Guilds, Guilds, and More Guilds


Selecting a Quilting Guild to join is a personal choice. They all vary in size, passions, choices of charity works etc. Which has me asking these question to those of you out there that are, or have been, Guild members.

What appealed to you when you first entertained the thought of incorporating a Quilting Guild into your life?

How did you decide which Guild to join, and what aspects of being a part of the group do, or did, you find most beneficial?

Now comes time for your wisdom and insight! Let’s make the idea of selecting a Guild a little less overwhelming for our fellow quilters!

21 thoughts on “Guilds, Guilds, and More Guilds

  1. I joined a guild to meet like minded stitchers in a fairly new environment. I grew up in this town, then moved away for several years before returning to my hometown. I had no one here who I could discuss sewing stuff with and was beyond sewing garments. The guild filled a “girlfriend” void at the time and now I have tons of friends who love to sew.

    • That is wonderful. I have a lot of non sewing friends… come to think of it… I have a lot of non golfing friends as well. I have a few sewing friends… mainly longarmers… I try and get together with them at least once a month for lunch…. I think it might be time for that.

  2. This is something that I have struggled with. I am a member of the state guild but rarely attend meetings as they are mainly 3-4 hours away. I joined so I could enter the state show exhibition. When I started quilting 23 years ago, I was in a small, remote community and there wasn’t really a group to join, it would just be a couple of friends getting together but I would take work to do to the church craft group (in the beginning) I helped run which was my only inclusion into a group. There wasn’t any time to do craft when I was doing admin stuff there each week. Not many quilters there though.

    When I moved to a remote small city, I attended some meetings and there were more people into contemporary quilting so that was good but I didn’t click with anyone in particular. When I moved to my current rural town on the other side of the country, I found the quilters were all into hand quilting and traditional patterns (which I have no problem with at all) but they aren’t too accepting of outsiders or into contemporary quilters. They’ve lived here all their lives where I have only lived in transient towns my whole adult life (where you have to actively go and make new friends constantly and family are a plane trip away). They are also about 20-30 years older than me. Don’t get me wrong, they are nice people, just not interested in new friends. I was able to teach many of them machine quilting over the first five years which was fantastic but no one wanted a new friend.

    I do everything by machine (except binding) so I never have any sewing to take to a group anyway. My quilts have 1000s of pieces that can’t be taken off the design wall either. I have resolved to connecting with quilters through their blogs for the foreseeable future which is fine.

    I would love to hear about other peoples’ experiences too. I hope I haven’t dampened peoples’ faith in having a good time with a guild, I’m sure there are lots of good experiences out there and there’s nothing weird about my personality! I still hold out hope in having a great quilting friend that I connect to and talk to on a regular basis.

    Have a great day! Fiona

    • Where are you? Is there a quilt shop near you? If so, could you let the owner know you are looking for like minded people to explore quilting with? The internet is a great place to meet quilters and join in quilt projects together. It must have been very lonely for women in the past.

      • Hi Kathy,
        The local quilt shop is where I was teaching machine quilting and I also taught at the next closest shop half an hour away. I met many of the quilters in town by teaching in those five years, just got no friends out of it which I was hoping to get! I figured by teaching something I’m interested in, I’d mould some new machine quilters in my image (lol) and make some like minded friends.
        I’ve lived in a farming town in rural Victoria, Australia now for nine years.

    • I do understand your need for connectivity and I do understand cliques! I am also a teacher and fairly well known in needleart circles. My first membership was with a large quilt group with very conservative quilters. Nothing wrong with tradition; just not quite my thing. I joined with friends and it met my needs for a few years. Two of my friends in the group died and I just was not inspired to keep attending. Looked to another very active guild, still quite traditional with great programs. Attended several times and felt excluded. The president of this guild was one of my students. She invited me to join her guild. When I relayed my experience her response was “Oh yes, we are very clique. You join and form your OWN clique”.
      Not exactly what I wanted to hear. So about a year ago A Modern Quilt Guild was formed in my area and I joined. All ages, which is great; different skill levels and lots of different perspectives. Looking good! So keep looking Fiona-you will find your Mitch

      • Hi Maffie,
        I’m so glad you’ve found a group, it must have been devasting to lose your friends. I was trying very hard to avoid the term clique. I know they are everywhere and if it works for them, that’s good but if someone is looking for a group to join it would be nice if they embraced them with open arms. Who knows what info and fun that new person could inspire others with!

