The Spirit of Giving

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December 15, 2015 by tessaraewilliams

A week or so ago, the hashtag #getyourquiltywishesgranted circulated through my Instagram feed about a gillion times. The hashtag was started by @shaunajared75 in answer to the #getyouryarnwishesgranted tag. If you missed it, the idea was to search through the hashtag and see if you could fulfill anyone’s wishes for fabric or other quilting-related items. You would then repost the image with the hashtag to add your own wish to the mix. My favorite part of this was seeing so many generous people step up and give a gift to a stranger, expecting nothing in return. I think I fulfilled 8 or 9 wishes total. I was happy to give people something they really wanted that was going unused in my sewing room.

The giving spirit of this hashtag is what I think the spirit of swapping should be.

Throughout this last year that I’ve been participating in swaps, I feel like I’ve seen the quality of packages go down, and the sassy attitudes of participants go up. I think now is the perfect time for all of us to stop and analyze our own work and perhaps our own motives for joining swaps.

From what I’ve noticed, the idea that most swappers argue about seems to be about quality of packages, or about how much effort the maker put into making a special individualized package tailored for their partner.

As makers, we all wear our hearts on our sleeves when it comes to what we make. We want the recipients to love what we made for them, and it hurts when they don’t. When this happens, some people will jump to the maker’s defense with the phrase, “Be grateful you got something!” As well-intentioned as these words are, I don’t believe this is the correct sentiment.  Is just sending “something” really the spirit of giving?

As the maker

I feel like the spirit of giving includes taking your time to come up with a great idea that you think your partner would really like. It’s about what your partner would enjoy receiving, not just what you want to make. The very few times I’ve been disappointed by a swap package was mainly because I felt like they didn’t create with me in mind. It should be obvious that you took your partner’s likes/dislikes into consideration. The thought behind the package is what makes a gift truly great. It really is the thought that counts. 🙂

The spirit of giving also includes taking your time to make sure everything is as perfect as you could make it. Rushing to make something and throwing it in a box to get it to your partner isn’t an enjoyable process for you as a maker, I’m sure. And I bet if you rushed through your gift, it’s not a great as it could have been had you taken your time. Those little details all add up to a great gift, plus it shows just how much you cared. Check your top-stitching (if you’re a sewist), practice your quilting on a practice quilt sandwich before starting on your gift, remove all pen markings, learn how to finish your craft properly (securing in a hoop, properly binding a miniquilt, etc.), bury your thread ends, check your gifts for stray threads or other imperfections, and keep your gifts free of stains.

Make sure that before you send your package you’re genuinely proud of what you made. Make something that you’d be happy to receive.

Don’t use swaps as an excuse to get rid of materials or extras that you don’t want anymore. That’s not a nice gift, and you’d be hurt if someone did that to you. Every aspect of your package should be included with your partner in mind.

As the recipient

We must remember that we’re all at different levels of skill in our crafts. It’s important to stay optimistic about what you receive, and assume that your partner really did try their best. If your partner did everything listed above to make your gift, then their heart was in the right place.

Don’t have any preconceived notions about what you should receive. If all goes as planned, you’ll receive the best work your partner is capable of, and that is all you can ask for.

The reason I originally started joining swaps was to find friends, to challenge myself, and to make awesome gifts. I am proud of every package I’ve sent, and you can see them all in the “Swap Packages” tab. The most important thing to me when coming up with my ideas is that my partner’s tastes are put first and foremost. If they receive my gift and don’t know why I made what I did, I have failed.

If you have anything to add, or maybe a different opinion on this idea, leave me a comment!


I finished a few more wallets this week! Remember, use the coupon code “holyguacamole” for 20% off throughout December in my Spreesy store!

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#disneyquiltswap – Hosted by @thelifeofahappyginger. Ships in April. Sign-up here.

#GLSswap1 – Hosted by @DrawsyAurora. The theme is geeky TV show fandoms. Ships in April. Sign-up here.


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