. . . The Basics: Info About PSQ Charm Swaps

This page was updated July, 2020. Changes marked in RED.

August 10, 2020: Sign-up for the August 2020 PSQ Charm Swap is now CLOSED.

The Curious Quilter’s Postage Stamp Quilt 2012-2020 Charm Swaps features several charm swaps, open to all who wish to join the fun. Save your scraps, cut charms, and get ready to share.2020 swap logo

If you have not done so yet, please read the main page called Postage Stamp Quilts Charm Swaps . . . and then come back here!

Please review this page before cutting charms or signing up for a swap, and before emailing me with any questions.

Swap Dates The Basics Let’s Talk Size F.A.Q.’s Newbie Sets

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSwap Dates:
Swappers may sign up at any time during these periods. On the first day of each swap a new post will announce that sign-up is open. Follow the instructions on that post to join that swap. Your charm sets must be cut and ready to mail before you sign-up. Matches will be assigned and emailed to all swappers within a few days of the close of signup.

2020 Swap Signup Dates:
AUGUST 1-9, 2020: August 10, 2020: Sign-up for the August 2020 PSQ Charm Swap is now CLOSED.

Previous  Dates: just in case you are interested. Some of the info on the rules in these may be out of date so refer back here please. October 6-20, 2016, April 15-22, 2015September 16-23, 2015,  Sept. 20-Oct. 5, 2014.  March 14-24, 2014.   March 15-25, 2013.  October 12-20, 2013January 6-18, 2012, , April 6-22, 2012July 6-22, 2012October 6-21, 2012.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com
The Basics:

Cutting and Preparing Charm Sets to Swap

Novelty Charms

  • All charms must be cut from 100% cotton fabric appropriate for quilting. For these swaps, please no flannels or homespuns. Try to avoid using fabrics that you can see through. Remove selvages before cutting.
  • Prewashing of fabric before cutting is preferred. If you are cutting charms from precut strips or packs, prewashing may not be an option.
  • Charms come in many sizes, but for the 2020 swap we are only doing 2 inch squares or 2.5 inch squares. Read Let’s Talk Size for some information that will greatly help you decide what size to use. (I love 2″ charms!) Quilters seeking one inch or 1.5 inch charms should select the two inch swap and plan to trim those charms.
  • Please cut carefully. We are all human, and variations will occur, but accuracy in cutting is appreciated. Charms must be cut, rotary or scissors is fine. (Tearing distorts the grain, which matters on these small pieces, and leaves nearly 1/8-1/4 of an inch of the charm unusable, even in a seam.)
  • We swap sets of 100 charms, and each set should have no duplicate fabric squares.
  • You can swap as many as 8 sets in each size, but you can also decide to only swap one set in one size! It is up to you. BUT, the more sets you swap, the more different fabrics you will get back, so if you can cut two sets or more, I encourage you to do so.
  • All charms in a set of 100 must be the same size.
  • For every five sets of charms that you swap, please also contribute one Newbie Set of 50 charms.  These are donated and gifted to people just starting to collect PSQ Charms or learning to sew.
  • If you cut 5 sets of charms from 500 fabrics, you will have five UNIQUE SETS. Because all these charms are different, you could be assigned 1-5 swap partners. You will receive 500 different fabrics back.
  • If you cut several sets of charms from the same 100 fabrics, they are MATCHING SETS. If you have five matching sets, you will need to be assigned to five swap partners. So, your five sets cut from 100 fabrics will turn into 500 different fabrics coming back to you.
  • Solids, batiks, metallic highlights, and fussy-cut novelty fabric are all acceptable and can add a lot of charm to a Postage Stamp Quilt. Feel free to include them, and if your swap partner does not want to use them, they can pass them along to another quilter. But please, do not send any set that is ALL solids – keep it balanced!

