Quilt Guild Swap & Challenge Ideas

Friday, September 21, 2018

Hi there!

Recently I've been thinking back on some fun swaps and challenges I've participated in over the years (online and through my local quilt guilds) so I thought I'd share about some of them here in case you're in need of some ideas.  I'm always on the lookout for new, fresh swap/challenge ideas too so I'd love to hear your ideas at the end of this post!

You can break swaps up into 2 different categories: fabric swaps and block swaps.

Sometimes block swaps can be a bit tricky (especially if you're the OCD type and are worried about block sizes finishing correctly).  Maybe I'm a little bit this way, so I tend to participate in fabric swaps more often than block swaps.  That way you can you can exchange with your friends but you have more control over the finished product.


Here are a few ideas for fabric swaps:

1. First, plan a year's worth of monthly themes 
(ie. January - Winter, February - Hearts, March - Green, 
April - Swirls, May - Flowers, etc.).  Have 12 people sign up to participate.  Each month everyone brings 1 fat quarter that matches the theme for the month and puts it in a basket as they walk into the guild meeting.  After all 12 fqs are in the basket, draw one of the participants' names to win those 12 fqs.  The next month, everyone still contributes their fq's but the previous winner(s) names do not go into the draw to win.  Each participant will eventually win a fat quarter bundle at some point throughout the year.  You could call this a Fat Quarter Frenzy Fabric Swap.  Encourage the participants to take no more than 12 months following their win to make a project with their 12 fqs.

[example of a red, white and blue Fat Quarter Frenzy Fabric Swap bundle]

2. Choose a theme (ie. low volumes, tiny florals, Disney, etc.).
Have as many people that would like to participate bring a fat quarter, a 10" square, a 5" square or a 2-1/2" x WOF strip for each person participating.  This is a nice way to get out of your comfort zone or simply get a good assortment of prints without having to purchase all of them.  In 2017, I participated in an online swap of tiny floral fabrics.  We were told how much fabric to buy, how to cut it to yield the necessary number of pieces, the hostesses shipping address and when to have it shipped to her by.  She gave very specific instructions and rules and made sure there would be no duplicates.  Then the host of the swap divvied them all up and shipped bundles of 42 assorted tiny floral 10" squares to each person.  A small fee was necessary to help cover return shipping.  Here's the beautiful bundle of fabrics I received:

3.  Present each swap participant with a beautiful photograph featuring an inspiring color scheme.  Have everyone return the following month with enough fat quarters (or whatever predetermined size pieces of fabric) that features one of the colors pictured in the photograph.  They should bring the same amount of fqs/pieces of fabric as there are swap participants.  The assortment of fabrics they receive in the end should be a fun representation of the photograph (it could be surprising, depending on what colors people chose!)  Note, we did this swap in my local quilt guild.  Everyone decided beforehand that they wanted to make my Fall Flowers quilt so after divvying up the fqs we also gave them the pattern.  They chose their own background fabric and made their own quilts but the Fall Flowers were made with fabrics from the swap.

[Image by Lulie Wallace via The Jealous Curator]

Block Swap Ideas

Here are a few ideas for block swaps:

1. Choose blocks that have some room for squaring up, such as these heart applique blocks.  
We swapped 1 large heart and 2 small hearts with each person.  
See THIS post for more details. 

Or these Plus Blocks.  Click HERE for the free instructions
(excuse the note at the beginning about how many we were to exchange, etc.).

There are so many more blocks out there that allow for trimming down.  But, you can swap blocks that don't allow room for trimming too.  Any block will work really, I just find that no matter how much you stress using an accurate 1/4" seam allowance, without fail there will be some blocks that end up too small or too big.  So it's just my personal preference to swap blocks that allow for trimming.  (With that being said, I have seen many beautiful quilts that were the result of a swap and even if points were cut off in the making you can't really tell in the end unless you look close.)

2. Choose a block pattern for the swap.  Have each participant give a colorful scrap of fabric (for inspiration) and the required amount of background fabric of their choice to each of the other participants (given in a ziplock bag with their name on it).  Then each participant makes a block (or two) using fabrics that coordinate with each persons fabric scrap and gives it to them the following month.  That's what we did for these Spool quilts:

[Sassy Stitchers circa 2013]

More info about these Spools quilts can be found in THIS post and THIS post.

3. Try learning a new technique together (such as paper piecing) and then swap the finished blocks.  One night, we each learned how to make a set of identical half square triangles.  We asked that everyone use 1 red and 1 cream fabric for their set.  At the end of the night, we put them into piles and were able to take a couple of each of the different fabric combos.  We went home with a scrappy assortment of HSTs.  HERE is a similar pattern to what we used to make the HSTs.  I ended up making this flag quilt with mine:

Guild Challenge Ideas

1. This next idea was a challenge to try new blocks and test our creativity!  Together, our small guild, picked out several blocks we liked from the book, Around the Block with Judy Hopkins.  Then we each went home and made the blocks in our own time and in our own color scheme.  We put them together however we liked and shared them later in the year.  It was fun to see how different everyone's quilts turned out.  Here's mine:

[More details about this quilt can be found HERE and HERE.]

2. The Mystery Bag Challenge.  I learned about this idea from my grandmother many years ago.  She had done it in her quilt guild and I passed the idea on to my quilt guild.  Put two crayons in a small paper bag and seal it shut.  Make enough bags as there are participants in the swap.  Let each person choose a bag.  The challenge is they have to make a quilt using some shade of just those two colors (they can also add in black or white if they desire). This challenge helps quilters get outside of their color comfort zone and it's also fun to see the inspiration colors turn into a quilt (tell them to hang on to their crayons to show with the finished quilt, down the road).

The next swap my little quilt group is doing is a 4-Patch exchange using 3" bright/low volume squares.  I'm excited to get making!

I'd love to hear your ideas for guild swap/challenge ideas.  Have you done anything creative in your group?  Please share in the comment section below.

Thanks for stopping by today!


  1. This year our Quilt Guild did a Quilt Challenge where each member had to select a fabric that could be Fussy Cut along with fabric that read solids. For 6 months, a new Technique was introduced, and members made a block(s) of their size choice using that technique and included their Fussy cut fabric. At the end, the quilts will be donated to our local Gavers Breast Cancer Center. Technique and announcements can be found on IG under #CLMQG2019FUSSYCUT


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