How to Start a Quilt Guild
What is a quilt guild?
A quilt guild is a group of quilters who gather, at a designated time and place, to discuss quilting. It differs from a group or bee in that a guild has official bylaws and membership is usually required.
Guilds come in all different shapes and sizes. Today there are even online quilt guilds, with members from around the country and world.
Quilt guilds are great ways to:
- Make new friends
- Meet quilters in your area
- Get new and inspiring ideas for quilt projects
- Show off your own work
Depending on the size, running a guild takes quite a bit of preparation.
If you have ever thought about starting your own quilt guild, here is a simple guide to help you out.
*Note that these are general guidelines. They are not intended as legal advice.
Things to avoid when setting up a quilt guild
Starting a quilt guild is a large undertaking.
- Don't do it alone. It is a lot of work.
- Don't make large plans for the first year.
- Don't spend more money than you have in the guild account.
Getting a group of people interested
Almost every quilter knows other quilters. You may already be a part of a quilting group. Speak to your friends and see if there is an interest in starting up a guild.
If you are already in a guild, ask fellow members if they would be interested in another guild. They may like an alternative that is closer to their home, or just the option of attending another guild meeting.
Go to local quilt shops and let the owners know that you are starting a new guild. The owner may know people who are looking for a guild and they may even want to join as well. Guilds are a great way for shop owners to build up their businesses.
Online Quilt Guilds and Clubs
Setting up an initial startup meeting
Once you have a group of interested people, get together at someone's house or at a local coffee shop. You may be tempted to discuss quilts at this first meeting, but it's best to stick to business.
You'll need to decide a number of things which are outlined in the sections below.
Quilt guild business to be discussed during the initial meeting
Decide on a meeting day and time
Pick a date, for example, the second Thursday of every month, and stick with it. You may not want to meet on a monthly basis. Some guilds meet every other month.
Choose a time that works well for most people. Usually evenings are a good time to meet.
Be careful not to choose a date that is the same as another nearby guild.
Decide on a meeting location
Many places offer meeting rooms at a low charge, or even at no charge. Here are just a few ideas for possible meeting space:
- Local libraries
- Municipal buildings
- Quilt shops
Establish guild bylaws
Before the first official meeting, get copies of a few different sets of quilt guild bylaws. Most guilds will be happy to provide you with a copy of their paperwork.
The bylaws do not need to be too complicated, and will probably change as the guild grows.
Some of the more important points that should be covered by the bylaws include, but are not limited to:
- Length of service of officers
- Voting procedures
- Duties of the officers
- Permitted expenditures
- Legal requirements
It would be advisable to consult an attorney when establishing bylaws. Check with members and friends. There may be someone who is willing to help with this at no charge. For example, I joined a guild many years ago and the woman who started it was married to an attorney. He was able to help the guild set up their bylaws.
Appoint guild officers
Your guild will need to have officers to help with the work load and ensure a system of checks and balances.
You'll need a:
- President - responsible for the overall management
- Vice President - responsible for assisting the president with the overall management
- Treasurer - responsible for the finances
- Secretary - responsible for recording the minutes and preparing meeting agendas. Also keeps track of guild paperwork.
These may be temporary positions until the guild is up and running. When the guild is ready, it can hold official elections.
Think of a great guild name
You may want to get together a list of potential names that can be voted on during the first official meeting, or you may want to decide on a name at the start up meeting.
It's usually better to get the name in place before the official meetings begin. This ensures that the guild starts getting name recognition. It also adds legitimacy to the guild.
Decide on Annual Dues
As an official quilt guild, you should charge annual dues. These dues cover things like:
- Meeting space rental
- Snack reimbursements
- Speaker fees
Dues should be reasonable, but not too low that they are not sufficient to cover costs.
The guild will have to set up a bank account which the treasurer is responsible for. A local bank can assist you in setting up the correct type of account.
Sample Quilt Guild Agenda
January 1, 2013
7pm - 9pm
7:00 - Call to order
7:00 - 7:15 - Old business
7:15 - 7:30 - New business
7:30 - 8:30 - Guest speaker/program
8:30 - 8:45 - Show and Tell
8:45 - 9:00 - Social time and snacks
Membership form information
You'll want to get some basic information for membership records.
- Checklist of committees that member may be interested in
Things you'll need at the first official guild meeting
Once you've had your initial start up meeting you'll need to get ready for your first official guild meeting. For that first meeting you should have the following things:
- A brief written description of the guild. Have multiple copies available.
- Agenda (see sample at right)
- Name tags
- Membership forms (see insert below right)
- Snacks - You'll want to have a sign up sheet for volunteers to bring snacks to subsequent meetings.
- Committee sign up sheets - Not necessary, but helpful for organizational purposes.
Committees that you may want to consider setting up include:
Don't get discouraged if everything doesn't get set up, or things don't go smoothly, during your first few meetings. It will take a while to iron out the wrinkles and get the guild up and running.
Quilt guilds can provide
- Monthly speakers
- Educational workshops
- Quilt shows
Why set up a quilt guild
There are a number of reasons people set up quilt guilds.
- Perhaps the established group of your quilting friends has gotten too large and you want to make it available to more people.
- There are no guilds in your immediate area.
Attending guild meetings is an enjoyable experience. Members get to see interesting speakers and learn new techniques. New friends can be made and everyone gets a chance to show off their work.
Starting a new quilt guild is a lot of hard work, but the enjoyment you receive from the fun you have at meetings makes it all worthwhile.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Claudia Mitchell