Small Groups Build Skills and Community

By Pat Weber and Susan Schwandt

As a Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild member, a great way to meet people is to join a small group of quilters who share your personal interest. Small groups provide friendship, personal growth and are well worth the effort to join, according to Small Group Coordinator Pat Weber.

The intimacy of small groups enables you to meet and get to know members on a more personal level and make new friends. At our GAAQG Saturday Quilt Day meetings, you see people onstage or across the auditorium and may not feel like you can easily approach them. Small groups give you a chance to meet people in informal settings.

What is a small group? A small group can range in size from 4 to 40 and meets on a regular basis to share their love of quilting. A few groups welcome nonmembers, which injects new perspectives on what’s possible in quilting.

Some of the small groups meet in person and others through Zoom. In-person group meetings gather in various locations across Southeast Michigan.

The benefits of joining a small group:

  • Learn quilting methods from each other
  • Show and Tell–be inspired by other’s work
  • Share and swap fabrics
  • Participate in common projects like round robins
  • Take field trips (shop hops, special exhibits, museums, etc.)
  • Grow skills in techniques through challenges, critiques, and shared experiences
  • Make lasting friendships and have fun!

How to start your own small group

Each of the existing small groups was formed when a GAAQG member took it upon herself to start a group. If you have a posse – start there. If you are seeking a small group to build friendships within the guild, please think about being the plucky person to start a new group!

GAAQG members can log in to the website to access the Members Page with the Small Groups link. There’s a list of tips to guide you, and you can download the membership directory sorted by zip code if you want to start a group in your local area.

If forming a small group seems overwhelming, how about a short term/ad-hoc group for starters? Consider getting a few people together for a challenge, block swap, fabric swap, or holiday gift projects. If you take a GAAQG workshop, propose to the people in class that you get together to finish the class project! Are you part of an existing small group that is open to new members?

Do you want to start a small group, but don’t want to stand up on the stage and make an announcement? Contact the Small Groups Coordinator to make things happen!

Interested in handwork? Future handwork group

Several members have expressed an interest in handwork. Pat Weber is hosting a get together after the March 18, 2023 Quilt Day meeting to discuss the particulars of forming a small handwork group with prospective members. The gathering will be held at a table in the Atrium at the Morris Lawrence Building. Hopefully there will be a few other people interested in joining this new “Handwork” Small Group.

If you’re interested in joining a small group or the handwork discussion, please see Pat Weber at the Small Groups Table after the Quilt Day meeting. GAAQG members can access Small Group lists, tips and more details by logging in to the Membership page on the website.

Small groups accepting new members

Note: There are currently approximately ten different groups. Some limit the number of participants. Members can find host contact information in the membership directory. Nonmembers can contact the Small Groups Coordinator at to facilitate an introduction.

8 Mile Radius — Southern Oakland County
Pat Weber, Host

The group typically meets monthly in members’ homes and issues themed challenges or projects to members willing to flex their creative muscles and learn new techniques. 8 Mile Radius exhibited its Monet Challenge quilts in the online GAAQG Quilt Show in 2020. Sources of inspiration come from members and other small group challenges.

Knot Even Quilters — Kathy Schmidt, Host

The Knot Even Quilters group meets on the third Thursday of the month from 12–3 p.m. at the Timeless Stitches shop in downtown Tecumseh. Members and nonmembers are welcome. The group’s focus is on Art Quilting and surface design exploration along with textiles.

Hamburg Library Quilters — Mary Semenetis, Host

The Hamburg Library Quilters meet 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month (except in the winter months) to work on individual projects or charity quilts. New members are very welcome!

GALS — Zoom, Cheryl Shaul, Host

Are you ready to conquer your growing pile of UFOs? The GALS are a sit and stitch group that meets one Sunday per month to work on their own UFO projects. We have Show and Tell and support each other by offering advice on projects if requested, and share information and skills, according to Cheryl Shaul. The group is open to GAAQG members and nonmembers.

Chapel Hill Quilters — Naoma Jenks, Host

The Chapel Hill Quilters meet during the day one Sunday each month at members’ discretion at the Chapel Hill Condo Association meeting room in northeast Ann Arbor. Their focus is SafeHouse Center charitable quilts. “Sometimes we work on our own project, sometimes we each work on different parts of the assembly of one quilt,” according to Naoma Jenks. Bring bag lunches, but desserts for sharing are always welcome!

Book Club—Zoom
Henya Rachmiel, Host

The GAAQG Book Club, which meets on Zoom, is entering its third year.  “Book” Club is a slight misnomer. Unlike most book clubs, we seldom all read the same book. Instead, we bring our thoughts, experiences, and yes, sometimes our reading research, to share.

Book Club members enjoy learning about different quilters, techniques and ideas. Members use source material, including books, Internet, YouTube, classes, and personal experiences.

Some of our most interesting times are when participants have personal knowledge of our topic to share. Our topics have ranged from Maria Shell to Kaffe Fassett to Eleanor Burns, from applique to international quilting, to buttons and Japanese fabrics. We also hold group Zoom sew-ins to explore technical questions or just for fun.

The Book Club gave birth to the spin-off group, “Sunbonnet Sue in the Age of COVID.” Who knows what we will do next?  GAAQG members are welcome to join us and find out!

To join, simply email Henya Rachmiel and ask to be added to the email list.  A Zoom link will appear in your inbox sometime before the meeting.  Co-coordinators are Amy Hammer and Annette Tolley.