Following on from last month’s blog post, I thought I’d talk about another of the UKQU Facebook page’s satellite pages for ‘swaps’. There is the postcard swap, a block swap, hexie flower swaps and the infamous mini quilt swap.  This is my second year in the mini quilt swap.

The mini quilt swap is a bigger commitment than most. The idea is that you commit to make a quilt in a time-frame of around three months, no less than 15” and no more than 24” along one side. Swapees are placed in groups according to ability and you are allocated a person to make for – which you have to keep secret. You then spend a couple of weeks (or more) asking questions in your group and ‘stalking’ your partner: finding out their likes and dislikes to help you settle on a design for the quilt.

The biggest fears when you’re making a mini quilt for a swap are that your swapee won’t like it, or it won’t be ‘good enough’. But how often do we, as sewists get things made for and gifted to us? So rarely. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t delighted with the quilt they received last time around. It’s something made especially for you, but someone of a similar skill level, but with you in mind. How could you not love it? I treasure mine and I will treasure the one I receive in early June just as much.

This is the first year that there will be two mini quilt swaps, one is running now and there will be another announced in the late summer/ early autumn. The current swap group is closed as we are fast approaching the deadline for completing our quilts but do look out for the announcement for the next one at the end of the summer!

Obviously I can’t write about the mini quilt I am making at the moment, but I thought you might like to see the quilt I made last year and find out how I did it?

This is the mini quilt I made for the swap last year. It was a single piece of fabric that I dyed myself, quilted and then appliquéd, embellished and bound.

I dyed the fabric quite simply with Dylon cold water hand dyes.

I began by washing a FQ of white cotton and soaking it in salty water. The salt is needed to fix the dye.  I laid the fabric out on a black bin bag and placed a bowl in the position I wanted my ‘moon’ in the sky.


I poured a tablespoon of the dry dye powder/granules into an old salt shaker and sprinkled it onto the fabric. I repeated this with each different colour dye I wanted to use.

I layered up the powdered colours until I had achieved the look I was after and then sprayed the whole piece with more salty water until it was drenched.

Once the dye was dry, I then rinsed the fabric to remove any residue, dried it again and the quilted it with a meander pattern using an toning variegated thread.

You can see that there is a speckled pattern on parts of the fabric – this is the effect you will get if you use powder/granules rather than dissolving the dye and spraying it on.

I then appliquéd the hare onto the quilt, using the raw edge technique.

The moon was cut from organza. It was appliquéd in a spiral, starting at the centre and working out towards the edge, using an iridescent thread.

I embellished the moon with iridescent sequins. I embellished the sky with turquoise and royal blue sequins to tone with the shading of the dye.

I then embroidered a dandelion seed head next to the hare as I felt the space was too empty. I used white embroidery floss and white seed beads with sequin ‘saucers’, leaving the middle section empty to give the impression of the centre of the flower.

I finished with a few flower sequins and beads by the hare’s feet to complete the decoration.

I then trimmed the quilt to a rectangle using a rotary cutter and finished by binding the quilt as normal.

Our current swap will be over at the end of this month and the quilts will start arriving in early June. I hope that the recipient likes what I’ve made this time. It is completely different to this mini quilt, so watch this space for pictures of the finished article!


  1. Karen Fox

    I have just completed my first mini quilt challenge. I really enjoyed the whole process. I wasn’t expecting all the lovely comments about it as i didnt think it was very good . The lady that received it was over the moon with it and said i couldn’t have got it more right for her.
    So anyone reading my comment, don’t think about doing it,get on and do it because life is short and we need to fill our lives with pleasure. I learnt so much along the way and im overwhelmed with the response i have had from it.

  2. Ingrid Papaphilippopoulos

    Lovely blog Gini, I really enjoyed it. And your mini quilt is absolutely gorgeous – I would have been so pleased if I had been the one to receive this – beautiful! I loved the description of your technique for dying too, the speckled effect is great. When doing the ice or snow dying the results are somewhat unpredictable which can be part of the fun but can leave some bare areas. Your sprinkle method combined with ice dying seems like a good way to get the best of both worlds.

  3. Karin Pope

    That’s so true about never getting any quilty gifts. I did an FPP swap last year and was absolutely blown away when my quilt arrived.I have it in my sewing room and look at it every day.I have never tried dyeing but I do like your sprinklng technique…oh dear,another future project for ‘the list’. I hope the recipient of your quilt was thrillled with it!

  4. Sue Burford

    What a lovely read and a gorgeous quilt! Very informative about the dyeing process – wouldn’t have thought of shaking the granules over the fabric! and washing in salty water first – Brilliant!! Looking forward the this years’ Quilt…..

    1. Deborah Law

      Thank you for your blog Gini and pictures of your lovely mini. I have taken part in the last three swaps and also the one that is going on at the moment. I have found that it has helped me improve my skills. From starting off as a complete beginner, I now class my self as an intermediate/ (nearly) advanced level. I like to try a new technique for every swap and love the whole process from the “stalking”, research and planning to making the mini and the reaction of my partner when they receive it. Then receiving a mini from someone else who has taken the time to do exactly the same for me. Anyone who wants to have a go, I can thoroughly recommend it, you will learn so much and make new friends in the process. Thank you too for your tips on dying. I want to have a go this year and will definitely try this method