I’m easily bored.
So I try lots of things.
And I discovered that quilt challenges and swaps really keep things fresh for two basic reasons.
- The projects are usually small, so there’s not a lot of time or fabric invested in them, and I feel free to experiment with new techniques and materials.
- I have to try to keep someone else’s tastes in mind (for swaps) or to keep within certain boundaries, like fabric lines or colors (for challenges), so I’m forced to explore new territory.
I entered my first challenge when I’d been quilting for about nine months. The Burlington County Farm Fair Quilt Challenge has the following limits: you must use a fat quarter of a specific fabric in your project, it must fit into certain size requirements, and it must be quilted. I’ve entered every year but one since then.
My local guild has at least one challenge each year. In recent years, we had one based on Pantone color chips, one whose theme was “circles,” and the current challenge is to use the block “Lady of the Lake.”
Other challenges might be sponsored by fabric manufacturers, thread companies, or quilting blogs. (Google “quilt challenge” and see what comes up.)
Of course, you can always have your own challenge. Set a limit (color palette? shape? technique?) and go for it!
Swaps have the added benefit of being a great way to find other quilters on social media, especially Instagram. They pop up for just about any conceivable theme.
Here are some Instagram accounts to follow if you’re interested in swapping. Some of the swap hosts charge a nominal fee for organizing an event. Others are free. Some have a lot of rules regarding how/when to check in, when to ship your swap, etc. Others aren’t quite as well-organized. Many have people volunteer to be a “swap angel” just in case someone flakes on sending their swap for whatever reason. Check the details.