Guild Program Ideas FAQ

Collection maintained by: Cathy K

From: Jane

My guild has a couple of on-going raffles at each meeting:

  1. The Basket - as you enter, you have an opportunity to buy chances for The Basket (usually .50 or $1). The Basket is a small wicker basket filled with quilting "stuff" - usually some fabric and a few notions. The person who wins the raffle gets to keep the contents of the basket, but must bring the basket itself back to the next meeting, filled with other goodies.

  2. Blocks - every other meeting or so you can choose to participate in making a block. Someone hands out directions, which often include a background fabric, and instructions about what types of fabrics to use for the rest of the block. At the next meeting everyone brings their completed blocks, and they all get tacked up on the wall. Each person who made a block gets a raffle ticket, and all the blocks are given to the one who wins the raffle. Block patterns have ranged everywhere from nine-patches to May baskets.
Another fund-raiser that we do each year is a "Chinese Auction":

Everyone brings in stuff that they don't want - half finished projects, fabric pieces or scraps, magazines, whatever. Anything goes as long as it's craft related. The contributions are laid out on tables, and each item or group of items has a paper bag taped to the table next to it. You sell raffle tickets for .10 each. Everyone goes around and puts a ticket or tickets into the bags next to the stuff they are interested in. After a while, everyone sits down, and a winner is drawn for each pile of stuff. You'd be amazed at how much money we raise just exchanging junk! It's always a lot of fun, and almost everyone goes home with something new.

From: Joan

Since I am rather new to quilt guilds, the following idea may not be new to the rest of you, but anyway --

In August we will have a Brown Bag fabric swap. Each one who cares to participate packs in a brown bag the following lunch (fabric): Place in a sandwich bag two 10 in. squares of ''bread''fabric, one 10 in. square of ``meat'' fabric, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese are optional (any size). Add a fat quarter of some ``fruit'' (tropical print or fruit print) and for ``dessert'' add a fat quarter of some luscious fabric. In another sandwich bag add ``munchies'' - leftover strips or scraps no smaller than 2 in. square. Put your name and address on a slip of paper in the bag. These will be swapped at some point in the meeting.

The other things we do I think have already been mentioned:

Each month this year there is a raffle. You bring as many fat quarters of the fabric designated that month as you care to. You're given one chance for each quarter you bring. The fabric is bundled into groups of 12. This month it is white on white, next month red, white and blue (of course), in August hot colors, May was M&M colors, and April (the meeting I missed, drat it!) was purples.

Also, at each meeting $1 gives you three chances of winning a door prize - there usually are anywhere from 3 to 10 of these - quilt related items, and sometimes (and there is always eeking and squealing over these) even quilt tops or a number of blocks.

All you people who sounded off about UFOs made me feel sooooooo much better!!! There's so much hope for me I think I'll run right home and start another!

From: Ida

We have two types of programs in my guild. I am the current chair of the outside speaker committee. In fact, tonight I plan to distribute a survey to find out what the members want. But we also have monthly programs that are generally conducted by guild members. This evening one of our members is doing a program on hand made cards. Don't ask, I don't know. Others have done programs on applique, scrap quilts, quilted clothing, labels. You'd be surprised at the talent *within* your guild. Now as for my committee I am asking in the survey just how often do you want an outside speaker. An outside speaker usually does a Friday evening lecture that is free and open to the public and then also does an all day workshop on Friday and again on Saturday. These workshops can the same content or different content. Some of our speakers (Nancy Pearson, for one) have opted not to do the lecture. If Virginia has a state guild, perhaps you could advertise in the state guild newsletter. If a teacher doesn't appear from that, perhaps another guild would be willing to go in with your guild to get a good teacher and help share the cost.

From: Susan

Our guild generally has a couple of "famous" speakers each year and then local people and guild members the rest of the time. This month's meeting, one of the local shop owners is going to tell us what is new in quilting. June was guild member-led instruction in applique and hand quilting. Sept. is more member-led instruction. In April or May, a NJ woman, who happens to be a member of the Genie Online group, led a workshop in fabric painting.

Who teaches quilt classes in your area? There's potential for your programs. Check with quilt shops in the closest "big" cities.

Anybody been on a trip lately and come back with a quilt slide show?

