Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Virtual Quilting Bee

Ever joined a virtual quilting bee?  Well, if you're like me, you may have never heard of such a thing before. 

Back in the days of no televisions, blogs or iphones, women weren't all that different--they liked to get together and talk with their friends.  And with no Facebook or Twitter, this was how you kept tabs and got the juicy gossip.  Well, they were also an industrious group and not likely to sit idle, so they usually brought something to do at the same time as chatting.  The best of these get togethers were the quilting bees.  Women would trade blocks, sew and help quilt finished quilt tops.  Later in the evening, often the rest of the families would gather for dinner and fun.  Many lovely heirlooms were created with the help of many hands.

Today, that tradition continues with a modern twist--the internet.  A virtual bee is the same as an old-fashioned quilting bee only members don't gather at a house--they gather online.  Today's quilting bees involve blogs, digital images, Flickr and the postal service.  Men are even getting involved with quilting through these bees (and they are some of the better quilters!) and having a great time. 

How does it work?  First, someone decides to form a bee and decides on some guidelines.  Usually, there are twelve members--one for each month of the year--although there is no rule that says a bee can't have more members and just have longer rounds of exchanges.  Then, months are given out for sending fabric and choosing blocks.  If its your month, you pick a block and send enough fabric to create the block to each member of the group.  They sew up the block that month and mail it back.  The type of block depends on the Bee.  Some are senders choice, some focus on a specific color or technique and still others are scrappy.  By the end of the year, each member has 12 lovely quilt blocks (if they made one for themselves) for a quilt.  Everyone shows off their blocks and finished quilts (or at least the tops) online with the group.  The fun is in the sharing, communicating online and friendships that develop with people you might never otherwise meet--and of course, in having some help finishing a quilt top!

If you're into quilting consider joining a virtual bee.  You'll push yourself to try new blocks, make friends and even get some "work" done.  So now when you're chatting online and your spouse complains, you can answer, "Honey, I'm working on a quilt right now!"

Here is a website to get you started--be sure and check their Flickr group for the "I want in" thread to see who has openings. 

Quilting Bee Blocks

And here are two that I belong to and two that I host.

Bee Scrappy
Scrap Happy Bee
Bee White Black
Sew Buzzy

Just for fun, when you're there, check out the Master List thread to see hundreds of quilting bees. Many are currently filled, but you can still check out what the group is working on and see how a virtual bee goes. Members are very helpful and enthusiastic--but be warned! Quilting bees can be quite addicting. :)
The Virtual Quilting BeeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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