Join a quilt guild in your area and be sure to mark all the meetings on your calendar. Make your quilt guild meeting a priority. Don't allow other trivia in your life to interfere with quilt guild. You won't want to miss many meetings as you might miss some very useful quilting information. This is your special night out and you owe it to yourself to attend all the meetings you possibly can.
You may have to drive to a larger city for your monthly meetings but if your schedule permits you may go early in the day and shop at the quilt stores and fabric stores, grab a sandwich or taco and go to your meeting in the evening. My quilt guild is almost 35 miles from my home, has 300 members, and is located in a city of seventy seven thousand.
At a quilt guild you will meet many quilters who come from different cultures and backgrounds. You will meet grandmothers, homemakers, and singles. You will meet teachers, nurses, and professional women of all ages and lifestyles. You might even meet some men at your guild meeting.
Large guilds with a large membership base have members that are professional long arm quilters, book authors, published art quilters, and quilters who design patterns. There are several locally prominent quilters in each large guild. And there are several quilt shop or sewing machine store owners. All these bring a wealth of information to the members of a quilt guild.
A quilt guild is an opportunity to meet quilters of other cultures and age groups. In my guild, there is a member who was born in China and brings her special talents, a quilter who specializes in Judaic Art Quilts, two designers of wearable art patterns, several professional long arm quilters, a quilt book author, a hand dyer of fabric, an antique kit quilt collector, a quilter with art quilts featured in a national magazine, three men, pre-teen daughters of members, and many others with specialized quilting talents.
One of our guild members is a quilter who was commissioned to make a large art quilt to be displayed in a local three story atrium office building. She shared her experience of making this quilt and said it took two king size battings. The pieced quilt was long arm quilted, and then the appliqué was completed and returned to the long arm quilter to quilt the appliquéd area. Just hearing about the logistics of the hanging sleeve and hanging this large quilt on the wall beside the third story balcony was very interesting.
Some Features available at quilt guilds
Quilt guilds offer many features that members may participate in. A list of some guild activities is discussed in the following paragraphs.
Many quilt guilds have social activities that are available to quilters at times other than the regular quilt meeting. These are sometimes called small groups or quilting bees. The small groups meet in different areas of the city in homes, libraries, and community rooms.
In small groups of only five or six quilter's many one on one friendships are formed. Many small groups just meet at another time from the guild meeting to talk and visit and work on individual projects.
Some quilters bring works in progress and seek opinions on borders, choice of binding fabric, or other quilting question. She might get three or four different opinions but is still free to choose from several options rather than just her own ideas.
Some small groups make friendship quilts where each member chooses a block pattern and background fabric and hands out instructions. The other quilters add fabrics, make the blocks and return them to the person chosen to receive blocks at the next meeting.
Many small groups share concerns about other parts of their lives such as children, grandchildren, health concerns, career opportunities and other things women talk about when they meet.
Small groups may make charity quilts either for the larger guild charity or for another charity of their choice. Each group is free to choose their own goals and purpose.
A guild will choose a charitable project and guild members make quilts to go to the local agencies such as women's shelters, children's homes, or Hospice.
A size guideline is chosen and members are welcomed to volunteer to make a quilt of the approximate specified size to donate to the chosen charitable organization. These quilts may be made of fabric of the quilter's choice. Machine quilting and tying is recommended so the quilts will last through many launderings.
A most favorite charity of our guild is buying a stuffed animal or doll and making a small quilt sized to wrap the toy. In December, these sets are given to children's charities and are readily accepted by local agencies. They are then given to deserving children of the community.
A large guild will also hold a yearly quilt show or a bi-annual quilt show. Usually they rent a large venue and will possibly have over two thousand visitors in the two days they are open. If the guild can rent the same venue from year to year many out of town attendees will look for the show and be repeat visitors.
Some venues are not aware of the impact a group of quilters can make in a community and might not consider a quilt guild a viable organization. They think of us as simply a group of grandmothers. If you find this situation, just find another venue where you will be accepted and appreciated.
Raffle quilt -- If your guild is non-profit a quilt can be raffled for the use of the guild for furthering education. A portion of the funds could also be given to a women's shelter or children's charity as the guild decides. Usually raffle tickets are sold at the quilt show and the drawing for the winner is at the last hour on the second day of the show.