I think the "famous" people have to be scheduled well in advance. Our guild has some speakers scheduled for late 1994/early 1995 already.

From: Anne

I know that our guild had some great programs that were simply put on my local crafters, often members. One was a woman who makes and sells simple tote bags who demonstrated each step in the bag she makes (with a simple set of instructions; it's basically the bag I make now). Another was a woman who does lots of dyeing and painting who demonstrated painting leaves and pressing them onto fabric.

I was surprised at how interesting these session were. They were led by locals who just liked to do something that's a little bit different than the common things that everyone does.

From: Marina

One of our guild's favorite ideas is the fabric swap. We try to do it once a year. Every person gets a "ticket" for the number of yards they bring in, and we are divided into groups, which take turns going to the table piled with fabric. If you bring in 6 yards, you can't take all six yards at once (unless there happens to be a 6-yard piece you want :-) so that makes it fair for the people who get to choose last--there are still some good pieces left.

We tried a UFO auction one year, people donated unfinished quilt blocks, etc. But everything went so cheap, except for a couple of items, that I don't think we'll do it again soon.

For several years, we've had a "Holiday workshop", which consisted of five different mini-workshops in which ideas for Christmas ornaments or easy gift items were demonstrated. Sometimes one of our affiliate shops would just show their latest goodies, which were for sale. We rotated from one workshop to the next at 15 minute intervals. One year I demonstrated sashiko, showing quilted ornaments and a padded box I had made using sashiko. I passed out copies of instructions so people could try it at home (15 minutes isn't long enough to actually start a project!)

From: Barb

Our guild of 300 members is divided into two chapters -- one that meets in the evening, and the other that meets the following morning. We repeat our programs.

One nice thing we do annually is a service project. We come together with blocks or tops and back and tie them for baby quilts, lap quilts, or twin quilts and present them to different charities each year. We have made ABC quilts for AIDS babies, lap quilts for nursing homes, twin quilts for a women's crisis center, and stuffed toys for a children's hospital. It becomes a wonderful meeting for sharing and fellowship -- and it's a great way to use odds and ends that beg to be included.

I have heard of -- but not experienced -- a nifty idea from another guild. They have secret pals for the year. You do nice things that range from sending a card to making blocks or exchanging fabrics. Sometimes handoffs are made secretly at guild meetings. In addition, they also do block exchanges or block collections to be raffled off at the meeting. Sometimes they've had blocks that had themes, such as fruits and flowers, or garden, or animal. They have also had fabric exchanges with themes, similar to what was suggested in Quilters Newsletter a couple of months ago.

We have had door prizes made by members. If you won one you had to make one for the following month. That only is good as long as the enthusiasm and cooperation lasts. Then you can come up with another idea.

Each November we have a Christmas ornament exchange. Bring one and take one home. Again, that works as long as everyone brings their best.

Our show and tell is always a highlight of our meeting. Sometimes it even lasts as long as the program!

A guild challenge once or twice a year sparks interest in members. The challenge could be using certain fabrics, interpreting a special theme, or using an assigned pattern/block.

We are presently working on miniature quilts to auction at our show a year from October! I love the foresight of the organizers.

Demonstrations of quilting techniques or easy projects presented in a round robin makes a lively meeting. If you can use in-house talent, it may be an economical program, too.

From: JUDY

One month we had a sale, each member brought in fabric, books, blocks, patterns, tools, etc. that she no longer needed. Each person put their name and price on each item. We had a great time going around the room buying from each other. Sometimes you had to go around the room looking for the person to pay for your purchases but that was no problem. Everyone had a wonderful time and went home with some new treasures. One of the items I got was a wonderful applique book that sold for $25.00 and I got it for $12.00. It was such a good book, the girl that brought it in had bought it twice for herself. She also teaches applique.

Another thing we have done is to set up workshops on saturdays with guild members teaching a class. We are fortunate to have such talented members. This month we are having a shop come in for a trunk show. I'm looking forward to that. These are a few things in addition to speakers and demonstrations. We also had a demonstration on paper marbling which was excellent. I belong to two guilds and really enjoy the programs. Another program was on quilting books and videos available at local libraries with the librarian from the library in which we meet speaking. We have several libraries in our area and someone made a bibliography of the quilt books for different libraries and had them ready to pass out at this meeting. A different person was assigned to each library. They also showed part of a video available to check out.

