Joining a Quilting Exchange

What is an exchange?

-- An exchange is just what it sounds like. A bunch of people make up blocks or fabric cuts and trade them 'round with other quilters.

What do I have to do to join one?

-- Usually you need to send an e-mail message to the host of the exchange and say that you want to be included. The host will then communicate with you if you have further questions.

Is this for real? How do I know I'll get something in return?

-- Online swaps are very real. People just like you sign up to participate, make their blocks, and mail them out, trusting everyone else to participate too. In the three years I have been participating in exchanges I have never come across one that was a "scam" where I didn't get something back.

How do I know that what I get in the exchange will be any good?

-- The exchange is only as good as you make it. You have to trust that the other members will select good fabrics and be accurate with their cutting and piecing. And you, in turn, should be just as careful to live up to their expectations of you.
More questions answered

General advice for joining exchanges:

--make sure you can follow through on your committment if you decide to join. Will you have the time and resources to participate?

--send your request to join to the hostess, not to the message board or newsgroup where the exchange is posted. Nobody wants to read "sign me up too!" except the person running the swap.

--read and follow the rules the hostess makes up. Ask questions if you need clarification. The only stupid question is the one you don't ask.

--if the rules say to use blue fabric, use blue, not purple or green.

--mail your exchanges on time, or early. Don't make the rest of the group wait for you to get around to finishing your set.

--use the proper amount of postage when you mail your package.

--make sure you have enoungh return postage in STAMPS not a meter if you are going to have swaps mailed back to you.

--if you have to drop out, let the host know as soon as possible. Long explanations are not necessary.

--if you must be late mailing your exchange, notify the people involved as soon as possible. Tolerance exists, when it has a reason to.

--be sure you understand the pattern you are to use. If you need to request a copy from the host, ask which book it can be found in, or try to describe the variation you think you have.

--do the best sewing job you can, if you are making blocks. If nothing else, it will make the others feel guilty about the poor sewing they did.

--use decent fabric. Nobody wants to get cheap or poorly produced fabric in their packets. You might try to include at least one "designer" fabric in your exchange.

--be careful with your cutting. If you are using a rotary cutter make sure there are no "nicks" in the pieces you are sending.

--cut the selvedges off your fabric before you send it out. Do not include the selvedges as part of the yardage unless you are mailing quarter yards or larger.

--wrap your fabric or blocks in plastic, or use a plastic baggie or envelope to protect them, especially in winter.

--enclose a little tag or label with your name and e-mail address so the recipient knows who the fabric came from. You can include your street address in case the postal service separates the swap packet from it's envelope.

--write your name in a discreet place on the back of the block on a seam, in permanent ink.

--if you know the name of the block pattern, include it on a tag or note with the block. This helps others learn new patterns.

Where do I find exchanges to join?

--On America Online: GoTo Keyword "Quilting" and look under Message Boards for the block and fabric swaps.

--On Compuserve: Go "quilting" or "sewing".

--The Quiltbee web site.

--Watch the usenet newsgroup rec.crafts.textiles.quilting for postings about exchanges. Search for recent swaps by going to and using the "power search" option to specify the title of the group and the words to search by.

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