Q & A’s – August 2020 PSQ Charm Swap

2020 swap logo

The August 2020 Postage Stamp Charm Swap sign-up window is opening on August 1st.  I have been gathering questions from past and future swappers, and am trying to answer them here.  Please, if you have not yet read and come to understand the info in Postage Stamp Charm Swaps and The Basics, read those first!

How many swappers will take part in this swap?

I wish I could answer that question, but I really can’t. It has been four years since i did a PSQ Charm Swap, and my blog was silent in between. Some followers have fallen off the cutting board so to speak, but my Instagram presence has added a lot of interested people. I am hoping to hit at least 100 swappers. My cutoff for this round is 200, as my sanity would be in jeopardy after that.

Fabric Charms Flight Paths

The first PSQ charm swap in 2012 sent 541 little parcels of 100 charms, from 59 swappers, flying all over the world.

How might current COVID/Corona Virus restrictions affect shipping, especially when sending items to different countries?

Not crossing borders: Swaps occurring between two people in the same country should be expected to move at the same rate as their other mail. This is good news for a high percentage of swappers – people in Australia, Canada, and the United States – as I can often provide them with many partners in their home country if needed.

Crossing borders: In the past, the speed of parcel transport depended on the location of the swapper. Now we have to include the possibilities of quarantines, lack of available commercial services to move letters and parcels, and many other things that might delay these little delights from flying off to their new homes.

Increased cost to mail: In some places, free-market pricing increases are occurring due to shipping shortages. Be sure to review the answer to the next question.

Any more tips for shipping /posting these?

Plan: Plan your parcels for minimum size, and keep them simple.  Always include the shipping info insider you parcel – clearly visible – as well as outside. While many swappers like to include little trinkets or gifts or even chocolate, these things will add to the expense of shipping even within country.

One-hundred two-inch charms can easily be laid out in two rows across a standard piece of copy paper, with the paper folded letter-style to contain them. That will fit flat in a #10 envelop, and can usually mail as a letter  (but confirm it at you postal office!) A hundred 2.5-inch charms will go in a #14 envelop.

Research: Check out both different package options such as flat envelops, bubble envelops, small boxed, etc. but also compare your local mailing service with things like FedEx or UPS. Sometimes their rates are better, or their time guarantees are better.

Communicate! First off – introduce yourself and share mailing info. Then, when you post the packet, email them with the date, tracking info, expected delivery date window, and tell them what postal carrier you used. That way you both can track the parcel, or have the basic info to track it down if the need arises.

I am a returning swapper. Will I have repeat swappers in my set this time?

Maybe or maybe not. That depends upon how many people sign up. I generally try to not repeat, but this time it will be harder. During my blog time off, my old computer lost its mind, and along with that the old swap spreadsheets. However, knowing all you scrappy quilt addicts, i suspect you have some new and different fabrics in your stash after four years.

Just be mindful, if you decide to “re-swap” some of the sets you have received in prior swaps, you do not want to return a set to the person who originally sent it to you. Sorry I can’t give a better answer!

Help! Matching Sets and Unique Sets have me confused!

Whether you are swapping matching or unique sets, NO SET should have a duplicate fabric charm in it. The point of this swap is to build your variety of charms. The most amazing Postage Stamp Quilts come from having no duplicates in them. When you have matching sets, each set must go to a different swap partner. When you have unique sets, you could conceivably swap multiple sets between you. As a swapper you may build some sets of matching and some unique sets. Label them so you can keep them straight during the swap.

Matching Sets: In its purest form, you start with a set of 100 different fabrics. Then you decide how many sets you want to swap. Say you are swapping 5 sets. You need to cut 5 charms out of each fabric. Presto. you have 5 matching sets – one each to swap with 5 swappers.

In a more typical variation of a matching set, consider this example: Start with a set of 72 fabrics that you can cut 5 charms out of each. That leaves you short 28 charms per set  (140 charms.) You might find 28 fabrics to cut 5 charms out of each (140 charms). What a quick solution!

But more likely it will be messier than that, and you will have to keep yourself focused as you count out sets. You might find 14 fabrics you can cut 4 charms out of (56 charms), 10 fabrics you can cut 3 charms from (30 charms,) 17 fabrics you can cut 2 out of (34 charms)and 2- fabrics you can cut one charm out of (20 charms). That makes a total of 140 charms to complete your sets. Despite the fact that these sets have variations between them, for the most part they are the same. They are all matching sets.

