Annual US-OZ Swap

For the past 4 years I have been the co-hostess for an International swap between members of the southerncross crazies and members of the much larger Crazy Quilt list. We have in the past exchanged up to 370 what we call in OZ baggies and what the Americans call squishies. These squishies or baggies are zip locked bags of materials and items suitable for use in crazy quilting embelishment. It’s a huge swap and has proved to be so popular that Willa (who is our Amerian hostess) and I have decided to run it twice a year and limit the swap to 200 baggies a time. So its on again.

So this is a post for those members of the southerncross crazies that are participating this time around.

US/OZ Swap Guidelines:

The fifth US/OZ swap note all Baggies due to me by the 21st of May.

How it works:
You make up your baggies (5-20) then post them to the ‘in country’ hostess as you would a normal swap. The thing that is different about this swap is that when everyone has sent the ‘in country’ hostess their swaps the hostess will then parcel the lot up and post them on to the her partner hostess. The other international hostess on the other side does the same thing. To put in another way I send the Australian baggies to Willa in America and Willa posts the American baggies to me. The swaps then get split by the hostess and forwarded on to everyone within the country. In other words I sort out the baggies from the American swappers, divide them up and post them on to you. So if you send me 10 baggies you get 10 baggies back. The reason this swap was started was to reduce postage costs – doing it all in one hit means postage costs all around are much cheaper.

Willa and I are looking to run this twice a year. We have done it once a year for the past 4 years, but it got to large ie last time it was a swap of 370 baggies. I live in terror a parcel so large will get lost in the mail – and the margin for error gets bigger with the more baggies you handle. So we decided that since the swap is so popular we would limit the swap to 200 and do it twice a year. If anyone misses out in one round they are first on the list for the next.

Everyone needs to include return postage for their baggies within their country plus a contribution towards the international postage that the hostess pays.

US/OZ Swap Guidelines: Important please read.
This swap will be an international baggie swap: Baggies due to me by the 21st of May.

When you sign up: Please email me your snail mail address and phone number – so that I can keep a record. MOST important is to inform me of any change of address or email.

This is also important:
We need to know firstly who is interested and how many baggies you want to swap. Obviously if the Americans are sending in the region of 200 baggies I need to know that the grand total from Australia is the same – also what happens is I make up any short fall also if we are to far short I put a call out to ‘old hands’. Most important too is if you change your mind as to number to let me know too!

Sending correct postage is really important – when we first started to do this both Willa and myself were out of pocket a fair amount – I don’t mind topping up $20.00 or so but $50 is a bit rough – so over the years we have both got a little more strict about it and hope everyone understands.

Send with your swap return postage in Australia on a self addressed post pack or express post bag also include $7.00 in international postage stamps for every 10 baggies (or part there of) exchanged.

So if you elect to swap 10 baggies you send $7.00 if you send 20 you include $14.00 this means that weight for weight the postage costs are divided in a fair manner. International postage stamps are available from the post office – please send them as they are different from our usual internal stamps – they are GST free. Of course these are all used on the main parcel to go overseas.

Also include a self addressed plastic parcel post bag for your return baggies. This is used by me to post to you your return baggies. Please make sure it is large enough for your return baggies 10 baggies fit well in a smaller one and if you have swapped 20 baggies I either need two plastic post bags or the larger 3K size. Some people opt for the Next day delivery express post ones as they are impatient for their stuff! Also please address them.

Please too keep in mind that we are posting overseas so do not include heavy ‘extra’ items such as sweets etc. Remember our quarintine regulations too – no plant or vegetable matter is allowed such as seeds, leaves pressed flowers etc Since security is tight since Sept 11 parcels are likely to be inspected by customs. Do feel free however to include light weight Australian items – last year I included a tea bag. Post cards, are acceptable too use your imagination but keep it light and let’s have fun.

Label your baggies:
Please remember to mark every baggie with your name and address. This was the saving grace one year as the one of the American boxes was split open and those that had done this got their baggie back. Also remember to include your email address so that who ever receives your swap can write to you as it is normal practice to thank swappers for their bags. Its a great way to make contact with CQ’ers around the globe and great fun. I have made some very good friends on-line by following this practice.

Please place all tiny bits such as beads, buttons and charms in one of those small plastic bags – this means if for some reason your baggie splits the contents are not scattered everywhere – this happened last your with one of the American baggies and seed beads and other small escaped items were floating around the base of the parcel.

Put all your baggies inside another larger baggie for return. Label that
baggie with your name.. this means that it is a dream for sorting..

Hostess gifts are not expected but if you do include one please mark any hostess gifts clearly – this emables me to put them all in a bag and forward Willas gifts to her easily which prevents muddles. When we handle a swap of this size ie 200 baggies life can get muddled – so we ask that they are clearly marked.

Turn around time: usually the turn around time is between 3-6 weeks of the close off date. This is dependent on the postage authorities. To turn around a swap it takes time for the overseas post , the turn around swapping out the baggies (and triple checking the numbers) and then internal postage. There has been delays in the past when parcels were held up at customs, or it simply takes that amount of time to get from one country to the other.

Your Australian Hostess is Sharon Boggon(
and your American Hostess is Willa Fuller( One of the tasks of a hostess to act as guide so feel free to email me off list with any questions.

Those new this feel free to join in – it is fun and the American swappers are GOOD swappers. Their baggies are always generous. And everyone I know has enjoyed the swap in the past. My tone at the moment I know sound stern but that is simply because this swap is a big one (we are swapping in the region of 200 baggies between the two countries and between 50 -60 people take part ) and in juggling so many people both Willa and myself have to be organized and stick to the rules. Just remember only swap what you are happy to receive. This is the golden rule of swapping.

