If one of your New Year’s Resolutions included learning a new skill, maybe the beautiful, time-honoured tradition of quilt making is in your future. With monthly meetings filled with fascinating speakers, demonstrations, presentations and, of course, socializing, a guild is a great way to get out of the house and meet like-minded and friendly individuals, all while giving back to the community.
“Our core values are very important,” says Rebecca McAlpine, president of the Oakville Quilters Guild. “Our local, provincial and national outreach programs are fantastic and ongoing. We encourage all members to create one quilt a year to hand out to charity, and we strive for between 90 and 100 a year in total.”
Last year guild members were challenged to create 150 quilts in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, but they managed an incredible 221, all handed out to local community programs, including Big Brothers and Sisters, The Red Cross and various children’s charities.
Founded in 1994, the guild boasts an impressive 96 members, some of whom have been involved since its inception, and are still active today. Members range from beginners to internationally renowned, and come from a wide-ranging age background, some working full-time jobs and some in retirement. The guild puts on a large three-day weekend quilt show every four years. The next show will be spring 2020.
“We not only have monthly meetings, presentations and raffles but we also display our works in the community,” says McAlpine. “The QE Park Community Centre houses our quilts in a rotation throughout the year, and we also take part in various family and cultural days, teaching kids to quilt one on one.” Still wondering if quilting is your ‘thing’? Guests are welcome to drop in every month, for just $7 a visit. Meetings are held every third Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Central Baptist Church, located at the corner of Rebecca St. and Morden Rd.
The Halton Quilters Guild, which just recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, also embraces not only the creative aspects of the fine art, but the outreach and community involvement on a regular, ongoing basis. “Our mandate is to enhance the knowledge of quilting and to commit to community projects,” says president Jean Decaire. “Our outreach program includes making quilts to donate to various charities such as the McMaster Neo-natal unit, the Salvation Army, hospices and other organizations.”
Guild members create about 100 quilts a year, and each member tries to donate one quilt a year. Among other activities, the guild offers monthly guest speakers, an informative and up-to-date library, a newsletter and a $100 scholarship for a deserving textile student. “It’s difficult to predict how long a quilt takes to complete,” says Decaire. “It all depends on the available time of the quilter and the intricacy of the design, and many of our members are working full-time jobs as well.”
The guild also strives to preserve quilting as the enduring and beautiful art form it is, establish, maintain and upgrade quilting standards, encourage an exchange of ideas and methods, and participate in community projects. The Halton Guild meets on the first Thursday of each month from September to June at the Mainway Recreation Centre in Burlington.
So whether you’re serious about learning a stunning and timeless handicraft, or just want to try your hand at a new hobby while making some friends, a local quilting guild has everything you need, from knowledgeable members to friendship to fun nights out. Quilting is truly a labour of love.
by Allison Dempsey
Oakville Quilters’ Guild
Halton Quilters’ Guild