In olden days, on farms and ranches of the Middle and Far West creating a quilt top, whether pieced, applique, or embroidery, was usually a solitary activity. Women constructed their quilt tops during the winter when there were fewer chores and the sun set early. When the weather warmed, neighbors would gather together at a quilting bee to complete the quilt with hand quilting. The quilting bee was one of the most popular ways for women to gather socially to work, laugh, and gossip about the goings-on in the community.
The Bee in Quilting Bee is derived from the Old English bēn meaning “a prayer, a favor.” By the late eighteenth century, Bee had become commonly associated with the British dialect form, been or bean, referring to the joining of neighbors to work on a single activity to help a neighbor in need. This derivation counters my logical belief that bee refers to the buzzing insect and the social nature of a beehive.
Sarah made the top from Evans’ materials. Steve, Sarah, Evan, Louise and Ben attended the Bee. Very cool!