Molly and Riane handle membership services and communications for The Modern Quilt Guild (MQG), a group that grew from modern quilters online in 2009 to today’s thriving, worldwide organization. MQG is a nonprofit organization with over one hundred guilds, supporting and encouraging modern quilting through meetings, webinars and, of course, QuiltCon!

As part of our Teach a Friend to Sew series we want to encourage sewists to visit with their local Modern Quilt Guild. We asked Molly and Riane to fill us in on What to Expect From Your First Modern Quilt Guild Meeting! Do you want to see what Modern Quilt Guild members are making right now? Check out the MQG gallery!

With membership growing and new chapters popping up around the world every day, modern quilt guilds are becoming a central gathering place for modern quilters. If you’re considering joining a local Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) or just want to check it out, here are some tips to make your initial experience smooth and fun!

Tara Coogan, 2014-2015 president of the Rhode Island MQG, demos the slice-and-insert technique at a workshop in March. Photo by Karen McCann, courtesy of the Rhode Island MQG

Why Join a Local Guild?

  • Learn new things! Guilds are groups of quilters who gather to connect around their craft, learn new skills and more. At local chapters of the MQG, you’ll be exposed to modern quilting aesthetics and principles, as well as techniques, fabrics, designers and patterns. Each chapter has a mission and regular programming for members.
  • Share your projects. Show-and-tell is just one of the many great ways to show or get advice on your latest projects.
  • Meet new friends! At your first meetings, you’ll meet other quilters with varied experience and interests, and you’ll make new friends who love great fabric and patterns as much as you do.

Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild members “got to the point” with a guild-sponsored triangle challenge.
Photo courtesy of the Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild.

Before You Go to Your First Meeting:

  • Find your local guild. Do you know where to find the guild nearest you? Check out the guild locator for the MQG. You can also search online for a guild’s blog and social media pages. Look for upcoming meeting info, and peek at what they’ve done recently.
  • Say hey! If you find your guild’s contact info, it’s a great idea to reach out in advance and tell them you’re coming. If you don’t have time, just introduce yourself when you arrive– we all love surprise guests!
  • Be strategic. Choose a night when the topic or programming interests you. Also check for any special events or speakers on the day you plan to attend. These sometimes cost extra money or require an RSVP in advance.
  • Expect a freebie. Many guilds allow guests to come to at least one meeting for free before becoming a member (and paying the annual dues!). If you know you want to be a member on the first visit, check the guild’s dues and accepted payment types, and bring your wallet!
  • Pick a project. If you have one available, you may want to bring a work-in-progress or recently finished project for show-and-tell. This is a common activity at meetings and can be a great way to introduce your style! If you have binding or handwork to do, you could bring it for sewing time (another common guild activity). For your first meeting, unless it’s a specific workshop or sewing day, you won’t need your sewing machine.
  • Bring a friend! Even if your friend hasn’t made a modern quilt before, bring him or her along– the more the merrier.

Akemi, a member of the Pittsburgh MQG, shows off the paper piecing skills
she acquired at the July meeting. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh MQG

When You Arrive:

  • Expect to sign in. Many guilds collect contact info so they can reach out to you after the meeting.
  • Find the head honchos. Ask to meet any guild officers at the meeting. These are the leaders who can tell you about the guild, introduce you to other members and answer any questions.
  • Have fun! Guilds do all kinds of interesting and varying activities. If you found your guild online beforehand, you may have seen an agenda for the meeting. If not, you might expect some combination of the following:
    – Show-and-tell of finished quilts or works-in-progress
    – Tutorials or demonstrations
    – Guest speakers or teachers
    – Sewing time and informal social time
    – Swaps or games
    – Charity project work and planning

Members of the Orange County MQG participate in a charity event.
Photo courtesy of the Orange County MQG.

After You Get Home:

  • Join your local guild. If you loved your experience, send in your dues to your local MQG and become an official member! Membership dues help cover the cost of guild programs, giveaways and door prizes, meeting space rental, administrative costs, along with your membership to the parent MQG and all associated resources.
  • Check out MQG member perks. You get national membership when you join a local guild. Your benefits include free monthly webinars and patterns, access to an international network of quilters, merchandise and discounts on shows and events!

The Maritime MQG held their very first quilt show in October 2014 when their guild was just one year old.
The quilt show was part of the Novia Scotia Fibre Arts Festival in Amherst, N.S.
Photo courtesy of the Maritime MQG.

Best of luck! And remember, the whole purpose of visiting and joining a guild is to have fun with other quilters!

Pro Tip: To get a feel for the best in modern quilting and what people are making, take a look at the the MQG gallery!