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Celebrating the Past, Present & Future

My Quilting Adventure~Choosing a Quilt Guild

By Jane Fahey

As a ‘want to be’ quilter, I learned to leave the old clothes in the closet and abandon the leftover children’s fabric but I still needed a place to start. My neighbor and new friend, Faye Page, an experienced quilter, assured me I needed to join a Quilt Guild.

The mission or purpose of Guilds is to preserve and promote the art of quilting through the education of quilters and the community. Guilds may operate under the umbrella of a large organization—others are independent. They may engage in projects or enjoy sitting and sewing. The best way to decide which Guild is right for you is to attend a meeting and find out the agenda of the Guild.

Paula Teeples is so proud to be almost finished her wall hanging. Photo by Jane Fahey

Choosing a Quilt Guild was easy for me. As far as I knew there was only one and Faye Page took me to visit. The Tavern Quilt Guild in Heathsville was established in 1995 and is a support group of Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern Foundation

The first meeting I attended was in the Historical Society Building. Everyone was welcome—pay your dues, grab a chair, sit and sew. I met Janet Vaughan and Jessica Servis, who, like myself, were new to quilting. We spent several meetings transfixed by the workmanship of the other quilters. Speakers and demonstrations were part of every meeting. ‘Show and Tell’ was the sharing of the members’ work. We watched, touched and slowly began to try.

Do you know how hard it is to make several corners meet and not pucker? Should I use my machine or sew it by hand? Fortunately for us, Jeanne Rose came to the rescue with classes at her shop The Briar Patch. Salvation! Or rather, a beginning!

The Guild grew and moved across the street to St. Stephen’s Church Hall. We numbered about one hundred. Monthly meetings on the first Tuesday include speakers, quilting activities, a business meeting and food. Quilters need to eat.

Every other year the Guild has a Quilt Gala that involves a quilt show, auction of quilted articles, vendors, classes, food and fun. It is usually held for three days in October. Money earned from the Gala supports RH/HT Foundation projects. The Transportation building project soon became a reality thanks to the help of the guild.

The Guild moved back across the street into the Transportation Building in 2006. Home at last! This move is still evolving as the building is shared and each group is developing its niche and comfort zone. As with other Tavern Foundation activities we’ll learn to mesh together. The Guild usually participates in all the activities of the Foundation such as the Tavern history program for Elementary school children.

Terri Eilers uses Guild business meeting time to work on her redwork. Photo by Jane Fahey

One Guild was not enough. In 1999, Stingray Stitchers, an independent Guild, began meeting at Phillippi Christian Church in Deltaville the first Monday of every month from 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. The dues are $20 per year. There are ninety members and they are accepting new members. These quilters participate in the Linus project that provides quilts to local cancer patients undergoing treatment.

Deltaville is a long way from home and the time is not good for me. So I wait for the next new Guild. In 2003, three new Guilds began. Lots of choices for this beginner to make.

The Rivah Quilters, an independent Guild, started in Kilmarnock meeting on the second Friday of each month at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The dues are $20 per year and the membership is held at fifty with a waiting list. No room!

The Uptown Guild, independent, in Warsaw, meets at the Warsaw Baptist Church on the third Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The dues are $20 per year and their community project is working with the 4 H Club of Richmond County to learn quilting and sewing skills. They are open for new members.

The Reedville Fishermen’s Museum Guild is under the umbrella of the Museum. They meet at the Museum or Bethany United Methodist Church on the first Friday of each month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and members must belong to the Museum. Since this Guild is under the umbrella of the Museum their projects are fund-raisers for the Museum as well as personal projects.

Now, 2007, a new independent Guild is forming. This Guild is geared toward quilters experienced in art and traditional quilts with emphasis on learning new techniques. They meet the first Friday of each month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The next meeting will be in the Heathsville Library and subsequent meetings will be in the Wicomico Parish Church in Wicomico Church. There is a $15 fee per year.

Jessica, Janet and I have learned so many skills since those first days with the Tavern Guild. Each of us has a different idea of what we want in a quilt. We have different techniques for achieving our goals. We have chosen different Guilds to meet our quilting needs. Each Guild has quilters of all skill levels who are willing to share their knowledge. Guilds are eager to see members succeed and encourage the trial and sharing of new techniques. Traditional, contemporary and art quilts are created in each group. Some quilters belong to multiple Guilds.

So, if you’re a new quilter, or an experienced quilter wanting to try something different, visit a Guild and check out their aims and activities. If you like being involved with community activities perhaps the Tavern Guild or Reedville Museum Guilds are for you.

I spent a day with the Rivah Guild as they applauded each other’s work whether a UFO (unfinished object) or proudly completed quilt. Then members went outdoors for fabric dyeing with Cheryl Mathre. They have a membership waiting list upon which I’d have to put my name. Hmmm, decision time.

Personally, I will stay with the Tavern Guild and will join the new Guild since my interest lies in art quilts. Actually, I have difficulty making all those corners line up with out puckering. Jessica and Janet are so good at that. If I create a pucker in an art quilt I can say it is not an accident it is an on purpose. Who is to know? You won’t tell, will you??

Now, all I need is a friendly BEE, but that is another story for another time.

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