Share (Quilt Blocks) and Share Alike

I’ve never (successfully) been a part of a block exchange. I’ve wanted to join one, but just never had the time to follow through (that’s the unsuccessful part). So last year, when I was at Lake Tahoe with Mary Lou and friends, I was delighted when someone suggested we have a witch block exchange. The witch was modified from a pattern that I think had its roots in one of Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran’s fantastic, freeform books. (You can see Cherise’s incredible version of this quilt below.)

One of my fellow retreaters, De, offered to create a pattern and share it with us, which she did last year. Then Mel made a variation of De’s template pattern using strips. I didn’t get started on these until I was at the lake in August and only have one completely finished. But I have all the segments of the other 14 blocks ready to go.

I admit that used to be a bit of a snob about novelty prints. Some slip too far over the edge of cutesiness, particularly if you don’t have a baby or grandchild for whom you’re stitching. And who really needs a Halloween quilt? But as my friend Anne R. reminded me yesterday, most quilting these days doesn’t have a whole lot to do with need. And is there a better excuse for buying skull and crossbones fabric?

I’ll share the results with you in mid-October, when the retreaters gather and swap blocks…it will be a perfect example of what I love about quilting—the way that one block can look so different, depending on the fabrics used to make it. 

Have you had any experience with block exchanges? Any stories you'd be willing to share?