Modern Scrappy Bits Swap

First a quick (okay, not at all quick) note: I mentioned in one of my last couple entries that shipping prices from the US are going way, way up – here’s a handy chart from Sew Mama Sew if any of you are Canadian like me and want to know just exactly how bad it is. One pattern, one fat quarter, itty bitty amounts of things, basically? SIX DOLLARS FIFTY CENTS. If you go up to the larger size, the flat rate envelope (previously about $13) holds (according to SMS) up to ten yards (though I’ve seen other sites say about 7 yds),.. so let’s just say I were to buy a full ten yards of non-organic print fabric from SMS (sorry to pick on them, they just happen to be the site with the up to date shipping chart), it would be approximately 10 (yds) x 10 (approx non-sale price per yard) = 100 + 20 (shipping) = $120. If I were to buy 10 yds of non-organic print fabric from Mad About Patchwork (chosen because it’s the Canadian store I most often shop at), it would be about 10 x 11 = 110 + 6 = 116. It’s not a massive difference, and if anything were on sale in the US or were some of the cheaper fabrics (because A LOT but not all fabrics are in the $10 range, especially if you buy solids) then it might still be more economical to buy in the US. (And I assume shipping prices in Canada are going up this weekend too, so Mad About Patchwork may have to re-evaluate their shipping prices. Don’t quote me on any part of that, just speculating based on the fact that shipping prices go up EVERY year.) So, okay, then it comes down to some other factors: I usually don’t, but might get charged customs or duties (esp if buying a large amount) if I order from the US, it takes 2 weeks pretty much always, if you don’t spread the $20 shipping cost over a full 10 yards fabric your shipping costs (per unit) shoot up (6yds x 10 = 60 + 20 = 80 vs. 6 x 11 = 66 + 6 = 72).

All of which by way of saying that Canadian shopping is looking better and better and better. (Though I assume this means it will become more expensive still for a Canadian shop to bring in fabric, so that base price of approximately $11 may have to go up to 12 or 13 so that shops can still make SOME money off what they’re bringing in.)

Here’s a couple other things I foresee happening:
1. More bees will disallow Canadian/International participants. (Because never mind that when one of us participates we have to spend higher shipping on EVERY non-Canadian bee member where most American bee members might only have to spend higher amounts on one or two people. Yes, I get a bug up my ass about American people who don’t want to play outside their own sandbox because it’s more expensive shipping to the two or three of us on the other side of the fence.) Alternately, more bees might be run with geographic groupings, so that the Americans will play with the Americans, the Canadians with the Canadians, the Europeans with the Europeans, etc. Which may mean I’ll get to know my fellow Canadian sewists a lot better, but narrows the pool significantly.
2. Giveaways will become almost exclusively limited to country of origin. (Meaning Sew Mama Sew’s giveaway day will be by and large a for US participants only phenomenon. Again, not to pick on SMS, they just happen to host the largest giveaway party.) Non-Americans are already excluded from a lot of giveaways and I predict it’s going to become a whole lot worse. (Which, I hate to harp on, because people giving things away for free are still giving things away for free, and that’s a nice thing, even if it’s given away in a limited way.)

Anyway, nothing to be done about it. Except to shop Canadian and get to know my fellow Canadian potential-bee-partners, right?

Moving along…
So I’ve talked in the past about the things I’ve received from my partners in the Scrappy Bits swap on flickr (sign-ups for Round 3 are currently open, if you’re interested in joining in! Join the group if you’re not already a member, and then go to the Sticky Post section of the discussions where you’ll find a sticky post with a link to the sign-up form – you NEED to have a flickr account to join), but I’ve never quite got around to talking about the things I’ve sent away.