Swapping: Signup, Partners, and Mailing

PSQ Charms 5

  • Each swap will be announced with a post on the start date.
  • That post will list specific directions for joining the swap. Please be sure to state if you have UNIQUE or MATCHING sets as defined above.
  • You can swap up to 8 sets in each size, and may be assigned several swap partners. All sets should already be cut and ready to pack for mailing prior to signing up! Do not count on cutting them after you get your assignments.
  • Participants come from all over the world, and so does the fabric pool that they draw from. For every five sets of 100 charms you are swapping, please include at least one International set. Shipping rate for a small parcel of one set is modest, with US domestic running about USD $2-4.00. International shipping charges vary but are significantly higher,and rising annually. For tips see the postal discussion on the October 6, 2013 post. I recommend getting your envelop or package weighed and using the postage calculator provided by your own local post office.
  • After the signup period closes, swap partners will be assigned and contact details emailed to all swappers.
  • Please allow at least a week for me or my helpers to get all these assignments out to participants!
  • When you receive your swap information, contact your partner/s by email immediately, and give them your mailing information. DO NOT share their information with another swapper!
  • One set of 100 charms 2-inch charms will fit in a standard envelope and can be sent via first class mail. It is recommended that you wrap the set in plastic. Over-size postage rates may apply due to the thickness. 2.5 inch charms may require a slightly larger envelope.
  • When mailing internationally, you may need to fill out customs forms. (Consult your local postmaster with questions.) Please state something simple like Fabric Samples, or Fabric Charms. I state these as a gift with  a $5 value. I also recommend heavier envelopes for international mailing, and enclosing your address info inside the package as well.
  • Mail your parcel! Please, do not chuckle, it seems obvious. But most of the delays in the past swaps came because people failed to get packages off their desk and into the mail. Hopefully all will be mailed within one week of swap assignments.
  • Email your swap partner when you send their charms. Expect that international delivery times will vary. Corona Virus quarantines are still affecting arrival times for some international packages, so be aware, patient, and communicate with your partner/s.
  • When you receive charms from a partner, please email them to let them know their little treasures arrived.
  • If you do not hear from a swap partner within a reasonable amount of time, please email me with the info and I will check on it. Do NOT send nasty notes to the other person, please! It will not help, and besides, there may be an excellent reason for the delay. I am “happy” to be the grouch for you.
  • Should challenges arise between partners, please contact me and let me help. I can run interference, scrape up a new partner, or find some other resolution. I do NOT always succeed though, so please remember, this is a fun event. Yes, you have invested time and money it , but people do have life get in the way sometimes.
  • People who do not mail within a reasonable time, or share contact information between swappers other than as assigned, or fail to resolve problems will be excluded from the next swap.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comLet’s Talk Size.
Yes, size matters! Before you can start to assemble your first postage stamp quilt, you have to decide what size charm squares you want to use. There are quilters who insist that you should use 1.5 inch squares for a postage stamp quilt. But there are also quilters who are just as adamant that a charm size of 2.5 inches is perfect. I have seen stunning quilts made from charms as small as one inch. Because I accidentally started cutting two-inch squares as a child, I have stayed with that.

While you are deciding which size to collect and stitch up, here are some things to consider:

  • The smaller the charm, the more pieces you need to make your quilt.
  • A two-inch charm makes for a 1.5 inch finished square. A one-inch charm makes a finished square a mere half-inch across.
  • The pattern of the fabric shows the most in larger charms, and matters less in smaller squares. There is no right or wrong, they just look different.
  • In scrappy postage stamp quilts, charms are placed in random order.
  • Postage stamp quilts can be watercolor quilts. Prints can alternate with solids. You can color-block your charms. You just need to choose what direction you want to go. Playing with color can be a lot of fun!
  • If you are undecided, you could make 12.5 inch blocks of each, and put them together for your quilt. Or you could make the quilt body with two-inch squares, and the border with one-inch squares. Like I said, there really are no rules.
  • While you may aspire to not have any duplicates squares in your quilt, they are totally acceptable. Over the next months we will talk about this more.
This is what the different size squares look like. This is how 16 of each size look when stitched up into a square.
Charm Size Comparison - cut Charm Size Comparison - stitched

And, looking ahead, this is how many charms you need to create different size quilts. Don’t panic, they go together faster than you may expect.

Charm Size 2.5 in. 2 in. 1.5 in. 1 in.
12×12″ (1 blk.) 36 64 144 576
48×60″ (20 blk.) 720 1,280 2,880 11,520
60×60″ (25 blk.) 900 1,600 3,600 14,400
72×90″ (45 blk.) 1,620 2,880 6,480 25,920
84×96″ (56 blk.) 2,016 3,584 8,064 26,496
96×108″ (72 blk.) 2,592 4,608 10,368 41,472
108×108″ (100 blk.) 3,600 6,400 14,400 57,600

