Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway

150px Map of USA NE.svg Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway

I moved recently from Colorado, just one state north and east, to Nebraska.

Now that I’m settling in, the time has come to start checking out the local quilt guilds. I wonder which one might be a good fit for me in this new place. I live in a rural area but am within one hour of several larger towns where guilds exist. So far I’m aware of four different groups I’m going to visit.

castlerockquiltclub Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway

Tonight is the first meeting I will attend. It’s been a long time since I was the new kid on the block, and I wonder how it will go. I’ve visited quite a few guilds as a speaker for Quiltmaker, and their personalities vary. Some are laid back and friendly and lovable, some are loud and boisterous and hilarious, a few are somewhat reserved, even rigid.

guilds1 Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway

I will never forget the meeting I visited where the president said it was time for new people to take over the leadership. When nobody volunteered, she stood silently in front of the group. It took quite a long time but eventually someone caved.
 Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway
It was excruciating. I was mortified.

I’m not expecting anything like that again, but my anticipation of tonight and of visiting all these new groups started me thinking about what makes a great quilt guild. Here it is, IMHO.

  1. A quilt guild should be friendly, friendly, friendly. This is quilting. It’s not the Marine Corps.
     Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway
  2. The leadership should be happy, happy, happy. Their attitude (whatever it is) will spill over into the group.
  3. All members should be contributing in some way: bringing treats, show-and-tell, putting a quilt in the
    show, raising dollars, welcoming visitors, something. QUILT GUILD Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway

    Everyone should do something so that no one has to do everything.

  4. The business meeting should be short. The Show & Tell should be long (but not long-winded, see #5).
  5. Show & Tell should be encouraging, uplifting and appreciative!
    showtell Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway
    Each participant should speak briefly. In a great guild, every quilt is applauded and every member lets others enjoy her finishes by bringing them to Show & Tell. If she has serious stage fright, she asks a friend to speak on her behalf.
  6. The programs are important but they are not the meat and potatoes!  Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway
    The quilters themselves are the meat and potatoes. The relationships quilters have with each other make a guild cohesive and fun. Going to quilt guild should be about hanging out with old friends and about making new ones.

What do you think makes a great quilt guild? Leave a comment by midnight Monday, Feb. 21 and I’ll pick one winner to receive a bundle of new quilting books. The winner is Sheila, comment #29.  Congratulations! Thank you to everyone for the great guild ideas you shared!

I’m hoping for new friends and lots of great quilty experiences with them. I’ll let you know how it goes!

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email:
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73 Responses to Being New at a Quilt Guild: Giveaway

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  3. Katie says:

    I joined a pretty big guild (360+) and the first year found it not that friendly. But that was more perception since I didnt know anybody. Once I put on my big girl panties and put my shyness on hold I did make some aquantences. The guild is well run with great national speakers and the next year I became the beekeeper and the newsletter editor and that made tons of difference. The best way to break in is to get involved! And join some small groups or bees, then you have someone to sit with at the big meetings. And if we all make an effort to greet and chat with guests, that gives a good impression and will get people coming back. It takes effort to make a good guild and some effort to be a good member too.

  4. clara says:

    I think a guild should be supportive of the community and
    should be involved in various projects that might lend to helping others. Quilting should be shared!

  5. Nancy says:

    As a native Nebraskan, I welcom you to the state and hope you will find us friendly. I belong to three groups (two are called guilds) of quilters. I enjoy all of them, I hope you find a guild that fits you. Have a goood time.

  6. Ellen says:

    FRIENDLY – lots of laughs

  7. Beth McConnell says:

    Hi thanks for letting me comment. I agree that friendship, fun and laughter are the most important. I would like to have people share their skills, tips, tricks etc. I love the fact that guilds make quilts for those less fortunate. I would love to find a guild that is warm, friendly and accepting of new members.

  8. Sandy says:

    a key ingredient for me of a successful group that was missing from the “checklist” was charity sewing. Is the guild doing something meaningful to give back to the community of their talents?