From: Gayle

The situation you mention sounds slightly different from mine so bear that in mind with my following remarks. We meet once a month starting at 7:30 pm and finishing around 9:30 pm. Our programs are usually no more than an hour since we usually have guild business to discuss as well. There are about 50 of us.

Our programs are thus rather brief and we do pay an honorarium of $25.00 to speakers who are not guild members. In turn their programs are usually along the lines of show and tell (some with slides) or very brief demos. For programs meant to provide full instruction of a technique or pattern, we have about 4 all day Saturday workshops throughout the year. Last year we did, for the first time, bring in an expensive outside nationally known teacher for an all day workshop plus a lecture the previous evening for the public and guild members who weren't going to take the workshop.

Getting back to monthly programs, we beat the bushes in terms of local contacts as well as relying on our guild members for some programs. Here are some examples from last year. We started a community project a couple of years ago to provide small quilts for children staying at the local shelter for battered women and families. Last fall we had one of the safe house directors speak to our guild. She went into the grim subject of spouse/child abuse and the shelter's role but also noted the beneficial impact of our project. Children pick from the available stock of quilts and are permitted to keep them when they leave. They really become "security blankets". Guild members appreciated the program since it was a good reminder of why we started the project and it was useful for introducing members who'd just joined that fall to the project and encouraging them to donate to it.

I was aware of a local artist who is not a quilter per se but does quilted silk screened wall hangings. She spoke to us and used slides to show her work. She showed us several different series of projects (her cow quilts have been very successful in some local galleries) and talked about her construction methods. She also brought some of her pieces so we had the opportunity to examine them up close.

Some of our members provide programs. There's a small work group that meets on Friday to develop their skills in Baltimore album applique. They did a program on the history of Baltimore album quilts and the symbolism behind many of the common images used (flowers, fruit, fauna). One member knew a woman who had recently inherited some old quilts from an aunt. She brought them and we helped her in identifying some of the patterns since she didn't quilt. Last spring a member and I collaborated on a quilt history program. We got a free slide show from the American Quilt Study Group that explains its role in promoting quilt and other textile research. My friend also told us about attending AQSG's annual meeting for the first time and I gave a brief talk on good books for quilt history and research.

This year isn't still fully planned but I have some irons in the fire. A member went with her husband to Thailand in June and found some wonderful fabric there so I hope to convince her to show it along with her slides of their trip. Another member is a long-time collector of old quilts. Anytime there's an estate sale in this area, she'll be there to purchase any quilts of interest so I'd like to convince her to bring in some of her favorites in her collection for a special show and tell. I've met a doctoral student in the university art department in their surface design program. she's taught a class there on quilting and is familiar with other types of textiles so I plan to contact her about doing some sort of program for our guild. Since she's not a member, she'll get the $25.00 honorarium.

You mentioned being in the Colonial Williamsburg area. Check there or another local museum to see if they have a textile curator who might be able to talk about quilts in the area. Does Virginia have a quilt documentation project underway? Some of its coordinators would be very happy to do a program for you. I don't know the sources but you can rent any number of slide shows for recent quilt events such as the Fairfield fashion show of quilted clothing held at the big quilt festival in Houston. These are always a good standby for a program. Their rental fees are usually quite low and sometimes free (like the AQSG show we used last March).

Go back to your members and invite them to do a program and share a new technique that's simple to demonstrate, or they might want to talk about being at one of the quilt shows or retreats this summer. Someone always seems to know someone not in the guild who nonetheless has a tie to quilting and would have something to contribute.

From: Tina

My quild, Cocheco Quilters of Dover NH, has had some interesting programs this past year. One was a physical therapist who spoke about the various injuries that quilters are subject to, and what type of exercises we could do to help avoid them. He came complete with a skeleton for demonstration. It was an interesting talk.

We've also had some members who have had problems with theft and getting settlements from their insurance companies. So we've had a quilt appraiser speak to us (at a guild meeting) and then appraise quilts for the next couple of days. We also had an insurance agent speak to us about how to go about insuring quilts in the home, when traveling with them, and if we use them to teach. That was, believe it or not, a very interesting session.

I can't help you with how to find quilt instructors, but I hope these ideas help. Good luck.

