Last month I made these two mini quilts. They’re 20″ish square and made mostly of the same fabrics, but they look very different.

For four years now, we have run an annual Mini Swap through our Facebook group, UK Quilters United. What is a mini swap? Well in very basic terms you’re secretly given a name and you make that person a wallhanging mini quilt. At the same time someone is secretly making for you. The beauty of it is in how personal the quilts are – you are encourage to ‘stalk’ your partner on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc to find out what they like and make something specifically designed for them. We had around 200 participants this time and as I type, they are showing the quilts they received in our specially set up Facebook group.

made for Noelle Burnett

I made this one for my secret ‘Swappee’ Noelle. It’s mostly made of scraps on a white tonal background. I generally prefer using tonal whites (white with a white design on) to plain whites because, er, well they are more forgiving of your mistakes and quilting! I raided my scrap drawer for all the brightest, multi coloured, garish fabrics I had. Which wasn’t many, no Kaffe Fassett in my collection. I find it hard to even buy such things – where did the purple with orange spots fabric even come from? Who would put orange with purple anyway? Aargh! My OCD doesn’t like it!

This one I found much easier to make, although there is some of the purple with white spot fabric in there- I coloured the spots pink with Inktense pencils because they stood out too much! Many of the fabrics I used are in both quilts, but they look so very different. In this one the binding around the petals and leaves etc is 12mm, compared to 9mm in the one above. Even that 3mm makes such a difference and it just goes to show how colour choices can make a huge difference even on a tiny scale. They are both quilted with invisible thread.

When I showed both to the group, most people had a preference between the two, but split fairly evenly. Personally, I prefer the ‘darker’ one. I don’t really have a plan for it but that brings me to the point of all this – why DID I make two?

made for Donna Marie Selwood

Having participated in four mini swaps now, I’ve come to realise that if you are making something that your Swappee will love, but you will also love, then you’re better off making yourself one at the same time than saying you’ll make another later. You won’t. It’ll be on the end of a long to do list that never gets finished. My first ever mini I adored and I considered making a full-size version to show. The idea was that the petals change colour as they fall down the background, with the petal falling off the bottom losing it’s colour entirely.  I still have it on my ‘to make’ list.

made for Gillian Bennett

My second mini was more of a ‘one off’ made from denim, going for a more natural look.

made for Emma Branch

The third was a 1/4 size interpretation of a the pattern below and I cut full size pieces out at the same time. I got half way there!

How long it takes me to finish the full size version remains to be seen, but if you’re interested, the pattern is called Daisy Daydream and is free from RJR Fabrics. I do hope to get it finished one day! Preferably in the next decade…… 

So making yourself a mini at the same time is really the way to go if you’re going to do it, is my advice. The fabrics are out, the pattern’s laying around… but whether or not you make a second one at all depends on the mini. If you’ve designed it yourself, maybe it’s super personal to the Swappee, Maybe you want it to be a one-off original, never to be reproduced. Or maybe you just hate making anything twice 😉 The best thing about mini quilts though is that you can hang loads up on your walls at once rather than having a stack of full-size quilts in a cupboard! Mini is the way to go to reproduce the quilts that are a wrench to give away 🙂

The pattern I used for this year’s mini is called Boho Medallion, free from 100 Billion Stars. I reduced it down to 60% to fit our size constraints for a mini quilt. I knew it would make a gorgeous mini the moment I saw it and Noelle seems to like it! Look at the riot of fabric they used for the illustration – I obviously need more crazy fabrics! There’s some more lovely free patterns on that link too.

I can’t end this without showing you the beautiful minis I’ve received in return from the Mini Swap, in year order… Aren’t they amazing? I love them all so much <3

made by Fiona Wright 

made by Sally Dodsworth
made by Alison Ball
made by Sally Dodsworth

Feel free to comment below – tell me I’m wrong, tell me you love the mini swap, tell me you’re going bowling tonight! I don’t mind, but a comment on any of our blogs makes us feel loved <3 xxx

Responses

  1. jacquiel

    Lovely blog Juliet. I’ve done all four swaps, and made a few Angel minis, but each one has its own special memories. Each mini is a unique gift. We all appreciate the time and thoughtful that has gone into making what we receive.

  2. Chris Mcgregor

    I love your quilts but prefer the darker one with the more defined outline. I wish I’d made myself the first mini I did . It was a butterfly by lillyella stitchery , you have inspired me to make it for myself

  3. Pat Twigg

    Beautiful quilts. I prefer the darker version as well but would happily live with either. I missed the swap this year due to bring overcommitted but have loved all the ones I have recieved. I too wish I’d made 2 of the ones I’ve sent out as I’ve never got around to making one for myself !

  4. Kathryn Campbell

    I was going to give the autumn swap a miss but I think I’m hooked. As a swap virgin this time I’ve learnt a lot about how to stalk and be stalked and also discovered new techniques and fabrics that I’ve come to love. Bring it on ❤️❤️❤️