  9. Patricia says:

    I belong to two local guilds and they couldn’t be more different. One is small (capped @80) so it’s fairly easy to identify each member. Funds are limited as older members don’t want fees raised, which would bring in some good speakers and fun activites & field trips. In spite of the flaws, this is my favorite guild. I joined the larger guild (130 members) for the lectures and workshops that are led by nationally recognized quilters. The drawback is that I’ve yet to make friendships with any other quilters. I’m still hopeful, though!

  10. Valerie Davis says:

    Not only am I new member of a wonderful guild, I am a beginner quilter as well. My guild is friendly, fun, and creative! The members are wonderful quilters and always willing to help. Their inspiration is what keeps me quilting and wanting to learn more. — A happy member of the Hummin’ Bolt Quilter’s Guild of Elko County, Nevada

  11. bonnie says:

    I belonged to a guild in my hometown and there the people were friendly, helpful and just a lot of fun to be with. I visited one in my new town and I felt that I was a invader, they were so cold and more catty then I cared to be around.. So I do my thing my self… I don’t need the drama.

  12. Brita says:

    Friendly, welcoming, happy and spirited, with lots of lessons and classes, activities, swaps, trips. That would be a perfect guild!

  13. Sherill says:

    I was very nervous when I went to my first quilt guild meeting. I was met with smiling faces everywhere I turned. I joined that night! We have many programs and challenges. A few have become very very good friends.

  14. Shirley says:

    I think a quilt guild should be welcoming to newcomers. They should not be so set in their ways that they can’t investigate new ideas before knocking them down.

  15. Mary says:

    I belong to a small guild, and it has just what a guild should have: caring, friendly, sharing people who are a blast to be around. We have a variety of ability levels, but everyone encourages each other. Good luck finding a guild you like – who knows, maybe you’ll join more than one!

  16. Judy says:

    Diane, I can’t think of anything to add to your list! I know meetings can be boring(too long),people can be unfriendly(havin’ a bad day),one sided(a few doin’ it all), variety of programs,please,(now what do you call that technique?)…so my suggestion : print out Diane’s list, take it to guild, read it(or hand out copies) for everyone to get a guild”check-up”!

  17. Sarah Marshall says:

    I like guilds where there is an equal balance of support and technique. The first meeting I ever attended of a quilt guild as a novice quilter, the president started talking about other guilds and “how they can’t even sew their squares straight.” Looking down at my crooked first attempt, I knew that the support in that group wouldn’t be enough for me to succeed. So I moved on.

  18. Kaye M. says:

    You have written about so many important qualities of a great guild. Its the people that make the guild. Its all about people who want to share projects , ideas and conversation and through those things relationships are built. Recently we started a buddy program at our guild. A new member is paired with an “old” member so they can sit together and introduce them to others and explain some of the projects that we do. I think it helps them feel that they are valued as a member.
    This has been a good thread to help us stop and take a look at our guilds and see where we can make improvements and make people feel more welcome so they want to be part of our group.

  19. Judy says:

    I joined a guild about 4yrs. ago and another lady joined the same day.We “newbees” began sitting together at meetings. Our friendship grew as each meeting passed we became “regulars” to sit together. A year or so later, it turns out that everyone thought we were long time friends all along! Guild can be a place to meet good friends.

  20. Deb G. in VA says:

    I would love to find a guild like you describe, it sounds wonderful!

  21. Marlene says:

    I was so glad to read this post – you hit the nail on the head! I love my quilt guild for the very reasons you listed. Unfortunately it meets at night and since I’m hitting the Medicare scene this year my night vision has deteriorated some. I can see that at some point in the near future I will need to switch to a daytime group and there isn’t one. I’m formulating (in my mind) a proposal to make to my guild that we form a “branch/bee” of our guild that meets in the daytime but will be an affiliate of the night guild. The majority of members are my age or older but many of them will want to continue in the night guild so I don’t think it will deplete the membership enough to impact the guild. I may use your list to remind them of what they do that’s so wonderful! blessings, marlene

