Black History Month and Gee's Bend Quilters

I just discovered an awesome web site with some great background and bio info on these amazing quilters from Gee's Bend. I've shared my adaptations of 8 of the quilts here before. The fantastic thing about this site is that there are a lot of quilt pictures and quilts attributed to the various quilters.

The site is called The Gee's Bend Quiltmakers.

Just to get something straight (because I've had some snarly comments about my right to pattern the quilts): Windham Fabrics went to great lengths and a year of negotiations to partner with the Gee's Bend Collective in order to create a set of solid/batik fabrics (about 2 dozen colors) AND got permission for me to pattern 8 of the quilts that THEY AGREED TO. The Gee's Bend quilters own the rights to the original quilts. They were improvisational. I own the rights to the adaptations, the patterns that were created. The Gee's Bend Collective received royalties from the sale of the kits (fabrics plus patterns) for several years. All rights to the patterns belong to me. That's how I can continue to sell them. I am stepping on no one's toes!

Now, back to this awesome web site. Since it's Black History month, getting some solid background info on these talented ladies is a good place to start. It lists each quilter and links to many (maybe all) of the quilts she has made. You will spend a LOT of time here, I promise, so go get another cup of coffee.

NOTE: When you click on the name of the quilt maker, it will take you to a page dedicated to her and the various quilts she has made. It's an awesome thing to see, believe me!

Also, the 8 quilts I share here are the quilts I have patterned and are available at my Etsy shop.

Mary Lee Bendolph gave her permission for me to pattern Strips and Strings. Holy cow! That was the hardest quilt. Why? Just look! How can you pattern something so, well, improvisational!

And here's my rendition. Pretty close, huh?
Strips and Strings: 50" x 75"
Mary Lee Bennett also made one of the Housetop quilts - Housetop 4 Block:

Housetop 4 Block by Mary L. Bennett
This was easier to pattern. What do you think?

Housetop 4 Block: 57" x 65"
My Housetop 4 Block is available at my Etsy shop. You can see a bio page on Mary L. Bennett there, too.

Bennett is a popular last name. Loretta P. Bennett made Blocks and Strips, which was the easiest to pattern of the 8 quilts. Here is hers:

Loretta Bennet's Blocks and Strips

And here is mine (with pattern available in my Etsy shop):

Blocks and Strips: 50" x 62"
Loretta Pettway Bennett created the Work Clothes Denim Quilt. This is a fun way to recycle old jeans. And let's make sure we include a few pockets here!

Loretta P. Bennett's Work Clothes quilt: 60" x 79"

And my version. Yes, four pockets!

Work-clothes Denim: 46" x 60"
Qunnie Pettway designed and made Lazy Gal. Don't you just love that quilt name?

Lazy Gal by Qunnie Pettway
This was also an easier quilt to pattern. No hair pulling here. My version of Lazy Gal.

Lazy Gal: 52" x 62"

Rita Mae Pettway made Housetop Denim. There were a LOT of "housetop" quilts (ie, log cabin variations). And they used a lot of denim - leftover jeans.

Rita Mae Pettway's Housetop Denim: 70" x 84"
My version is scaled at 3/4 (as we did with most of the others). Don't you love that renegade piece of red print up at the top?

My Housetop Denim: 51" x 62"
Louisiana P. Bendolf created this fantastic strippy quilt she called Medallion Variation. This was also a hair puller to pattern. Look at all those strips and strings! And, yes, that is a LOT of white around the center!
Louisiana Bendolf's Medallion Variation: 66" x 86"

Windham asked me to pattern just the center. Again, this was a real challenge, but I gave it my best shot. I actually made Medallion Variation two times. I gave the second one to my oldest daughter's best friend and she was delighted beyond words!

My Medallion Variation: 52" x 76"
Here is Meg and me with her special birthday gift a few years ago. I hung it in my kitchen with a big sign at the top: Happy Birthday, Meg. It took her about 20 minutes to finally look up and see that it was hers!

Medallion Variation gifted to Meg

And the last quilt in this series is Housetop 9 Block by Annie E. Pettway.

Housetop 9 Block by Annie E. Pettway: 71" x 77"
My version:

Housetop 9 Block: 66" x 73"
I hope you enjoyed seeing all of these amazing quilts. Perhaps you've been to an exhibit of Gee's Bend quilt or had the privilege to attend one of these quilters' workshops or lectures.

I hope you also take some time to visit the links I've shared above: The Gee's Bend Quilters. There are so many quilts made by so many Gee's Bend quilters. I personally have never seen so many in one place (and I've been at this for over 10 years).


  1. Your versions are great. Sorry that people have to be mean. I had a few not nice comments when I made your Medallion Variation.


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