Did you get to see “Friendship Rings,” the 3104 episode of “Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting,” with very special guest Liz Porter? What a fun quilt she made! On a couple of her episodes in the 3100 series she featured quilts that had a cumulative element to them—they came from a block swap!
Have you ever participated in a block swap? I was so inspired by the quilts that Liz came up with that I picked her brain off-camera about how she put it together so that I can host my own. She had a few ground rules:
- Set a color scheme or palette. Would you like to create bright quilts? Traditional? Red, white and blue? You don’t want everyone to pick blocks to swap that don’t go together, so establish what the “feel” should be.
- Choose your friends carefully… Are you a super precise quilter who rips out seams that get a little “wonky”? If you are, you should invite sewing friends with similar habits so that you aren’t frustrated with what you receive. If you are a little more laid-back, maybe you can open your swap up to sewers of various quilting levels.
- What is the skill level of your participants: expert, intermediate or beginner? Knowing this will help you with the next step.
- What’s the block? In Friendship Rings, strip sets were swapped and there was a minimum and maximum strip size. Maybe you want leaves—it could be any leaf as long as it finishes at the same size. These are just two examples, but the possibilities are as diverse and countless as are quilt styles!
Creating a swap with some of your favorite quilting friends creates an opportunity to explore new quilting styles and techniques and to get inspired by what you receive. It can even help you out of the rut that we quilters sometimes find ourselves in. Maybe you need to do a scrap buster quilt and clean out some of that stash!
Whatever your motivation and ground rules you establish, remember that quilting is a fun and creative form of expression for all quilters to enjoy, share and inspire each other with. Pick some of your quilting buddies and enjoy the process!
Sara Gallegos is the host of the PBS show “Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting” as well as the web series “My First Quilt” and “Absolute Beginner Machine Embroidery.” Follow her on her Facebook page, Sew Positively Sara, or visit her quilt shop Decorative Stitch in Shelby Township, Michigan.