Contents of each baggie: Please read!
Each bag to contain:

2 pieces of special fabric (can be clean recycled ) equal to a 12″ square.
For instance Four 6″ X 6″ would be good. In other words make up fabric of
equal area. For Australians 12 inches is 30 cm and 6 inches 15cm. The fabric
should be special in some way and applicable to crazy. In other words silks,
brocades, metalics, interesting textures, including fancy cottons, but no “ordinary quilters cottons”, or “plain” fabric. Recycled fabric is fine. All fabric is to be clean and washed and no fabric with seams.

Include in your bag THREE of the FOLLOWING:

Nice buttons that are interesting in some way – that can act as a feature in CQ, vintage or MOP (mother of Pearl) etc No plastic shirt buttons please.
1 large, 2 – 3 medium, 5 or more if small.

Unusual glass or good quality beads, 1 if large, 2 if medium, 3 – 5 if small or a teaspoon or so of seed beads.

Lace and fine braids:
1 piece at 6 inches or 15cm
No nylon cheap laces please. Cotton, rayon and laces are appreciated. Hand dyed lace is beautiful to receive. Braid which are not too large for use in Crazy quilting are also interesting to receive.

5 specialty threads (minimum length 1 yard or 1 meter )
Specialty threads are anything that is not DMC or Anchor stranded cotton.
Threads such as hand dyed cottons, silks, cottons and the like. Metalics or interesting threads such as chenille and some of the specialty fibers are also interesting to include.
Australian firms produce some wonderful speciality threads and the Americans get the Inspirations magazine but often find it difficult to locate our threads the projects recommend so they love our thread.

1 charm

1 small lace, tatting or crochet motif or applique
Those who can tat or crochet have often included little motifs which are appreciated.

Pop in a brief note telling the person who receives the baggie who you are and where you are from and remember your email address.

A Retreat for Crazy Quilters

The First national Crazy Quilt retreat is in the process of being organized by Annie Whitsed with the assistance of Canberra Crazy Quilters and a Cyber Committee from the Southern Cross Crazies discussion list. It is to be held on the 1st – 4th October 2004 in an absolutely beautiful bush setting. The location is ideal for a retreat. So if you are heading to Oz in October and have an interest in Crazy Quilting you might like to join us.

Why Crazy Quilts?

Often I have been asked mainly by non- quilters why I make crazy quilts. Some see them as over embellished ugly Victorian monstrosities.

I never tire of looking at them. They were made to display expert skill in needlework. Embroidery stitches such as herringbone and feather stitching are often found but some crazy quilts are like huge samplers making them an encyclopaedia of embroidery stitches. I am always fascinated when I encounter objects that store information in a manner that is counter to print. This is particularly the case if it is women’s history. Samplers too act as a method of storing information about stitches. Kept in a sewing box, information retrieval consisted of simply reaching for the sampler and examining it. I have a crazy quilt like this that I finished a year or so ago. I often examine it to prompt my memory of a particular stitch. Instead of living a sewing box it hangs on the wall for easy access. My daughter (in her early 20’s) also uses the quilt in the same way, except for her it is to learn a stitch. Even though we have dozens of books in the house about stitching she examines the quilt and asks “How do I do that one?”

An embroiderer’s skill with a needle is not my only interest in a crazy quilt. Balancing the texture of lace, braid, buttons and beads against all those irregularly shaped pieces of different weights textures and tone is a challenge that I have not yet tired of. Unlike other quilting traditions apart from the general style there are no rules as such with crazy quilting. I think this is because the variety of materials and memorabilia found in crazy quilts is so wide. As objects they always balance on the edge of ugly and when making them keeping them on that line is also a challenge. In other words they head off into the area of kitsch. The issue of good and bad taste in a society is always about holding a particular value system in place. For me anything that pokes a dominant value system particularly a dominant value system of aesthetics is interesting if not fun.

As historical objects I find crazy quilts fascinating. Usually they are a mix of fabrics often collected over a period of years sometimes a life time. I made a quilt that contains the fabric from clothing of 4 generations of women. Also included on their surface decoration are braids and lace often from scraps from items of special clothing such as bridal dresses. Contained within these objects are narratives not of just the immediate family, but since women hand on scraps of fabric to each other, the stories of the lives of friends as well. This is where the stories associated with a quilt are so interesting. They are objects that provoke the narration of oral histories. The history is not the necessarily the mainstream tale of great public achievement but a history of the domestic and how major cultural events affected a person on the local level. For instance not being able to afford a particular thread or fabric during the depression.

The National Quilt Register attempts to record these stories. It is supported by major museums and heritage organisations, women’s groups and individuals across Australia. On their site they state that the register is “Women joining with other women to record our history through quilts”. All quilts and their stories are equally significant, no matter the technical ability of the quilter. On the register you will find all sorts of quilts from the finely stitched to the humble and functional and some are not even finished which is a relief as I know I always have a project somewhere that needs to be finished off! The National Quilt Register believes that a museum is more than a collection of objects. It is the stories behind the objects that the register actively collects. You do have the option of using a search engine or you can browse by stories which are grouped under subject lists. You can also browse by quilting style (such as crazy quilting) in the quilt tree. Many of the quilts have at least one image associated with them some have more. It’s the sort of resource site you find yourself lost in for hours. Enjoy.