Hello happy quilters everywhere! If you are waiting for the July PSQ Charm Swap, it will be here soon. Very soon, as it starts July 6th.
I have spent the last six weeks simply buried under emails from you all. Not that I do not love hearing from you, but I was blown away. So I counted them up. In six weeks, I had 692 emails about PSQ’s and swap issues. At the same time, that darn thing called WORK has been extremely time-consuming.
So I am saying Pardon Me, and setting that all aside. If I failed to answer an email from you, my apologies. Most of these emails were lovely notes sharing the joys of small parcels in the mail. A couple got buried in my ‘spam’ folder. Some were perplexed people still looking to get parcels or hear from their partners. A couple were disappointed with what they got, and a couple were out-and-out upset. I am going to share some of this all with all of you.
First off, if you were involved in the Double Heather Snafu, I am declaring it a closed issue–with apologies. Save any sets you have, or sets you got in the wrong size, for the July swap please. It is mostly my fault, as had two swappers with same name in different states, swapping different sizes, and that silly person organizing the swap (me!) managed to send the wrong lists to the wrong Heather’s. Compound that with one of the Heather’s having to withdraw for health issues, and the other one not answering any of my emails, well, I give up. Me Bad.
Second common issue, yes, please share your pictures! Share pictures of charms, or quilt tops in progress. Post them on the Flicker pages yourself, please, whenever possible. If you get absolutely stumped trying to figure that out, I will help. I am impressed by the wide variety of ideas out there, and looking forward to seeing more pictures show up on Flicker.
Third frequent comment deals with people being amazed at how few repeats they get from their swap partners. Personally, I swapped with eight people, and got two fabric squares of things in my own stash. Then I got two identical pieces, one from Australia and one from Sweden. I KNOW that there are lots of fabrics out there, but it still surprises me that all these things I have never seen come along. Glad you are enjoying that too.
So you have sets left, because someone failed to answer you back? I managed to get most of those reassigned, but I know that a few of you are still out there thinking that you are being neglected. Please let it go, and swap again.
If you emailed me that you have not heard back from your partner, I nudged them too. If they didn’t reply to me, and they sign up in July, they do not get partners until they clean up their past swap issues. You probably know who you are. People are very understanding if you have been ill or busy with those parts of life that get in the way. You can join another swap, but please clear the air on the old swap first!
The toughest issues are important for everyone to think about before sending their next sets out. Remember that these are supposed to be COTTON fabric, suitable for quilting, with no selvedges, no flannels, and no homespuns. Yes, I said cotton, and bamboo is not cotton. If you disassemble another block to cut your charms from, be sure to NOT use the previously stitched area. If you have a mystery fabric that you think may be cotton, but are not sure, please do not include it.
Among the examples of Bad Charms; terry cloth, cotton duck for outdoor use, fuzzy upholstery fabric, rayon, super sheer and flimsy fabrics, denim, wool, and gauze. As far as defining quilting-quality cotton, well, that is a bit up to you too, BUT if you hold it up and can see your fingers through it, it is too lightweight. Personally, I am fine with cottons that have embroidery or sequins, or other things on them. I say include them if you want, and the recipient can choose whether to use them or not.
The most interesting fabric quality issue, and harder to pin down, is the inclusion of vintage fabrics. When I sell pre-cut sets, I clearly state that my stash goes back a few decades so vintage pieces are included. They are welcome here as well, as long as they meet all those little rules above. But again, this is subjective. And, if you have not been a quilter all that long, you may be surprised to know that the types of fabrics we get in our quilt fabric shops now are relatively recent incarnations of quilt fabric. 1930’s cottons were often shirting weight (or feedsacks too, which are coarser). In the 1940’s the world spent a lot of time at war, and cotton was a scarce commodity, so it was sometimes ‘stretched’ with flax or hemp. Fabric from the 1950’s and ’60’s was distinctly lighter in weight and looser in weave. When polyester hit the market in the late ’60’s and ’70’s, quilters tried it out, but usually you can feel the difference and not use it to swap. In that same period, cotton lawn and damask were popular, and even though they feel different from the bulk of what is sold today, they can be used in quilts. It was not until the late 1970’s, during the quilting renaissance, that firmly woven cottons just meant for quilting started to show. Since then, these have evolved into the more highly processed fabrics that we see in stores today.
The other aspect of swapping with a variety of people is that they have access to a variety of fabric sources. Whether they live in an area with limited fabric store choices, or are restricted by a tight budget, quilters seem to ferret out fabrics quite well. Yes, I have seen absolutely glorious and sturdy quilts made entirely from carefully selected bargain bin fabrics. In some parts of the world, fabric weave is a lot looser than we are accustomed to at our US or AU quilt shops today. If these fabrics seem inappropriate to you, I understand if you choose not to use them. That said, however, I encourage you to reach outside your comfort zone a bit as well. Look through the stack, pick the ones that you are most drawn too, and put them in your project anyway!
One blessing of Postage Stamp Quilts is that they have a very forgiving nature. If a snippet of a lighter weight fabric, or even a cotton/poly blend, gets in it will simply get lost in the crowd. These pieces are small and well secured by stitching even before the actual quilting takes place, so they should be okay. Besides, some people choose to add family memories in to their PSQ, and insert all sorts of scraps from grandpa’s ties and suits, to baby Joey’s corduroy overalls. What fun!
Lastly, the dreaded Special Requests. While I am happy to let swappers choose if they will ship Internationally, I simply would be ready for commitment to a loony bin if I let other factors be Swappers Choice! Imagine, if one person wanted ‘no vintage’, and another seeks ‘only blue’ (yep, someone did!), or only people in certain states, or no male swappers (hey, we only have two, and they are avid quilters with great stashes), or asking for anyone except (fill in the blank). See? I can’t cope, and my cheerful disposition would be at risk. So, please remember, it is a swap and meant for fun. You do not have to use all the pieces you get if you don’t like them, but that is how it goes.
Besides, I can assure you that all swappers are thinking the same thing as they prep their sets to mail, and watch for parcels back. Will my partner like these? What surprises are they sending to ME? Everyone is eager to join the fun, and I am glad to know that.
I am now stepping down from my April Swap Loose Ends Soap Box! Time to move ahead. And time to go do the dishes, my least favored of all household tasks. Talk to you again, soon.
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