Quietly, and with much purpose and concentration, she leisurely pieced all day for more than a week, asking only for help when the "blocks" she had made could not be pieced together without a Y-seam. She really enjoyed the free-form piecing and whimsical construction.
"Holiday Mischief" by Steph July 2007
Steph pieced this top and I quilted it for her after repairing some seams that had almost no seam allowance.
It is puffy, the borders are wavy and the quilt edges curve in and out, some of the piecing leaves a lot to be desired, but to me this quilt is a masterpiece. It also reminds me of the improvised piecing often found in the quilts from Gee's Bend.
Gee’s Bend is a small rural and isolated community neatly tucked away in the curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. The town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American (and African American) quilts, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art. They passed their quilting skills down through at least six generations to the present. Women with large families often made dozens upon dozens of quilts over the course of their lives.
1.) Allie Pettway | Housetop, 1970-1975 2.) Annie Mae Young | Bars, 2003 3.) Annie Mae Young | Blocks, 2003 4.) Annie Mae Young | Housetop, 2002 5.) Annie Mae Young | Housetop Center Medalion, 1970-1979 6.) Katie Mae Pettway | Housetop Variation, 2002 7.) Linda Pettway | Blocks and Strips, 2003 8.) Lola Pettway | Housetop Variation, 2002 9.) Louisiana Bendolph | Blocks and Strips Medallion, 2003 10.) Lucy Witherspoon | Housetop, 1985 11.) Mary Lee Bendolph | Bars and Blocks, 2003 12.) Mary Lee Bendolph and Ruth P. Mosely | Bricklayer
The Gee's Bend Quilts are so inspiring, their simplicity in design and color again a really striking combination. Stephanie pieced her quilt without prior knowledge of the Gee's Bend or improvisational quilts. I too have tried to make a free form quilt but without much success. I am an inhibited quilter, preferring structure, pattern, and tidy workmanship with 1/4 inch seam allowances, but need to work on stepping outside of the square.
There are some great books that showcase quilts from the Women of Gee's Bend. Or better still, these quilts are still exhibited, and can be seen at venues according to this schedule.