        Anytime I meet a quilter, I ask them all sorts of questions about their quilting to make them feel included and valued. I had the great job of welcoming people in our church craft group where the scariest thing for them was walking through the front door in a new town (to them) wanting to make friends.

        When I asked about groups in the first quilt store in my town here, I was given the meeting time and place of the embroidery group. As they were giving me the information, I could feel the shop owner looking down her nose at me, something I was willing to overlook. Didn’t know I was given the details of embroiders.

        I’m not giving up hope. I’d love to find a quilting friend in real life, not just acquaintences. I think guilds each have their own personality. What would make me join a guild? Proximity to my town, open minded people who embrace new ideas and people who get together to share their struggles and laugh the rest of the time!

    • Fiona, I read your post with great interest. Here are some thoughts if you don’t mind me sharing:
      While living overseas an acquaintance invited me to sew at her house one night. It became a regular thing for the next three years. There are people out there who feel as you do but don’t know how or where to reach out. Invite one person one time. If it felt good–invite them to sew once a month and build your group from there. Also, keep it to less than 5. Dynamics start playing in more heavily with larger group.

      As far as quilts with 1000 pieces, sounds like a lot of trimming or pinning might be done off the wall….masking tape numbering etc…will increase your portability and exposure to like minded sewers…. just a few ideas from my own experience. Happy sewing!

      • Hi Kate, fabrikatedquilts is a cool name!

        Whenever I taught FMQ, I always said to the quilters I was happy to give them help after the course and said they could come over to my place too. I got one person who needed help afterwards once for 30 mins and I went to another’s house to drop off some information. The couple who were more artistic in the quilting were way too busy with other activities to bother when I asked them over as I did want to invite one or two over to start a group.

        One problem with our cottage style house is that it’s pretty small and at first I had no real area to sew. Now the kids are gone, I have room but it’s still not the best set up but it’s the best I have ever had. I did try going to three groups in town but no one was interested even though I was the most experienced quilter there.

        With picture pieced quilts, I make up the colour scheme as I go along and the pieces have to match the ones next to the ones in the next section, especially with changes in value so I’d need to take the whole thing with me and lay it all out plus look at it on the vertical wall. Lots of the pieces are 1/8″-1″ in size so I can’t even take the project with me which I can overlook when joining a group and just go for the social aspect. I’d have to take too much fabric with me too! Picture piecing is so much fun.

        I have thought about going to the classes in town but they are all way to basic for me considering I have been quilting since 1994 and teaching others since 1995.

        The funny thing is when I go to our National show every year, there’s been at least one person who recognises me and says hello and says I have taught them. That’s 3+ hours away.

        When I have done quilt angel duty at the shows, I engage and talk to the viewers and their husbands the whole time and it’s a great experience.

        I have made some acquaintences within the state guild but they don’t keep in touch.

        Like I said, I won’t give up hope, this has just been my experience! Have a great day, Fiona

  3. I belong to a small rural guild, 30 members. Yes as Fiona said we all know each other. However that being said we welcome new members. We try to make them feel like they are a part of the group and not an outsider. We have a wide age group, and a diverse type of quilting traditional, modern, applique. We have experienced and beginner quilters. A small guild has benefits and downfalls. The downfalls are finding people to fill the rolls of leadership. The benefits out way the downfalls. Workshops are easy to accommodate, no power struggles. Running a teaching program during the meeting is easy, ie: appplique. I look forward to and enjoy my guild meetings.

  4. My choices are none and none! It makes my decision a no brainer! The closest guild near me is an hour away (to the best of my knowledge) according what I find on the internet. I have no idea what it is like to be in a guild.