I’ve participated in both the previous swaps, so I’ve got two sets of things to show you here. I don’t remember a whole lot about that original swap, though it seems to me that we were able to talk about our likes and dislikes or something to that effect. My swap partner, CraktPot had requested a pouch, if I remember right, and hoped for something in an aqua/red/black colour scheme. Then again, I might be imagining all that. I knew from her Flickr account that she was a fan of Tula Pink, and originally I’d started trying to stitch one of Tula Pink’s clock-work birds in shades of aqua/teal on black Essex linen, which I was going to turn into a pouch. But, holy time consuming! And I didn’t have any of the Tula Pink fabric, so I was basing my pattern on a much-blown up image off the internet, which wasn’t very clear and wasn’t working very well. I’m pretty sure that project is still in a hoop somewhere, and I’ll salvage what I can of the linen someday because I don’t think the bird will happen…

Anyway, I had to re-evaluate, and I made up two different pouches using that colour scheme before deciding which one to send away. I still have this first pouch, which actually makes a pretty good pencil case and has been doing just that for the last few months:

Scrappy Bits pouch #1 (Mosaic)

This pouch, called the Elise Pouch from IThinkSew, is kind of shaped like a computer mouse. It’s a very interesting one to put together, though I found the directions a bit weird and maybe more difficult than they needed to be. I found it kind of fun putting together the outside of the pouch – it’s essentially just a circle, with a bridge connecting the sides (and a zipper through the middle of the bridge), so I made up a big square and then cut slashes through it to insert all the stripes of colour before trimming it down to a circle. (I’ve been contemplating making another with wedges, like a Dresden plate.) After it was done I pretty much immediately wished I hadn’t made the bridge piece in red – it just didn’t seem to fit and that’s ultimately why I didn’t send it away.

The one I did send away is this pouch, made with the open wide pouch tutorial from Noodlehead:

Scrappy Bits pouch #2 (mosaic)

I made the outside of the pouch the same way as I did for the Elise pouch (slashes of blue through the black), but this time I added a little stitching alongside some of the slashes of colour (which turned out to be largely pointless – so much of it got cut away when I boxed the corners! Ought to have thought about that…). The black in this pouch is Essex Linen, which is a cotton-linen blend that’s pretty nice to work with.

I really like this tutorial (which is free, the Elise pattern is a for-purchase pattern) and definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to get into the pouch-making game. It’s fun and pretty easy, if you’re as scared of putting zippers into things as I am. (And on the zipper note, I can’t recommend the zippers from ZipIt enough. They’ve got a billion colours in a lot of sizes and the customer service is great.)

All that said, the point of the swap really is to give away part of your scrap stash and to receive back a pile of someone else’s scraps. I always have plans for things to do with my scraps, though I never seem to do something with any of those plans, but the way I see it… the more variety the better. If I get back into paper-piecing again, I might get bits and pieces that’d work out in ways my own scraps might not. Officially we send away the equivalent of one fat quarter’s worth of scraps, but I’m not very good at restricting myself like that, so I sent away a fair bit more than that.

Modern Scrappy Bits

I also sent along a little Elypoo notebook (it’s a book of paper made in a way that involves elephant poo, though I don’t really recall too much more about it) and some DMC rayon thread, which I picked out because it was so very, very shiny:

Modern Scrappy Bits

For the second round I made another Noodlehead pouch, though this time I modified the size (and shouldn’t have, since it threw off the proportions of the pouch) and machine appliquéd it with stars.


To be honest, I really wasn’t happy with this one. I had this idea in my head, which started with the idea of constellations and I don’t know where the thought came from, but I wanted to make a constellation with the fabric and stars, but then I couldn’t find a small enough paper-pieced pattern for a star and, oh, I don’t know, just the general metamorphosis that happens going from thought A to B to C to reality and somehow it just wasn’t working, so I thought, well, I’ll machine appliqué the stars randomly and fuzz the edges so it’s kind of twinkly around the edges and… ugh. I wasn’t happy. But I was late! I spent so much time dithering over what to do – my recipient, Prsd4tim2, has this lovely blog full of things she’s made, but so very much of it was things she’d made for other people and I couldn’t decide if the things on her site were things she made because she loved them or because she thought someone else would love them, so I didn’t feel I had a real handle on her tastes and what sort of thing she’d really like to have. (If I’d been a wiser woman, I’d have looked at her flickr profile because she’s got a great big list right there in front of your eyes and mine that I could have used to narrow things down!) So dithering lead to the due date lead to me rushing through the project. And being a little more unhappy than happy with the final project. I don’t think it’s TERRIBLE, it’s just not what I wanted, you know? And then I also think it looks more suitable for a child than an adult, which is… frustrating, because she’s not an 8 year old with a collection of multi-coloured gel pens, you know? Anyway, despite my general frustration and slight dislike of the project, happily my recipient seems pleased AND likely to make use of it.

