Community Quilt to Be Given Away at North Avondale Library on November 3

Juliette Watts works on the community quilt

Since May 2, 2016, adults and youth alike have been gathering at the North Avondale Regional Branch Library, sewing one square at a time on what is being called the North Avondale Community Quilt Project. Led by longtime quilter Juliette Watts, 54 people ranging in age from 7 to 70 have gathered weekly, stitching what will end up a 70-by-70 square community quilt.

The group has bonded over the past six months, building friendships and seeing excitement grow as they near the end of a project they have poured countless hours into. To make the project more engaging and interesting, Watts decided to put all of the participants’ names in a pot each time they come to work on the quilt.

Now that the community quilt is finished, Watts will hold a special program at 3:30 p.m. on November 3, 2016, in which the grand prize winner whose name is drawn will win the community quilt. Though Watts told participants that some church, business, museum, or library may want to display the quilt, she said the ultimate decision is up to the winner.

“We are very excited about this community quilt project, and can’t wait for the grand finale,” Watts said. “We hope that everyone who participated can be a part of this great day in the North Avondale Community.”

Watts, a community scholar through the Alabama Folklife Association, specializes in the art of quilting, and is proud of participants both young and old who have bonded and built new friendships while working on the quilt project. She is especially thankful to the North Avondale Branch Library for being a host site. This is among dozens of programs taking place monthly via community groups, nonprofits, schools, and individuals partnering with the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s 19 libraries located across the city.

Watts founded Hands On Youth Activities Programs Inc. in 1996, a nonprofit that teaches traditional arts like quilting, crochet, sewing, and cooking to both the young and old. “Hand quilting is a forgotten art,” Watts said. “People don’t hand quilt like our ancestors did. We want to keep the art of quilting alive by teaching the young people of today. We also want to teach our youth how to machine quilt as well.”

Watts began offering Beginning Quilting workshops at the North Avondale Library in 2015, when she taught young patrons how to sew a pillow. She later held a workshop in which kids quilted a 16-by-16 square quilt before beginning the 70-by-70 project.

Besides the North Avondale quilt project, Watts has led traditional arts workshops across the city of Birmingham over the past 20 years. Among Watts’ past projects: Special Olympics World Winter Games Scarf Making workshop, Parents Crochet with Your Children workshop, Cherokee Leaf Pounding workshop, Let’s Plant Something, Fishing Expedition, Kids Cake Baking, and others.

For more information on Hands On Youth Activities Program, contact Watts by phone at 205-244-1465, e-mail at, or via mail at P.O. Box 611072, Birmingham, AL 35261. You can also follow the program on Facebook. See photos of the North Avondale Community Quilt Project and other Hands On Youth Activities programs on its Facebook page link below: