On March 14 1985 a steering committee of quilters consisting of Darcie Keen, Kate Strachan, Mercia Hunter, Brenda Mills and Sherryn Bryan gathered together at Bayfield High School Hall with three hundred other keen people to discuss the formation of a Quilters and Patchworking Guild.

That night two hundred of those people paid a $5.00 membership fee, heralding the start of Quilters and Patchworkers of Otago (Inc.)

Overwhelming was the opening comment written by the steering committee in their first newsletter at such a positive response from so many people. They went on to say:

The beautiful quilts and articles brought along showed us that this craft is very much alive and well in Otago, at by your enthusiasm everyone can learn new skills in this very old art form.

The first workshops offered by the Guild were as follows:

  • Patchwork Evening Bag; tutored by Jean Hart
  • Seminal (strip piecing); tutored by Dawn Manley
  • Log Cabin Techniques; tutored by Mercia Hunter

Early lectures given were:

  • Appliqué and Machine Embroidery; tutored by Canadian Marion Spanjerdt
  • Amish Quilts; tutored by American Roberta Horton

On 9 March 1995 the Quilters and Patchworkers of Otago (Inc.) gathered once again in celebration of their tenth birthday.

Guests of honour were four of the five founding members: Kate Strachan (the first President), Darcie Kean, Mercia Hunter and Sherryn Bryan.

Over half of the membership attended a full programme which included Shirley Wright, speaking of changes in patchworking from a retailer’s perspective. Shirley also presented the Guild with a tenth birthday gift. Shirley was accompanied by American tutor, Teresa Robinson, who demonstrated her fast turn tool and spoke of exciting new developments in patchworking.

Kate Strachan spoke of what the Guild had achieved over the past ten years. For longer term members Kate’s talk and photos were a trip down memory lane. Members also shared their own stories and brought their first quilts to display. The event showed what a long way the Guild had come in their first ten years.

In 2006 Quilters and Patchworkers of Otago (Inc.) turned twenty one years old. We celebrated our birthday in grand style with our 2006 extravaganza birthday party Southern Women Southern Quilts. Many classes with local and overseas tutors were held.

In 2015 we turned thirty years old and celebrated our Pearl Anniversary. A function to celebrate the opening of our exhibition 30 years of Quilting Then and Now was held. We were privileged to have as our guests three of the steering committee, Darcie Kean, Sherryn Bryan and Mercia Hunter, who joined us along with a number of previous members for the occasion.

Over the weekend of the celebrations members and previous members attended classes, a dinner was held, and a cake was cut by our four life members.

Pocket watch