Anyway, I also sent along this collection of fabric scraps:


In deference to the Christmas season, I mostly chose fabrics from the red and green parts of my scrap bag (with some aquas thrown in likely because they weren’t sorted by colour but were sitting in a heap on TOP of all the sorted stuff)

Awesome. Okay, I’m writing this in the bathtub, with my laptop propped on the toilet while I awkwardly lean over the edge of the bath to type, and I just managed to pull down my shower curtain rod. Thank DOG it didn’t crack me in the skull or my laptop in the screen. But just for good measure: UGH. Also, note to self: there’s a reason we don’t typically write blog posts in the bath. If I had a camera in here I’d take a picture. Of the shower curtain.

ANYWAY, in deference to the Christmas season, I mostly chose fabrics from the red and green parts of my scrap bag (with some aquas thrown in likely because they weren’t sorted by colour but were sitting in a heap on TOP of all the sorted stuff). That said, I very, very intentionally choose red and green fabrics that WEREN’T actually Christmas prints. (I don’t have any, anyway. Gave them all away.) I wanted the recipient to be able to use them any which way she pleased without being locked into a full-on Christmas project.

Modern Scrappy Bits swap package

I also sent along (one by one the last few attached shower curtain hooks are sliding down the rod, disconnecting, and giving me a little jolt of shock every time one of them slips and clanks down) some crewel wool in two shades of orange, because I know she does some embroidery and also I thought crewel wool might actually be a nice addition to a quilted project, even if you don’t actually do crewel embroidery and also just barely visible (hooked through that bitty square of fabric with the bird on it) a number 5 Bohin embroidery needle. Prsd4tim2 had mentioned on her blog her quest for a great needle, and I LOVE my #5 Bohins. They’re fantastic to work with (though a little large for more delicate embroidery), beautifully made, and just FEEL good in the fingers. They’re the only Bohin needles I’ve used, but I’m in love. (So in love I bought 4 packets of Bohin needles for an upcoming project of mine – they’re all different sizes/types ranging from beading needles to assorted embroidery sizes to tapestry to millners and sharps.)

Anyway, just wanted to remind anyone who is interested that the sign-ups for Round Three of the Modern Scrappy Bits swap are open now. I don’t see a date when sign-ups close, so sign up now not later!

9 thoughts on “Modern Scrappy Bits Swap”

    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, I mean, the part of me that’s honest about myself says that probably I’ll wind up still buying a lot of fabric out of the US, but that I’ll start buying larger amounts at a time. (I usually would buy only a couple yards, so long as it still came out cheaper to buy in the US.) And maybe things won’t be quite so frustrating with bees and all that, but I can’t help but speculate about it.

  1. I think Mad About Patchwork ships for a flat rate of about $6 in Canada and over $150 is free. That’s kind of appealing. But yeah, I was doing the math too and it may still be cheaper to buy out of the States. I also have an American friend who’s picked up packages from her parents for me, so that may have to be my new way of getting the goods. But that means I’m restricted to about two order a year, lol!

    1. Yeah, if I lived closer to the border, well, not that so much .. if I had a car, I’d have to consider getting a mail box across the border.

      Hopefully this will inspire me to use a little more of the fabric I’ve got instead of always buying something new… 😀

  2. Thanks for the pricing! I usually buy from Connecting Threads and have noticed that it is already rather expensive. Sew Sisters in Canada is good…now I should try to find some reasonalble Canada retailers! I will check out that scrappy swap! You sure were busy with those pouches!

    1. Yeah, I’ve bought from them in the past too. The one benefit to them is that their base fabric price is (or was, it’s been a while…) cheaper than standard quilt-shop quality quilting fabric, which helps counteract the shipping costs a bit.

      The pouches were definitely a new thing for me – I usually avoid anything that involves zippers 😀

  3. Hi there Kristel…about the owl for birds, apparently they do work. Maybe do some research as to what kind. I noticed one just the other day, near a McDonalds!

    1. Heh… I don’t know why I didn’t think to research it, I just keep talking about it and never doing anything 😀 I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

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