Monday 12 April 2010

The Swap is Dead. Long Live the Swapping

That's right people, the International Fabric Swap as hosted on this blog has drawn to a close. I came back this morning from a weekend away to find no takers for the lastest fabric offering. I subsequently acknowledge that the swap came to a natural end due to a gradual decrease in interest, but I would like to thank the lovely ladies that did participate who I am very pleased and lucky to have cyber-met in the process.

I imagine that participants weren't forth coming for two main reasons. The cost of shipping fabric (not the lightest thing in the world, as anyone who has trudged home after a fabric shop blitz would agree) potentially to another continent is no-doubt off putting to many, which is completely understandable as the fabric being sent may have been purchasable locally for less. And hey, it's a crisis after all!

The second reason I could see that might have dissuaded peops is the carbon footprint of sending something across the land or oceans. This of course does much to negate the original intention of attempting to encourage the use of existing materials rather than wasting the energy and resources required to produce new materials. I totally understand and share that concern. However, the fabric swap DID redistribute some pieces of previously unloved stash into the grateful and inspired arms of loving sewers, as well as publicising the Stash Bustin' challenge which I feel very strongly about.

So what now? Well, to avoid excessively postage and environmental costs but still pass on fabric you aren't inspired by and/or acquire fabric that does float your creative boat; I would heavily suggest hosting a real life fabric swap! The London sewing group I was formerly part of hosted one of these once and it was a massive success. I'm sure there is a heap of different ways you could work it, but the formular we used goes like this: everyone who has brought unwanted stash with them holds up and shows each other what they have brought then puts it out in front of them. The show kicks off by one person picking a piece of someone else’s fabric offerings to become theirs. The person who is now 'deficient' then gets to pick a piece that has caught their eye from anyone else’s offerings. Whoever originally owned that piece of fabric then gets to pick someone else’s piece that has taken their fancy. So on and so forth until the remainders which aren't passionately desired get generally given away or taken back home. It's perhaps not the absolute fairest method, but it worked for us.

So, if you are part of a sewing group/club/meetup, or are lucky enough to have a group of crafty friends, why don't you host your own fabric swap? This could be a fun event as well as a way to off-load/obtain otherwise dormant fabric. Maybe it could also turn into a way to raise funds for charity. Maybe it could include wool, or other creative materials. Also, don't over look Freecycle and charity shops as a source to pass on or acquire fabric. There are many ways that we can redistribute the things that already exist that are currently sitting about unused. If you have had any successful swap experiences or ideas for how they could be hosted smoothly, please leave them in the comments section. I, and other potential fabric swappers, would love to hear them.


Minnado said...

Hi Zoe
Your fabric swap in real life sounds a bit like the swishing clothes parties that have become popular recently. I wholeheartedly echo the sentiment of getting fabrics from charity shops, and freecycle. I have had some great fabrics this way and it brings into play an element of chance that is fun. By the way, I have just made a toddler dress from the fabric swap fabric via your blog, I will post pictures soon, and for one I would like to say Thank You for organising the swap, I received pretty fabric that I haven't seen locally.

Tilly said...

Oh boo! I thought your international swapping was great - I was just waiting for something to come up that I loved sufficiently to want to part with some fab fabric I've got (only thing wrong with it is that the colour doesn't suit me). Maybe there's a way of making it work by everyone posting their fabric to a group blog - so there's more choice - and earning points when their fabric is taken (or received) that they can then spend on a piece that they want? So like your in-person swapping party but online.

Clare said...

It's a shame this didn't take on - even though I didn't join in I liked seeing what was being offered. I usually donate unwanted fabric to charity shops or the local art college. I've got years' worth of fabric stored and don't always want a piece going out to be replaced by a new one! Tilly's idea of a group blog could really work for swapping and also giveaways.

Pattern Junkie said...

I love the idea of starting a group blog for swapping! I meant to start a Yahoo email group years ago for swapping fabric and patterns but never got it off the ground. I think you could run it like the Wardrobe Swap Shop on Flickr -- people post what they have to swap and then contact each other directly to arrange the swap. If anyone's game to help me run a group blog or Flickr group, let me know -- it could be fun!

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