A monthly newsletter is prepared and sent to members. The newsletter includes announcements of upcoming meetings, classes and workshops. It also includes listings of new library books. There is also a listing of officers and committee chairs. There should be a listing of future quilt shows in your area and information about workshops at other guilds. Newsletters should be mailed out about two weeks before the meeting.
Knowledge And Education
A guild considers knowledge and education of the membership to be an important part of meeting the needs of local quilters. Speakers for meetings, teachers for classes and workshops, and guild libraries are an important part of education of guild members.
Local quilting teachers can be hired to teach a day or evening class or workshop. These classes need not be expensive and are usually well attended by members. You may have members within the guild that are qualified to teach a class or check with local quilt stores. They may know someone who is willing to come and teach classes at your guild.
National Teachers are available to give a lecture at the monthly meeting and then teach one or two day workshops. Many book authors, art quilters, and teachers are available to travel to your guild at your request. A large guild has the financial resources to hire national teachers because they will have more students to take the workshops and share in the expense. If another guild is within driving distance they might be willing to share travel expenses for a national teacher.
Monthly Meeting Speakers
A guild should hire entertaining and educational quilt speakers for their monthly meetings. These speakers don't need to be expensive. There are quilters available from another guild within driving distance or quilt store owners and teachers. Look for resources in your community such as local artists, teachers, and art gallery owners.
A library of quilt books is very important for a quilt guild. The lending library does not have to be large but should have basic quilting instruction books, intermediate and advanced books, art quilt books and others that would be of interest to the general population of the guild members. A simple check-out card system should be set up so there will be a record of who has borrowed a book should reminder cards or phone calls need to be made.
Vendors should be encouraged to bring items to sell at quilt meetings. This is an opportunity for quilters to purchase fabric, books and quilting supplies that might not be available in the local quilt shop. Some of the vendors come from a distance that the individual quilters might not be willing to travel to their shop regularly.
Long Arm Quilters -- a guild is a good place to meet long arm quilters and see their projects and assess their workmanship. Each long arm quilter has her own style. You will be able to see what type of work she does and choose a quilter that quilts to your design specifications.
Show and Tell -- Show and tell is the high point of guild meeting. Anyone who is willing brings their finished quilts, works in progress, or wearable art to share and show. It is gratifying to a quilter to hear applause when she shows a beautiful quilt. We have seen everything from vests, jackets, tote bags, bra purses, wall art, baby quilts, lap quilts, bed quilts, and extra large king quilts.
Everyone likes a free gift. Drawings for door prizes will encourage a larger attendance. The larger the guild membership, the greater number of gifts should be given at each meeting. Vendors and local quilt shops may be willing to donate door prizes.
We have a "free" table at our guild meeting -- this is a table where you can place unfinished projects, fabric scraps, books, magazines, patterns, and other quilt related items you no longer wish to keep. Other members are free to take items that they can use.
Bi-annual garage sale -- Quilt guilds have a yard sale or auction on a regular basis. You may bring books, patterns, fabric, unfinished projects or any quilt related items that you wish to sell. Some guilds have proceeds go to the guild treasury and some allow individual quilters keep the proceeds from their sales.
Guilds may decide to have snacks and beverages at guild meetings. These could include cookies, brownies, cheese and crackers, fresh vegetable and dip trays, etc. Coffee, tea, or punch may be provided by the guild and other snacks may be provided by the members. If there are no kitchen facilities available, other options might need to be discussed.
Annual Potluck or Picnic
The guild may choose to have a winter holiday party or a summer picnic. The indoor potluck could meet at the regular meeting location and a picnic could be scheduled at a local park.
If you are asked to be an officer, committee chair, or a volunteer at your local guild, please accept and do your part. To have an alive and active guild many people need to take a small portion of the responsibility for maintaining the guild. Having a successful guild depends on many volunteers working together to the success of the group.
There are many activities a guild may plan according to their location and specific membership needs. Your guilds board and committees will provide its members with exciting information and activities.
Joining a guild can be a very rewarding experience. We do make an impact and a difference in our community. We give quilts to charity, we help others, and we are quilters!