‘Sometimes I just quilt for half an hour a day, other times I’m quilting the day away.’ So says Marianne van Oers, avid quilter and president of the Dubai Quilters’ Guild (DQG). And she’s not the only one. The DQG was founded in 1999 and boasts a diverse membership, with more than 70 quilters from 20 different countries across six continents gathering at weekly and monthly meetings to quilt the day away.
Since its inception the DQG has held an annual quilt show to show off its creations, and this year is no exception. Van Oers reveals it’ll be a varied affair: ‘We have very traditional quilters, but at the moment art quilts and wall-hangings are very popular, too. It’s becoming more of an art, rather than just making quilts for beds.’ This year’s theme is ‘Kaleidoscope’ to demonstrate the range of quilts the guild makes. There will be displays, raffles, and even awards in different quilting categories. And there’s no messing about when it comes to the judging. ‘You get points for a combination of things,’ explains van Oers. ‘For example, if you have a beautiful design but it’s badly quilted then your mark will go down.’ Tough stuff, huh?
But DQG isn’t all about the sewing. There are monthly meets with quilting workshops and to display newly completed quilts, but the weekly gatherings are of a more informal, social nature. These take place at the homes of members, where each week’s host is known as a ‘quilting bee’. It’s an opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to chat about subjects as varied as the community, parenting, politics, recipes – all over a cuppa and, presumably, a spot of light quilting. ‘Quilters are from all over the world, and you find that you make friends through quilting,’ says van Oers, herself from Holland. ‘In this way, you find a way of mixing – mixed people and mixed thoughts, and everything is spoken about freely.’ As guild member Maggie Hunt told Time Out: ‘It’s a place to be inspired and make new friends.’
The guild is also very community-focused. There are charity projects, either making quilts for the needy or auctioning off quilts to raise funds. This year, the group has been making small quilts for premature babies at Al Wasl hospital and the American hospital. Last year, they handed over a pile to the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.
‘Sometimes we just have a morning where everybody brings fabric and machines and we stitch and make these quilts [for charity],’ says van Oers. ‘It’s mostly a combination – quilting and charity.’ Chosen charities are always local, too. ‘We are quilters in the UAE so we want to keep the money in the UAE,’ explains van Oers. The DQG is always on the look out for new members, especially considering the transient nature of Dubai, where people arrive and move away every day.
‘Unfortunately, we make a lot of farewell quilts, which isn’t really a good thing,’ laments van Oers. She’d far rather be making welcome quilts, and encourages anybody with a penchant for sewing to join in. Skill levels aren’t important, and small monthly workshops can improve your quilting abilities. Why not pop down to the annual show and find out what it’s all about? It’ll be quilt-tastic.
The Dubai Quilters Guild Annual Quilt Show, May 15, Zayed University, Academic City, 12pm-6pm, entrance Dhs20. For more information on DQG visit www.dubaiquiltersguild.com.
State Youth Orchestra of Armenia
The State Youth Orchestra of Armenia arrives for a one-off performance at Ductac this week. Many of the orchestra’s members are prize-winners in international competitions, so expect some rather fantabulous fiddling. Go on, get some culture in yer.
Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, level 2, May 17 at 8pm. For more information and tickets call 04 341 4777.
Sharjah Archaeology Museum
Explore the stories of Sharjah’s history, from the Stone Age to the present day. Guided tours are offered free of charge, so why not learn something new this weekend?
For more information on Sharjah Archaeology Museum, visit www.sharjahtourism.ae or call 06 566 5466.
Popular improv show Whose Line Is It Anyway? will be at the First Group Theatre at Madinat Jumeirah in June. Starring regulars from London’s Comedy Store players, including Steve Frost (pictured), it’s not to be missed. Tickets are on sale now.
June 4-6 at the First Group Theatre, Madinat Jumeirah. Call 04 366 6546 or visit www.madinattheatre.com. Strictly over 18s.