Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Day with the WannaBees - How to Host a Bee Group

I had the honor of hosting the WannaBees on Thursday.

Some comments have been left by quilters who would like to participate in a bee group. My opinion? Start your own! 

The WannaBees were started by a group who all went on retreat together and wanted to get together more often to work on projects.  They graciously invited me to join them even though I don't go on the retreat weekends.

Here's what I've learned so far:
  • Keep it manageable.  6-8 people is probably a good number.  Too many more and it's hard to host in a home.  If you have less than that, you're going to end up with meetings with just one or two quilters when the flu is going around or people are busy.
  • Look for like-minded quilters.  That's not to say that you have to find 8 people who all love applique (although that might be a great start), but that you have a group who all get along and have similar expectations.  Don't invite someone new to the bee without running it past your cohorts; give them a chance to meet the new prospect and give an honest opinion.  
  • Communicate.  Set up a google calendar or email list, private facebook group, or some way to share information.  This is not only helpful for arranging meetings, but also for letting others know if there is an emergency change or cancellation (i.e., "I have a sick child and can't host today"), and to suggest get togethers outside your normal routine (i.e., "let's go to the quilt show on Wednesday").
Although each home we meet in is a bit different, here are some basic suggestions for hosting the group. 
  • Make sure you have space and light for what you plan to do.  If you have a small sitting area, let the others know so that they aren't disappointed by hauling their machine and yards of fabric to cut.
  • Make sure you have enough outlets and extension cords for everyone who wants to bring a machine.  Again, it's good to communicate so everyone knows how many machines can be accommodated.
  • If you can, set up an ironing surface and iron.  No one wants to have to bring home a hot iron, so anything you can provide saves them from hauling in their whole sewing room.
  • Ditto on a cutting surface, rotary cutter, and some basic rulers.
Those are the basics.  If you want to be the hostess with the mostest, you can also:

  • Offer drinks, snacks, or even a light lunch.  If you feed people they will stick around longer and make all that work worth it.
  • Consider the little things that you like to have around when you are working.  I put out a pencil and pad of paper, along with a calculator, for anyone who might need to make notes.  
  • I also have the computer open to my web browser because we often share little discoveries or ask for opinions.
What do you do at the meetings?
  • It doesn't have to be exceedingly structured with such a small group, but we generally show off what we're working on or what we're having trouble with and ask for input.  (Don't you love how Lynn is always a willing model?  And also how she fixed that wonky block by putting a tee-niny border around it?)
  • Discuss any group plans.  Some bees do block swaps or group quilts.  I'm sure you remember what we did!  
Are you in a bee?  What makes your group special?

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