Quilting pieces memories, interests together

When Pat Lovelady’s beloved husband unexpectedly passed away, the retired principal found herself standing in front of a closet brimming with lively Caribbean shirts purchased on the couple’s multiple Island trips.

“They were so special, I couldn’t bear to get rid of them, but I didn’t know what to do with them,” Lovelady said.

She soon rediscovered quilting — an old family hobby — to connect these treasured memories.

“It has really been my salvation,” Lovelady said. “It allowed me to be creative and discover new things about myself.”

Lovelady displayed multiple quilts in QuiltFest 2009 held June 20–21.

She walked away winning the Alacare Sponsor Award and the Quilted Accessories division.

The Birmingham Quilters Guild began hosting the show in 1978. Members travel from as far as Tennessee to put the gigantic event together.

This year 188 members took over Oak Mountain Middle School, covering its gym with wall-to-wall quilts. More than 400 quilts filled the space.

A huge smile spread across Guild President Peggy Rhodes face as the show wrapped up Sunday.

She said it took a lot of dedicated members to make it all happen.

“Our members put a tremendous amount of work into this show,” Rhodes said. “Our guild feels so strongly about spreading the love of quilting, and they get to show off their work.”

Quilters entered their work into 21 various categories.

The show also included vendors, demonstrations and a memorial for members who have passed in the last two years.

The show drew at least 1,400 people in 2007. Rhodes and Lovelady both believe they easily surpassed that number.

Lovelady believed the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt exhibit attracted many more faces this year.

The exhibit includes 52 small quilts, all created in honor of Alzheimer’s patients.

“It’s the most touching exhibit I think you will ever see,” Lovelady said. “One is a beautifully quilted picture of an elderly lady. Each piece of the quilt is identical to the first, but they get dimmer and dimmer until the last one is blank.”

Rhodes said their members shared their hearts as well.

“We had a wonderful display of really beautiful work,” Rhodes said. “This show certainly shared our love of quilting.”

Melinda Blair honored her 90-year-old father who received a Silver Star for bravery during his service in World War II. Donna Bonin, meanwhile, created a Treadle Quilt for her grandson’s new bride.

Lovelady said quilting connects people with their heritage.

She said it allows you to preserve that history and is something anyone can pick up at any time in his or her life.

“We want to make sure we continue the love of quilting and getting new people enthused,” Lovelady said. “We used to say it was a lost art, but no more. It’s come back in vogue.”

Lovelady takes the helm of the Birmingham Quilters Guild next year.

The guild’s next quilt show will be held in 2011.

For more information about the guild, visit Bhamquilters.com.