The Not-So-Secret Society of Mini Quilt Swappers

As a maker, I often find that if I don't have some kind of specific outline for my next project, my brain can run in a thousand different directions, thus never accomplishing any one thing. And since I don't sell my projects anymore, it's easier for me to leave work unfinished, so sad, shoved away in a drawer somewhere. If only I could have an end game in mind. One where the fruits of my labor ended in somebody else's appreciative little paws; after a month of working on something, sometimes I just want it out of my sight! 

When I began my textile journey with The Cloth Pocket, Miranda let me in on this entirely separate world of Instagram that I had never even thought to visit before. A place where challenges were made and makers accepted. Inspiration to make and continue making... SWAPS!

For a quilter or even a sewist, #miniquiltswap is one of the more entertaining tags you can peruse on Instagram. It's a bunch of quilters making teeny tiny little quilts and exchanging them via snailmail. Unsure of how all this 'swapage' comes together, I decided to pick Miranda's brain for this week's blog.


Oh HI Miranda! Thanks for letting me bombard you with all of the questions... Can you tell me a little about how you got into Instagram swaps?
Hey! Honestly, I just needed a change from constantly working on the same things for my business, Spry Sprout.  Don't get me wrong, I love my business and the things I create, but I don't get to make too many unicorns or mermaids, lol. Quilting has allowed me to expand my knowledge of sewing, and to look at things a little differently. It's perfect for just taking things one step at a time; you start off with a pile of raw, uncut fabric, and turn it into something colorful, amazing, and unique! There's also so many different variations of quilting, from hand quilting to machine, applique, foundation paper piecing, english paper piecing, embroidery, etc. and each variation has their own devout community. For example, I really LOVE foundation paper piecing for its crisp lines, intricate detail, and fun patterns.  But honestly, I think that's the spirit of quilting, is the limitless possibility and there's bound to be something enjoyable for everyone. 

Your mini quilts are always super impressive. Is there a mini quilter out there that just blows your mind? 
There's tons! Especially on Instagram, which is the perfect platform to just drool over the beautiful creations people come up with. On IG, I'm always impressed with @jeliquilts, @giucy_giuce, and @the_tattooed_quilter. More locally to ATX, I really dig seeing what @xostitches, @whatthebobbin, and of course, @stars_sunshine come up with. I also really like to search hashtags; some fun ones are #quilttherainbow, #quiltersofawesome, and #miniquilt. 

Oh! I'll be checking them out ASAP! Ummm... How big and small can mini quilts get?
Mini quilts vary widely, but it's generally accepted that a mini quilt is between 12"-24".  Anything smaller, and it becomes a mug rug (which is perfect for your coffee mug and small breakfast), anything bigger and it's a lap or baby quilt.

Sewing machine pattern by Quietplay

How long does it typically take to make a quilt? How long are the deadlines for mini quilt swaps?
That's a difficult question to answer just because of the nuances and styles that each block can take on. Some quilts can be whipped up in a few days and others can take a lifetime, it depends on how much care, time, and design goes into it. I think it's also different from person to person; are you the type that rips out stitches to make sure every block is perfectly lined up? Or do you see the mis-sewn lines as 'character' and just keep going? 
Generally speaking though, especially for minis and craft swaps, it's expected that each mini be considered a 'medium sized' project, wherever your skill level is.  I'm not terribly experienced with quilting, so what may take someone an hour to do, might take me a whole day. It's all a learning experience, and some grace is always taken when swapping.  After all, it's about the giving - not the receiving - for why I swap!
The deadlines are usually a few months.  It's understood that it takes some time to curate the most perfect fabric, notions, and pattern. Then, after acquiring your materials, to wait for a perfect storm of inspiration, time, and skill to hit!
'The Rising'
Haha... I would be the who took a week to finish what others would accomplish in an afternoon. So, what's your favorite swap theme so far? 
Oh, man, I can't pick just one! There's so many creative souls and wonderful people in the swapping community, but feel free to scroll through my IG feed at @ihavepurplehair to see the things that I've swapped!
Have you hosted a quilt swap? How does that work? 
I'm currently hosting a marriage equality one, you can see progress on everyone who's involved at #WinningLoveMiniSwap. Hosting a swap takes a lot of work and dedication, but being involved with one is much easier. On Instagram, where most swaps are run, you can search #craftswap or check out @openquiltswaps to see which swaps are open and available to participate in. Be prepared to show progress pics, report to your swap mama's (the moderators), and put your best effort toward creating something awesome and unique for your partner. I've received some incredible and thoughtful gifts from my partners and really love the thriving community! 
This is really cool. I can't wait to become a swapper..
What did you make most recently? 
Most recently, I finished a mini quilt for The Cloth Pocket. It's a sign for the shop to be taken to shows and used as display.
I'm also working on items for the upcoming Blue Genie Art Bazaar that Spry Sprout will excitedly be in, so if you're local, don't forget to stop in to get some holiday goodies!
And if I'm not chasing after my 1 and 3 year old, I manage to work on a few swap packages. Never a dull moment around here!  
That Cloth Pocket mini is so adorably clever and we can't wait to proudly display it at upcoming quilt shows, including Quiltcon! Now that you've finished it, what kinds of awesome are you up to now? 
I'm thrilled to get to work on Stars and Sunshine's Dinosaur Quilt! I've got the pattern printed, and am gathering fabric choices, so stay tuned to see how it comes together! I'll also be displaying the finished blocks in the shop so everyone can see how an actual quilt is pieced together.
We can't wait! Thanks for teaching us about mini quilts, Miranda! We heart you real big!
I hope I don't sound like a commercial, but I'm super fascinated with this new doohickey from Janome. One aspect of quilting that always gets my knickers in a bunch is all the cutting. I just found out about their Artistic Edge Cutter. I haven't seen one of these in action yet, but Erin Schlosser from Janome is coming to do a demo in the shop during our Pocket Party this Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30... apparently it's the bee's knees... I wanna see this thing go down. Maybe I can get her to cut me a monkey holding a a really long hot dog on a stick so that I can give it to my man  and make his dreams come true... Um. Don't ask why, he just has this thing about monkeys holding corndogs. Cracks him up every time. 


Tune in next week, Melissa is making something special! Squeeeee!
See you Saturday, babes! Have an ahhhhhmazing week!

xo Laurel ox

Laurel Coyle


Laurel Coyle

I’m a quilter/sewist/pattern designer for same, and want to know the address of your shop and other shops connected with Modern Quilting AND the meeting place for the Austin Modern Quilt Guild. I’m new, yes, but is there a modern quilt guild in Marble Falls, Texas yet? I’m interested.

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