The Free Motion Quilting Project: Joy of a Quilting Bee

Monday, July 15, 2013

Joy of a Quilting Bee

Today I had a wonderful time hanging out with other quilters from Sew South at We're Sew Creative in Charlotte, NC!

It was only after seeing this photo that I realized JUST how orange my shirt was. WOW!
I've been needing an excuse to get serious about my hexie project and today was the perfect day to pull everything out and get set up in an organized way. I now have 161 hexies pinned to fabric and ready to turn. My goal is to turn 10 per day, which means I'll have all the tiniest hexies done by next month!

free motion quilting | Leah DayBut there's a certain freakishness to this project...I knew it going into it, but seeing Jennifer Mathis's reaction was priceless. "WHAT are you doing?!" Lol. I offered to send everyone packs of 1/4" precut hexies and universally the response was No!

What struck me today while pinning and stitching away is just what a social craft quilting can be. Most of the time I quilt alone in my studio with only an audiobook or music for company. Getting together with everyone else includes a lot more chatting, snacking, and shopping, but it's also a whole lot more fun!

While driving home I realized this group felt a lot like a traditional quilting bee. If I could have a conversation with my grandmother, great grandmother, or even great-great grandmother, they would all have perfectly understood getting together with friends to stitch. This group felt just the perfect size at 9 people and had we had a group project to work on as traditional bees usually did, I'm sure we would have busted it out in no time.

So this has gotten me thinking. When I first started quilting I loved being apart of a large guild in Asheville, NC. The connection with other quilters, the access to awesome workshops and teachers, and the constant flood of inspiration was addictive.

But these days I find the huge crowd of a guild slightly overwhelming. It's not any criticism of the guild system, which is truly wonderful for connecting quilters together, but more of how I've changed as a quilter and creative person.

I think in between the large group guild meetings and solo work, I've overlooked the joy of the small quilting bee. If today's afternoon of stitching is any guide, this is one fun quilting activity I want on a regular basis!

Let's go quilt,



  1. When my hubs was stationed in OK I joined a small guild and loved it. In SC the guild was quite large and I never felt like I fit in. I miss the getting together though and wish I could find a smaller group to connect with here in PA. And I too will pass on those small hexies!

  2. Our quilting guild has gotten huge in the past couple of years. While I cherish the relationships I have developed with these wonderful ladies, I long for a smaller setting. The guild I attend is for our entire county. I'm thinking of starting a guild in my small town, but it will have to wait until Fall or later when I am a little less busy getting one son home from Peru for a two-year mission for our church, getting him off to college, and then getting the next son off to Paris, France for a two-year mission for our church.

  3. I think it may be a normal evolution. I was a guild junkie when I started quilting - traveled 80 miles round trip every month for one group, and took my newborn to another since I didn't want to miss the action.

    I took an intentional break when my girls were little and just getting through a day of work and kids was a success.

    As I dip my toes back into the realm of quilt groups, I notice the expectations for myself are different. It used to be that everything was exciting and new. Everyone was a potential mentor. Everything was a new techique.

    Now, sometimes, I just have to smile and be a cheerleader for someone else's success. It's time to decide if the time invested equals the benefit gained.

  4. For nearly three years I belonged to a guild. It was great, despite the hour drive both ways to the meeting.
    Then I had a friend ask me to teach her some techniques she didn't know. From that one friend, we have grown into a group of 12. We meet every Wednesday and have a wonderful time. We all have learned much from each other. I sometimes miss seeing what the ladies in the guild have done, but I enjoy my small group so much it is worth not going to guild anymore.

  5. I think of the guild as a place to see show and tells and listen to the speakers and maybe chat a few minutes - but not really get to know the other members or what they are working on. I find the small groups and bees better for getting to know people and see other projects because its a smaller group and meet more frequently. I dont currently belong to a bee due to my work schedule. I do really enjoy the retreats where I can spend as much time walking around looking at all the projects and asking questions as I do working on my own projects.

  6. I LOVE getting together with other quilters in my guild &in 2 bees. I don 't get a lot of quilting done (I say I'm a lover not a maker) but I sure get to admire lots of beautiful work and get inspired to do some quilting. So far I've made 3 large quilts and a bunch of Cuddle Quilts for donations. I know you have little time for yourself (you are always there for us) but take some time out for "you". We love you and want you to continue and not "get burned out". Take care!

  7. I think a sewing group of 6 to 12 is what I really would love to have. Don't quite know how to go about getting it, but I know I'd like it.


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