  22. Subee Mohr says:

    I am the current president of my local quilt guild.
    I was elected the same way the first example you mentioned. Guilt!
    It is not a glamourous position…but I am a spunky person and we have a great time. I keep the meeting part as short as possible. Sometimes we need to re-open the meeting for a last minute vote on something. My Recording Secretary is a most skillful lady in getting it all in writing for the next meeting. Even the out takes and we have a good laugh!
    We welcome new members with open arms. There is a very large guild in the very close next town. It is VERY large and very stiff. Not a friendly guild. SO competitive and too many rules.
    I LOVE scrap quilts and have nearly every book on that subject!
    I keep my fabrics using Bonnie Hunter’s Scrap USER System. It works for me!

  23. Deb says:

    I’m not a quilt guild member, but I have enjoyed attending a quilt guild sponsored quilt show at a local high school. If I ever joined a quilt guild, I think the friendly support I’d get would be the biggest draw and also the awesome inspiration!

  24. Linda says:

    Come on back to Tall Pines. We will welcome you with open arms. :-)

  25. Marsha says:

    I have limited experience since I’ve only been a member of one guild for a little over one year. Friendliness, warmth, empathy – I second all of them! Inspiring, encouraging, educational – yes, yes, yes. I would also add that they should be flexible – we are expanding our guild to include sewers of all types to broaden both our membership and knowledge bases. Didn’t most of us start out as sewers first and then become quilters?

  26. Glenda in Florida says:

    I can think of more things a quilt guild should NOT be, but I think it boils down to–they should not be “unwelcoming”. I was mortified last week at a group I belong to when someone suggested that they freeze the membership. That means stagnation! And, when the old timers tire of doing all the work, there is no fresh blood, willing to jump in and help out. Calmer heads prevailed, but *almost* half of those present did vote to freeze memberships. Since it was slightly less than half, majority ruled, and we shall carry on.

  27. MarciaW says:

    Agree with all that is on your list and would add :
    A good guild will have empathy for members when they are faced with family, work, and health challenges. The guild will not kick out paying members who cannot complete specific charity projects by a deadline following arbitrary construction rules.

  28. You are SOOOOO right!! I, too, have been in several guilds with very different personalities. My current group is a GEM! Our business takes about 5 minutes, then we have very informal show and tell, and then spend the rest of our time visiting and working on our own projects. I have gotten SOOOO much done since moving here because I am now able to actually spend time working on MY quilts rather than only quilting for others.


  29. Kathi says:

    Wow! I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head. All of what you said are things that my small group strives for. I have to admit that we sometimes go astray because let’s face it we all have different personalities and sometimes we just rub each other the wrong way. Your post is a good reminder for us to remember what is really important and why we belong to a quilt group. It’s the relationships we make with other people with a common bond, quilting, even if we all get to the final product in a different way. Actually the fact that we all do it in a different way is what makes our group awesome and not boring. Thanks for the blog!

  30. Nancy A says:

    I think a good guild is welcoming–welcoming of new people, new ideas, and new techniques.

  31. joanne says:

    I’d want a guild where I was made to feel welcome no matter what my age or level of experience. I’d love to have meetings with a mix of learning and socializing and sharing quilts, so that I would be energized when I went home.

    I don’t know of any guilds near me. If there are any, they are a well-kept secret, which suggests new members are not sought, which would definitely dampen my enthusiasm for joining. As an alternative though, I have a group of online quiting friends that I have never met face-to-face but that never fail to cheer me on in my quilting.

  32. Meme says:

    To be quite honest I have never joined a quilt guild and that is because I am from a very small community that is remote as well. But! If I were in a larger centre with some guilds available, I think that I would appreciate the welcoming warmness of people with similar passions and talents who would share ideas, techniques and also be supportive and encouraging.

  33. Tammy W. says:

    I agree with some of the others…the quilt groups that I have been near seem to be clickish and also I am new to quilting and feel looked down upon that I am not as good as the long timers…I think that nice women who welcome all (no matter what their experience) would be a good group.

