Quilt Square Swap for Beginners with Cricut Maker

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I have ALWAYS wanted to be a quilter. ALWAYS. I have two treasured quilts of my own and think it is one of the most generous and personal gifts you can give, something that can be passed down through generations. Buuuuuuuuut...cutting out all the shapes? No thanks. 

Until the Cricut Maker came along! Now - thanks to the Maker - cutting quilting blocks is SO DANG EASY! So easy in fact that I started a beginner's quilting group on Facebook and hosted a quilt square exchange that was a TON of fun. Today I'm going to share how you can host your own!

PICKING THE PROJECT - Obviously you want to all be following the same project, and you want it to be EASY. We made the smallest size (crib quilt) just so it would be manageable for everyone, and we picked this fun pattern from Diary of a Quilter. It was colorful, it was geared for beginners, and it only required a basic shape (square) which was easy for beginners to cut on their Makers.

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PICKING DEADLINES - Pick a deadline to receive the squares and a deadline to mail them out and stick to it! That keeps everyone accountable and also helps whoever is organizing the swap. You don't want to keep the rest of the group waiting if someone is late with their squares.

PICKING THE FABRIC - This is the fun part! We set a few parameters but really wanted people to be able to pick fabric they loved (or use what was in their stash). Because I was working with a large group I assigned color by last name (see below) but if you are working with a smaller group and/or people you are all familiar with you could have people sign up for their color preference. This is what I shared to the group:

WHAT COLOR TO SEND. Rather than trying to keep track of who is sending what color – we are going to assign colors based on LAST name. **note – if you have a stack of fabric you already own that you REALLY want to send for the swap just shoot me a PM and we’ll talk about it!**
As you are choosing your fabric please keep the original quilt in mind. We are looking for bright, cheerful colors (in many cases pastel works too) – but no neon or dark colors please! ALSO – please no “themed” fabric (baby, holiday, pet, etc).

If your last name starts with A-C – please choose RED fabric.
If your last name starts with D-H – please choose PINK fabric.
If your last name starts with I-M – please choose YELLOW fabric
If your last name starts with N-S – please choose GREEN fabric.
If your last name starts with T-Z – please choose BLUE fabric.

Be sure to pick a SPECIFIC type of fabric - we picked 100% cotton. It is easy to find (all mass craft stores sell it) and is generally clearly marked on the fabric bolts when you are at the store. 

We also allowed/encouraged people to pick different patterns for their small and large squares - variety is the spice of life after all!

A quick note - be prepared that no matter how many directions you give/guidance you provide, there may be one or two people who choose fabric that is completely off the mark, cut incorrectly, etc. You have to make your own decisions about how to handle - in my case I just used some extra squares I had on hand to swap out for the "off color" squares, and I returned the incorrectly cut squares to the participant with an invitation to participate in a later swap. 

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PREPPING THE FABRIC - This was THE BIG question (since I am new to fabric/quiltling I had NO idea how much of a big deal this would be!)...to prewash or not to prewash? We decided NOT to prewash...because it required too many other questions/requirements. Does temperature matter? What about fabric softener? etc. Also when you cut fabric directly from the store it isn't wrinkled (like it can be once you wash it) so we didn't have to worry about getting wrinkly squares.

Since we were not pre-washing a few folks voiced concerns about the colors running when they washed the finished quilt – so I included a sheet of Shout Color Catcher in everyone’s return package. See shipping charges below - the extra few pennies more than covered the cost of the Color Catcher sheet.

CUTTING THE FABRIC - This is what I had always dreaded, the thing that had kept me from even thinking about starting a quilting project. It is SO much fun on the Maker! 

Simply go in to Design Space and select shapes, then select square.

Simply go in to Design Space and select shapes, then select square.

Size the square per the project requirements. For this project it was 7.5" squares and 5" squares.

Size the square per the project requirements. For this project it was 7.5" squares and 5" squares.

You can fit three (3) 7.5" squares on a 12x24 mat - be sure to change the mat size!

You can fit three (3) 7.5" squares on a 12x24 mat - be sure to change the mat size!

You can fit eight (8) 5" squares on a 12x24 mat!

You can fit eight (8) 5" squares on a 12x24 mat!

There are two MUST HAVES if you are going to be using fabric with the Maker - the 12x24 fabric mat (the pink one) and the brayer. You can get so much more cut with the 12x24 fabric mat, and the brayer is so so so helpful for making sure the fabric lays flat on the mat, even after multiple mat uses!

SHIPPING SQUARES TO YOU - Be VERY specific about what to send. Our quilt required 18 large squares and 17 small squares, so this is what I shared to the group:

WHAT TO SEND: 18 squares of 7.5 x 7.5 fabric and 17 squares of 5x5 fabric (see below for what color to send), plus $7 to cover return shipping. All squares will be returned to you via priority mail (hence the $7) so we can track them.

I charged $7 per person for the swap. This covered the charge of priority mail shipping (so I could send everyone a tracking number) with a few cents left over to cover the cost of the Color Catcher.

Because I was working with a large group of people I didn't know, I had them PM me for my mailing address. That served two purposes - it didn't spread my address all over the internet, and it helped me keep track of who was sending in their squares so I could keep my eyes out for them.

SORTING AND SHIPPING SWAP SQUARES: I waited until I had all of the squares to start sorting. I made two piles for each participant (one big and one small) and just started sorting! It was really fun to see the colors and patterns come together!

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I packed each pile in a ziploc bag (gallon size for 7.5" squares, quart size for 5" squares, snack size for Color Catcher) and mailed them all in flat rate priority mail envelopes. It was the perfect fit! I sent each person their tracking number and just like that - the swap was over. Now to make the quilt! HA!

The response was so great we are doing a second swap right now - you are more than welcome to join us! My favorite part has been seeing the reaction when people receive their squares - and one participant has already finished the top! I am in awe!

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.