Last year, I was lucky enough to stumble across a fabulous swap club on Instagram! The lovely Tara from @sewsforshoes was scoping out interest for an Aussie Handmade Birthday Club, which I ummed and ahhed about, and by the time I put my hand up – my month had been taken! But I still jumped in, and have just celebrated my “fake birthday month” in February! I received so many amazing gifts, I wanted to find out how Tara came up with the idea, and learn a little about the process. So, without further ado – please welcome Tara to the first ever Who, What, How? post here on Ms Midge!
– Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Tara, I’m a kiwi living in Brisbane. I work a pretty full on full time job as a Bid Coordinator, so what little spare time I have is spent sewing, or thinking about things I’d like to be sewing (while drinking wine). No husband or children, so mostly I make things for my friends and family. I did have plans to start making things to sell, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Maybe one day when I win the lotto. I’ve always known how to sew, but really only taken up quilting in the last couple of years.
– When did you start the Australian Handmade Birthday Club, and why?
I started the AHBC in July 2014. I had seen a similar one running in the US on Instagram, and someone was starting a Canadian version. I thought it looked like a great idea, so decided to see if there was any interest in an Aussie. Plus I don’t get many presents, so there might have been some selfish reasons as well haha (I’m in two groups, which means double presents!)
– How does the AHBC work?
There are 12 people in a group, each with their birthday in a different month, and each month you make a gift for the birthday girl that month. Then when it’s your birthday, you get 11 awesome presents! Everyone filled out a bit of a questionnaire about themselves and their likes/dislikes etc., to help everyone make them something they would love.
– How many participants did you think you would have involved and how many did you end up with?
I honestly thought I’d be lucky to get the 11 others I needed! At the time I was pretty new to using Instagram properly, and didn’t know many people on there, so just decided to float the idea one day. I ended up with enough for 4 groups (or parties as I like to call them). Some people were so excited to take part they are having fake birthday in other months (like yourself!)
– What has the feedback been like from participants?
The feedback has been great – people seem to be really enjoying it, which is awesome. And the gifts so far have been amazing!
– Have you had any problems/issues with the club?
The biggest issue, as with most swap type things, is lack of communication. I get that life gets in the way some times, which is totally fine and to be expected, but it doesn’t take much to drop a quick email to the birthday girl for the month letting them know their gift will be late.
– What has been the best thing you’ve gained from the experience?
I have gotten to know some awesome people through the group, and made some great friends (even if I haven’t met them in real life yet). It’s awesome to make something for someone that you know they will appreciate. And there are more than just quilters in the group – there are seamstresses, jewellery makers, people who crochet etc., which is fantastic.
– Would you do this again? Why or why not?
I think I would, as overall it has been a fantastic experience. I think I will do it by invite next time, or possibly via recommendations from people already participating.
– What are your favourite handmade gifts to make?
My go to gift is the Girlfriend Wallet (by Amira from Little Mushroom Cap) – it’s such a great pattern, and so easy to customise according to people’s tastes. I also like to make an extra, maybe a pouch, or a pin cushion or something to go along with it. I also like to make the card, and throw in some chocolate or some other treat.
Thanks for being such a good sport Tara and for putting so much work in to organising such a fun gift giving bonanza! It certainly made the lead up to my 40th birthday much more exciting!
If you’d like to check out some of the amazing gifts that have been given since the club began, check out the following hashtags on Instagram:
#ahbc #ahbcparty1 #ahbcparty2 #ahbcparty3 #ahbcparty4
Here are the gifts I have received so far!
Tell me – have you been in any fabulous handmade swaps recently?