Traditional Gee's Bend Quilting

Boykin, Alabama

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Sharon Williams

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Sharon Williams


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About ShasShopGeesBend

Sales 97
On Etsy since 2021

Thank you for visiting my shop!

My name is Sharon Williams, and I’m from Boykin, Alabama, also known as Gee’s Bend. My mother, Rosalee Pettway, and my father, Roger Pettway, they’re from Boykin too—I’ve lived here all of my life. My early life was picking cotton, peas, and stuff in the fields, and working around the house. I used to go and sit under the quilt with my momma; she’d have her quilts up, and I’d be watching her. One day, when she had her back turned, I tried to go and sew the quilt myself—she saw I could make a stitch or two, so, she put me on the quilt!

I find beauty in the colors of quilts, and the different styles. There are many different patterns, but I like doing my own thing, coming up with an idea and going for it! I’m the kind of person who likes to sew with speed. I love to use cotton. That’s all I sew with, cotton. I find beauty in the colors of the quilts, and the way they’re made, the different styles. I make quilts because, it makes me happy. It allows me to do something instead of sitting around the house. It allows me to put myself to work— making quilts and bags and other stuff, just sewing!

My favorite thing about making quilts is that people like them. That is my FAVORITE thing, is that people like them. They like the colors, they like to see that I know how to sew. It’s my favorite when they say, “Oooh! That’s a pretty quilt!” I like that!

I like to be all by myself when I make quilts. I don’t need no company to make no quilts! It’s very relaxing for me. I get out there, turn my radio on, and I can sew up a storm! I want people to know that I did my best, and it’s beautiful. I want them to like it, because I like it. And I appreciate them liking 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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  • Sharon Williams


    My name is Sharon Williams. I quilt because it makes me happy! My favorite thing about making quilts is that people like them.

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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!