Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tip Tuesday! Swaps

"Tip Tuesday!" - Swaps

I love learning new things and then sharing that knowledge with my quilting friends. So, every Tuesday I'll provide some tips, hints, tricks, tutorials, shortcuts, etc. that I've learned over the years and share them here on the blog. 

"Tip Tuesday" will be a collection of information about a wide variety of subjects garnered from a large variety of sources.  I am not an expert by any means and do not take credit for being the great wizard behind all of these hints and tips. I will gladly give due credit whenever possible.

These tips will be archived and accessible to you just by clicking on the "Tip Tuesday" tab above. 

Read, enjoy, and be inspired!

Since I just finished participating in the Mini Teal Swap, I thought that a post on swaps might be in order. This swap was a bit different in that we were swapping finished projects, mug rugs or mini quilts, but many swaps in which I've participated were for blocks (one or more) or even just fabric (5" squares, etc.). Swaps and be great fun and a wonderful way to meet new friends, get a great variety of fabrics without having to buy them all, and a neat way to stretch your quilting skills.

I was pretty much into swaps a few years back and participated in a number of them on a regular basis. I didn't really have much issue with fabric swaps. Every once in a while someone struggled with accurate cuts and I didn't always get the same quality of fabric I sent, but overall it wasn't too bad.

Unfortunately, I started to become a bit disillusioned with block swaps and pretty well dropped out of all of them because I was not happy with what I was receiving. Maybe I should have found other swap groups, but I found it easier to just take a break from them. I blame the issues on not only the participant not following the rules, but also the "hostess" or organizer for not following through when she warned that people would be dropped if they didn't adhere to the rules or guidelines. 

Here's the horror story before the awesome story! (Yes, I'm ranting a little and obviously still have strong feelings about what happened. I think I need to take a deep breath and let go of this. I'll do that after I write this post.)  :-)

Now don't get me wrong, I am not perfect in any way, but I was none too thrilled when I made and sent my 12 - 12" Ohio Star blocks to the hostess following the pattern she provided. The deal was that each of us would make 4 identical blocks, send them to the hostess who would divide them out among the participants. We were allowed to make more than 4, as long as they were in increments of 4 and each set was different. We would receive back the same number we made, which would be awesome for getting a great mix of blocks. 

So, I signed up for 3 sets of 4 for a total of 12 blocks. The hostess was very clear about the fabric quality, colors, contrast, fabric placement, size, and the deadline. VERY clear as a matter of fact, and she sternly  warned us multiple times that any blocks sent to her that were not up to snuff would be returned to the sender. That scared me a bit so I was very cautious.

Imagine my surprise when I received a package from the hostess 3 weeks late and it included 3 blocks that had not followed the pattern (reversed the light and dark fabric), 2 blocks that were less than 12" unfinished instead of 12.5" they should have been, and 2 of my own blocks. Did you do that math? I sent in 12 blocks and received 7 back from her. 

I sent an e-mail to ask what happened and she said that some people didn't send in their blocks (a few notified her that they were dropping out, while others did not) so she just divided up the ones she did get equally among the people who send some to her. I asked about the errors and she said sorry, but since she was short blocks, she didn't want to have even less with which to work. REALLY!?!

That was the last block/project swap in which I participated until this one. 
My faith has been renewed!   

Do you want to host a swap? 
Here are a few tips to help you.
(This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, but hopefully it will get you started on your way to hosting a swap.)

I think simply being organized and having great communication will help any swap be successful, but being prepared for problems or issues is also important. Following the steps below will get you well on your way to hosting your own swap. (Most of this information is designed to help when as the host, you will be receiving the blocks and then re-distributing them to the participants.)

If you are the host and this is your first swap, perhaps keeping this one small the first time will help you learn the ropes and make it easier to grow with each swap. 

1. Decide how you are going to "advertise" the swap. Work with a local group, talk about it on your own blog, or join an online group such as flickr.com, quiltingboard.com, swap-bot.com 

2. Keep a master list of the people who respond to your advertising and be sure to have contact information such as e-mail, phone number and mailing address. This list will also come in handy in the event that a participant does not follow through (late blocks, etc.) so that you will have a record of that for future swaps. That doesn't mean you won't allow them to participate, but you may want to discuss this with them before adding them to new swaps.

3. Set up the rules. Decide the minimum and maximum number of participants, the number of blocks needed per person, acceptable fabrics, duration of the swap, etc. A "rule" that is often overlooked is how to send the completed blocks.
For mailing blocks, I think it's important that blocks be placed in a zip-lock type bag before being put in the mailing package. (That will protect the block in case it gets wet.) Each package (inside the plastic bag), should include the blocks, the maker's name, address, phone number and e-mail address in case the envelope gets broken and the blocks slip out. I also like the idea of providing a tracking number for the packages. I know this may be a bit more money, but it sure will provide some peace of mind.

YOU set the rules. It doesn't hurt to ask for input, but as the host, you should have the final say. 

4. Communicate and follow the progress. Life happens and things get in the way of our quilting, so gentle reminders are a great way to make sure blocks will be completed in a timely fashion. It is important to keep track of blocks that have been sent and received so you know who is still working on them and if there will be a delay. I think a quick e-mail to participants when you receive their blocks is a great idea and as a participant, I appreciate that. 

I was once told that we had to e-mail a picture of the blocks to the hostess before mailing them. At the time I didn't understand why, but then I realized it was because in previous swaps she had a number of people tell her that the blocks were on the way and they hadn't even been completed yet. :-(

Block swaps are meant to be fun and because I enjoyed the Mini Teal Swap so much, I think I may venture back into doing them again. 

Deep breath taken 
and I've moved past the bad swap experience.  
Life is good! :-)

1 comment:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I use to do a lot of swaps and dropped from them for the same reasons - some real horror stories.