Quilting Bee

October 15, 2013 - Margaret Brown

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Every Tuesday during the main season, a different patchwork and quilting group from the area bring their current work with them and sit in our Textile Room, continuing to work on their piece and chat with our visitors about the love of their craft. Margaret Brown has accompanied her group regularly and has written this blog to represent the fun both the invited quilters, and our visitors, get from our Tuesday afternoon Quilting Bee:

For a number of years now, a small group of quilters from Gloucestershire has been taking part in the regular quilting bee at the American Museum on Tuesday afternoons.  We just love to go to such a fine venue and in between showing how patchwork & quilting is done to visitors, we do manage a little time ourselves to get to see the exhibits and to shop. We also get to sample the tasty home cooking in the café – snickerdoodle cookies and brownies to die for, often eaten outside at tables in the garden, if sunny.

In fact, quilters come from many groups, near and far to take part in the quilting bee – a different group each week and we meet all sorts of interesting people, who drop by to ‘see how it’s done’. We try our best, but often find we don’t actually get much sewing done at all. This year, for example, we met a lady who lived for part of the year, on a canal boat. She made quilts herself on her boat, even having a generator to power her sewing machine.  Another year we had a huge group of W.I ladies from Pembrokeshire, who were on a group trip and they streamed through the textile room and very enthusiastic they were too and easy to talk to. We also get quite a lot of children and their mothers and grandmothers, who are trying to instill in their offspring, a love of sewing and we just hope they have been inspired to try it out when they get home. Visitors seem to come from all parts of the globe  – some can sew and some can’t, but it’s good they’ve taken the trouble to see what we are doing.

We try to bring  samples of patchwork & quilting that we are working on – for example, people always want to see how hand-quilting is done and  how to piece together in the American way, after all, they are in the American Museum and that is how a lot of the quilts in the museum’s collection have been made.  One visitor seemed surprised that we weren’t all working at a large quilting frame, as at a traditional quilting bee and actually it might be a good idea, now I come to think of it, but a large frame does take up a lot of space.

Each group who takes part in the bee is asked to bring items of work to have on display and almost without exception, quilters love to have their items out for the world to see – even quite shy quilters, don’t turn down the chance of having work on view!  We try to bring an assortment of cushions, wall-hangings and small items and hope that it looks attractive.

When the quilting bee is finished, we go home tired, but often inspired.  It’s lovely to be asked to take part and to try and instill the craft of patchwork & quilting in others.

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