.  Flickr is a great place to post pictures and have discussions all within one group.  This allows for lots of inspiration, and there is definitely pressure (in a good way) to do your best.  No one wants to post a picture of something they made that no one will like!  Plus, it is easy to start discussions or ask questions, and I think this unites the group of swappers- making it easy to get to know each other. 

Mini Quilt for The Mini QT Swap

So, the first thing to do is get a Flickr account.  You can set up an account for free, and if you want to store unlimited photos and have less restrictions you can set up a Pro account which costs around $25 a year, but definitely start with a free account if you want to just test it out.  

Second, start uploading pictures of things you have made and favorite photos of things you love!  Each swap is run a little differently but most swaps will require that you have crafty photos and upload at least a couple of times a month.  This is both to ensure you do sew and/or quilt and to make sure you are an active member of the community.  It doesn't guarantee anything, but people want to know you aren't going to sign up for something and never show up again.

Third, find a swap you would like to join in!  When I first started swapping I found the swap through a blog.  I requested to join in.  After that I have either been invited through Flickr or I have found them through my other Flickr contacts.  (If you like certain things people make, you can make them your contact and always be able to see what their newest photos are!)

Also, be prepared to do a bit stalking.  Sign ups for most swaps are only for about a week- some of the popular ones fill up in a day or two!  So check in the group every once in a while to see when the next sign ups will be.

Here is a little list to get you started (This is definitely not all of them!):

Potholder Pass- Potholders and other small items
Pretty Little Pouch Swap- Pouches, Clutches, and other little bags!
Urban Home Goods Swap- Items for the home
Goodie Bag Swap- Bags and Scraps
The Doll Quilt Swap- Doll Quilts
Mini QT Swap-  Mini Quilts
For The Love of Solids- Solids only!
Spicing Up The Kitchen- A Kitchen Item Swap!
A Little Fabric, A Little Chocolate- swap fat quarters, chocolate, and other goodies!

Convertible Bag for the Goodie Bag Swap

Reasons to Swap:

It is FUN!

You get to know all sorts of people who are just as crazy about sewing as you!

You get to plan and make something for someone who appreciates how much time and effort goes into the project!

Someone makes something just for you!

It pushes your creative talent!  
(I tried all sorts of techniques I never would have tried to make something just right for my partner.)

Spiderweb Pillow for The Pillow Talk Swap

Things to keep in mind before signing up:

Different swaps have different rules and ways of running.  Some you have to be accepted first before joining in and most have a set amount of people that they allow to sign up to keep it easier to manage.  If you get turned down or don't make it in that particular round, try another swap!  

Pay attention to the rules and make sure you can follow them.  Some expect a certain amount of participation.  Some have quick turnarounds, although most have a 6-8 week turnaround.  Also, make sure you aren't going to be on vacation when it is expected for you to ship your item!  Be prepared to ship internationally for some swaps.

Be open about what you receive in the swap!  I can honestly say I have almost always received lovely, lovely packages.  I think maybe there was one time I was a little disappointed, but I know my partner had tried hard.  When you sign up for a swap there is usually a place for you to list things that you both love and hate.  Plus, most swaps encourage you to make a mosaic of things you like.  You can make a mosaic using Big Huge Lab's Mosaic Maker.  However, each person is going to interpret things differently, and you are participating in a swap of handmade things!  It isn't going to be perfect.  If you want something very precise, well...*cough* make it yourself!  Part of the fun is seeing what other people come up with!

Christmas Mug Rug for The Scrappy Mug Rug Swap

I hope this is helpful!  

If you have any other questions about swapping, please leave me a comment.  

If you are a swapper yourself, and have some more tips, please share!


  1. I'll add a couple things. Favorites on flickr are a great way to get to know people who you might want to be contacts with (and a great way to give your swap partners a glimpse of your style. Just hit the star on the left hand side on the top of any flickr picture.

    Also, even if a swap says "previous swap experience necessary" feel free to jump into discussions periodically anyway. If your sewing is up to their standard and you're friendly and genuine you may get chosen even so. :) My first swap was the Doll Quilt Swap - who knew it was one of the awesomest one?!

  2. Great tips! I posted a link to this for my MQG in our Flickr group. Hope that is OK!

  3. I have only done a couple of swaps but it was really fun! I need to join more. :) Great tips!

  4. Thanks for this post. I have participated in several swaps but there are so many out there! It's nice to be able to check some new swaps out. Thanks!

  5. great post, thanks for sharing! i <3 swaps :)

  6. Thanks so much for this post, Meg. I've always been scared to death of swaps, but it doesn't sound so bad now :)


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