Thursday, September 24, 2015

Musings on Guilds

I joined Erie Shores Quilters' Guild two years ago this month.  It has been a hard group to break into, but I don't think this guild is the anomaly.  Part of the reason, I believe, is that it is in a small town and rural area, where so many people are either related to each other, have gone to school together, grew up together, or have just known each other for a long long time.  Not only was I new to the guild, I was new to the area, and I am younger than the majority of the members.  Much like my beloved pittie puppy, who is 6 years old today, I was regarded, especially here in Ontario where there is a ban, with perhaps a little wariness.
Posing Tuesday night for the camera on my daughter, Dayna's, first quilt I made her, circa 1997
Making the two wheelchair quilts for seniors and donating them to a local residence caught the attention of a couple of members, and that has become our Christmas charity project for this year.  This past Tuesday, a small group of us got together at the Kiwanis Camp to sew for a day, using fabric from the guild's charity fabric stash.  It was fun!  Now I know a few more people by name and face as well as a little more about some of them!  One is a retired teacher, and is happy living alone, another is a longarmer, got her APQS machine in 2008, and quilted the fundraiser (gorgeous) quilt for the Christmas raffle (I think), another's husband has just been through some alarming times in hospital where he was sedated because he was on a ventilator (she is now going to be my helper with the guild library, yay), another is going through some fairly serious eye issues, another just won the Grand Champion in one of the quilting categories at the Harrow Fair, and another who has her own little fabric store, is going to bring to the next meeting (we hope) the rest of a gorgeous aqua fabric she used on the back of one of the wheelchair quilts so we can buy it!
Chinese Coins wheelchair quilt; I added 3 strips, the yellow, the taupe trees, and the taupe gypsy jewels
I quilted this up at home in no time on my Bernina (it was when Avril and I were on the outs over thread, and I was not going to unload Wings to do these two small quilts).  I did a wavy line with my walking foot in the columns of coins, and then FMQ-ed the square spiral, which I LOVED, and did not mark a thing for, so I was glad it ended up pretty evenly spaced!

This one is made with some of the orphan blocks I adopted at our August meeting
I used the pillowcase turn method on that flying geese one, so didn't even have to bind it!  Because the geese are so big (they finish at 5X10") I used my walking foot to do the dot to dot. I also quilted it on my Bernina, ditched and then did the loopy meander in the low volume areas.
The backs. The floral is from my stash, the horse one the guild's
Yes, you see ties on these quilts, ties to attach the quilt to the wheelchair arms to prevent it from sliding off a lap, or tangling in the wheels.  Each has a pocket on the back as well.  This makes 4 quilts for seniors in wheelchairs I have completed, one top waiting, another top I worked on that day (which is proving to be a "leedle" more involved than I'd anticipated, can you say 120 2" HSTs without a shiver), and almost enough orphan geese blocks for another.  That day I also cut fabric to make kits to have for take-home at the October meeting.

In musing over the past two days on the way I now feel about the guild, I think that I have some advice for both sides:
1.  For the new member:  get involved as soon as you can find a way.  I joined the executive in a fairly minor role as the new librarian.  In attending the executive meetings, I get to meet a group of about 10-12 great women, and means more people will know who I am.  Going to the sewing bee day meant I got to meet several more, and was able to get to know those I did already know by name on a more personal basis.  I was invited to a cottage group on my first meeting, but it isn't very close to my house...(our guild covers the entire Essex County, so a lot of area)

2.  For the guild:  1. Something I am going to put either to the new executive or in our new suggestion/tip box, is to have a person or persons in charge of meeting and greeting the new people and getting them involved right away in some small way.  This could be in a block exchange, or a mini-quilt activity, or a bring your favourite quilt book to the next meeting and the four, or however many new ones join at any given meeting, get together with the persons in charge either just before the meeting or during the break.  2. Make a bigger deal out of Show 'n Tell that is brought by new members.  That nearly made me not go back, I was so crushed over that first year.  Although I'm not looking to be revered, I sure would have liked a little more recognition for or interaction about the quilts I first brought to this group where I knew not a soul.  (btw, I'm hoping to change a bit the way we do Show 'n Tell, as in time and a space to get up close and all touchy-feely with the quilts!)  3. Somehow have a list of cottage groups available for all members to see, and where/when they meet and if they are open to someone new joining.

Back to Rocco, I cannot believe he is six years old today.  It's been a little while since he's been on the blog, so today he's a star:
Happy pittie...on a human bed with a pillow and a stuffie!

This morning after I'd given him his birthday biscuit, and sung Happy Birthday to him, and of course he'd joined in his best pitbull throaty singing voice!

Wheelchair Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Chinese coins and original design with flying geese
Size: approximately 28X36"
Fabric: guild charity quilt stash, and orphan blocks and my own stash
Batting: Warm 'n Natural
Quilted: on my Bernina, walking foot and FMQ
Threads:  Gütermann for piecing and for quilting

Linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation!


  1. I attended a quilt guild meeting in my town last year where they were trying to get new members. After being pretty much ignored, except by one person, I did not return. Granted I am quite a bit younger than most people there, but does that mean that guilds don't want young people to join or they were just a bunch of snobs? I'm not one to push my way into any group, but I do like your suggestions. It's so hard to be new. People everywhere should be more welcoming to new people whether it's at a guild, church, or school meeting.

  2. Happy Birthday, Rocco. You are a beautiul boy!!

  3. Alot of the things you mention about quilt guilds is why I have not joined one. I live out in the middle of nowhere and I feel I will be likely youngest member. I am shy and do not do well in a group that may ignore me. I do not know of any more modern style quilt guilds in the area. I know they are online but that defeats the purpose of being person and showing your wares for the touchy feely show and tells. My Mom loved the show and tell of her machine embroidery clubs. Your orphan blocks look great in the lap quilts you made. Danya's quilt still looks great. Happy Birthday to Rocco! He is a handsome fellow.

