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QuiltFest draws hundreds of quilts, thousands of people

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Members of the Birmingham Quilters Guild during the guild meeting at the Homewood Senior Center. (Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Photos, For The Birmingham Times)
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

A quilt on display at the Birmingham Quilters Guild meeting. (Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Photos, For The Birmingham Times)

The event may be eight months away, but members of the Birmingham Quilters Guild are preparing now for QuiltFest, which draws hundreds of quilts and thousands of people into the metro area.

“Every other year, we put on a quilt show,” said Judy Collins, member of the Birmingham Quilters Guild and QuiltFest committee chair. “We are the largest guild in central Alabama, so it’s a pretty big show with more than 300 quilts in the show.”

It takes about a year to plan the QuiltFest show—scheduled for June 2019 at the Trussville Civic Center—which serves several objectives.

“We have a lot of visitors who come to the show, and some of them then decide they would like to be members … because they want to learn how to quilt,” Collins said. “So, it’s a combination of exposing our art, and it’s also our major fundraiser and the money keeps the guild” growing via several different programs.

Giving back is a large part of what the Birmingham Quilters Guild does.

“We’re not just here to make quilts,” said guild member Ella

Ella Quick Thomas of Pelham. (Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Photos, For The Birmingham Times)

Thomas. “We’ve done cuddle quilts, [which] we take to Children’s [of Alabama for] babies. We’ve done things for homeless [people]. We’ve even taken hats, gloves, and scarves to children in Black Belt [communities, where we also take] shoes. … [This is] a big deal for [those who] don’t have [dependable] shoes, [particularly] … in the wintertime.”

The Birmingham Quilters Guild is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the love of quilts; preserve the art of quilts and quilting; and contribute friendship, knowledge, and encouragement to others. Members meet every second Monday of each month (except August) at the Homewood Senior Center. The group was formed with a few members in 1978 and has grown to more than 200. QuiltFest is by far one of its biggest initiatives.

“I believe it inspires our members to do their best work because they are going to show it,” said Collins, who is preparing for her fifth show as committee chair. “It’s inspiring to our members but also to the public because we like to get the word about … how we serve the community.”

A quilt on display at the Birmingham Quilters Guild meeting. (Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Photos, For The Birmingham Times)

The event features a silent auction, during which small quilts are up for bid to raise money for charity. In addition, the show hosts an Opportunity Shop, where visitors can win quilting-related items, such as fabric or kits.

“We will have an area where people can learn different things about quilting. … They can watch people do hand-quilting and maybe even give it a try themselves if they would like,” said Collins. “A lot of learning goes on at a quilt show.”

For more information, visit www.bhamquilters.com.