U Rah Rah Guilds

July 4, 2011

Thanks for all the positive comments about the spiral quilting on my recent project. It made me want to keep at it. This got me to thinking about how valuable encouragement from others really is, especially in our quilting. It can come in many forms: friends, family, classes and guilds (just to mention a few).

That led me to thinking about the quilt guilds I’ve belonged to and I decided it was a topic I wanted to expound on. So I’ve put on my cheerleader personna to get everyone excited about  guilds (yes, this was scanned straight out of my yearbook and I’m not telling the year!) 

Guilds are a great way to socialize, problem solve, be inspired and encourage each other! I feel that quilt guilds are also a great bargain. I currently belong to 2 guilds, but at one time I was a member of 5! The average yearly dues typically run between $20 and $30 and can include up to 12 meetings a year. Some have sub-groups where quilters can really get to know each other and many do charity projects. Most have at least a few speakers each year and to attend similar lectures at a quilt show would probably cost more than the yearly dues. What a bargain – and that doesn’t begin to cover what I think is the real value! My favorite part of each meeting is Show & Tell. I am always inspired by seeing what others are doing. In the Milwaukee Art Quilters we often use our S & T time to ask for critiques or help on current problem projects. This is something I greatly appreciate and it could be done in a sub group if your main meeting is too large.

Patched Lives (my more traditional guild) has 2 pot luck meetings a year that really focus on sharing ideas and getting to know each other. Good food and good friends, who could ask for more? We also have challenges and exchanges that inspire us to do different things and stretch skillwise as well as creatively.

I could go on and on, but I won’t :-). This brings me to a subject that is dear to my heart. It takes a lot of effort to have a great guild and many hands make light work. So if you belong to a guild, make sure you don’t just sit back and enjoy, but you do your part. I’ve found being on the board of my guilds has extra benefits. As President I found I got to know more members outside of my immediate circle. As program chair, I was able to bring in the teachers I wanted to learn from. When working on committees I experienced the satisfaction of being a part of the good things that were going on.

A number of years ago Wendy Rieves and I got the idea to write a book called Guild Builders. Our hope was that it would give loads of ideas to new boards so that they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel once they were elected and it would encourage everyone to get involved. The subtitle was going to be “How to Get That Quilter in the Second Row Off Her Fat Quarter and Helping”! We haven’t succeeded in having it published yet (actually making quilts is more fun), but it’s still a possibility. Wendy and I are always willing to share our Guild Builders ideas with anyone interested and are always looking to add to our stockpile of helpful ideas.

In conclusion I would recommend that, if you don’t belong to a guild – do it, and if you do….well…..you just read that “fat quarter” thing (hee!hee!).

Go Guilds!


  1. I completely agree about guilds. My favorite part is show and tell as well. i always leave inspired and it generally takes awhile for my brain to settle down for sleep afterwards no matter how late our meeting runs! Encouraging participation in both activities and responsibilities is especially difficult in smaller guilds. Some people are there strictly for getting out of it what they can without giving back. I have held several offices and that is when I knew all the members by name. I truly appreciate what the programs people put together each month and what the president does to keep it all smooth and legal. Thank goodness for our active members!

  2. Thank you, this was the kick start I needed. I decided to stay in the guild I have belonged to for one year, and when asked to be part of hospitality I thought it would be a good idea to get to know people in the guild. I know that this year will be 100 times better and LOTS of fun.

  3. I absolutely love my guild, Lodi Valley Quilters Guild. And you’re right–you get out of a guild what you put into it. As our guild’s newsletter editor/website manager, I feel “in the thick of things.” I took your Guild Builders class at the WI Quilt Expo last fall and we’ve put many of your suggestions into practice.

  4. Love the comment about getting off your fat quarter! HA!

  5. Oh, I miss Patched Lives in Wales.What a great group of ladies! I LOVE the idea for your book. As a person who worked with authors in publishing (long ago, BK: Before Kids), I can tell you that the title and idea really pop! What a great thought. Good luck to you both!

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