  5. The last two towns I lived in had one guild. So I joined those guilds. There were also small friendship groups of 6-12 people who would met as well. I like that I am among like minded people. we all aren’t going in the same direction, quilt and life wise, but I enjoy and learn from their experiences.
    The creativity and passion that they bring into my life makes me a better quilter. A good guild is all about learning. They will have a library of quilt books to check out. They will subsidize teachers to do workshops on various quilt techniques. They will encourage newbies to come and join and learn. They will have group projects to work on so newbies can become friends and feel like a valued member. A guild is only as good as its members, the more you participate, the better the guild

  6. I joined my first small quilt guild (currently about 8 members) many years ago. For the first half of our monthly meetings, we baste quilts destined for cancer patients. I like the charity aspect of this very much, and enjoy these women. My closest quilting friend is in this group.

    Based on the quality of their quilt shows, I next joined a large guild (over 500 members.) this guild draws members from a large urban/suburban/rural geographic area. The pros of this group are: 1. Fabulous, often internationally known speakers. 2. An extensive library of books and templates, available for a one month checkout. 3. The aforementioned quilt show, probably the best in our area. 4. Many charity opportunities, if one is so inclined. Now for the cons: 1. Constantly being asked to hold some sort of leadership position. 2. Feeling unable to break into the cliques at the meetings. This is being addressed, with some success. 3. Drama surrounding the meeting location. The meeting place has changed 3 times in the 12 years I have been a member,and there always seems to be an issue with something.

    I do lead an offshoot group from this large guild, called a satellite group. There are 8 of us, meeting every month or two in my home. Every year or two, we dream up some sort of group challenge, which really stretches our creativity. Though it feels at times like I am herding cats, this group has been most satisfying from a creative perspective.

    These three groups all offer something different, and I enjoy them all for different reasons. I work almost full-time, and sometimes I think I’m nuts for belonging to three groups, but quilting is my passion, and I spend my time accordingly.

  7. I belong for 10 years to a Midwestern town guild. We use to be 120-130 strong but the ladies are getting older so things are changing. We now have 60-80 quilters and are struggling to stay alive. We use to have active quilters but our SHOW AND TELL has shrunk and we have maybe 10 quilt a month compared to the 20 to 30 we use to see. The ladies no longer participate in the challenges, the blottos, the fabric exchanges that we use to do. As it becomes harder to drive at night many of the quilters have abandon the night time quilt guild and joined a day guild in the next town. Being retired I now belong to both guilds but see myself dropping out of the night guild when I no longer drive at night.

  8. For many it is not a choice. I have lived in many many places and in most cases there was only one Guild of maybe 50 to 100 members. In the places where there was more than one, I was a member of both, since they both offer a different atmosphere and personality and quilt related opportunities. Currently I am a member of 4 guilds, 2 longarm and 2 quilty and they keep me busy. Very very busy!!!

  9. Hi Lisa: I found a local guild through another quilter friend and have been a member since 2013. It took me over 3 years to get up the courage to join because I felt so intimidated by the “quilters”–they knew it and I did not”! Well, that’s what I thought and was I ever so wrong!!! because they were so helpful and gracious! What a wonderful group of ladies. They brought projects to the meetings and were happy to share their insight into what they were working on (embroidery, needle turn, bindings etc.) We have a “stitcher’s exchange table” where you leave any used books, or fabric or thread and another quilter finds just what they were looking for–free! The guild has a “show n tell” now called “share and inspire: and many members show their latest accomplishments. We have challenges, i.e. make something in two colors of selected crayons! or make something in “fruit”! They sponsor bus trips to local quilt shows and have speakers attend our meetings for more inspiration. I have met Kim Diehl, Sue Pelland, Linda Hahn, Kate Themel and on our schedule next is Victoria Findlay Wolfe! You should come to our guild and give a presentation and a workshop. They would love you! You are welcome to edit this for space allowances, but I wanted to tell you all about the First Dutchess Quilters, in Dutchess County, New York! Thanks for YOUR inspiration, Lisa.

  10. When I lived in Santa Barbara, I belonged to a large quilt guild. They had interesting monthly speakers, workshops offered, a library of quilting books, and many friendly members. Then I moved to Vermont — which I expected to be a veritable hotbed of quilers! However, there was no quilt guild at all anywhere near me. I did finally find a small group of quilters, who met weekly and who welcomed me warmly into their midst. I love them all, and some of them have become my best friends. I do wish more of them were “into” more challenging quilts and techniques, but I do greatly enjoy their company, and admire their pretty and hand-quilted creations. I’m grateful this little group is part of my life.

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