Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Secret Mini Quilt

I have recently become addicted to Instagram.  Every morning over my coffee I scroll through all the lovely things people around the world are making.  Then when I get home from work in the evenings I scroll through again whilst making my tea. (I'm @nessahux on there if you wish to follow my pictures)
Recently lots of the quilty ladies that I follow had signed up to a hashtag group called the IGminiswap, and I felt that I would be missing out on the fun if I didn't sign up too.  I'd see lots of progress photos on these mini quilts they were making over the next few months and none of them would be for me.  SO I JOINED up!  
I had to fill in a wee form to say my fabric and colour preferences so that the organisers could send some hints to someone out there to make a mini quilt just for me.  Then later on I received the details of a lady that I would make a mini quilt for.
Here is what I have posted off to her this week:
My mini quilt!  It measures 20" and I love it.
The organisers say you don't have to include anything else, but after perusing the hashtag collection of photos it does seem as though you really should send some extras in the package, so I put in some Scottish sweet treats, a magazine, some soap, stationery, lip balm, fabric and a pen:

My Personal Conclusion

I enjoyed the thought process of inventing a small quilt with another person's colour and fabric preferences in mind.  The step by step challenge of what to do next was enjoyable to think about and I feel very satisfied with myself for creating this.

On Instagram, the members of the swap were encouraged to keep checking the photos that join the hashtag collection of photos and to comment on them.  That way, if anyone is unsure of how to best please a person with a fabric choice or design idea, they can post a picture of their two options and then hope that the person who it is secretly for will reply with a preference, along with other member's replies.  I have seen some really tricky decisions being helped by other members.  I did enjoy encouraging others in the hashtag pool of photos, and following lots of new creative ladies.

But... I won't enter anything like this again.  
The person I made this for was very silent on my mini quilt.  I had nearly one hundred people either click that they liked my quilt or that made a positive comment about it, which was so encouraging!  But the person who it is actually for never commented on my progress.  Therefore, throughout the making process I kept thinking she will be disappointed when she opens up the package and sees this one, as opposed to all the other lovely ones that she did comment on.  It made me sad to think that something that brought me a lot of joy is actually going to disappoint someone else.
Instagram can bring such happy surprises and encouragement, but whilst making this and not receiving the encouragement from the one person I was eager to please, it really detracted from the fun of making a gift.  Usually a gift is made in relative privacy, but the progress on this was done publicly and I came to rely on the external positivity instead of my usual internal positivity, and became disheartened when I didn't receive it from my intended recipient.
So from now on, my surprise gift making shall be done in private.  The need for external validation during the process stage is not for me.  But I am glad I tried it.  I did enjoy watching everyone's progress and commenting on lots of people's work, but I also became a bit needy and filled with self-doubt.

Selfie with my finished Mini Quilt!
I love it!
P.S. The person who this was for DID love it!!!!  She said she "gasped" when she opened it and really does like it a lot.  - all that dread and worry was wasted!!!

P.P.S. This is also a finish from no.3 on my 2014 Fourth Quarter list of projects to be completed for Katy's Finish-Along

The Process - details for my own records

Following are the progress photos for this Mini Quilt. 
I pieced a lone star pattern using five fabrics,
then used this fabulous dictionary print with gold
deers and lace doilies on it as the background.
My first attempt at Y seams too!

My first plan was to use this gorgeous bold fabric to create
a Swoon block, sort of like a flower.  So I started with
these corners to turn the shape into a square.

The beginnings of turning it into a Swoon block.
At this stage I had to abandon that idea, if I
continued with this plan it would end up being 30" square,
which is too big to be considered a mini quilt.

Out came the Unpicker and on went some new corners!

Now to come up with a new plan!  I made these little blocks
and decided on a diamond shaped theme.
I intended for this placement at first...
...but after swapping the position of the blue and grey squares and adding some rectangles of background fabric...
I am so pleased that I was able to keep all the large pieces
of this background fabric up the right way too!  It is such
beautiful fabric - Indelible by Katarina Roccella

I have drawn on top of this photo to show the quilting lines that I did on my machine.  All straight lines in diamond shapes.

I made little folded flag tabs to put around the edges, which I later found out are called prairie points.


