Quilting Bees 101 -- Bee Basics

>> Monday, March 1, 2010

What is a Virtual Quilting Bee?

To understand what a Virtual Quilting Bee is, you have to have a basic understanding of what a regular Quilting Bee is. A traditional quilting bee involved inviting women from the community or town to help you complete a quilt quicker than you could do it yourself. Colonial and pioneer women would gather around a quilt frame to help the hostess quilt and finish off her quilt top - the event becoming largely a social gathering as well, sometimes with the husbands arriving later in the afternoon and the even turning into a large dinner or country dance.

Quilting has changed over the years but one thing has remained the same - it still has a large social aspect. Quilt shops are often a gathering place where people bring in their works to show. Churches often participate in quilt making as a means for fund raising and support. And the quilting bee has gone virtual - with people participating in quilting bees with other women and men all over the world!

The basic Virtual Quilting Bee is made up of 12 people who are each assigned a separate month as their month to be the recipient of the blocks. The bee will run then for a year, with each person taking turns making blocks for for everyone else 11 months, and one month sending fabric out and receiving their own blocks back.

There are many variations of this - a lot of bees will let more people be included and double up on some of the months, where one month you will have 2 blocks being made for 2 separate people. Other bees have been set up with everyone sending out their fabric at the beginning, then the different members having a set amount of time to make a block to send back.

When it is a month you are just making a block for someone else: sit back and relax while you wait for their envelope to come in the mail (or if you're like me, stalk Flickr and your mailman every day to see if you can anticipate when the envelope is going to arrive, then rip open said envelope and pet the pretty fabrics). When you get the fabric, read the directions the person sent (or posted online somewhere) about what they want their blocks to be. Sew block. Mail it back to them.

When it is a month you are sending out fabric: figure out what kind of blocks you want everyone to make you. select fabric (aka stress over fabric selection). print out or post online directions/inspirations for your blocks. mail out your fabrics to your bee members. wait for finished blocks to start arriving in the mail back to you!


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