Being New at a Quilt Guild

Someone asked recently for permission to distribute the following post to their quilt group. It made me think it would be worth reposting today. It’s good food for thought—and if you’re not in a quilt group of some kind, I hope you’ll consider finding one.

Originally Posted on February 17, 2011 by Diane Harris

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

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

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

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
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
  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 GuildEveryone 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
    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!meatpotatoes Being New at a Quilt Guild 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.

*     *     *     *     *

A little over three years later, I’m happy to report that I’ve settled into two guilds in different towns and started a small, informal quilt group in the rural area where I live. I’ve made real friends and there are still many more quilters to become better acquainted with. I did rule out two guilds: one is very large and it’s hard to break into, and the other turned out to be too far away for what I felt they offered. They’re not bad groups by any means, they just weren’t a fit for me.

Again, I’d really encourage you to investigate whatever quilt groups are in your area. I think you’ll be glad you did.

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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5 Responses to Being New at a Quilt Guild

  1. Joyce D Reed says:

    I, too, am interested in excerpting parts of this blog for our guild newsletter. Hoping you’ll give me permission to use your list of what makes a good quilt guild with credit to you. Thanks for the sound advice. Joyce Reed in Mobile – Azalea City Quilters Guild President.

  2. Terryl says:

    I would also like to obtain permission to reprint this in a guild newsletter. These are very good points that we all need to consider.

  3. Nann says:

    Diane, may I have permission to share this with my guild? I think we possess all the positive qualities that you cite, but a reminder doesn’t hurt.

  4. Claudia says:

    Unless it was a guild that met during the day, I would not drive an hour for a guild meeting in the evening.

    I used to belong to one in Poway, CA, and we had lots of things going on, 200 members, and for the most part–welcoming. I returned to where I grew up 15 yrs ago and attended the local guild. No speakers, just business meeting, a little show and share, and run by the same long nosed biddies that ran things years ago, or the daughters of those aforementioned. I did not feel welcome, my work was “tolerated”, and when a group of 2-3 out of 20 decided that anyone under 18 was not welcome, I decided they could do without me. (There was a VERY talented granddaughter of a member that was only 12, and very well behaved.)

    There are a couple of other guilds that I’ve visited once or twice, but they are 15-25 mi away, and when it is cold, snowy and stormy, I would prefer being home with my sewing machine instead of “trying to keep it between the ditches”.

  5. Karen says:

    you say this all so right! I only have one guild in my area that is close by – I do not wish to drive over an hour in any other direction to get to one – this one that is near by is not a good fit – very clickish – not all that friendly, the programs are not great, no one else does the same kind of quilting as I do (mostly hand work/quilting) — after two attempts to join this small guild in over 12 years I called it quits 3 years ago and moved on to on line groups – not the same thing at all – but I have found quilt friends that do the same kind of work as I do!

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