  1. You win some, you lose some with swaps, it's a bit of a lottery all round really. Mine was quite frankly a bitch on her form, to the extent that I told Claire I was tempted to send her a batik whole cloth effort in the sludgiest colours I could find, but she did like it in the end. I'm now signed up for the rainbow one and the UK one, and neither has bothered to post a mosaic, despite both groups being reminded several times, so at this point I invoke the 'make what I damn well like' clause where I don't give a monkeys whether they like it or not - no info, no complaints accepted!

  2. swaps are a bit of a challenge but its so much fun if managed well.

  3. I have been very wary of swaps - for similar reasons to you, and I'm also always worried that something will crop up meaning I'm late to complete........too much pressure! But I do like the idea of working outside my comfort zone and trying new ideas and fabrics. Yours is gorgeous - I'm so pleased she liked it in the end......what a shame the process was not so good! Juliex

  4. Aw, what a shame it turned out to be stressful. Your wee quilt and package are lovely though. But as you say, good to try it and now you know that kind of swap isn't for you. I don't know if I'd like to make something under those conditions either, it can be tough making things when you know there are expectations.

  5. Don't be disheartened some people are more active online than others & it is easy to miss posts. I know I have missed so many of late & am grateful the Quilty Sisters have our own hashtag so I can find photos I've missed. I think you've done a marvellous job with your mini and you shod feel proud.

  6. I know how you feel, mine was very similar but your mini is gorgeous! Swaps can be a mixed bag though! Xx

  7. It's beautiful! Of course she liked it! But I can understand why you wouldn't want to do it again. And, yes. Isn't Instagram addictive? I thought it was just me that had just got into o it, but it seems I joined at a good time!

  8. Lovely Nessa! I have been thinking of joining IG lately and now you are swaying me more in that direction! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy New Year!

  9. I've done a few swaps but stopped for the same reason: sadly some will always have "does not play nicely with others" on their report cards!!!! I think it's Lovely !!!!!

  10. It is hard when your swap partner is silent isn't it, but like Katy I am of the make what you like in the absence of comments otherwise school of thought :)

  11. What a wonderful Mini Quilt - I'm sure there are a few of us just like you, we get so far and often end up revising the current plan. It's great that the IG community is so willing to offer support and advice!

    With so many participants in some of the swaps it can be really difficult to comment on everything. Sometimes swap partners can be tricky, I've always been partnered with the 'quiet' ones it seems. It can be even more of a challenge if the swaps are crossing a number of platforms ... one of my current partners only uses Facebook ... and quilty inspiration is limited.

    I think we should call Katy's idea the Katy Clause, but remember that often inspiration can come from details in other photos ... not just mosaics which personally I think can be intimidating for some newer sewists, x al

  12. The #igminiswap was my first swap too and unfortunately my experience was very similar to yours. My partner wasn't really active on Instagram and I didn't see a single comment from her on any of the quilts in our group. The whole reason I joined up for the swap was for the social aspect (getting my own mini quilt in return was a nice extra) and it was really disappointing when my partner didn't partake.

    Due to family stuff I ended up being really late sending my mini and didn't have the time to make the extras (a pouch and a needle book) that I'd planned. I felt guilty and toyed with the idea of sending a tote that I'd made for myself in the summer and only used once but came to the conclusion that my partner didn't deserve it and was lucky she was getting my mini at all! On the other hand I was delighted with the mini that I received and was relieved that it was one that I had commented on several times and that I had 'liked' all but one of the photos my partner had posted of it :-)

    I have signed up for the UK mini swap mainly as I did find a few new people to follow through the #igminiswap and thankfully my partner seems to be quite active on IG. Here's hoping!

  13. And of course your partner was very lucky to receive your mini - I can't believe how much work you put into it.

  14. That's a shame about your experience, but i love what you've made!

    1. Thanks for your understanding and kind words Franca. x

  15. Damn fine job Nessa! Really sorry it turned into a stressful experience but it's their loss. They missed the chance to engage and socialise with people, and won't know the history of their gorgeous mini quilt.

  16. Your mini is gorgeous!!! But I felt the same way after my mini swap, except I don't think my partner really liked mine and I worked really hard on it. Oh well, I take it as a learning experience. I did love the one I recieved. I agree that I want to do them in secret from now on.


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