Traditional Gee's Bend Quilting

Boykin, Alabama


Mary Margaret Pettway

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Mary Margaret Pettway


Average item review
5 out of 5 stars

About LunkysBaby

Sales 31
On Etsy since 2020

Thanks for Visiting My Shop!

Hello, my name is Mary Margaret Pettway. I’m a third generation quilter, my children are fourth generation quilters. My mother was Lucy Pettway. My grandmother was Mary Ann Pettway. I grew up in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, Boykin now.

I didn’t just learn to quilt, I was made to quilt. My mother, she used to have a little clique. They would leave home and go to whoever’s house had the quilt. It would be about 5 or 6 of them sitting around, just quilting and talking. They would finish either that day, or early morning the day after. And then it would be time to go to the next house. Me, I pretty much work by myself—I’m what my mother used to call, “particular about my stitches.”

My favorite thing about quilting is the end result. You take materials, put’em them together and the colors just work! Nature has the best palette. And when you're done, when you hang that quilt up or spread it out on a bed, it looks so pretty! You just want to touch it!

History of Gee’s Bend:
The women of Gee’s Bend—a small, rural, community in Alabama's Black Belt—have created hundreds of quilt masterpieces dating from the early twentieth century to the present. Resembling an inland island, Gee’s Bend is surrounded on three sides by the Alabama River. The some seven hundred or so inhabitants of this small, rural community are mostly descendants of enslaved Africans who, for generations, worked the fields belonging to the local Pettway plantation. Quiltmakers there have produced countless patchwork masterpieces, with the oldest existing examples dating from the 1920s. Enlivened by a visual imagination that extends the expressive boundaries of the quilt genre, these astounding creations constitute a crucial chapter in the history of American art.

Gee’s Bend quilts carry forward a proud tradition of textiles made for home and family. They represent only a part of the rich body of African American quilts, but they are in a league by themselves. Few other places can boast the extent of Gee’s Bend’s artistic achievement -- the result of both geographical isolation and an unusual degree of cultural continuity. In few places across the country have works been found by three - and sometimes four - generations of women in the same family, nor have many works been discovered that bear witness to visual conversations among community quilting groups and lineages. Gee’s Bend’s heirloom pieces stand out for their flair—quilts composed boldly and improvisationally, in geometries that transform recycled work clothes and dresses, feed sacks, and fabric remnants.

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  • Mary Margaret Pettway


    I’m Mary Margaret Pettway, a Gee’s Bend Quilter. My favorite thing about quilting is the end result. You take materials, put‘em together and the colors just work! Nature has the best palette.

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Last updated on Aug 13, 2021
Frequently asked questions
How do I freshen up my quilt?

Some of my quilts are older and were stored. You can freshen up your quilt before using it in your home by sitting it outside in the sun and a fresh breeze. One of the easiest ways to do this is to put it on a clothesline on a sunny day in the fresh air for at least an hour.

Can I wash my quilt?

Your handmade Gee’s Bend item requires special care to preserve it for generations to come. As some pieces may be older heirloom items, I recommend testing for colorfastness before washing. To do this, take a damp, white cloth and rub it against your quilt's colored fabrics. If there is any color transfer to the white cloth, washing the quilt may result in discoloration and fading.

If you complete the colorfastness test and there is no color transfer, wash on a gentle cycle using a mild, gentle detergent in cold water; or hand wash by submerging your quilt alone in soapy water, gently rinse, then repeat. No chlorine bleach. Tumble dry, dry on a drying rack, or hang it outside to air dry. Finish with warm iron, if desired.

I noticed a small stain on my quilt. What should I do?

Some older quilts may have spots or discoloration due to their age. Because of its delicate nature, cautiously spot clean your quilt only as needed, as it can remove color that comprises the original style and tone of the quilt that you may not be able to get back. If there are spots that you would like to remove, use a very small amount of a mild detergent and gently rub the area with a white soft cloth. Use extreme care when doing this. If you don't feel comfortable washing or spot cleaning your quilt, consider locating a qualified conservation or restoration service.

Where can I find other Gee's Bend Quilters on Etsy?

You can find links to all the verified Gee's Bend Maker's shops below. Please consider supporting one, or all of us! Thank you in advance!