How to Start a
Crazy Quilt Group

Suzanne Bruno 2005

   
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The State of Maine is very fortunate to have the Pine Tree Quilt Guild (PTQG). This is the official guild in the State that serves as a sort of umbrella group with local chapters set up in the various towns around the state. PTQG provides annual programs, the annual show in the summer, a resource library, newsletters both print and email and generally serves as a tool to keep all the chapters in the state informed. Because we had this resource at hand, I chose to work through them to announce the formation of Maine's newest chapter, The Crazy Quilters of Maine.

Most of the chapters in Maine are by geographical area, but I modeled our group after Art Quilts Maine, which draws their membership from the entire state. I put notices in the print and email newsletters and it was announced at an annual meeting. I also sent print notices to vendors from the annual quilt show and posted messages to the online crazy quilting message boards. Having the state guild to work with made it easier to get the word out, but contacting your local Embroiderers Guild of America (EGA) is another option.

I gathered about 50 names during the summer and fall of 2004 with our first meeting of 15 enthusiastic members in November. My plan was to meet on odd numbered months (no summer meetings, we are after all Vacationland), the third Saturday, 10-2, bring a lunch, show and tell, munchies and fabric to share if you felt like it. We also encouraged anyone who had a cottage industry to bring their goods as we all like to purchase things.

I wanted this group to be very relaxed, but still elect officers, take minutes for posterity, hold regular meetings and programs, etc. For example, if you bring a snack to share one month then you don't bring one the next month but we don't have "sign ups" or anything like that. We all do a variety of needlework and belong to other groups so having few rules was the way to go with the Crazy Quilters and all seem to like the idea.

It took us until March to elect officers and submit our paperwork to the State! We decided to tap the talent within the group for our programs. We are a varied group of ladies with many, many talents and skill levels. That being said, if someone comes up with an idea, she is free to organize it or find the resources to provide the program. It is truly a group where the work is shared by the members, I think this is very important in any group and we are fortunate to have members who step up to the plate and volunteer.

We communicate via email and those without email access provide SASE's. We meet at members homes throughout the state and the hostess provides coffee and tea with paper goods provided by the members. We decided if you have to clean your house to host us than you shouldn't have to bake for us too!

We decided to limit our membership to 25 and have maintained that number at all times. We have dues of $5.00 in case we need it in the future. Our first year programs were entirely facilitated by members and included: planning meeting, a piecing demonstration, punch needle demonstration and an ATC workshop.

During 2005-06 we would like to concentrate on stitching and have our first two meetings scheduled as "stitch samplers" with 3 members teaching a stitch or stitch combination. The members will rotate teaching at the different meetings. We also plan to have a stumpwork program. We have been invited to a "share a stitch" day later this month put on by the EGA.

Meeting only 5 times a year keeps us all excited and enthusiastic about getting together. We have time to work on projects without feeling pressured to get something done. Our meetings are fun, educational and spent with other needlework lovers who really enjoy being together, even if it is only 5 times a year.

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