  34. Diane says:

    I think a great guild has to be friendly, inclusive and encouraging. Not everyone will be at the same skill level but all quilting efforts should be appreciated.

  35. Mary Johnson says:

    I’ve belonged to one guild that while it had some positive things, overall was not a great experience so when I moved I created HeartStrings, an online charity group that has become my guild. We’re all focused on the same purpose – making and donating – quilts. Our members are friendly and helpful with very little strife and we have small gatherings across the country several times a year that I enjoy traveling to.

    I think online groups can be a wonderful alternative to guilds when you can’t find a fit with a local guild or when there’s not one close by.

  36. Carmen says:

    People willinng to try new things and have fun! I know we are probably too far from you, but I would like to invite you to a meeting of the guild in Ord, Nebraska. Visitors frequently complement us on what a great group we have. Just contact me for more info!

  37. Diane says:

    Searching for a new guild is like searching for a new friend. Everyone wants so badly to be accepted into a fulfilling relationship, for exchange of ideas and a chance to learn something new. Thanks for an opportunity to win!

  38. Karen604 says:

    In 25 years of quilting and moving around so much I have belonged to a number of guilds. The best was in West Texas 15+years ago. They were most of all friendly.They employed a buddy system, so no one new ever sat alone. All wore name tags. There was a welcome gift of a few fat quarters donated by a member who included her name and contact info.
    Keeping the group interested, included service projects of quilts and teddy bears, guild challenges and a quarterly exchange your scraps table.
    We had a number of people who felt so good about their quilting that they were encouraged to display locally, submit to magazines and fabric manufacturers where they ended up published and accomplished winners in shows. Information was to be shared and many of these accomplishments were celebrated with cakes and cookies.
    Small groups were encouraged and there were some quilt challenges between the groups.
    All these years later I am still connected to these ladies although only one still attends that guild (the rest of us have moved too far away to attend.) One woman is Godmother to my daughter, another has made a name for herself in the flag and banner making area. Another has explored the clothing making route and has shown up in the winners circle for some national competitions.The rest of us have watched out children grow, made them clothes and quilts to snuggle under, we have donated quilts and teddy bears to school and church auctions and reveled in our sisters’ accomplishments.

  39. Carol says:

    The ideal guild would be welcoming, friendly, and a great place for learning and inspiration. Actually, it would be the one you described!

  40. Esther says:

    As a new quilter, I think a guild should be extremely welcoming of new members with limited experience. Also, it doesn’t hurt if someone in the guild knows how to make scrumptious brownies!

  41. I am a newbie and I don’t think we have that much or any quilt guilds here. But I think it should be definitely friendly, encouraging and very very helpful. Everybody should be willing to share their knowledge with the others to make the events successful :-)

  42. Diane Harris says:

    These comments are great! So many great ideas are being shared. Please keep them coming, and watch for an upcoming blog post on great guild ideas and another on how to start a guild in your area.

  43. Gale Lavers says:

    I belong to a guild that has 60 members spread over 300 miles apart. Once a year in the fall we all get together to have a quilt retreat, which always turns out great. This fall will be our 10th year. There are 20+ members that live in the three small communities in my area and we meet the third saturday of the month for a sewing day. We share ideas, help others who are new quilters and above all enjoy each others company. We have some very experienced to novice ladies, but everyone is always willing to help someone with a problem. It’s amazing belonging to such a great group.

  44. Darlene B says:

    I have been a member of my guild for about 7 years. We have chairs set up in rows, rather than by tables. I think it encourages more mixing and visiting. I have visited another guild twice that has tables set up. I felt so out of place because everyone seemed to have their own regular table to sit at with their friends. I also found that at the guild I visited, members kept talking with their friends throughout the guest speaker’s presentation. It was so rude! I think there is a time for talking and fellowship, and a time to be respectful of the time the speaker has taken to prepare her lecture.

