I’m a member of crafting forum Craftster and have settled into the quilting community there. It’s a cosy group with some really lovely, informed and helpful people! Of course, it’s a general crafts forum so all kinds of people do all kinds of crafts, and craft swaps (both private and public) are very popular. It’s a great way to exchange like-for-like or trade your skill in your craft for someone else’s skill in theirs – with the upside that you both get something beautiful and personal to enjoy. 🙂 I haven’t joined many craft swaps so far (I’m acutely conscious of my time management and only want to commit to deadlines I’m sure I can manage without too much stress), but the ones I have joined have been great fun and have really enriched my crafting.
The Quilt Block Swap
The first quilt-related swap I joined was a Quilt Block Swap – swapping blocks with four other people, although the more ambitious quilters could choose to join several groups if they wished! I only joined one group to start with, which meant making three blocks per partner for a total of 12 blocks made and sent out. It’s a great way to “access” other peoples’ stashes and accrue a number of blocks that might be tedious to make en masse, but are quite bearable if everyone is only making three. The swap has guidelines about block size so that the exchange is reasonably fair, although some flexibility is cheerfully accepted if all the swappers are on board with the concept, as I’ll show!
These are the blocks I made and sent out to my four partners, according to their specifications:
From top to bottom, we have Scrappy Trip Around the World and/or Ohio Star, Bright Hope blocks with a central feature fabric plus coordinates, Wonky Houses, and Words. Yes, I totally made a swear word; the recipient made it clear that any and all words, including swears, were acceptable! 😉 The Words blocks were a bit unusual, but everyone really loved the idea so there were no issues with the person choosing them – in fact I think she almost had to beat us all off with a stick! All the blocks were fun to make, although interestingly the Wonky Houses gave me the most pause – possibly due to some kind of “blank canvas” effect. Once I got going with them though, I think they came out well – and are really going to make an amazing quilt when put with the rest of the “village”! I also can’t wait to see the Words quilt come to life – the crafter making it is a complete dynamo when it comes to crafting, so I’m sure it won’t be too long.
In return, I asked for versions of my Origami Crane block:
I specified that the background should be cream or off-white and the cranes themselves were “quilter’s choice” with oriental/asian-themed fabric if available, but no problem if not. I have to say that my fellow crafters did not disappoint! I love all the Cranes I received and how diverse they all are! All of them are beautiful and well made, and I’m so looking forward to turning them all into a quilt (possibly with four more cranes made by Yours Truly). In the photo above, you can already see my plan, which is to intersperse Flying Geese blocks between the Cranes to mix things up a bit – and having two birds on one quilt is a notion that rather tickles me! 😉 I need to re-do that example block though – sadly the fabric is a bit cheap and that solid pink has already faded unevenly. 🙁
The Hexie Swap
So how ’bout that EPP, eh? It feels like it’s going through a bit of a revival recently, what with the apparent popularity of EPP patterns such as the Passacaglia (I adore that pattern, not sure I’m yet brave enough to try it myself!). EPP is something I’ve so far watched curiously from the sidelines, thinking it might be fun to try but lacking a suitable impetus to give it a go. When someone on Craftster mentioned the idea of swapping fabric squares or finished hexies, I decided it was high time to jump on the EPP bandwagon! After all, what’s more appealing than the thought of chilling in the summer afternoon sunshine whipping up some traditional patchwork, favourite drink at elbow? Of course, living in Britain means the sunshine ain’t all that reliable, but it’s still a nice idea! Also, I have some vague plans for quilt designs that would revolve around EPP and this seemed like a good taster session to find out whether it really is something I would enjoy doing a lot of before I commit lots of resources and supplies to a larger, more complex project.
Because it ended up being quite a small group (eight of us in total), we decided to do a mass swap together, meaning that I have seven people to send squares or hexagons too. Of course, it also means that I will receive squares or hexagons from seven people – I can’t wait to see what they have in store for me! 😀 For the sake of my sanity, I ended up creating a spreadsheet to keep track of each crafter and what they had requested, and I already have all the squares and templates cut:
There we are, all ready to go! In fact, one package is already in the post. 🙂
Having never really tried EPP previously, I thought I ought to have a bit of a practice to make sure I’d be ok with making them for other people, so I whipped up a quick half-dozen hexies in my chosen size (3/4″ sides) to put on a personal project:
Yay! These were fussy-cut from an Eclectic Elements model aeroplane blueprints print that I love so much I went back for more! The project they’re on is one that I would like to try and work into a magazine pattern submission, now that I’ve made a prototype and identified the areas that need smoothing out a bit, so I’ll be keeping the rest of it under wraps for now. 😉 I will, however, post my progress with the swap hexies so I can show off all the fabrics I picked out. 🙂