May 12, 2015 by tessaraewilliams
When you join a swap, look at what exactly you are required to make. Sometimes your host simply states “one handmade item”. Other times, it’s a certain pattern that everyone is making together. Still other times, the requirement is “one medium-sized handmade item”. What the heck does medium-sized even mean?!
For new swappers, the best way to understand what’s expected is to research. Look through the hashtags for ongoing or completed swaps. This gives you a good idea of what people are sending.
To me, a short definition for “medium-sized” is something that could not be completed in one sitting and that takes some level of skill. Having said that, I use swaps as an opportunity to teach myself new techniques or to try patterns I wouldn’t normally try for myself. I obviously won’t be as skillful with these as I would with techniques I’m very comfortable with. Which leads to part two of my definition: putting 100% effort into your craft. That means being very careful about your top-stitching, color choices for floss or yarn, checking and rechecking every small detail to make sure you will be proud of the end product. Make something that you would genuinely be PUMPED to receive!
What many people do if they feel their craft doesn’t really qualify as “medium” is to have one main craft and add one or two smaller crafts to send along with it. I think this is a great idea. You will be happy and feel like you held up your end of the bargain, and your partner will feel spoiled!
For example, the One Hour Basket by (IG) @kelbysews.
I love these things! Seriously! I’ve already made 5, and I have plans for more. As the name implies, this basket doesn’t take very long to make. Because it can be finished in one sitting, I would not consider this “medium-sized”.
I made this Belle miniquilt and Stitch mugrug for my partner in a Disney-themed swap. I totally stole this picture from my partner, because it’s better than the one I have. :p
As I was working on the Belle miniquilt, I felt like it was too simple to be truly considered “medium”. I mean really, there’s four colors in the applique and ten actual pieces to it. So I felt it was necessary to make a smaller craft, the mug rug. However, after I finished the quilting on the mini, I did consider it to be a medium-sized piece based on the time spent and complexity. Here’s a closer picture of the quilting.
I’m still glad that I sent the mug rug in my gift. I think it made for a better package.
Obviously my main craft is quilting, but here’s some ideas for other crafts. If you have more ideas I may have missed, leave a comment for me.
I would consider this cross stitch by @redstarr53 medium-sized. I don’t cross stitch, but it is obvious that this took more than one sitting to complete. Time and effort went into this craft, and it looks great!
I actually received this adorable Up hoop from @nikanne in her Disney swap package to me! As cute as it is, I wouldn’t consider it enough to fulfill the swap alone. And neither did she, because it was one of three handmade gifts in my package!
An example of a bag I would consider medium-sized is the Sew Together Bag. This bag easily takes more than one sitting to complete—for me anyway—and sewing zippers can be intimidating for many sewists.
This pillow is amazing! It’s basically a 3D miniquilt. The piecing on this is very intricate, and again, it is obvious the time and effort put into it.
What’s too big?
Sometimes I see packages that leave me in awe and green with envy. Some crafters really do go above and beyond what is required of them and that’s a treat! But it’s not expected. For example, this AMAZING quilt by @gina_pina.
She made this for her partner in a Studio Ghibli-themed swap. This is a truly generous package, but full-sized quilts are NEVER expected (as far as I’ve seen). Gina is a long-arm quilter, so she has those tools at her disposal. But for the domestic sewist, you aren’t expected to make a quilt-top and send it off to be quilted!
How do I “beef up” my craft?
There are ways to turn small-sized crafts into medium-sized crafts. Again, take the One Hour Basket. Instead of using just two pieces of fabric for the exterior, you could foundation (or English) paper piece the exteriors and add quilting! This extends the amount of time taken to finish your craft, and shows that you really put a lot of effort into it! (Again, I’m a quilter, so that’s the example I have. If you work in a different craft medium, comment with some examples of how you “beef up” your crafts!) 🙂
The literal size of the craft may or may not be what makes it a “medium-sized” craft. We can agree that between a mug rug, miniquilt, and throw-size quilt, the miniquilt is technically the “medium” craft. But it’s all about what you put into your work. If you put a lot of time, thought and effort into your craft to make it the best work you could make, it will be obvious to your partner, and they will be happy with their gift!
As always, follow me on Instagram @tessaraewilliams! I have new blog posts every Tuesday. Thanks for reading!