  45. Sheila says:

    What a great group of ideas you and the commenters have offered. I think a new member or thinking-about-joining table should be offered and have one or two people take those visitors under their wing for the evening. I’ve only belonged to one guild, but I almost didn’t join it because I attended this HUGE 200+ member guild meeting (I was a new quilter and I am quite shy!) and was mortified that no one greeted me, other than to give me a name tag, or offered a current member to help navigate. When I offered that as a suggestion through email to the president afterward, I was invited to join her small group and from there I made some of the best quilting friends ever because we continued to invite every new member to visit or join our small group.

  46. Johanna says:

    I was thinking of starting a quilt guild because there are none around here. I am a bit worried about it though because there are not even enough crafters in this area to get a decent meeting once a year so there won’t probably be enough quilters that are interested in a guild.
    Do you or anyone else have something to share about starting a guild? Maybe it is always like this first and then the bigger it gets the more people are drawn to it? Any advice?
    Thanks for bringing this up, it really helps to see what things are so highly important and apparently get missed often.

  47. Lisa England says:

    The qualities you list are important. I would also like a group that did shared projects. Not necessarily a quilt that many work on, but maybe a service project like Project Linus where all were working toward a common goal. Maybe even have “work sessions” to make the process more fun and social.

  48. Betty says:

    Definitely friendliness is the most important quality! A variety of activities is good…from classes and workshops to projects–charity quilts, block-of-the-month, charm swaps all for quilters with different interests and skill levels. It is fun to be with other quilters, sharing our love of quilting!

  49. Finally drove myself to a meeting this week after a long hiatus. IT WAS THE WRONG WEEK! 2nd Tuesday thing – I need a bigger calendar :) I especially like workshops – entire days spent learning something new.

  50. I just joined a quild after visiting a few to get the “feel” of each. The one I joined – everyone was friendly and inviting, everyone complimented show and tell no matter how small or large – beginner or advance, everyone participates in events – charity quits (all go local which I like) a community sharing day with sewing/crafts for kids, quilters swap, and they always support other quild’s events. In other words they are actively supporting of the community and quilter with the highlight on FUN.

  51. Lisa says:

    Hi Diane, We’re agreed on your many observations. It *is* about the members, first and foremost. Our guild recently began a ‘quilt buddy’ program and members were invited to add their name to a list with any skill or technique she feels comfortable sharing with another. Those who wish to learn that may contact that member for a lesson. Experienced ladies are able to pass on the information, leaving their legacy, those new to the technique are encouraged to grow, and both ladies get to work with another. It is a great idea from our new guild president. I agree that guilds must be cordial to guest speakers, they need to have great and varied programs that encourage members to attend, and I completely agree that all members should contribute in some way. Not only because it distributes the workload (which is huge!) but because that is what makes it YOUR guild! When you serve on a committee or make quilts to donate to charity you impact the lives of others in a positive way. Give that gift to yourself…there is truly no better feeling. ~~Lisa

  52. I really think you have all the best qualities of a group.
    We have a good guild here, but no openings, which seems unfair.
    I would like to see the group split into areas, so that they could have more people in smaller groups, that live in the same area.


  53. JAN says:

    I am a ‘new’ quilter. I joined a guild at a show and went to one circle. Everyone was friendly-ish, but not to the point that I thought they cared if I came back. I am looking forward to being in on the beginning of a guild. I think it will be a blast to be in from the beginning of the group!

  54. SewLindaAnn says:

    So, does that mean that you were the one who volunteered? Sorry I’m tired and not thinking too clearly. Good luck in checking out the 4 groups, surely you’ll be at one and you’ll know it’s the right place for you to be. I think it’s important for a group/guild to welcome ideas from everyone newly attending or long time member. Welcoming fresh ideas keeps things interesting. A friendly, relaxed atmosphere is so important – and let’s not forget the snacks.

  55. Kris McCorvey says:

    I am looking for a guild, and I think friendliness is the most important thing! If I feel intimidated or not welcome I won’t stay or go back. I think that you will have a great time and enjoy yourself!!

