The pandemic has brought on a slew of changes in our everyday and quilty lives, but one thing remains the same, we still yearn to create beautiful projects and be social with our friends. That is why we are thrilled to have Aurifil Artisans, Amanda and Wendy here at Auribuzz to share tips and tricks on how you can set up a virtual quilternoon.
Hello from the Big Apple! Amanda @broadclothstudio and Wendy @the.weekendquilter here, taking over the Aurifil blog to talk about one of our favorite things: quilty friend hangouts.
If you’re not familiar with our past shenanigans, we’re two modern quilters who both happen to live in New York City. We met on Instagram and decided to take the risk and meet up in person. When we both showed up in matching outfits, we realized this was friendship-at-first-sight.
Since that fateful first date, we’ve met up all around the city, always with quilts in hand just in case the perfect photo opp continues. Exploring the city (stopping for coffee/cookies/lunch/drinks as needed) is something we pretty much do on a monthly basis. We’ve even taken this show on the road to Philadelphia to meet with our third musketeer (and fellow co-host of Quilt Buzz), Anna Brown of @waxandwanestudio.
When COVID hit, we did our best to adapt: this summer we sought out outdoor bars and park benches to hang out and get some hand sewing done, and we’ve been able to hang out during our Quilt Buzz recording sessions. But we haven’t yet tried a virtual quilternoon hangout yet. Until this month!
When we were talking about how to structure our virtual quilternoon, we first considered how many guests we wanted (because that would help decide what platform to host it on). Our first impulse was “the more the merrier,” but we soon worried that people would get lost in the crowd (we’ve all been in those Zooms where it becomes a two person conversation with an audience of a dozen!). We did toy with the idea of having one of our friends lecture on a specific quilting topic, but we nixed that ideas as we really wanted to focus on hanging out and catching up.
Since this was our first time hosting a virtual hangout and we wanted to see how conversation flowed, we eventually settled on having a small group of three (including us). Since we were both planning on working on our Aurifil Artisan March EPP project challenge, we thought it would be fun to invite our fellow Artisan (and EPP-er extraordinaire), Laurel of @porcupinesews_threads.
When it comes to how to host the Virtual Quilternoon, we were pretty agnostic about what platform to use. Our top two criteria were:
- Ease of use (this should be fun!)
- Cost (we wanted it to be free)
So, we quickly narrowed it down to Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts. We quickly nixed Zoom as the free plan capped us at 40minutes (and we know we’re too chatty for that kind of limit). Which narrowed our options down to Skype and Google Hangouts, both of which are free and don’t require any download of an app. We decided to go with Google Hangouts because we both have used it in the past with success, not only as hosts, but also with participants.
Choosing a Type of Project
With the date, time, and place set in stone, it was time to pick a project. There were a few ways we could have gone about this: BYO style, book club style or bee style.
- BYO style simply means, bring your own project that you’re currently working on, or something that’s been in your work in progress pile for months (or maybe for years. Don’t worry: it’s a judgement-free zone here). This style is the easiest to organise, since everyone would be working on an existing project.
- Given that everyone’s projects will be different, this makes a great conversation starter. You can talk about why you started the project, how long it’s taken you to make the project so far, and where you’re up to in the quilt-making process. You can also hold each other accountable by coming together virtually on a regular basis and working on the same project till it’s complete.
- Book Club style is a little more prescriptive. Prior to meeting up, you all agree on working on the same project at a time. You could organise it so that each person from your hangout takes a turn in picking a project each month, quarter, or whatever you are all comfortable with.
- To ensure people don’t skip ahead, set milestones for each virtual hangout. For example, complete the quilt sandwich before the meetup, and hand bind during the hangout.
- Bee style is collaborative and requires a bit more coordination. Design or choose one project to work on together. Divide up the project at the start, and send all the completed pieces to a designated member(s) of the hangout to complete the project. Between that, gather behind the screen to make, and discuss progress and next steps. And of course, spill the tea!
Narrowing Down on a Project
As you can imagine, multiple sewing machines working simultaneously over video chat might not be ideal, especially if someone is trying to talk. So, we suggest projects that don’t involve sewing machines at the virtual hangout. For example, English Paper Piecing (EPP), hand binding, hand quilting, hand piecing are all great things to work on! And remember, the projects don’t necessarily have to be quilting related either. They can be embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, knitting and more: the projects are simply endless! But with that said, these are just suggestions, and you’re free to use sewing machines at your virtual hangout.
For our first virtual quilternoon hangout, we worked on one of Porcupine Sew Thread’s EPP projects. Except for Laurel , we’re all fairly new to the technique (and by “fairly new,” we mean this is Wendy’s second attempt and Amanda’s first). Laurel was so sweet to have sent each of us a kit to try it out.
Here’s our attempt at EPP (left to right: Amanda’s owl, Wendy’s unicorn). What do you think? Who did it better? Leave your answer in the comments below:
Our Top 3 Project Picks
Before we sign off, here are our top 3 projects to get you excited and thinking about your next virtual quilternoon hangout:
- EPP kits from Porcupine Stew Threads – Laurel has designed and put together the cutest EPP kits you’ll ever see on the Quiltstagram. And bonus! Each kit comes with everything you need to recreate these adorable creatures – Ruby Star Society fabrics, snips, glue, thread gloss, 50wt Aurifil thread, paper template, and sewing needle.
- Empire State Mini Quilt by The Weekend Quilter – Bring a little slice of NYC into your home with Wendy’s mini quilt. This project is the perfect size to try out and master your hand quilting skills.
- Hand Quilting How-Tos & More by Broadcloth Studio – Amanda has put together how-tos for beginners and seasoned hand quilters to try adding some extra special #quiltbroidery stitches to your next project. Plus, she’s shared what’s in her hand-quilting toolkit (spoiler alert: there’s some Aurifil thread in there!).
The online quilting community is filled with some of the loveliest, funniest, and most helpful people you’ll ever meet. We’re both so blessed to have met each other, and many other friendly faces both online and offline. As the weather begins to warm up in the city, our next in-person catch up is back at one of our fave go-to quilty photo spots, Industry City in Brooklyn!
You can follow our quilty shenanigans on the ‘gram at:
- @BroadclothStudio (Amanda)
- @The.WeekendQuilter (Wendy)
Or tune into our fortnightly podcast, Quilt Buzz, with our other third, Anna of Wax and Wane Studio.
Great post ladies — and I love both of the EPP Projects!! Thanks so much for sharing!
Love your podcast too!
I’ve been hosting Virtual Retreats for several months now, it is fun to sew with friends all day. Some have been with local friends, and I have opened them up to readers from all over. I also joined one hosted by a quilter in Australia, and we had about a dozen quilters sew for hours together from Australia, US, Canada, and Germany! Something we wouldn’t have even thought about before lockdowns. I find 12 – 15 to be an optimal number for me, with some coming and going through the day. Everyone works on their own projects, and no worries about not bringing something you needed, LOL.