Friday, May 8, 2015

Secret Sewist Swap Makes

At Mid-Atlantic Mod retreat this year, we tried a new kind of swap: Secret Sewists. Different versions of this swap have popped up at sewing retreats over the last couple of years. Basically, you receive the name and likes/dislikes of a random person from another guild (since we have members of 5 Modern Quilt Guilds in attendance, it was easy to organize this part). Then, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the retreat, you leave them handmade gifts at their table (and extras if you so wish). The catch, as you probably have guessed by now, is that you cannot reveal your name until Sunday. You can see all the gifts that were posted on Instagram under the hashtags #secretsewist and #midatlanticmod!

I was thrilled to receive the name of one of my actual friends from the North Jersey guild, Melanie. Chad and I organized the swap, and to ensure that we could both participate, we chose for each other. My match was a happy accident. The main problem was not squeaking and giving away the fact that I was making gifts for her for two weeks as we chatted!

For Day 1, I made a 1 Hour Basket by kelbysews. This quick and fun basket is currently a huge hit on Instagram (#onehourbasket), and I found the directions very easy to follow. It took me a little longer than an hour because I wanted to pieced the outside. I used strips of Melanie's favorite colors and fabrics (low volume with greens and blues, plus lots of Carolyn Friedlander's fabrics), in color gradation (on the side in the picture below). I wrapped a bunch of goodies I've been picking up here and there and left them in the basket, too. Hopefully, at this point, Mel knew she was in for some spoiling!

 Day two's gift was the most fun to set up. I made Melanie a double-sided mug rug (which really could also serve as a mini quilt). She loves typewriters, so I took a deep breath and used one of my two Melody Miller typewriters paired with the perfect shade of Doe orange. I had fun quilting this!

 I also scoured the Internet for the perfect Muppet mug (I found this one on Society 6) and filled it with Kit Kats (her favorite candy). Finally, since she was teaching her Peek block that day (and I was taking her class!), I left an apple with a note: "Good luck, teach!" P.S. Melanie's Peek block pattern is now live!
Reversible mug rug - other side - slightly wonky log cabin

On the last day, I left my signature double-sided tablerunner. Melanie is very inspired by Libs Elliot, so I gathered my fabrics together and made a bunch of half-square triangles. Then, I used Ms. Elliot as inspiration to lay them out. I threw in a couple of larger HSTs to vary up the scale. On the back, I improv-pieced lots of scraps together. The tablerunner is quilted with straight lines and spirals.  I hope it is the clean and modern look that Melanie is looking for in her home. 

It was a pleasure to create all of these presents for my secret partner, and it was exciting to wonder about what was waiting for me each morning! Due to the popularity and success of the swap (38 out of 75 people at the retreat participated!), I'm sure we will do it again next year.

Purple gifts from my own Secret Sewist on the right! (@alysonwonderlan on IG - THANK YOU, Alyson! :) ).

P.S. My Sew Mama Sew giveaway is open until Sunday night!


  1. Oooh, love that basket! Great fabric choices, Jess! I'm sure she loved that gift!

  2. Such wonderful gifts. Hand sewn presents are always the best kind. x

  3. I enjoyed the Secret Sewist swap at Mod so much! I had so much fun making and purchasing gifts for my partner and was blown away by my gifts from mine! Plus, I made two new friends which is the real gift. So glad we will do it again next year! Your gifts - both made and received - are fabulous!

  4. This swap looked like so much fun! Everyone got the cutest stuff, it makes me seriously consider signing up for the secret swap at the retreat I'm going to in November...

  5. So fun. Love the blue/green gifts you made. It is fun to see several of my favorite fabrics -- Joel Dewberry's navy/white houndstooth, the turquoise woodgrain, and the cobalt blue sketchy one. You have such good taste! And the LV fabrics are great too. Love the boat.


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