Membership is open to any person who is interested in quilting.
Passion for the Craft and the Love to Share It
Many people believe that quilting is a small, niche hobby that is relegated to their grandmothers and a small community of crafters, but the reality is that this centuries-old art is an expansive and thriving industry in the world today. In fact, the 2017 Quilting in America survey found that there is an average of 8.5 million quilters in the U.S.—a community that spends more than $3.7 billion annually.
This rising trend in modern quilting has caused the communities supporting the activity to grow exponentially as quilters look to share in the experience with others through local clubs and associations. Founded in 1972, Quilters Unlimited (QU) is one such organization that is dedicated to preserving the tradition, culture, and history of quilting while promoting knowledge and understanding of the art through continuing educational services for members and public education activities. Based in Northern Virginia, QU comprises 11 chapters with over 1,000 members. Membership is open to any person who is interested in quilting.
Although each chapter operates its own schedule and activities, they all have one thing in common: a love for the art of quilting. This shared love brings together people from different backgrounds who may otherwise have little in common. As a nonprofit community interest group, QU provides a supportive and nurturing place for people to share their passion and help others through quilting.
QU’s member community does not only gather to make quilts. They take seriously their responsibility to preserve the history of quilting and how it has contributed to the lives of the people it has touched. In times when fewer opportunities were available for women to express their thoughts and views, the quilts they produced were often the only legacy of their voices. Quilting education passes on that heritage to the next generation through its members and communities.
Each chapter also has a community service focus, which includes donating quilts and quilted items to hospitals, nursing homes, veteran organizations, hospices, disaster reliefs, and others in need. For example, a current project supports Serve Our Willing Warriors by providing quilts for use by veterans as well as handmade pillowcases for children who stay at the project’s retreat.
As an organization with many chapters, QU relies on its website QuiltersUnlimited.org as the vital network for its activities. From serving as the repository for its own history to providing communications and resources for members and promoting the organization to non-members, the site is the online home where QU shares information with the community. “We are a nonprofit so we decided a .ORG website was best for us,” states Sue Heisler, QU President. Heisler adds that “We have challenges because a large part of our group is less familiar with changing technology. We really work to educate all our members to get everyone involved with the website since it’s the easiest and fastest way to communicate. Part of our mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of quilting so having the website as a resource is a great way for us to do that.”
Even as the quilting world has changed over the years, QU has successfully adapted and evolved to continue to thrive as evidenced by its growing and increasingly diverse membership. However, some things have not changed. Since its inception almost 50 years ago, the organization continues to achieve its mission using only volunteers so its resources go toward member activities. Another thing that won’t change is its abiding philosophy: “Enjoy, rather than judge, each other’s work.”