I have been quilting since the year 2000. In all that time, I have never joined a quilting guild. I had heard of them, but a combination of social anxiety and mom duties kept me from adventuring out. I feel super uncomfortable in a group of new people. The fact that all of the quilters I encountered were 40+ years older than me also kept me from joining.
When I lived in Texas I met Stephanie Palmer, The Late Night Quilter while taking a class at a local shop. She invited me to join the Late Night Quilters Club on Facebook. Facebook groups are wonderful if you have social anxiety. There are no face to face meetings required, and the moderators usually make sure everything stays friendly and supportive. I really enjoy this group, although I’m a pretender, because it is very unusual to catch me quilting past 9 PM. If my husband is in bed, I want to be there with him. (I know, TMI, but really, this is why I’m married.) Plus, we get up crazy early.
When I moved to New Jersey two years ago, I looked into local guilds. The only one I found met in the evening 45 minutes from my house. This schedule didn’t work for me, so I let it go.
Once I got Darla and decided to start a business, I decided I just had to get over myself and network with local quilters. Doing quilting mail order is fine, but shipping is expensive. I don’t think everyone can afford to pay $60-70 on top of my quilting fees. (However, I am more than happy to do business via mail!)
I reached out to the Jersey Shore Modern Quilt Guild and volunteered to do some charity quilting for them. I met Deb, and she gave me a top to quilt for a local project. Once I was comfortable with one person, it was a lot easier to attend a meeting and get to know others. I was so excited – I really like this group of quilters. Many of them already have longarms, so they are not the marketing targets I was looking for, but it is really great to have local longarmers to compare notes. They still meet in the evenings and on weekends, but my family is going to have to survive without me once a month.
This is the top I finished for JSMQG. I bound it, too.
After joining my first guild, I did a little research and found another local guild. Rebecca’s Reel is larger, and they meet most Wednesday mornings for a sit and sew session. Again, I used my volunteering ploy to make a friend, and now I’m happily attending meetings and meeting others. It’s only taken me 44 years to figure out this system, but at least I’m learning.
I’ve also joined a small group here and work on Quilts of Valor – they were happy to get another volunteer to do quilting for them, and I am happy to get more quilts to hone my skills. My friend, Anne, is also really into announcing my business and praising my skills at the guild meetings. I’m simultaneously thrilled and mortified.
My basic message with this post is to find your local quilt guild, and join. I’m finding I really enjoy interacting with fellow quilters a lot more than I expected. I’m learning new things, and I get to help new quilters if they need it. Just last week I got to explain to someone why they need to cut the selvage edges off of their fabric. There are so many things I’ve picked up over the past 17 years and I really do like sharing information. Plus, I’m not relying on my husband and mother for all of my social interactions anymore. I think that must be a pretty heavy burden for them.