Beyond our Wildest Dreams

International Block Swap

When we started working on our first International Block Swap, we were thinking along the lines of “If we can persuade everyone we know to participate plus, perhaps/ hopefully/ maybe, a few quilters from around the world, we will have, at best, 40 to 50 block packages to swap”. Little did we know that at the finish, we would have received 168 block packages from almost as many quilters from around the world. The participants really come from all corners of the globe: Austria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA.

The IBS Block Gallery

During the past months, the IBS has taken over a substantial part of our lives: Up to ten parcels a day in the mailbox, unpacking and counting blocks and postcards, maintaining our IBS “accounting” (the file were we recorded all block packages received), photographing and publishing the blocks, starting preparations for the swapping, re-packing and mailing the parcels. Not to speak of the mounting pile of boxes, envelopes and plastic bags in our office.

Pile of boxes

We worked very hard to keep costs for postage and packaging as low as reasonably possible and are therefore able to give 1,000 Euros to Médecins sans frontières. We are delighted that, with your help, we are able to contribute a little to their work in disaster relief and emergency aid.

Médecins sans frontières would also like to send a big THANK YOU to all participants for your contributions to the donation!

All the block packages

The swapping itself was a fun event where we learnt that it is surprisingly difficult to make packages of 12 different blocks from 12 piles of identical blocks plus post-cards. Should you ever attempt something similar, let us tell you that no talking or thinking about anything else should be allowed at this phase. We are tremendously grateful to Anke, Carola, David, and Derry who helped with the swapping and made sure that we didn’t succumb to helpless despair facing yet another left-over block (or two or three) which should have been tucked away in a block package already.


The swapping event - Anke, Carola, Derry and Jutta

Swapping 2

The swapping event - Carola, Johann, Derry and Anke

If you have been following the progress of the IBS at Quilt around the World, you may have noticed that we had run into a considerable backlog by the middle of March. We have only recently managed put ourselves back on track. Not surprisingly, we have already started a list with all the issues to be improved next time.


All the leftover boxesl and envelopes, neatly sorted into paper, cardboard, plastic... ;-)

Ah, by the way: A “next time” has been solicited by lots of quilters who didn’t make the deadline this time. As of today, we can tell you that we fully intend to organize at least one other International Block Swap some time in the future because we are keen to put all the lessons learnt during this IBS to good use. So stay tuned - the second International Block Swap is likely to start some time in the beginning of 2013.


The parcels ready to go to be mailed

Another suggestion made by more than one participant is an exhibition of the finished works. At first, we treated this as a kind of joke because we thought we would never be able to manage such a thing. But talking to several participants whom we know personally led to more serious thinking about the feasibility and today, we are determined to give this daunting, but very tempting project a chance to be realized. Should we indeed manage to put on a show, ALL works containing ALL 12 IBS blocks will qualify, no matter how simple or complicated. It might be possible that even UFOs (UnFinished Objects) will be allowed... ;-)

The IBS Quilt Gallery (coming soon)

WE WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS OUR DEEPEST GRATITUDE to everybody who has helped make this International Block Swap the huge success it turned out to be: ALL THE PARTICIPANTS, the sorting team, Joan in Baltimore, Angelika of Quilthouse Purgstall, Asun and the Asociación Espanola de Patchwork (Spanish Quilt Guild), Blanca Sánchez of El Cabdell in Spain, Christa of Kreativ Wohnen, Patchworkgilde Deutschland (German Quilt Guild), Icelandic Patchwork and Quilting Association, patCH (Swiss Quilt Guild), Katarina of Modern Patchwork in Slovakia, Joan of Paper Pieces...


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