Unique Sets: With unique charm sets, not only do you have no duplicates in one stack of 100 charms, but you have no duplicates in any of the sets you create. Again, let’s say you decide to swap 5 sets of charms. You pull out fabrics and discover that you have many smaller scraps, but also a copious number of fabrics. Between your tiny scraps and larger fabric pieces, if you find 500 fabrics, you can easily cut one charm from each to create 5 unique sets of 100 charms. If another swapper is also swapping with 500 fabrics in 5 sets of unique charms, you could simply have one swap partner (but a larger parcel) to deal with – in theory!

Before you choke over that number of fabrics, a surprising number of people who have been quilting for most of their lives have that. many fabrics. This is a great moment to share some and reflect on ways to let go of more fabric. Watch my blog for some posts on that topic – coming soon! 

Are solids acceptable in a set?

Yes. But again no duplicates. You could have a pale blue and a navy blue charm, but not two navy blue charms. And no set should have more than 1-10 solid charms in it.

Charm Size Comparison - stitchedWhat size is the most popular for swapping?

Past swaps have shown a pretty even split between 2.5-inch and 2-inch charms. We have also swapped 1.5-inch charms but relatively few people swapped that size.

In this swap we are only swapping 2.5 and 2-inch charms. If you want to make a quilt with smaller charms you should cut and swap either 2.5 or 2-inch charms , and cut down the ones you receive.

Can these be English Paper Pieced (EPP) together? Should they be?

Well, yes! You can assemble yours any way you choose. If you work with tiny charms like 1-inch charms or smaller it might make sense. Or really want the portability it might make sense. Or if you are striving for perfect corners. I have seen pictures of EPP Postage Stamp Quilts with charms cut as small as 3/4 inches on Pinterest boards and elsewhere.

But in my humble opinion . . . (hey it is my blog) . .  .  I do not recommend it! Maybe it is because of my low vision. Or because teeny tiny hand work gives me finger cramps. but the process of chain-piecing pairs together, pressing them, then chaining them together into four squares, and building on that to create a scrappy random quilt – I love the process. And to me the fact that sometimes my corners windup a tad but askew does n;t matter a bit. These quilts are such blissfully scrappy gems that you don’t really see that. If the Quilt Police do not approve, well too bad! As I said , that’s my humble opinion.

Check out my demo of how i create a block here.

Can I request special things, like more low-value charms or lots of novelties?

No.It is boggling enough to get several sets of 100 charms ready without adding more layers of sorting to the project. Please share what you have, and accept what you get.

Can I send my Newbie/s more than 50 charms?

Certainly, and they will probably love it. As a swapper, your Newbies are receiving gifts so charms from you and perhaps other swappers. They will not have anything to send back except their thanks. But it sure is fun to share the wealth and help someone build there stash, isn’t it?

I am going to be on vacation in mid-August, so mailing my sets might be late. Is that alright?

The key here is that communication I talked about above. Tell your partners upfront that you will be out of town and return hoe one [insert your date]. Then be sure to let them know when you post them.

People have other interruptions pop up. They get sick, have family emergencies, and lots more. Keep the communication open and follow through as soon as you can, and be gracious to each other, please!

Why is the sign-up window so long, and why is there a delay before the swap partners are assigned?

I learned early on that some people do not decide to swap, or hear about the swap, until the sing up starts. It gives them time to prep. And others may have vacation plans then, and know they can’t reach a computer to sign up until later in the week.

I do cut off signup early if it hits 200 swappers. I have also been known to tuck someone in shortly after the deadline if circumstances seem appropriate.

Seriously Mary, it seems like you have enough on your plate right now!! Why are you doing this?

I love these quilts. I love seeing the long-term friendships that have grown even across oceans, and I love seeing all the amazing creative efforts and inspiring ideas all of YOU have! Yes, it is a lot of work, and i do have a couple of ‘angels’ who help when needed. New angels are always welcome. Email me!

REMINDER: You can swap up to eight sets in each size of charms, if you want. but you can simply swap 1-28 sets in either size – no need to do both sizes.

Signature  Copyright 2020, The Curious Quilter, curiousquioter.net








About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mom & gramma, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
This entry was posted in PostageStamp Quilts/Charm Swaps and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Q & A’s – August 2020 PSQ Charm Swap

  1. Lea Springer says:

    Bless you for re-starting this exchange again specially after all you have gone through! I can’t participate this time around, but I would encourage anyone who hasn’t participated before to do so. Mary, you mentioned friendships having been developed even across oceans through this exchange and I am proof of that! At the age of 7 my family left Sweden and during one exchange I actually received a packet of charms from a Swedish quilter! But, even more, serendipitous was that she lived in the exact same small city that I had left. What were the chances of that?! Four years ago, I met up with her in Sweden and we have kept in touch via email & Facebook ever since then.

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