  56. I’ve been a member of several quilting groups and guilds. I stopped attending meetings of a night guild because of an indifference with keeping a time schedule. I had to wake up early the next morning for work. Didn’t work for me. The guild that I now participate in has many activities for participation, several service projects, show and tell and brown-bag giveaways. There are lots of ladies to meet and become friends with.

  57. Agree with all that you said… and I think that a guild should keep it fresh. I go to my guild to get inspiration and ideas from my fellow quilters. Kinda like a “group muse session” : )

  58. Sandy A says:

    Definitely the members make a guild! And variety, too. The guild I belong to has all levels of quilters and all ages. Makes it fun to go! In fact I gotta get off the ‘puter & head to guild tonight! :P

  59. Roxanne says:

    I think the most important thing is making every member feel at ease regardless of her expertise. Guilds should be a place to share and to learn the skills that make for great quilts and great quilters.

  60. Anna McD says:

    I think friendliness is very important. I was very hesitant to join my guild. I do not go to the once a month business meeting. It just horrifies me that older women would argue with each other. It’s the only guild in town so I guess I will stick with it.

  61. MsJanQuilts says:

    You’ve nailed it, really. I’m in my second year as Pres. of our guild and we really try to make new members feel welcome. From my personal experience, if the new person attends workshops and work-parties and volunteers, they will get to know people a whole lot faster. The women I met eight years ago as new members are now my life-time friends.

  62. Katie B says:

    Acceptance and encouragement!

  63. Nancy says:

    I visited two or three different quilt guilds when we moved to a new area…I joined the one that was friendly…Every one of the members came to say Hi and introduce themselves at some point during the meeting.. I am still a member..

  64. DianeH says:

    Above you have described the guild that I would love to attend.
    The closest guild to me is attended by the same clique that hangs out at the LQS with it’s owner. I’ve tried a number of times to support her shop but the last time I was there she actually yelled at me for approaching the long arm machine. I’m done. There’s no way I’d attend that Guild – and it’s a shame because I’m sure there are some lovely quilters in my area but how else can one get to meet them?

  65. Brenda says:

    I’m with the others on friendliness, but I also want my guild to be open and accepting of everyone’s styles and abilities. thanks for the chance to win.

  66. DebrafromMD says:

    Friendliness in a guild is the number one thing I look for plus an emphasis on learning. No matter how long you have been quilting, there is always something new to learn.

  67. Sharon says:

    Friendliness!! People tend to be cliquish and unwelcoming.

  68. Norma says:

    I’ve only ever been to one guild and that’s the one I”m in right now. I wish more was done in the form getting to know other members. For the longest time I didn’t know who anyone was because people tend to sit with their friends. I’m now the blogger for the guild and this has forced me to get to know people, but still it’s hard!

  69. Katie says:

    Though I’m not a member of any guild, I would have to say that a welcoming, laid back atmosphere and friendly members would be the thing that would draw me in. A schedule full of high-falutin’ speakers and massive quilt show undertakings can’t hold a candle to plain old quiltin’. (Though those things would be a wonderful bonus if they’re a part of a friendly group.)

  70. kathy h says:

    I think the quilt guilds should be friendly and welcoming. There should be encouragement to new people and people who would like to try new techniques.

  71. I have to agree that friendliness is first. I’m scared to death to walk into a room and have everyone get quiet and stare! I hope you have a wonderful experience tonight!

  72. Jocelyn says:

    I have visited a couple of guilds, but truthfully they can be so clickish here. One guild had a guest speaker (Sue Nickels) and the leadership was hurrying her along, because they had to get to the meeting part (and this was with a NATIONAL Quilt teacher/speaker). Needless to say we did not go back. Everyone was very involved with their own little group :-(

  73. Wendy says:

    I’m also exploring quilt guilds near my new home, and my first priority is friendliness of the members. Second is a focus on workshops, and sharing skills and design options, rather than competition over door prizes and other drawings.

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