Friday, February 16, 2007

Quilt Guilds

I've been reading some blog discussions about quilt guilds, and if it is helpful to become a member of a guild. I live in a rural area, and have traveled a distance to become a member of a large guild across the river, and belong to a little bitty local guild of about 30 members. For me, the small local guild works best.

We make many donation quilts for the babies born in our county and for a local Justice Center that helps abused children. The ladies in our guild are very generous with their time and talents, and I think that is true of most all quilters.

I am always inspired by the quilts that members share during the Show & Tell part of the meeting. It is so interesting to see what everyone is working on and how they solve the challenges that come along. We also have wonderful programs from members, local quilt shops and speakers that we bring in.

Last year we had our "5-year annual" Quilt Show and were able to have Jennifer Chivarini come as a speaker. Many of the members had made her sampler quilt, Sarah's Sampler, the year before I joined. She had a wonderful trunk show and talk, and then autographed books that we had for sale.

We made a hand quilted Raffle Quilt for the Quilt Show. It was quilted here on my frame, and was a wonderful way to get to know many of the members even better. The Friendship Star pattern was used, and it turned out to be a great money maker. Each member of the guild contributed so much time and talent toward the Quilt Show.

We meet once a month. I enjoy the challenges that are offered, and the group projects. Right now our group project is House on Willow Hill, which I've referred to before. In years past we've done other projects that have been presented in a quilt magazine as a series, with parts introduced each month.

My second year as a member I joined the Row by Row project which was a quilt that had been in American Patchwork & Quilting in April 2002. It was called Prairie Times. Each member made a collection of fabrics that they would like used in the quilt. Each month the collection of fabric was rotated to a different member on your Row by Row team, and an additional row was added. The surprise came during the fifth month, when the rows were returned to you, all completed in combinations of colors you may not have chosen yourself. You then did a final row, added the borders and finished your quilt.

Two years ago we did America the Beautiful, a row-by-row project from Quiltmaker magazine 2002 Again, we selected our fabrics, were assigned to a team and the fun began. The wonderful thing about a project like this is, that no matter what, you found time to do that row of sewing each month, because you couldn't let your team down. This one is going to a special niece when she graduates from Thuderbird School of International Business in May of 2009.

Last year we did the 12 Days of Christmas, 7 part series from Quiltmaker magazine that began in the Nov./Dec. issue 2003. This one we did individually. Some ladies hand appliqued their blocks and others, like myself machine appliqued them. It was so much fun to discover how easy it is to machine applique. I forgot to take a photo of my finished quilt before I gave it to my godchild/niece for her 25th birthday and graduation from Loyola Law School in May 2007.

The time was spent in going through fabrics to determine what I would use in each block. Many of the fabrics I used came from a collection of "Nickel Squares" that our guild had exchanged the previous two years. A "Nickel Square" is a 5" square of fabric. It came from Pat Speth's idea to create scrappy quilts and her book, Nickel Quilts and More Nickel Quilts. We had already had Pat Speth and her partner as a speaker at our guild two years earlier.

I also enjoy my involvement with the guild committees. I was secretary for a few years, and now I am the newsletter chairman. Other quilt guilds exchange newsletters with me by e-mail. That gives all of us new ideas to post in our own newsletters and ideas for future programs. I've also enjoyed working on the Program Committee. I think our little guild of 30 members accomplishes a lot together.
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