According to a 2017 Quilting in America Survey conducted by Quiltinghub.com, quilting is a $3.7 Billion industry with some 7 – 10 million quilters. This was before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic! While the survey found that most quilters are still over the age of 63, there is a growing trend towards the “under 45” quilter. Regardless of age, it also found that “more quilters are getting their information and inspiration from online sources: websites (64%, up from 28% in 2014), online classes and videos (52%, up from 30% in 2014), and social media (50%, up from 14% in 2014). Dedicated Quilters spend an average of 7.9 hours per week visiting quilting-related websites (up from 2.5 hours in 2014). In addition two-thirds of Dedicated Quilters (68%) are purchasing some items online.”
We didn’t know that our last in person guild meeting was to be February 23, 2020. March of 2020 introduced us to our “new normal.” After we received “stay home” orders in March our guild decided that we would try to get connected online through Zoom.
That first online meeting was a doozy! Many of our members struggled with signing on, operating the video/audio settings and following the “stay on mute” rule! We kept getting logged off of our 3 hour general meeting every 45 minutes and had to log back on into a new meeting. Because of this 45-minute time constraint, we tried another streaming platform. However, we didn’t like the audio quality and didn’t like how our gallery view looked. We decided to bite the bullet and dedicate funds needed to buy a professional account and trudged ahead.
We’ve learned a lot over the course of a year. We learned how to pin and spotlight videos. We share our screens on demand. We fellowship and sew at our skills bee. We’ve enjoyed guest speakers who talk to us about erodynamic quilting habits. We hold board meetings. And we had a ball at our Secret Santa Exchange where we laughed, played Kahoots and showed off our “self care” gifts. After spending a year together online, we have even managed to grow our membership. And if that weren’t enough, new members have come from across the country!
With the new online “normal,” two of our new members have joined from across the country. Juanda Gikanda is the Co-President of the Princeton Sankofa Stitchers in Princeton, NJ. Juanda is also a member of another guild outside of her home state. Juanda brings more than 20 years of experience to the group. She has joined our guild and I have joined hers! Montika Allen-Atkinson is a prolific quilter and longarmer out of the great state of Kansas. Montika lives in Junction City, KS and has followed our Facebook page for a few years now. After seeing our FB post on January 24, 2021, Montika decided to join us as a member. Dorian Pinner, a novice quilter from here in Indianapolis, IN who hasn’t even made her first block, finally learned how to log on to Zoom and join in the fun. She solidified her decision to join the guild at our first regular meeting.
At our first guild meeting of the 2021 season, members were asked “What was one good thing that came out of 2020?” Of all of the things that we can eke out of the year that was “2020,” finding a way to keep the guild not only going, but thriving was a plus. Since December of 2020 the guild grew by three members and only one resides in the state of Indiana! While this probability was proposed to some quilty friends in nearby states before, it became a reality because of the necessity of social distancing.
While the quilt world scrambles to reinvent itself and create ways to stay connected amid “Stay Home” orders, local guilds have trudged along and figured it out for their membership. While my 8 year old great niece hasn’t decided if this is what she signed up for, the rest of us are grateful for the comfort of fellowship, support, and connection at this difficult time. As we like to say at the end of our guild meetings, “Linked Hearts Forever!”