Quilt Guilds

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.

IMG_3202This 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.

6 thoughts on “Quilt Guilds

  1. I’m glad you found a guild! I have not been successful in that area, partly due to schedules, as you mention. I’m also in a large city, so guilds are quite large which I find intimidating. The make one friend approach is a good one.

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  2. I love my quilt guild and have met so many good friends through it. So glad you ventured out and make time for it. I don’t get to mine as often as I did which was a reason to increase my blogging. We seem to have the reverse path!

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  3. Nicely done, sneaking in to guilds. I too have long been the youngest quilter around (in the traditional guilds) and introverted to boot. And then I started a chapter of the MQG and had to stand up in front of everyone and talk! That’s one way to get past shyness. Glad it’s all working out for you.

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  4. That’s a great way to get into a group and feel comfortable. I have a group of friends who meet at my house almost every Thursday morning for a couple of hours. We stitch and chat and are very happy. A lot of my social interaction comes from my church, so I’m okay without a guild, though I did go a few times, and it wasn’t a good fit. I will try again in another year or two, because people are always moving in and moving out. I’ve belonged to many guilds over the years and it is generally rewarding. As for your friend, it never hurts to have a cheering squad of one!

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  5. I’ve always been a solitary quilter, too. I recently found out that one of the local guilds is hosting a talk by Angela Walters this month, so maybe I’ll give them a try. I’d at least like to see her talk!

    I used to go to a weekly “SNB” knitters group that gradually unraveled, but I really developed a huge love for those women and am still close to one of them, even though she and her hubby moved. I miss that kind of social activity, but taking that first step is daunting!

    You’re smart to get social, and not just for networking.

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