Delaware Quilts
Guidelines for hosting a successful swap.

Swaps are a wonderful way to exchange quilt blocks and fabrics, and can be a lot of fun. They can also be very discouraging. What really makes a good swap is a good swap hostess. Below are some guidelines that will hopefully help you to be a good hostess and run a successful swap.

Set very specific rules for your swap. If your rules are clear and easy to read, everyone will know exactly what is expected of them. The more exact you can be in your requirements, the more likely it is that the swapped blocks will all look good together.

Examples of guidelines are
a) Size (12 1/2 inch unfinished, 12 inch finished)

b) Pattern restriction if you have one. This could the name of the swap, such as the 3D Bow Tie Swap. If you have a specific pattern that must be followed for this swap, be sure everyone has the pattern. Web sites are best for this.

c) Number of blocks per set (six same blocks per set to be exchanged for six different blocks) and how you wish those sets packaged. Most swappers prefer each set to be put into a zip lock bag with the name of the maker clearly marked on the bag. Some prefer each block to have it's own bag. You decide what you like, and put that in your guidelines.

d) Construction restrictions if you have them. (pieced, hand appliqued, machine appliqued)

e) Fabric restrictions. Most swaps require 100% cotton, prewashed fabrics, but it is always good to include that in your guidelines. Your swap may require bleached muslin, or unbleached, a white-on-white background only, and if so, you must state this in your swap guidelines. Perhaps you want solid colors or certain shades of color.

f) Signature requirements. Do you want a signature actually on the block, or just pinned to the block? Do you want signature blocks? What information do you want on the signatures, (chat and real names, email, date, year, city, state, etc.)

g) Deadline for you receiving the blocks. Be sure to give everyone enough time to make blocks, and to mail them. Short swaps leave out people who have to mail to you from a long distance, and people who have busy lives.

h) Your postage requirements. This is very important unless you want to pay postage to mail all the swapped blocks. Make sure everyone understands what you need to send their blocks back to them. Remember out of country swappers, and give them a postage option. (Be sure to include a return envelope with your name and address and proper postage. For swappers outside the US, one FQ per set may cover postage, but check as postage changes.)

Once you have set your guidelines, stick to them. If you receive blocks that do not meet your guidelines, they should be returned to the maker unswapped. This might sound mean, but if all the other blocks are 12 1/2 inches and one set is 10 inches, it is no use to the other swappers. If everyone used bleached muslin as set up in the guidelines, and one person used unbleached, those blocks should be returned to the maker unswapped.

Do not ever criticize the blocks you receive. You should assume that each person has done their best, and tried hard to send you perfect blocks. We do not want to discourage anyone from participating and/or trying new things. And we do not want to hurt anyone's feelings. If the blocks do not meet the guidelines, return them to the maker, and explain politely exactly why you are returning them.

It's always nice to remind people about the swap with friendly emails. Don't just assume everyone who signed up will remember the swap. Send reminders to encourage them, and remind them as well. Be sure to acknowledge the receipt of every set immediately, so the mailer knows you got them. I like to use my acknowledgement emails as reminders to the other participants of the swap.

Hosting a swap can be a great way to get to know other guild members, share quilting tips, and see other people's work. Encourage new members and beginning quilters to participate in your swap. Encourage all your participants to share photos of their finished projects.

Sand Star Swap from 2002

Here is a page showing swapping in progress.

Here is a Sampler Swap I hosted in 2005.

Updated July 15, 2020

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