What To Consider Before Starting A Quilting Guild


Would you like to start a Quilter’s Guild?  You can start one yourself.  Quilting Contessa shares her experiences so you can be successful.

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What To Consider Before Starting A Quilting Guild

Would you like to start a Quilter's Guild? Maybe your area doesn't have one, or the one nearby doesn't really meet your needs. You can start one yourself. My experiences may be helpful.

What To Consider Before Starting A Quilting Guild


Do you have time to head up a guild?

You will probably need to take the lead for a while. I waited until I retired, but whether you need to do it that way depends on your work hours and any other factors that influence your life and commitments.



You don't have to start large

I invited about 5 friends. I figured the 6 of us could make a nice little group and I would be satisfied if it stayed small. It didn't. Last year we were hovering around 30, and decided to limit our membership to that. I've known huge guilds, and they can be a challenge. You can't see what they are showing if the group runs up to 75 or so members. It's hard to be very close friends with 75 people, and one of our goals was friendship.



Where shall you meet?

Chances are your group will prefer not to have to rent a meeting room. We started out in the basement of my church. Get permission if you do that. Don't just pop in. We decided to donate $1 per person per meeting for the upkeep and electricity for the church. We met there for about 8 years. Eventually we moved to a different church that was all on one level – easier on aging bodies. Last year our local library built on a huge addition and we moved into their meeting room. It is large and airy, room for plug-ins, and we don't have to cancel as we occasionally needed to do at the churches if there was a wedding, funeral, or Bible School.



What kind of structure does your group want to have?

At the first meeting, we talked about officers, rules, a constitution, or any other structure they might like to have. They didn't want any of that at the beginning, so we kept it pretty simple. The one rule that I insisted on was that we aren't allowed to criticize any else's work. I think that is essential. I've known of groups that nearly fell apart because some were heavy on the criticism. Everyone's work is respected, and if any criticism is heard, I wait until the next meeting, then remind everyone of our number one rule.

As for officers, we eventually had to have some. I took the lead for about a year and a half, then suggested we either elect a leader or take a volunteer. It's always worked out that someone said they would like to take the lead for a while. There is no specific time-frame, and when any of the officers get tired of doing it or have other commitments, we put it up for volunteers again. We didn't have a treasury or dues for the first two or three years, but eventually we had to have a small amount of funds, which then requires a treasurer. Eventually someone volunteered to be historian and keep a scrapbook. Some of you would not care for such a laid back structure, but it works for us.



What will you do at meetings?

This may be one of your most important questions. I've talked to some who don't do much at their meetings, mostly just visit. Visiting is nice, but you started a guild for a purpose. We try to have a lesson at every meeting. We take turns giving the lesson. Don't pressure anyone, as not everyone feels comfortable teaching. Sometimes most of the members pick up on a topic and they all make the item shown, at least in small scale. Sometimes no one does that. It's important not to pressure people to make certain things. It is everyone's choice.

Our president names a particular activity that is a goal for the year. These have varied a lot over the years. Sometimes it is a block exchange. One person brings a block pattern and everyone makes one of those. At the next meeting, a name is drawn from those participating, and that person gets all the blocks. Then a new pattern goes out, and this continues until everyone has a set of blocks, then each person makes a quilt from their blocks.

Another frequent goal is a community service. Sometimes these have involved making quilts for a particular need, sometimes we raffle a quilt and donate the money for a local program. Last year our animal themed quilts earned over $500 for the local animal shelter. This year we are making quilts for rescued victims of human trafficking, and for children going into foster care.

Some in our group enjoy travel and they have taken bus trips to various quilt shops, or gone on shop hop ventures. Maybe one of the most important things we do at meetings is Show and Tell. At every meeting, each person is encouraged to bring something they have been working on. We admire each other's work and ideas, and sometimes answer questions. Skill level, years of experience, quality of materials – none of that matters. Applause and praise is abundant. It is important that everyone feels accepted and admired just as they are. Sometimes we have our meeting in the morning and that is it for the day. Other times we bring our supplies and sew all afternoon, usually on our own projects.

So start your own guild. It's tons of fun and the friendships are wonderful.



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The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
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