What comes to mind when you see or hear the words “quilting bee”?
I’m not sure about you, but I always imagine a group of women sitting on the front porch of a cute little cottage, sipping sweet tea and conversing about friends and family while sewing the same quilt they’ve been working on for ten years.
What if I told you that a quilting bee is SO much more than that? It’s more of a quilting get-together with a purpose.
Let’s get started and answer some of your burning questions regarding the beginnings of our sewing club and how to start your own.
I hope to be able to answer all of your questions while also teaching you some interesting information!
What Is a Quilting Bee?
First and foremost, what exactly is a quilting bee? A quilting bee, according to Merriam Webster, is “a social gathering of women who work together at sewing quilts or doing other quilting labor.”
The definition is self-explanatory, but why is it called a quilting bee? Let’s delve a little deeper into this “social gathering’s” history to learn more about how it all began.
Quilting Bee History
According to the Word Histories website, the word “quilting bee” was coined in the late 18th century to describe “a gathering of neighbors to coordinate their labors for the benefit of one of their number” — just like small worker bees in a hive.
As a result, the term “bee” might be applied to sewing, quilting, weaving, or even barn raising.
We have something very great if we mix these two definitions.
Quilting Bee: A social gathering of friends who come together to create quilts and other quilted products for one or all of the members’ benefit.
Now that we have a good understanding of what a quilting bee is, let’s look back in time to see when they all began.
The first written instances of a “quilting bee” date from the early 1800s, and were usually a call to arms for women in cities to congregate and make quilts for soldiers or the destitute. Quilts have long been a wonderful source of warmth and love, and they make wonderful gifts.
Quilting bees were formerly social, necessary, and therapeutic in equal measure. Women could get together, speak about their challenges, celebrate their victories, and share skills while making quilts that had a genuine, practical function.
How to Start a Quilting Bee: 5 Fun Ideas
Are you looking for ways to create your own quitting bee, whether in person or online? Quilting bees are a great way to meet new quilty friends and share your passion for quilts.
1. Create a quilt or quilts for a great cause.
Many of us have friends, family members, or even acquaintances who are experiencing financial, relational, or health difficulties. What a wonderful idea it would be to gather your quilting buddies and produce something unique for people in need.
Is it necessary to meet in person, or can you organize virtual quilting bees for a good cause? This type of bee might be done online or in person with ease.
Create an email chain or a Facebook group to discuss who your bees will assist. You could have everyone meet together and make a quilt together, or you could have everyone make separate blocks and send them to one person who will sew them all together.
Check with your local children’s hospital to determine if making quilted pillows for the kids is acceptable. See whether your local homeless shelter requires blankets or other goods that you could make.
2. Create a quilt for a celebration.
Let’s say one of your buddies is getting married or expecting a baby. Isn’t a quilt the ideal present? This is a great idea because you can customise it for the person who will get it.
Are you working on a wedding quilt? You might have each person involved in the project write their marriage advice on a block using a fabric marker. These messages might take up the entire quilt top or be incorporated into a design, depending on how many individuals are in your quilting bee.
Why not start with a baby quilt? Find out the colors for the pregnant mother’s nursery. Then inform your quilting bee, and go fabric shopping alone or collectively. If possible, gather everyone together to make this priceless one-of-a-kind gift.
If you can’t get everyone together, have a designated person place everyone’s separately constructed blocks together. Consider how special this gift will be, given the amount of love that has gone into every stitch.
3. Start a quilting bee to teach others how to quilt.
Many people want to learn to quilt but find it difficult to do so by reading tutorials or watching videos. What if you organized a “beginner’s quilting bee” where people could learn to sew and quilt at their own pace?
This event would be a fantastic learning opportunity for children and a rewarding one for teachers. There are several ways to accomplish this.
- Have one teacher per student the entire time for a one-on-one learning environment.
- Have one teacher that is assisting multiple students. This option is also available online through video call.
The focus of quilting bees is on community and sharing. You’ll not only be helping others learn a great skill, but you might also make some lifetime friends.
4. Plan individual projects but during a quilting party.
Let’s be real. Quilting is enjoyable! A quilting party is something that everyone would enjoy. This is how a quilting guild meeting would generally go.
Everyone brings their projects to work on while the members (I like to refer to them as “busy bees”) chat and eat delicious cuisine.
Think of a birthday party where you quilt instead of pin the tail on the donkey! To me, this sounds like a fantastic time. This bee could be held in the evening or as part of a larger gathering including a weekend retreat. This retreat model is arguably the most common type of in-person, modern-day quilting “quilting bee.”
Quilting guilds and parties are fantastic because they bring people of all skill levels together under one roof to work together, get to know one another, and bond over their shared passion of quilting.
5. Try a Quilt-A-Long quilting bee.
Have you heard of QAL before? Quilt-a-longs, or QALs, are all the rage right now on the internet.
Because of the format — an online quilting bee where numerous quilters join together and work on the same project from the comfort of their own homes — they are so popular.
You are allocated a quilt block each week, so even if you have a busy schedule, it is doable. You then set out a specific day and time each week to meet and discuss the project, either by video call or group chat.
This virtual bee is a fantastic option for those with hectic schedules or who are hesitant to join a guild or bee in person.
Read to start or join a quilting bee?
I hope one of these five suggestions resonated with you and inspired you to start your own quilting bee.
You don’t even need a front porch to enjoy some fresh air! A quilting bee can consist of two persons or 50 or more, but the size of the group is unimportant. What matters most is the group’s mission and the community and affection it fosters.