What I Learned From My First Swap

Apr 10, 2016

The Pouch-With-A-View Swap hosted on Instagram recently was my first ever swap. I was nervous, excited.... mostly nervous. I didn't know what to expect or how hard it would be. But there was really nothing to be scared of. And to be honest, now I'm sort of addicted :) I am always looking for open swaps now!

I'll assume at least some of you are reading this because you were searching for swap ideas or info - So from one newbie to another, here's a few tips / thoughts on what to expect from your very first swap.....

The package I received from @charhere was so thoughtful and generous!

  • Expect that lots of people, with varying degrees of sewing capabilities, will be entered in the swap. You'll know exactly who you'll be sending your package too, but usually have no idea who received you as their partner. So the packages are a surprise! For example: I sent my package to someone in California, and the person who received me sent theirs from Alaska to Ohio (where i live). Some are open internationally, and for us we could indicate wether we were willing to pay international shipping, or you'd like to stick with a partner in your own country.
  • Everyone will post a collage (also sometimes called a montage, inspiration board, or mosaic) that details their fabric, color, and design preferences. These are usually made up of several photos found across social media platforms of things your partner loves. Use these to determine what style of swap package to make them.
My 'mosaic' for the Pouch With A View Swap

  • Send extras with your swap item - whatever you can afford. Don't assume it all has to be something bought from the store though. For example: I sent my pouch, a handmade key fob, a hand cut 2.5" stack of Bonnie & Camille fabric, candy, planner supplies, and a handmade pincushion from a small antique picture frame. I used my partners mosaic to guide me in choosing my fabrics and some extras.

  • Be prepared to check in. You'll need to show progress pictures every so many weeks or days and check in with your "Swap Mama" (the person running the swap, or running your group of swap members). For me, my first check in showed my fabric & zipper color choices, the next was a progress photo of the pouch, and after that I uploaded a few shots of the extras (but not all, I kept some secret!). Finally, you'll check in with your Swap Mama, usually on a post of hers or by tagging her on IG, to let her know you're ready to ship.
  • Swap Angels may be needed. These are people who very generously sign up for the swap simply to be an "angel" or someone who send out a package to another person who's partner didn't do what they should have. Which leaves me to my next point......
  • Last but not least, you'll wait for the OK to ship. Not all swaps do this but I encourage you to ask your swap leader if the person who received you is ready to ship when you are, this lessens the chance of people bot getting their swap packages because someone flaked out or forgot about the swap entirely.
Our swap leaders, @countryroadquilts and @mommyhead7 (on Instagram) were great at keeping track of everyone and making it a stress-free swap. My personal Swap Mama was @countryroadquilts and she seemed organized and made sure everyone checked in and said they were finished before telling any of the rest of us it was OK to ship.

I really enjoyed participating in this swap. Not just making the items, and receiving my amazing package from @charhere as well, but checking the instagram feed and seeing everyone else creations. I met knew people and have some new IG buddies as well now also! Overall it was just a great experience. :)

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