A quilting bee is a gathering of friends and neighbors who come together to work on creating a quilt. It can be a social event during which friends spend time working together on one quilt, or it can be put together in the form of a competition, in which teams work together in an attempt to finish their quilt before their competitors. The original purpose behind this event was to enlist the help of several people in order to get the quilt finished in a much faster fashion than if just one person worked on the quilt. While this is still an advantage to the quilting bee, the primary purpose behind modern bees is to socialize with others who enjoy the craft of quilting.
Throughout history and into modern times, quilts have served more of a decorative purpose than a source of warmth like a blanket. Today, quilts are often referred to as art quilts, as they are commonly hung on walls rather than used in a bed. At a quilting bee, several individuals who enjoy quilting often gather together in order to create the squares to be added to such quilts. The bee also provides quilters with a place to exchange their fabrics and their quilt blocks, which are blocks of decoration they have created to be used on a quilt. In addition, they may each apply one of their quilt blocks to a common quilt.
Sometimes, the quilts created at a quilting bee serve a special purpose. For example, the quilt may be auctioned for charity, or the quilt may carry a certain special theme and be used as a means of bringing certain people together. For example, a quilt put together by cancer survivors may be passed around the country, and new squares from other cancer survivors are added at quilting bees.
Similarly, a quilting bee may be put together in order to commemorate a special event, such as the birth of a child or a wedding. In these cases, the quilt blocks may be made of worn out clothing with a significant meaning. For example, the maternity clothes worn by the new mom while she was pregnant may be used to make a commemorative quilt for the baby.