Anyone who participates in crafting on a regular basis knows that it can be a solitary activity. Sitting behind a sewing machine or crocheting while watching television is often how many of us get our creative work done. It’s definitely restorative, but it’s also lonely.
If you’re an avid quilter who is interested in expanding your skills, meeting other quilters and contributing to your local community, why not join a quilt guild? There are many, many quilt guilds that offer different styles of support to quilters all over the world. With just a little bit of searching, you’re likely to find the perfect one to fit your needs!
These tips will help you pair up with a great guild.
A meeting of the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild. Photo via Right Sides Together
Identify your style
Chances are likely that you already know what style of quilting you gravitate toward. The good news is that there’s likely to be a quilting guild in your area that caters to your interests. If you find yourself liking classic quilt blocks and fabrics, a traditional guild might be up your alley. If you tend to forgo patterns and aspire to original concepts in your quilts, try an art quilt guild or a contemporary quilting guild. Modern quilt guild members often tend toward bold and graphic colors and styles, as well as new spins on “traditional” patterns.
The important thing to remember is that each guild has its own feel and personality; just because the members quilt in your style doesn’t mean it will be a good match, and just because members do things a little differently doesn’t mean it won’t. There’s often a lot of overlap in styles, so don’t let your quilting style be the only factor in your choice!
Go on the hunt
Once you’ve identified what sort of guild might be a good fit, it’s time to find it! Many guilds are active on social media. My guild has its own website and Facebook page where we post photos, projects and meeting dates so that we can attract new members. You might also try visiting your local quilt shops; they’re often great resources for what groups are active in their communities, and they often host their own quilting groups or serve as meeting spaces for guild meetings.
My drunkard's path via Craftsy member Claudia Las Labores de Lis
Interview guild leaders
Think you may have found a quilting guild? Excellent! Before you fork over a year’s worth of dues, think about what you are hoping to get from your guild. Educational, outreach and/or volunteer opportunities? A place to show-and-tell your latest creations? Sewing retreats? I’ve attended some guilds where members are required to volunteer on committees, while others only meet once monthly for social gatherings.
It’s always a good idea to ask the current leadership of your guild about their expectations, goals and operations. How much are the annual dues, if any, and what costs do they cover? How is the guild leadership chosen, and how often does it change? Is the guild welcome to accepting new members?
When all else fails, start your own!
If you’re having trouble finding the guild that you want, there are probably many people in your area feeling the same way. Why not start your own? A friend and I started our guild in June 2014 and gained 20 members within only a couple of months — we were obviously filling a need! With social media, it’s never been easier to get a group started. Many guilds are independent and informal in their organization. The Modern Quilt Guild is a national non-profit organization that supports smaller “satellite” guilds worldwide.
Amazonia, a modern quilt by Nathalie Bearden. Photo via Right Sides Together.
Before the sewing machine, quilting was historically a social undertaking, and many people still participate in bees and challenges to share their work with others. Quilt guilds offer another wonderful opportunity to sew with and learn from other quilters and to contribute to this resurging craft community. Try joining one today — it beats sitting at home alone!
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