Needlework such as stitching and embroidery are delightful pastimes usually associated with lonely spinsters and introverted individuals. But this paints a rather antiquated picture of the subject. Today, a lot of lively and outgoing women can take up these activities as hobbies or because they enjoy doing needlework as a creative outlet.
If you are an outgoing individual with lots of friends who are interested in needlework and enjoy a good sew, why not invite them over for a storied activity? Why not host your very own quilting bee?
What are Quilting Bees?
In the days before fast fashion, sewing machines, and electricity, women often held quilting bees as a form of social bonding. Although they didn’t have access to such zany things like star storm quilt patterns or electric sewing machines, the point of a quilting bee wasn’t just to make a quilt. It was so they can socialize, with all the jokes, gossiping, and laughter that entails.
During a quilting bee, perhaps seven to twelve women would meet at someone’s home or a public space and work together on a single quilt. Often times these quilts are for a special purpose, such as a Christening gift to someone’s baby or as a wedding present for a married couple. However, it was perfectly acceptable to simply host a quilting bee for the sake of socializing.
Holding a Quilting Bee
Quilting bees are distinctly social activities and as such it requires all the implements of a small party plus the equipment of a sewing shop. There are three types of quilting bees you can consider for your own stitching shindig.
- Regular quilting bee: A regular quilting bee calls for seven to as many as a dozen women to gather together and sew a quilt together. You can have them bring their own stitching equipment, since they may have gotten familiar with their needles and such, but provide the raw materials such as threads and scrap cloth. Then it’s simply a question of finding a space large enough for all of you to sit in and to delegate snack duties.
- Virtual quilting bee: Given the current health crisis, you may want to practice social distancing but that doesn’t mean you can have a stitching fun time. Instead of appearing physically, simply use teleconferencing software to meet digitally as a group. Over the internet, you and your friends can share delightful patterns, showcase your work, and exchange ideas and stories without leaving the safety of your home.
- Quilting bee swap: Finally, instead of working on a single quilt, why not work on multiple quilts, each with a distinct personal touch? A quilting bee swap begins when each member of the group creates a single patch of a quilt, then by a prearranged system, you swap quilt patches and add to the one you received. You repeat this process until either every woman has added a patch to every other quilt or until you all have complete quilts.
Quilting bees may have gone out of style with the advent of electricity and cheap fabric, but friendship and camaraderie are eternal elements of human life. So long as you and like-minded friends enjoy the art of needlework, you are adding your stitching to a story that goes back thousands of years.