Charm Swap {Tips}


I spent 3 hours yesterday sorting and making the first Alison Glass Charm Swap bundle for Group 2 (I am still waiting on 2 more packages for Group 1). As I was building up the charm bundles, I noted several things that I thought would be worth passing on as tips.

Staggered Stack

Staggered Stack

A *huge* thank you to the people who shipped me beautifully staggered stacks. The photo above is of 72 charms, grouped in “twos”. Two charms were set down, then the next two were rotated 45-degrees, and so on. This was amazing for me and made my life as the sorter placing the charms together so much easier. Something to consider!

When cutting your charms, cut 5-inches by width of fabric cuts and then leave those folded and cut your charms two at a time. There is no need to then go back and flip all your squares “right side up”. In fact, it was super helpful for me to get a stack of every other charms when sorting into the stack! For a great photo tutorial to help you visualize what I am talking about, be sure to check out Sarah Quilts: Tutorial: Cut a yard of fabric in a flash.


For those who might be interested in hosting a charm swap, I definitely believe organization is the key. My top tips for organization are:

  1. Use Google Sheets (or spreadsheet/list of your choice) to keep track of when you receive charms.
    1. The mistake I made once here was NOT marking someone as received. It happens and the person was polite to point out that I had in fact received her charms. So, don’t forget to use your tools!
  2. Email each person when you receive their charms.
    1. This really helps alleviate their anxiety about whether their charms got lost in the mail. It also has the benefit of being a double checking mechanism for you if you do forget to mark them as received in your spreadsheet. 🙂
  3. Send several reminder emails.
    1. Personally, I sent a halfway email to those who I had not received from and then a reminder 2 weeks before the final deadline (because I figured shipping really needed to be done 1 week prior to the deadline, so it was really the please ship in 1 week reminder).
  4. When/if someone forgets to send a pre-paid self-addressed envelope for return shipping, having them PayPal you money works well.
    1. Also, another great thing to keep track of in your organization spreadsheet!
  5. Be kind to yourself and those in the group. It is a lot to keep track of, and in the interest in giving people time to meet the deadline, it is also easy for life to slip in. Frequent communication and kindness is the key.

Have you participated in a charm swap or hosted one? Are there any tips you would add to this list?

Linking up with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.

14 thoughts on “Charm Swap {Tips}

  1. Kaja says:

    All those fabrics look so pretty! I’ve never participated, but mostly because of the postage costs between here and the US (in both directions!).

  2. Cindy says:

    Pretty fabrics! Seems like a lot of work but ohh such pretties would make it all worth it.

  3. Oh man, I would have staggered them to help you! Didn’t think about that. Sorry. Thanks for the tips and THANK YOU for doing this, friend!

  4. The only other charm swap I have participated was done through a shop, Bunnys Designs. Participants signed up then upon confirmation purchased 1 yard of fabric from her online shop, Japanese fabric for this one. Shipping was included in the purchase. She then cut and sorted the charms and sent them out. It was also aligned during Sewtopia so if you were attending you could have free pick up. The only thing I had to do was decide which fabric I wanted to purchase. If it was a duplicate, she would let you know so you could pick something else.
    Appreciate all the tips.

  5. Jan Altomare says:

    Thanks for the tips. I would have staggered them if I had thought that would help. Can’t wait for group 1.

  6. Alison says:

    A few years back I hosted two rounds of a swap for 2.5 inch strips and I had a lot of fun doing it! It was much smaller (both times) than most swaps, but it was a great way to bust through some yardage that had been hanging around in stashes for too long and find new homes for them. Since I didn’t put a requirement on how many of each fabric to send, some people sent 40 different strips, and others sent 10 each of 4 different fabrics. I had a lot of fun sorting them out to send back to everyone. 🙂

  7. sgrehome says:

    Be sure to cut accurate 5″ squares. There’s nothing worse than getting swap items (charm squares, blocks, etc) that are smaller than expected.

  8. Tish says:

    I’ve never participated in a charm swap, but I do love the idea of one. All of these are great tips. I’m not sure what I would do in life without Excel and my spreed sheets. Staggering is always a great idea. I love to do this when I have to cut a large number of squares in a quilting project to keep track of what I have cut. I’m sure everyone appreciates all the hard work you have done putting together and managing all those squares.

  9. Those are very good tips, I can see how have the staggered groupings of two would be a huge time saver.

  10. That looks like so much fun. Thanks for all of the tips.

  11. Brenda Ackerman says:

    Good Morning Yvonne! Although, I rarely participate in exchanges, I found your post interesting and full of great information. I did follow your link to Sarah Quilts and read her posts on cutting one yard of fabric into 5 inch strips and finally into 5 inch squares. It was a great read to refresh my way of cutting and pick up or remind me to use some very helpful steps. So thank you for including her link. Plus, all of your information was very useful also. I hope that you have a fantastic creative day!

  12. Emily says:

    Staggering is key! I also have participants put their (staggered) squares in a ziplock and include an index card or slip of paper with their name & address in the same bag. Makes it easier for packaging up, and you know you didn’t miss anyone. It also helps if there are groups with different contents, like some people are in group A but some are in group A and group B, or whatever. Swap hosting is a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun!

  13. Mary says:

    I should have though to stagger…I do that with my own piles as I cut. Thank you so much for hosting this – my pile arrived today and it’s beautiful! Can’t wait to decide what to do with it!

  14. KathyC says:

    Haha! I staggered mine as I was cutting so I could count easily. Then I thoughtfully lined them back up for you. Good tip and thanks again for hosting!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)