Quilt Block Swaps

Everyone who joins a block swap is excited about getting new blocks back.  Being a swap hostess over many years, I have had the opportunity to see all levels of workmanship.  If you're a beginner don't be afraid to test the swap waters.  We all have to start somewhere and participating in a swap is one of the best ways to learn new things. 

Many swaps have a rule that if the block does not 'measure up', that the hostess has the option to return the block - unswapped (in other words, you will receive your own block back). Just be aware that some swappers/hostesses can be a bit particular about the quality of the blocks received. That means if you don't follow the rules, you might get YOUR blocks returned unswapped.

Follow the Set Guidelines

Each swap hostess sets the guidelines for the swap. The guidelines are the "rules" of the swap. These guidelines are not negotiable. It is important that everyone follow the guidelines. Be sure to read the guidelines several times BEFORE joining the swap. If any part of the guidelines are unclear, email the host/hostess for clarification before you join.

 If you don't agree with the guidelines....don't join the swap. 

 If you are not willing to accept the hostess' decisions.... don't join the swap.

If you ever have a question about something, don't hesitate to ask your hostess. Even if you think it is a silly question, it is always better to ask.....  There are no such things as silly questions.

Due Date 

In order for your hostess to complete the swap, please respect the due date that has been set.  Know where you are mailing to and make sure you mail your blocks in time to reach their destination.

Probably one of the rudest things you can do is to drop out of the swap and not let your hostess know. Life happens to all of us - and the hostesses understand that. Please have the courtesy to let her know that you need to drop out.


Not everyone can afford to use 100% quilt shop quality fabrics for their blocks, but you should try to use at least one high quality fabric.  However, you MUST check the guidelines to see if it is required or not. It is not fair to the swappers who DO send 'quilt shop quality' fabrics to receive poor quality fabrics from Wally World or Hobby Lobby. While the hostess may not mind, other swappers can (and will) harbor ill feelings.

Fabric Colors

When I plan a swap,  the first thing I determine is the theme of the swap.  Then I decide what color scheme I want to be used.  If your hostess has stated a color preference, it is your job to make sure you follow that color scheme.  Pay special attention to the background color if one is specified!  If she says "No WOW"....that's what she means.  Here are some terms you will frequently see in swaps.

    • WOW - White On White
    • ICE - Ivory, Cream or Ecru
    • BITE - Beige, Ivory, Tan, Ecru
    • Muslin - Bleached or Unbleached
    • Sets - Quantity of the same fabric or block (i.e. no more than 8 sets)
    • Off White - there can be a wide variety in this....from parchment to light tan
    • Squishie - Fabric or blocks going through the mail
    • TOT or Tone on Tone -A print that has a background color and an allover print of the same color but a different hue/shade

Theme - Fabric Color And/Or Style

This can be anything from the color of the fabrics, to an 'idea' for the block.  This is what excites people and gets us to join a swap and is also usually the easiest thing for us to comply with.  However, if the fabric is supposed to be PINK, it should be a Tone-On-Tone or a fabric that reads as pink.

Block Size 

Pay close attention to size.  Swaps can be either a determined size or "sampler" swap where there is an acceptable range of sizes. 

Please ensure that your pieced blocks are done accurately and neatly. Trim excess threads, and measure your block to ensure that is is the right size, and that the block is square. If you do not have an accurate 1/4" seam allowance, consider using a ruler to actually draw your seam line so that it is accurate and consistent throughout.

Fabric Preparation

Be sure to follow the guidelines in regard to washing, cutting, and mailing the fabric, or squares. In general, selvages should ALWAYS be removed before cutting your fabric (they should not be included in the final measurement). The exception would be in swapping fat-quarters or fat-eighths.

Pre-wash Fabrics or Not

This should be specified in the guidelines whether or not fabrics must be prewashed. Sometimes it is acceptible to mark on the attached name label whether the fabrics are pre-washed or not. Caution should be used when washing fabric. Do not use heavy smelling detergents, or fabric softeners. If you remove the fabric from the dryer while it is still slightly damp, you will generally not have static problems. Keep in mind, fabric does shrink. Generally, purchasing an extra 1/4 yard of fabric will save you in the event of heavy shrinkage.

Labeling - Packaging - Mailing - click for details

International Swappers

Swappers from outside the USA should not be ignored. Many times they have access to different fabrics and have different styles/methods.  I just ask that international swappers send me either fabric or local goodies in an amount they think will cover my cost of return postage for them.  If the hostess has not stated her policy on international swappers, please ask her to be sure. Keep in mind that travel time for the 'squishies' can take longer when going overseas. International swappers should allow for more time for the Post Office to do their thing.... just sayin'. USA swappers should not be expected to pay international costs. Sorry folks.

Confidentiality and Privacy

The information that you receive in a swap is often times very confidential in nature. Decentralized (swaps sent to a hostess) swaps involve sending a mailing list of a particular number of participants to each member. This information is the participant's name, mailing address, and sometimes, phone numbers. This information should not be sold or used in mass mailings that do not pertain to the specific swap.

Bcck to SWAPs

Copyright Betty Baker - Shadywood Quilts - 2001, updated 2020, updated Apr 2022