You can see from the chart why most people choose not to make a quilt starting with one inch charms! But they are spectacular, unique, and duplicates disappear. The 2-inch and 2.5-inch sizes are most common in these swaps. But the 2.5-inch charms do not have quite the same effect as the smaller charm option. If you are undecided, why not make up some samples?And yes, people do these quilts with tiny squares as well. Everything from 1.5 down to .5 inch charms are used. The smaller the size, the more likely they are to use a paper-piecing method for stability of seams while working on the quilt.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How many little squares will I need to make my quilt size? Check out Let’s Talk Size, above.
  • Unique sets and matching sets? What do you mean? Please read The Basics: Cutting and Preparing Charm Sets above. The goal of a swap is to share the wealth and diversify everyone’s charm stash. You can turn your duplicates in (via matching sets) for others, and get unique ones back! A duplicate or two may sneak in unintentionally, and everyone just has to cope with those, but I do not want people to get sets with several of each charm.
  • What size charms should I use? This is personal preference, but scanning through all the links on …A Lot of Links to PSQ pages should help you see the variations available.
  • What is the most common size charm being swapped? While purists may seek smaller charms, the two-inch charms are the most popular size for this project. They are large enough to make a quilt quickly, but small enough to get the full effect of a PSQ.
  • I haven’t heard from my swap partner, or received my charms! Please email them to nudge them. If you do not get a response, drop me an email and I will see what I can do.
  • I missed the swap deadline, can I join anyway? Please start cutting and setting up sets to swap in the next round.
  • How can I build up my stash for swapping? Our Newbie Gift Goddess from 2012 BARB K., had a few super ideas for building your stash quickly,:
    1. Join a local quilt group, as quilters are always willing to share the wealth. Ask for small pieces they don’t need anymore, tell them why!
    2. Check at your local quilt shops, one near Barb has a basket that people leave their leftovers!
    3. recycle or free-cycle! Check online for local free-cycle sites, Craigslist, and more. Join these groups locally online and place an ad that you are looking for unwanted fabric suitable for quilting. You will have to pick it up.
    4. Buy SMALL! Buy from your local quilt shop, or the chain stores like Joann’s and Hancock Fabrics. Barb buys a 3″ piece when they are on sale and cuts it into squares. Most of the time the fabric piece is around 35-50 cents. She doesn’t know how small a quilt shop will cut but most Joann’s and Hancock’s will cut as small as 2″ BUT allow for crooked cutting and shrinking and get at least half an inch extra. (Mary says: When I find nifty small novelties, but feel broke, I treat myself to an eighth of a yard, and get as many fussy-cuts as I can out of that!)

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comWelcome new quilters! Newbie Sets
Two Inch Treasure Four SquaresNew quilters may not have 100 different fabrics to cut charms from, but want to grow their charm stash. I started offering a NEWBIE SET system after the second swap, and it has been a great success! When signing up, new quilters should request a NEWBIE SET instead of Unique or Matching sets. Quilters who have stash charms to share can donate NEWBIE SETS for these quilters. This is a donation, not a swap. It is a way that the community of PSQ fans can help new quilters get started on their own fabric charm selection. All donated sets will be divided among NEWBIE SET requests. The success of this program depends on the generosity for all swappers!

  • Quilters with stash can set up a NEWBIE SET of 50 charms, cut from 50 fabrics. If you are swapping 5 or more sets you must donate at least one Newbie Set. These are GIFTS and you will NOT receive charms from the Newbies.
  • When signing up, state how many NEWBIE SETS of 50 you have, in addition to the number of UNIQUE  SETS of 100.
  • Experienced quilters will get the email address of the new, stash-less quilter. They should write to request mailing information.
  • Please email your new quilting partner when you mail the set so they know it is coming.
  • New quilters receiving NEWBIE SETS should email their donors when the sets arrive. Hey folks, it is a gift, it needs a thank you!
  • New quilters will receive from one to ten( or more) NEWBIE SETS depending on the number of donated sets..
  • You can only be a NEWBIE once! After that, please work to join a swap.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comsignature©2012-2016, The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com.

47 Responses to . . . The Basics: Info About PSQ Charm Swaps

  1. Pingback: Postage Stamp Quilt Fun: Swap FAQ’s & Flickr Group | The Curious Quilter

  2. Pingback: Sorting and Cutting? Save Your ‘Ugly’ Fabrics! | The Curious Quilter

  3. Patricia Faye says:

    I would like to join the swap, but am unsure as to where to find the information.

    • Patricia, and others –

      Thanks for asking. This year there will be FOUR swaps, January, April, July, and October. Each has it’s own start date, found under SWAP DATES above. When that swap starts, there will be a post announcing it, and you can sign up then. More questions? Please review THE BASICS, above!

