2 August 2023

Annual quilting event returning to keep the body (and the soul) warm this November

| Claire Sams
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Three quilts hung from the verandah of the Braidwood Museum

Quilts will hang from sites around Braidwood once agin this November. Photo: Alex Rea.

A long-standing tradition is returning to the streets of Braidwood in November.

President of Braidwood Quilters and Textiles Margaret Tuckwell said the first Airing of the Quilts saw a tradition resurrected in 1995.

“What used to happen in the 1800s and early 1900s was that come spring, you hung all your quilts and blankets out to air and get all the dust off them.

“The then-owner of the quilt shop wanted to do something that would bring people to Braidwood and stop the traffic.

“She decided to start by hanging some quilts and at first it was very small, but then it grew and grew,” Ms Tuckwell said.

In 2023, the two-day event will be held on 25 and 26 November in Braidwood.

“There will be indoor competition at the National Theatre, an old heritage building on the main street [at 100 Wallace Street], and also an outdoor exhibition, with entries for both closing on 6 November.

“We get quilts from everywhere, from as far away as Victoria, and we’re expecting some from Queensland this year.

“We also hope to have some heirloom and heritage quilts to be hung in the courthouse, as well,” she said.

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As November approaches, quilters are also invited to work on their entries for the 2023 Quilt Store Challenge, which runs as part of the overall Airing of the Quilts.

Owner of Braidwood Quilt Store (which organises the challenge) Bronwyn Hill, said she was keen to see what entrants made of the chosen fabric.

“People have to create something unique that is 50 by 50 centimetres and they’ll all be displayed in the indoor exhibition on the Airing of the Quilt weekend.

“This year, we’ve got the three versions of the same fabric in three different colours, and people get to choose which colour they want,” she said.

The fabric for the challenge, ‘Vestige’ from Anna Maria’s Conservatory collection, was a tricky one, she said.

“We are just trying to encourage people to use their imagination.

“People say that the fabric that we choose are challenging – and that’s the whole idea,” Ms Hill said.

“That’s why it’s a challenge, we leave it open for a lot more variation and a test of technique and design.”

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Ms Hill said last year’s Quilt Store Challenge saw more than 55 entries and she was hoping for a similar number this year.

“I was really excited that we got so many entries last year, and so many different entries.

“It was just fabulous to see.”

Despite the name, the Airing of the Quilts isn’t just an event for quilters, with other events being planned.

“There will be markets in the park, a vintage car show and we have some little pop-up shops that appear around the town,” Ms Tuckwell said.

“We’ve organised things for families, but also the ladies can come on their own and we’ve got some things to entertain the men, as well.”

Ms Tuckwell said the Airing of the Quilts was a chance for Braidwood to show itself off to not just residents, but those who came from afar.

“Something like this helps to make Canberra people and people from other parts of New South Wales come to town.

“It’s held at the same time of year that garlic starts to be put up for sale, so we have, more or less, the launching of that year’s garlic.

“We just want to bring people to Braidwood to help the businesses, get the community and visitors to come together and have people enjoy the sunshine,” she said.

Entries for the indoor and outdoor exhibitions close on 6 November, while entries in the Quilt Store Challenge will need to be at the Braidwood Quilt Store by 19 November.

Further information on entry is available on the Braidwood Quilters and Textiles’ website.

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