Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tips For Successful Quilt Block Swaps

Good morning everyone and welcome to our second block lottery at the CLMQG. We had an amazing level of participation for our last one. 47 blocks were entered and we had enough to choose 4 winners!


It really makes me happy to see everyone joining in and having a great time because that’s really the goal here at the CLMQG. We get together for the inspiration, community and opportunities to learn and grow as quilters.

Our next lottery is Halloween…and it’s sure to be Spooktacular!! This lottery has specific guidelines and rules to ensure a cohesive block assortment. Please read all of the guidelines before playing along.



The Halloween lottery is as follows:
  • Lottery participation is completely voluntary.
  • Always use quilt store quality fabrics.
  • It’s your choice of block. Size MUST measure 12.5″ unfinished.
  • Use Halloween themed or Halloween inspired fabrics, see block examples below...
  • Stay within your pre-selected color palette found on your paint chips along with black and/or white.
  • Please limit your entries to no more than 3 blocks.
  • If you were lucky enough to win a previous lottery, you must show a completed project using all or some of those ‘winnings‘ to be eligible for this DRAWING during our July meeting.
  • Label each of your blocks with your name.
  • Bring your pressed block to the July meeting. A volunteer will be set up to ensure every one of us have followed all the rules and award us with our lotto tickets!
I, in no way, want to discourage participation. In fact, I’d like MORE participation in the swaps, but with that being said, there are certain criteria that need to be met before receiving your ticket for this block entry.
Here are some block lottery rules and helpful tips for making our swap successful for everyone involved.

Use quilt store quality fabrics in your guild swaps.


Use precise cutting. This is where it all starts. Accurate cutting will help ensure the desired block size. Here’s a quick refresher on Craftsy for tips on using your rotary cutter and mat.


Double check your seam allowance. A 1/4″ seam allowance is typically required for quilting. If your 1/4″ is off, your block will not finish the correct size. Invest in a 1/4″ foot for your machine. The 1/4” foot has a guide designed to help you achieve perfect 1/4” seams when piecing. The distance between the needle and the right guide is a true 1/4”. Or, stack painters tape as a reference along the plate to guide you.



Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Slow down your pace, it’s not a race! Take your time with each block. Don’t rush to make lots of blocks. One good block is better than 3 blocks that don’t “measure up”.

Measure your block before entering it. Be respectful and only bring blocks in that are the correct size. They will be measured. Blocks that are not within 1/8″ of the correct size will not be eligible for entry. That means your block CAN be a smidgen off…about 1/8″ on each side.

For example, if your block is 1/8″ short on each side, the total off is 1/4″. A good Sewista is most likely to be able to work with this and after all, we are not perfect.

1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4″ total.
If your block is 1/4″ off on each side…
1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2″ *this is not workable. No amount of “stretching” can resolve this problem y’all!


My block is slightly off. Mostly, because I can’t seem to sew a straight line to save my life even while using my fancy pants 1/4″ foot but it is still well within the allowance…within the 1/8″ allowance to be accepted! …eek**This is the determination we will use on the blocks for ALL entries.**

Press your work well after each addition. Press your seams flat, whether it be open seams or pressed to one side. Do not “iron”. This will cause stretching. Use Best Press or other solutions to “starch” your finished project. Nothing makes me smile more than a well pressed block. It’s my finishing touch. If your block is pressed, you will be able to make an accurate determination of whether it is the correct size to be entered.



Trish S. was kind enough to share her recipe for a homemade pressing spray if you'd like to make your own.

 Mix a ratio of 4 parts water with 1 part POTATO vodka.
 Add to a spray bottle. It’s important that it be POTATO vodka.
 Ask your local wine &  liqueur store if they carry it.


Follow the design elements required for the block swap. For example, this lottery is Halloween. Your block must incorporate the paint chip color selections, using one or all of them. You may also add a black and/or white fabric along with your colors.  Your blocks will be disqualified if you have not followed the specified outlines.




Don’t hesitate to ask for guidance. Like I mentioned, we are all here to learn from each other. I literally need Paige to explain paper piecing every. single. time. I do it! It’s ok to ask for help. Everyone has their own level of experience and what they are skilled in.

Use good judgement. Ask yourself…”Is this something I would want to receive“? Make something you don’t want to give away. Because if you love it, so will someone else.

Now that we all have a clear understanding of what is expected of each of us, please go forth and sew! No tricks, just treats. Help us make this block lottery a frightening success for all of our members. And remember…I have a ruler!

**If you missed our last meeting and would like to participate, the paint sample numbers are as follows…

BEHR Decorators Collection at Home Depot
Dynamic Magenta HDC-MD-07 (purple)
Yellow Groove HDC-MD-02A (yellow)
Citronette HDC-MD-03 (green)
Tart Orange HDC-MD-27 (Orange)

Here are a few howling good examples made by Shelley..











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