There’s a difference between a quilt guild and a quilt bee. A quilt guild is an organization. It charges dues to be a member. It has regular meeting dates and are conducted according to “Robert’s Rules.” It usually publishes a newsletter for its members, and has an elected board of officers that “runs” the guild. A quilt bee is an informal gathering of people (mostly ladies.) There are no rules, no dues, no newsletters. It is just a group of ladies who gather and sew, quilt, and sometimes just sit and talk with other bee members.

I belong to a guild and a bee. The bee I belong to is called the “Strippers,” because quilters spend a lot of time cutting strips and sewing them back together (not to be confused with the other kind of stripper.) We meet at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons at the Harker Heights United Methodist Church. Bees welcome anyone who would like to attend their meetings, as do the Strippers.

Last month, the Strippers were sitting around trying to think of a new project. The last several years we concentrated on color theory, and using that theory, we made blocks, which were later assembled into baby quilts and donated to Veterans Affairs (yes, there’s ladies and babies there — not just men) and the Hope Pregnancy Center.

I asked if we’d like to do a mystery quilt. I explained that a mystery quilt was a quilt you made through a series of individual steps, but didn’t know what it would look like until it was nearly completed. Some members were anxious to do one right away, but others needed some convincing. It was agreed that we would start on a mystery quilt and those who didn’t want to participate would just bring whatever project they wanted to work on during our bee meetings.

As always happens, the person who came up with the idea is then placed in charge of the project. Since I had successfully completed a mystery quilt some years back and knew it was simple enough for even our newer quilters, I was glad to head this project.

The bee members received the initial information the next week for the quilt, which was the name of the mystery quilt (Northern Nights) along with the quilt dimensions and the amount of each color fabric required to make the quilt. In our case, Northern Nights uses only four fabrics. The Strippers are crafty (in this case I’m using it to describe being sly) and immediately started asking questions, trying to get me to break down and tell them or show them what the quilt would look like. I wasn’t falling for their endeavors to trick me. Picking fabrics for a mystery quilt is hard. Most quilters know how their finished quilt will, or should, look, so picking fabrics for it is fairly easy. Not so with a mystery quilt.

The members who were going to participate revealed their fabric the first Tuesday of February, and rotary cutters, rulers and cutting mats were brought out to begin our journey.

The bee decided we would continue to work on the mystery quilt each week until we completed it. A member will get the next step of her mystery quilt once she completes the step she’s working on. This way no member can collect all the steps and know what the quilt will look like before starting to work on it (that’s cheating!)

Some ladies are making their quilts for themselves or for gifts. Others are making the quilts to donate to a worthy cause, and some ladies decided to make all the blocks and construct several baby quilts to donate.

Quilters are known for the selfless giving of their time, skills and money when it comes to helping others through their quilting.

This mystery quilt will be one more project that will find itself donated to many worthy recipients.

The quilt entry deadline for the Shades of Texas Quilt Show has been extended to today. Go to to enter.

Nancy C. Judd of Harker Heights is a member of the Crossroads to Texas Quilt Guild.

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