The word bee has several important meanings but as this is a quilting and sewing blog, I am discussing bees with needles and thread. I think the word ‘bee’ is used so often in a sewing context that we all assume we know all about it. But what if we don’t? How about some facts about sewing bees.
First, let’s define it.
quilting bee – noun
>a social gathering at which the participants make quilts.
Now how about some facts!
1. Social – From this definition we can surmise that Quilting Bees began in the states and were social. The website the History of Quilting even goes so far as to say that quilting bees were developed on the wide open spaces of the Great Plains.
2. Herstory – Quilting Bees were not only social but quilts were made for important events in a woman’s life according to a Short History of Quilting. Hence there would be Bees for a girlhood quilt, marriage quilt and quilts for new babies.
3. Information – An interesting theory is suggested in the post The Quilting Bee then and now. As women in farms and the westward expansion were so isolated, the Quilting bee was also a chance to exchange medical information and other accumulated wisdom that women needed to survive who were not in daily contact with family and neighbors.
4. Historical bees – If you want, you can view a quilt bee today. The Gilbert Historical Museum finishes up to 26 quilts a year, making quilts from tops that might never be finished otherwise and making money for the museum. Pretty cool!
5. Online bees – Today, the word Bee is used in a variety of different ways. One is an online bee in which 12 participants swap blocks and create quilts for each other.
6. Round Robins – Online bees are sometimes called Round Robins. Instead of swapping blocks, members start a quilt and pass to others via mail to finish.
7. Guild bees – Quilting guilds often have sub groups of quilters who get together more regularly to sew together or investigate a type of quilting. These are also called Bees.
8. Sewing Bees – Taking the word Bee and giving it a bit of twist, the BBC created a reality show, The Great British Sewing Bee. This show has competitions to find the best home sewer in Britain.
When I was a solitary quilter stitching in the bits of time I had after teaching and mothering, I didn’t realize that the Bee concept was even still around. For me, retirement brought about a bee aspect to my sewing.
And the internet, what an impact it has had on collective and group sewing by participants who initially only know each other virtually.
I wonder what the next stage will be for Quilting and Sewing Bees. Are you part of one I’ve described above or a different type?
People coming together to enjoy quilting in a Bee makes me Sew happy!
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Every now and again, I write a fact post. This one about buttons was probably my favorite.