  4. To be honest, I have never even attended a guild meeting. Maybe one day I will live close enough to an area that it would be worth my time to give a try. I do think getting involved is the key, which is why I am so active online. It fulfills that guild need for me.

    The wheelchair quilts are awesome, and I like the idea of a pocket on the back, too.

    Happy birthday, Rocco! :)

  5. Great suggestions for joining in. I haven't had to do that in years but I do remember going through this process several time back in the years we moved every 3. Glad don't have to do that anymore. I do agree that you have to put yourself out there. Established groups don't see the need for them to be extremely welcoming as they are already content with their circle. I know it isn't easy for some people to be forward but if you make the first move ususally some one will reciprocate. Happy birthday Rocco...what handsome boy!

  6. singing with your dog! we do love them

  7. I went to my first meeting of the guild in my "new" hometown last week. I'm "scripting" my own introduction for the next meeting, and throwing myself at anyone who wants to be friends!!! I once belonged to three guilds at the same time, and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. But then....I moved. :(

  8. Happy Birthday, Rocco. Great ideas for getting to know people at guild meetings.

  9. Oh how I love Rocco <3 <3 :') Happy birthday my beloved furry nephew!

    Beautiful lap quilts! Thoughtful and thoughtfully planned - ties and a pocket!

  10. We had 8 new members join my guild on Monday I hope they didn't feel left out or ignored. You are right in a small rural area everyone knows everyone and it can seem daunting to new people trying to join in. Happy Birthday Rocco!

  11. Getting involved with the guild is definitely key to being part of the group. My first go around with my guild I felt very awkward and like I didn't belong. I was much younger than the other members and didn't seem to fit into their world and I didn't feel comfortable sharing at show n' tell. After our local quilt show this year (which I entered pieces) I decided to rejoin the group. This time around I've gotten involved with projects and it has made a world of difference. I love that group of ladies.

    Also a very happy birthday to Rocco! He is such a pretty boy! I just want to kiss his snout and rub those cute pitty ears!

  12. Happy birthday, Rocco, you handsome boy!

  13. I have belonged to and been on the boards of several guilds. Every one was hard to start going to because of the closeness of the members and their wariness of new people. I just moved to a new state and started over again with the guilds here. One thing I would tell everyone thinking of going to a guild meeting; don't wait for them to acknowledge you, take a deep breath and introduce yourself to people! Some will give you the stink eye and make you feel unwanted, but there will be someone as happy to meet you as you are to meet them. Seek out those people at the meetings and gradually expand your circle of quilting sisters over time. Join a committee. It isn't a lifetime commitment, but a way to learn the procedures and work with other like minded people. Enjoy your guild, be enthusiastic about what's going on, and be a friend someone would want to get to know better.

  14. Awww - Sandra... You, singing Happy Birthday to Rocco, is just too sweet picture in my mind! I bet he just loves that! I had no idea that Pitbulls were banned in Ontario. I'm appalled.

    It sounds like you are going to be a beautiful addition to your guild and help them bring about some great new ways of doing things. I agree that your guild is not the anomaly for being hard to break into. So many times i have read people saying the same thing about their area guilds. It's a testament to your perseverance that you did not give up.

  15. I joined a quilt guild 20 years ago and went for only a year and then quit. My sewing/quilting skills were still a beginner and I was kind of left in the dark concerning methods and breaking into the circle. Your suggestions for improvement would be great and I'd add to have some beginner skills revisited and perhaps taught by the seasoned members. Keep it simple such as rotary cutting, changing your blades, reading a pattern, and some simple blocks. New beginners would love it and older ones can showcase their knowledge or "strut their stuff." Plus it's always interesting as we show how we do stuff that someone has a different way of doing it so we all learn.

  16. I've belonged to several local guilds for about 8 years. The best way to feel a part of things is to volunteer! I sold raffle tickets, helped set up quilt shows, took on leadership duties and brought all my quilts to show & tell. Each guild has activities that allow smaller groups to gather and work together - bees, sew-ins, charity workshops. It's a great way to learn from others and make friends. One guild has a Newcomers' Group and a booth where you can bring in a problematic project and "Ask the Expert." If you join a guild and can lend a hand, you will always be welcome!

    Just like any workplace or organization, there will be some people who are unfriendly, rude or absorbed in their own troubles. Don't let them ruin it for you. Find the ones who join for the fun of it and who like to help others.

  17. I love the wheelchair quilts. Such an awesome idea. I am fairly outgoing, but I still do better in smaller groups. I think getting involved and volunteering is a great way to get to know more people.

  18. I love your wheelchair quilts - what a great thing to do! And I agree with your musings on guilds - I haven't joined the guilds around here because they are very cliquish. But our quilt ministry is basically a guild - and we welcome everyone, praise all accomplishments with open arms, and give away everything we make!

  19. Wheel Chair quilts are a great idea for stash busters. I saw this post yesterday and got called away from my computer....I thought, where did I see that dog...I wanted a closer look. My Boscoe is 2 and part Pit Bull...they are such great dogs. He is boxer/pit and has the great personality of both breeds. Happy Birthday Rocco!!

  20. I have never been to a guild meeting, for all of the reasons you have listed. . . Like Yvonne, I feel like I get my guild needs met online without the snubs or stink eye that would be inevitable at guild meetings. Heck, I get stink eye from the guild members at the local quilt shows - just not interested in putting in that much effort... is that bad?


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