I know that some people sew ahead in anticipation of upcoming Tell Me A Story (TMAS) block swaps. So, for this round, you may swap non-themed blocks but also have the option of joining a “How Does Your Garden Grow?” round. If you join a general round, you can make TMAS blocks with any theme. If you join the “How Does Your Garden Grow” group, they should have gardening themes and that is wide open–flowers, veggies, gardening tools, or even your favorite pollinators.
Blocks must be sent by May 26th Please honor this deadline out of courtesy for your teammates and me, your host. Thank you!
Why swap? Well, if you are working on this quilt, you quickly find yourself running out of fussy cuts from your stash. By swapping, you will receive a variety of fussy cut blocks to include in your quilt top. You also meet new quilting friends from all over the world and have a reason to run to your mailbox!
Look at the beautiful quilt I finished with swap blocks!
If you are new to paper piecing, I have a YouTube video available to help you. Find it here.
In order for a swap to be successful, there need to be guidelines. Here they are:
Making the Blocks
1. You must purchase a copy of my book, Intentional Piecing, in order to get the Tell Me A Story block pattern. Signed copies are available in my Etsy shop with inexpensive media mail shipping to US customers. You can also find my book on Amazon (this is an affiliate link), or at your local quilt shop/book shop, or your town library. If you are in Europe, Search Press may be the best place to order online. The block pattern cannot be purchased independently due to copyright reasons. Please remember that it is against copyright law to make copies and distribute them as well.
2. The idea of the Tell Me A Story block is that you are telling stories with your fabric selections. It’s silly fun. You can watch my “Anatomy of a Tell Me A Story Block” video that I made to illustrate this point, or look at these examples.
This example was made for the “How Does Your Garden Grow?” themed swap. This little bee is flying over my garden pollinating and laughing at me. She is saying, “Amy thinks she is doing all the work with her watering, raking, planting, but really, it’s all meeeeeee!” Note that my center is a fussy cut, surrounded by black triangles, then a border that helps to tell the story and finally, low volume outer triangles. In this case, I happened to have a garden low volume print.
If you join the general round, tell a story in a similar fashion but you are not constrained by theme.
I would love it if you would share pictures of your blocks and tell their stories on Instagram using the hashtag #tellmeastoryblockswap. If you do not use IG, that’s ok too. It is not required, but it might be fun to share your stories with your partners when you send your blocks.
3. The fussy cuts should be modern fabrics or quirky Japanese prints. I suggest Cotton + Steel, Ruby Star Society, Art Gallery Fabrics, Heather Ross, Riley Blake, Dear Stella, etc. Avoid children’s novelty prints (cartoon like, babyish, primary colors, licensed prints–stay with the more modern aesthetic). Please try to find fabrics with this look so that the resulting quilt tops hold together with blocks that have the same feel.
4. The inner triangles must be pieced in black. You may use any quilt shop quality fabric but it must be a solid black.
5. The borders can be any color to coordinate with the fussy cut, but should tell a story as described above.
6. The outermost triangles must be what I call “way low volume” fabrics. Here is a photo of what I mean. The fabrics should be white or off white and any print must be white, light beige or light gray. I don’t want any colors added in these triangles.
7. Make sure that you photocopy your foundation pattern at 100% so that it measures 6 1/2″ square unfinished (including the seam allowances).
8. When you are piecing your block, take note that you are working with the foundation facing in the correct orientation. When you look at the front of your finished block and turn it over, like the page of a book, the letters and numbers should be in the correct direction (not upside down or sideways.)
9. Please press well between each step so that your blocks are well sewn and will fit together well with the other blocks. Creases and folds in your fabric can make it hard to piece the blocks together.
10. Please leave the foundation papers in your blocks. This will keep them in better shape and avoid any stretching on the bias. If you need to remove them to reduce international shipping costs, that is an exception.
It’s my hope that by sticking to these guidelines, the finished blocks will work together beautifully in your quilt top and you will have such a great assortment of fussy cuts to round out those found in your own stash.
You will be assigned to a group. The number of groups will depend on how many participants we have. Each group will include 10 people. I can no longer attempt to avoid matching you with previous swappers so you may have repeats in your group from previous rounds.
Everyone in your group will receive your mailing address so that they can ship to you directly.
You will sew a total of 20 blocks and send 2 to each person in your group (keeping 2 for yourself!). You can either make them all different, or you can use a single fussy cut/fabric combo for half the blocks and another combo for the other half. You just want to make sure that you send two unique blocks to each person (in other words, not two identical blocks).
Due to postage increases, you have the option to ship internationally or not on the sign up form.
In order to keep shipping costs low, we want to be able to mail as a first class letter. This should be possible if you just send the two blocks in a note card. Putting them inside of a card makes it feel like a thick card and there is usually no problem with a letter stamp. If fabric is detected (when they are loose) then you will be told to send as a package which is more expensive. Keep this in mind! If someone has the means to send extras and wants to, it’s ok. But it is not expected with this swap. It’s supposed to be inexpensive, quick and easy!
In order to keep shipping costs low, and to allow international participation, we want to be able to mail as a first class letter. This should be possible if you just send the two blocks in a note card. Putting them inside of a card makes it feel like a thick card and there is usually no problem with a letter stamp. If fabric is detected (when they are loose) then you will be told to send as a package which is more expensive. Keep this in mind!
I made a video showing the best way to fold your blocks to mail them. Check it out here.
You must email me when you ship to your group. It’s just about accountability! I want to make sure that everyone sends so that everyone receives.
I track blocks sent but not blocks received. This part is up to you. If you do not receive blocks from someone in your group, you may contact me after a month (because shipping delays can be really crazy.) And then, I will ask that person to resend. If they go missing in the mail a second time, we let it go (though that has never happened.) Please also understand that sometimes unexpected things happen and a team member is unable to meet their obligation. If you feel like you will not be able to accept this possibility graciously, this swap may not be for you. There will be no swap angels.
You will receive your group assignment following the close of signups via email.
You must ship by May 26, 2023. You may ship early! In fact, I love it when people send early!
If you joined a previous round and did not send your blocks, you will not be allowed to participate in round 23.
To sign up, please complete this short form by April 29. Please read the form carefully. Sign up for the “How Does Your Garden Grow?” and/or the general round. You can sign up for multiple teams but you must be able to follow through. That might mean starting sewing now! You do not need to wait for your team assignment to sew. You know all the guidelines so you can start right away.
Let me know if you have any questions and I will answer them here, in the comments, for everyone’s benefit. Yay! Let’s get fussy cutting!!
Note: For planning purposes, I wanted to let you know that the next swap will be a Christmas in July swap. You will have your choice to sew pink Christmas, red/green Christmas, or Winter blocks. There will be no “general” swap that time.