      – Mary

    • Ada dalley says:

      I would like to sign up for the July swap. Where do I go
      Thanks ada

  4. tiffangel03 says:

    OOOHHHH!!! I am looking forward to this newbie swap in April!! I would love to join in with the unique sets but I dont have a stash yet!! Im so looking forward to signing up!!

  5. Pingback: Time for the April PSQ Charm Swap – Sign up now! | The Curious Quilter

  6. Lyn in Ohio says:

    Oh, I have lots of fabric but no time to cut just now. Glad too see two more swaps this year, I will be there!

  7. quiltyinid says:

    Hi!! Don’t know if my request for a NEWBIE SET went through or not.
    1. MRuth
    2. 2″ size
    3. No Int’l at this time

  8. carol Tipton says:

    Hi I’m a newbie. I hope I’m in the right to sign up for july’s newbie sets.I would love to do 1.5 Thanks

  9. Leslie says:

    I would like to make a 1.5 postage stamp quilt

    1. Leslie
    2. 1.5 squares
    3. International OK

  10. marie says:

    I am new and would like to sign up for your next swap. marisky

  11. Did I miss the post for the October swap? thanks!

  12. merrie says:

    i’m wondering too melissa….thanks for all the fun we’ve had with this swap this year and am looking forward to this last one…

  13. Eileen Kirby says:

    I would like to sign up for the Jan swap. Like 2″ squares. Have 4 matched sets of 200 squares.

  14. Lois Olsen says:

    I have my 2″ squares ready and eagerly await the October 2013 swap. Thank you for organising this.

  15. Susan says:

    I am anxiously awaiting, too. This will be my first swap!

  16. Lois says:

    It is 12:15 a.m. on 13th October here and I’m getting anxious about the swap post.

  17. Peggy Malone says:

    Please help. I don’t see where I am to “Sign Up” , Thanks Peggy

  18. Deb Lovejoy says:

    I have just recently begun quilting although I have sewn for many years. I love the look of these quilts and in fact sewed my first block today 🙂 I only have 87 different fabrics though in my stash and would love to be able to receive some newbie packages. How do I request those? Thank you 🙂 Deb

  19. Pingback: Back to Blogging, and the next PSQ Charm Swap! | The Curious Quilter

  20. Pingback: Quilt Square Swap | Jess Made This

  21. hello! I’m not a newbie anymore, since I’ve got about 250 different fabrics ^^, but the 2014 swaps are over 😦 when and where can I sign up for 2015 swaps? thanks a lot!

  22. Pingback: Because Sometimes You Just Have to Cut Fabric | Quilting and Stuff by Knitnoid

  23. Pingback: April 2015 Postage Stamp Quilt Fabric Charm Swap Sign-up is Open | The Curious Quilter

  24. Susan Berg says:

    I just discovered this site. Unfortunately too late to participate in the swap. Just checking for next year. I would like to participate. Will be happening in 2017 or is there another one sooner?

  25. Peggy says:

    Hi there, just found this site – sounds like fun. But I am not a pre-washer – will I be rejected?

    • no, you can still participate.

      BUT I do strongly recommend pre-washing as most quilt cottons shrink 5-8%.

      That may not sound like much bit consider this…

      If you lose a scant 1/16th of an inch on a charm when the quilt is washed , times 30-35 charms stitched in a row, it will have lost an inch. So your planned quilt may not be the size you expected.

      On most quilts consistency is the key, always pre-wash or never. But if never, your unwashed finished quilt WILL shrink far more than your pre-washed one.

      Aside from shrinkage, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND pre-washing to remove some of the chemicals that go into fabrics (yes, even some “organic| fabrics. One fabric manufacturer how has plants in US, India and China has a list of over 10,000 chemicals used to soften, dye, and otherwise modify cotton fabrics during production.

      Read this:

  26. Shelly Richards says:

    If you are signing up as a newbie, are you just getting the donated newbie packs, or are you also swapping with people (in addition to getting the donated newbie pack)?

    • You are either a newbie or a swapper. You cannot be both. If you have enough stash to put together set/s of 100 different fabrics you should be a swapper. Newbie status is meant for people who are still stash building.

  27. Anita says:

    I would like to join is it too late? I want to make a 3 inch flower garden. I am a beginning quilter

  28. Pingback: I’m back . . . in time for a PSQ Swap! | The Curious Quilter

  29. Pingback: Q & A’s – August 2020 PSQ Charm Swap | The Curious Quilter

  30. Pingback: Sign-Up is OPEN for August Charm Swap | The Curious Quilter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s