Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Can I Steal Your Ideas?

When I started blogging, I was on the search for community. I wanted to connect with people who were just as crazy as I was about fabric and sewing and quilting. I found what I was looking for (thank you!), but it wasn’t quite enough. I needed some in-real-life quilty friends.

What’s a blog post without pretty pictures? These fat quarters
have nothing to do with this post, but my mom got them for me
for Christmas. Aren’t they pretty?

Then the New Hampshire Modern Quilt Guild entered the picture. Joining that group gave me the in-person connections I was looking for. And we have a blast. In addition to our monthly meetings, we have workshops (see my posts here and here), retreats (see here), and other fun events.

I received this Lola Pouch for Christmas from Patch the Giraffe,
another NHMQG member.

My guild is planning for the year ahead, and we’re considering how we may choreograph our meetings differently. Workshops and retreats are great ways to get to know fellow guild members, but they happen just a few times a year and not everyone attends. How can we encourage new friendships and teach new skills each month? Here is what’s on my mind ...
  • Ice breakers. What activities can we do just to get people talking?
  • Block of the month. The BOMs we’ve done to date have been sizable commitments, and that has deterred a lot of people from participating. What can we do on a smaller scale that is still rewarding and that encourages new skills?
  • Challenges. I’m pretty sure we haven’t done any challenges within our guild. (We have, however, participated in some as a guild through the national MQG organization.) What are some fun ones?
  • Collective knowledge. There is so much experience and knowledge in our guild! How can we share it with other members?
I scored this awesome mug, sold by Patchwork Threads, during the Yankee swap
at the NHMQG’s Christmas party.

If you’re in a guild, I’d love to hear what has worked for your group, what you’ve found compelling, and what you’re likely to do again. Please share your best practices in the comments. Thank you!

If you’re not in a guild, I recommend trying one out. Each one is different, but after visiting a few, you may, like me, find a group of supportive, talented sewists who make your quilting hobby even more fun.

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  1. Michelle, girl, I have lots to say on this subject, so I'll try to keep it brief. First off, we have a list of 4 years of discussions, activities, and challenges over here, that are open for use:

    Also, one of the best parts of our guild (IMHO) is that we have always almost exclusively relied on guild talent for our meetings. We do a 10-20 min. demo or presentation several times a year, and the member is rewarded with a gift card to the quilt shop we hold our meetings in. Also, we do a challenge at almost every meeting. Only a few people participate but it always spices things up.

    We've found that doing one big BOM a year, with a few guidelines set and a reward at the end, works well and motivates people to try it!

    1. I just popped over to your guild's page. Holy smokes! I'm printing that list for next week's planning meeting of my own MQG, Maritime Modern Quilt Guild. So many great ideas!

  2. Michelle, our guild is small and a bit older but here are some things we do. A planning session once a year that encourages members to take their turn doing a demo or presentation on a technique, a trunk show, etc.

    We have an annual challenge. Used to buy fabric and everyone had to use it to some extent in a quilted object...purse, clothing, quilt, wallhanging, etc. Usually have 6 to 8 months to complete. Last year, we had the "Ugly Fabric" challenge where everyone pulled at least one yard total of fabric, put it in a brown bag, and we exchanged them via a drawing. The challenge was to create something with it. Great participation and along the way one of our members brought in her previous "Ugly Challenge" quilts. Also found some interesting stories online about how some guilds handle that.

    This year we are having a UFO Challenge. Can submit up to 3 quilts to finish and have to bring them in completed on the reveal night. Name goes in drawing for each completed quilt.

    We've also had fat quarter drawings where participants bring in fat quarter and get name in drawing. Can win it all (or if a lot, part of it).

  3. One fun challenge our guild (Seattle MQG) did this year was a Paint Chip challenge. Organizers selected a color palette consisting of five paint chips (the colored strips you find at a hardware store). Participating members each got a randomly assigned chip and were told to make a mini quilt (18-inch square, if I remember correctly) using only the colors on their chip. The finished quilts were displayed together at a local quilt shop and had the effect of displaying everyone's unique approach to the project, while also creating a larger piece that was greater than the sum of its parts. You can read more about it and see photos on our guild website under "Challenges." Best wishes to your group for 2016!

  4. I read this and it makes me want to join your guild! I'm probably swapping to an MQG individual membership this year cause there's not a lot driving me to my Guild's meetings. Maybe I just need to find something closer to home or I need to pester you to do more "let's go fabric shopping" expeditions. BTW see you Friday :)

  5. I've only been a member of my local guild (Orlando) for a few months now but one of the things we do is have a monthly block lotto. You only participate if you want a chance to win the blocks. Someone selects a block and provides a tutorial or a link. (we post the info on our guild's blog). If you decide to make one (or 2 or 3), you bring them to the monthly guild meeting. For each block you make, you get an entry into the drawing for all of the blocks made. There's no lengthy year-long time commitment or anything. Just something fun to do.

  6. I was on the board of the Indy Modern Quilt Guild for 3-4 years. This was always a challenge for us. Like others mentioned, we rely on guild members for content. This year we started a trunk show with some of our older members. It was great to see all the different quilts throughout their quilting journey. We did a block lotto throughout 2014, this year we did a few charm swaps, and a quilter of the month on our blog. Members provide demos of techniques they like or projects. We have had a couple of authors and fabric designers in our guild, so we have had events with them. Good luck as you work to build that interaction with members.

  7. I am the president of the Greenville Modern Quilt Guild and we have tried a bunch of things with varying levels of success. We do not have good participation in swaps, but we have a very popular block of the month program. We pick a block that will challenge us with a new technique and our organizer picks the colors. People make the blocks and then we turn them into charity quilts. We are a small guild (35 members, usually 18-22 showing up at each meeting) and we get around 15 blocks each meeting which is great. We also trying a challenge this year (the first time we are doing this) and are going to try the crayon challenge where everyone randomly picks out two crayons as inspiration for their quilt. We also have demo days where 2-4 people will demo a technique (binding, a FMQ pattern etc) and small groups will rotate around to the various demos throughout the meeting. I hope that helps some!

  8. I hope to join the NHMQG this year. I've been very inspired by the NH quilting blogging community.

  9. This year our guild had a couple friday night "workshops". Registration wasn't capped, the cost was less than $20 and pizza and pop were served. We had a few icebreaker activities (eg. scavenger hunt to be completed with names of people who...have made a log cabin quilt, who have hand quilted something...), a few prizes, some very basic demos that didn't leave people with incomplete projects (tote bag, basket/bin, cushion). While only a third or so of out 100 member guild attended, those who did had a blast and met lots of people.

  10. When we started our guild, we decided to have as many meetings as sewing opportunities, so we hold monthly Sew Ins. We don`t just want to talk about quilting, we want to do it - together! We have blind swaps every couple months - small things like zipper pouches, mug rugs, etc. One of the favourite parts of our meetings is Show n` Share. Not just of finished work, but WIPs too. It's a great chance for a Quilt Consult to tackle issues that arise as the project goes on. Last summer, we had a yard sale with members selling off items from their stashes. Such fun. You can pop over to our guild's blog for more info if you'd like - Maritime Modern Quilt Guild


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