From: Mary Helen

I was the person who asked for quilt guild meeting ideas. Having speakers was one of the ideas -- we already do this. Beware -- instructors are usually booked for a year -- we're working on getting instructors for our 94-95 season. Judy D from QuiltNet is coming to our guild this fall -- you may want to try her. I believe she's down in the Philadelphia area. I've included the messages/ideas that I received.

From: Ida

Our guild had an all nighter once that I just loved. You need to select one pattern (and of course a place that will accommodate all the members and their STUFF), and then let the members sew away the night. Throughout the night we had different prizes awarded. I got one for the neatest work table - my husband still can't believe that. We were to bring old UFO's that we did not want anymore, wrap them, and then we had a drawing and you got someone else's UFO. Now the guild is larger and we haven't discussed an all nighter - I don't know if we could find a place large enough.

From: Mair

Two things that my guild have done that have worked out well are small projects and member workshops.

For the small projects, we have chosen some project for members to work on. They pay some amount of money to get a kit (typically $8 - $12), and we set aside one or two meetings that are devoted to working on these projects. There is usually an informal presentation to explain the general directions of how to do this and the rest of the time is stitching and chatting. The two projects we've had in the past 2 years are a guild tote bag which included hand piecing, assembly of the tote bag, and hand quilting, and a batting sampler. The batting sampler had 8 different 4" strips of fabric and 8 different battings. The idea was to put a different color over each, quilt the whole thing and document what battings are under what color. Then you can see how you like to quilt each, how each washes and how each looks and how each wears.
Members who don't want to buy the kit are still welcome to come to the meeting(s) and stitch on their own projects if they wish.

The other activity that we've used that works out well is small member workshops. This isn't as formal as it sounds. We talk about 6 of our members into bringing in some sort of project that they enjoy or have mastered, or a pattern they like to use. We set up tables for each throughout the room and each of the demonstrators give informal instruction. The members wander around and pick up tips from each other. It's another pretty social event.

These two have worked particularly well for our guild. We have 80-100 members 60-70 of which typically show up to meetings. When we have speakers who come with lectures and slides, the members tend to sit and politely watch. It seemed more like a huge college lecture hall than a group of friendly quilters. Also, our members range from quilt enthusiasts (who like to look, but don't stitch), to those who quilt for a living, and everybody in between.

From: Gail

When our guild has a speaker they also generally have a workshop taught by that speaker. Our meetings are on Saturday afternoons so the workshop is in the morning (or the next day if the workshop has to be a whole day). We've had trunk shows and speakers from textile museum.

From: Marina

Every month, a "motivational speaker". Sometimes we have affiliate shops or members demonstrating techniques instead (frequently around the holidays, we demo quick gift ideas).

Every month we draw a name for the Friendship Block exchange. The chosen one gets to decide what they want--they can supply a pattern, fabric, or both.

We also have show and tell of course. We have a large library of quilting books and magazines that can be checked out for one month at a time. Next month we are doing a silent auction, members donate quilt-related items and we bid on them. Every other year, we do a quilt show, the alternate years we hold a quilting retreat. We make a raffle quilt every year to raise money for the guild.

We just started "secret pals" and we hold "sewcials" once a month on a Saturday, usually we baste quilts for members. Every 3 or 4 months we hold a Quiltathon and spend one day making quilts to give to local charities.

From Cathy

Demo night - Once a year we call upon the talents of the members of the guild and have them present demonstrations. These demo run concurrently - that is we have 10 or so demonstrators who each set up and present their stuff while the members circulate to find what interests them. Some of the topics have been machine quilting, using a rotary cutter, paper piecing, transferring photos to fabric, techniques of handquilting, trapunto, writing on quilts, etc. Nothing is very complicated or difficult to present, but both new and experienced quilters find something that is useful.

This past year we sponsored a "field trip" to the Maryland Historical Society which had a display of Baltimore Album Quilts. Since the museum is downtown (and not in a very nice area) the guild hired busses to take the members down so there were no parking problems and everybody felt safe. The Guild also paid the entrance fees into the museum. In order to order the correct number of busses it was necessary to have each member who wanted to attend phone in a reservation to the program chairperson. There was a time set for departure (which was earlier than our regular meeting time) and people had to be on time or miss the bus. Many members who would have never gone to see this exhibit on their own were very grateful that we had done this.

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