Updated for 2020.
People had so much fun with the The Curious Quilter’s Postage Stamp Quilt 2012 to 2016 Charm Swaps that I have decided to continue the swaps at least through 2015. The 2020 swap signup window will be August 1-9, 2020. These swap will follow the rules listed in the signup posts (posting on August 1, 2020) and instructions cited here.
Before you can signup to swap, there are some rules you need to understand, and some prep work to do! No, I am not trying to be an officious ogre, but these swaps get big sometimes, and this ensures that things go as smoothly as possible.
1. READ: The Basics. This is an absolute MUST, even for return swappers! There you can learn:
- What three sizes of charms you can choose to swap.
- How many charms in one swap set, no duplicate fabric charms allowed.
- What fabrics are allowed, and what is not.
- That your charm sets MUST be cut and counted out before you can signup to swap!
- And you will find many tips for prepping your charms for the swap.
2. PREP: Sort your scraps and get the charm sets ready! Once you decide on the charm size/s you want to swap (you can pick more than one size) start getting the stacks ready right away. Find some pointers here:
- Include friends in the fun! First, it makes for more swappers, and more variety of fabrics for all swappers. Secondly, if you can’t come up with the number of non-duplicate charms needed for a set, have a friend add the reset and split the charms you get back in return!
- When you read The Basics, you get some great info to start with, like what fabrics you simply cannot include in the swap sets.
- Find some pointers about cutting many sets of charms, and spare sizes for your own use, out of fat quarters in my 2011 post Things I Have Learned While Cutting Squares.
- Get tips on adding fun novelty fabrics to your stacks, and your quilts at Cutting Novelty Charms for Postage Stamp Quilts.
- About the time that you (or your family) begin to think that you have become obsessed with small squares of fabric, read Thoughts from a Fabriholic, No Obsessions Here! and see why my stash of tens of thousands (or more) “two-inch treasures” made me decide to start the swaps.
- Cut carefully. It’s in The Basics, but rotary cutting is preferred, tearing fabric can get you banned from swapping here forever. And remember that, when you get your charms from others, even the most careful quilter cuts things slightly different from one cutting session to the other. Heck, I have days when I cut a tad generously and days when I am stingy without even trying. (Unless you use die cutter, but there’s a ton of fabric wasted there.) PSQs are very forgiving–they are “busy” to look at and slight imperfections in matching corners will not make an ugly quilt!
- Cut some NEWBIE sets too. please (in The Basics!) New quilters with limited stash become future swappers pretty fast! Share your obsession. Oops, did I say that out loud? IF YOU ARE SWAPPING FIVE or more sets of 100 charms, you MUST put at least one newbie set of 50 charms up for donation. More is even better!
- Decide how many sets you are willing to swap with people in other countries. For every five sets of 100 charms you are swapping, please include at least one International set. Most swappers are in the US but there are tons from Canada and Australia, and large handfuls from other places as well. Since 2012 we have had swappers from every continent except Antarctica. Even though it will cost more to mail your International sets, you will be delighted with what you get back. And hey, all you US swappers, remember that all of those swappers NOT in the US are reading this part and thinking, HUH!, knowing nearly all of their swappers will be requiring International postage rates.
- A 2013 discussion of postage rate changes and International mailing is included on the post Next Postage Stamp Quilt Charm Swap Starts On October 12, 2013.
- Do note that International rates for all countries have gone up, often significantly, since that time. If in doubt about shipping your charms to your International partners, email them for guidance.
- SPECIAL NEW NOTICE FOR GUILDS AND MULTI-QUILTER HOUSEHOLDS: Households with more than one swapper, and guilds with multiple swappers, please note other members of your household and/or guild that are swapping on the signup form where indicated. Understand that I will make every effort to not give you swap partners from that list, or to overlap with others in your household BUT that may not be possible. Note: If every guild member has unique sets of charms, not charms from a shared pile of scraps at the guild, they can sign up as individuals. They may be matched with other guild members. Trust me—monitoring this gets messy for me, so help make my life simpler by letting me know on the signup form, available 8/1/2020.
3. When we swap: Remember please that this is a process! Despite the nifty bit of software that “harvests” the swapping data you supply when you signup, it takes at least a week for me and a helper to get all the matching done, and send out the swap emails. Your patience is appreciated! And yes, I have a family, a lot of other things on my plate, and a life beyond the swaps. Actually during swap season I never get time to sew!
4. Dream and Plan! How will you use your charms? Yes, you can simply collect, but I really encourage you to start sewing with them right away. Here are some ideas for that:
- Check out our very own Flickr group, and be inspired! when you complete a project with Swap Charms, you can post it there!
- Read about PSQs: Playing With Color and explore options for random or planned placement of colors in your quilt.
- While there are many ways to assemble a PSQ, check out my tutorial: Postage Stamp Quilt Block, my demonstration, posted 8/31/2011.
- Take a look at …A Lot of LINKS to PSQ fun things! Great inspiration, but I admit it needs updating. I hope to do that before the October 2016 signup starts.
- Find me on Instagram and say HI to me as mary_thecuriousquilter . If you aren’t on Instagram, there is an abundantly prolific world of quilters out there who will inspire you every day.
- Plan to have some FUN!