Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Finished: My 1st Gee's Bend Quilt!

Over the years, I've written about how much I've come to admire the Amazing Quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama who began teaching at Fiber College of Maine in 2014. If you don't know their story, you may want to click here before you continue reading this post.

Three years later, at Fiber College in  2017, I was lucky enough to take a quilting class with "Miss China" and "Miss Stella". What a thrill it was to meet them and learn from them, in some cases hand over hand.

We began by choosing fabrics and colors we liked from a big pile that had been donated. In addition, I brought some of my favorite old camping t-shirts to consider adding to my quilt. You see, Gee's Bend quilting is free-form and relies on the concept of creating beauty with what you have.

This is a craft passed down from mother to daughter since slave times at Gee's Bend, People needed these quilts to simply survive the winter; now they are created as works of fiber art and exhibited in most of the major Art museums in America.

When quilting Gee's Bend Style, fabric is torn rather than cut (slaves did not have scissors and fancy quilting rulers) and designs are created by laying out the fabric on the grass and moving the pieces around until they please the eye.

You begin in the center and keep adding pieces until you have finished the quilt top.
Here is Miss Stella holding up my first completed quilt section. She really helped me to "let go" and let the fabric speak to me as I went along.

Two weeks ago, almost two years after I started quilting with Miss Stella, I felt compelled to finish my quilt. I do well with deadlines and decided I want to use it to keep us warm on our first camping trip of 2019, which begins March 9th. (It's still COLD here in March!) I think  the new Gee's Bend quilt will be a colorful addition to our little Casita, even though it will mean sewing new camper curtains to go with it!

Since Fiber College takes places at Searsport Shores Oceanfront Campground in Searsport,Maine . . .  

I added a square from one of my Searsport t-shirts.

And here's a square (Note: none of these are literally "square") from another campground we enjoy, South Arm, in a remote part of Maine's Rangeley Lakes region.

And a square (Dia de los Muertos) from Arizona as well as a very special one signed by Miss China.

 I have a signed block from Miss Stella too!

Most of the fabrics for this quilt came from clothing I got at Salvation Army and cut up (Gee's Bend style; no expensive quilt shop involved here), especially jeans. I decided to keep some of the pockets . . .

they'll be handy for cell phones and tissues at night!

These squares came from t-shirts I made for the very first camping trip we ever took to Searsport Shores.  I had a t@b camper back then and it was the first time I'd taken it out without DH; my sister Nancy and I went by ourselves (with plenty of steak for her and wine for me!) on a "Girls' Weekend".

These old t-shirts mean the world to me now as Nancy passed away from ovarian cancer in 2010.

Here's a link to her story . . .

I lined the current quilt in fleece for warmth - camper motif, of course!

And then embroidered and tied the layers of the "quilt sandwich" together.
I enjoy this part!

The turquoise "camper" fabric in this square will be the fabric for the new Casita curtains.

We leave on our trip on Saturday and the quilt is DONE, just in time. We'll be headed to Virginia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee, hoping to catch up with friends and chase the Spring weather.
The laptop and Jetpack are already packed so that I can blog our adventures from the road.

 Can't wait!

A Happy Camper (and Quilter!),

This post is linked to:
Link Party #129 at Chas' Crazy Creations
Vintage Charm #172 at My Thrift Store Addiction
Talk of the Town #164 at Knick of Time
Wednesday Aim Link Party 32 at Grammy's Grid
Homestyle Gathering #8 at My Wee Abode
Thursday Favorite Things at The Yellow Brick Home
Flaunt It Friday #438 at Chic on a Shoestring
Farmhouse Friday Link Party #96 at The Painted Hinge


  1. I love the idea of a free form quilt with not so many rules to stunt creativity!! My mother quilts, but she always follows a pattern. I'm thinking that this is more my style and I like the idea of using a soft fleece blanket for the underside. I have space and plenty of fabric - just need to get started. P.S. We have a T@B but we are also going to look at Casitas!

    1. Hi Rustown Mom, We loved our tab but finally gave it up for a Casita to get just a little more space and a BATHROOM! We've been enjoying our Casita for almost 10 years now; very easy to maintain. We have the Spirit Deluxe model. I used to quilt the "correct way" but am loving the Gee's Bend method - so much more creative and fun! If you Google Gee's Bend Quilts/Quilters, you will find lots and lots of info. on them and photos of their quilts. Not sure where you live but some of them will be teaching at Fiber College of Maine again this September; check out the links to all in my post. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Nice to meet another camper/quilter! ~Cheryl

  2. Love the quilt, it looks awesome! Since I'm in Alabama, had to go look up the Gee’s Bend Quilters. They're about 2 hours from me. Thanks so much Cheryl for linking up with us at the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty 32! Shared ♥

    1. Hi Dee, I think it's neat that you live so close to Gee's Bend. I don't know if the ladies give quilting classes locally or not but, if they do, it's well worth it to take one. They are amazing women full of interesting stories and great advice about quilting. To make the work go faster, they sing spirituals while they quilt! I loved quilting with them. Hope you and your family were safe during the recent spate of tornadoes in Alabama - so many people hurt and so many homes lost. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Hope you'll stop back! ~Cheryl

    2. Thank you and yes we were safe! We're in Tuscaloosa (whose had its share of tornado damage in the past) but no touch downs this time.

  3. I love the memories the different pieces of fabric bring back. I am sure it will be something for the whole family to treasure.

    1. Hi Ann, I love the memories sewn into the quilt as well. Many of them were t-shirts so I used a lite iron-on Pellon to stabilize the knit fabric before adding it to the quilt. That, and the Gee's Bend method of not everything needing to be "square" worked really well for this project. I really enjoyed quilting this way - no "rules" - just lots of well-worn fabric, bright colors and creativity! Thank you for stopping by! ~Cheryl

  4. I would love to learn how to quilt!! This is amazing!! Maybe someday, I will take a class or two or three!! LOL!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!! And thanks for your kind words!! I have learned to take a little folding stool that I have to sit on where i am working so I am not standing all the time and that really helps!!

    1. The stool seems like a good idea, Debbie, although I still don't know how you do all that you do! Quilting this way is fun, more relaxed that traditional quilting. I really enjoyed it. If you get a chance to Google "Gee's Bend Quilts" and then go to Google Images, you won't believe just how beautiful they are! Always good to hear from you, Cheryl

  5. I love this types of quilts! Very cute! Thanks for linking up with us at the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty 32

  6. Hi Sylvia, Thanks for stopping by! This free form way of quilting is so much fun and really gets the creative juices flowing! The real Gee's Bend Quilts, made by the ladies in Alabama, sell for thousands of dollars now. They are gorgeous! Thanks for co-hosting the link party; I love all the ideas I find there! Have a good weekend, Cheryl

  7. Such a fun quilt, Cheryl. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to make it! Hugs!

    1. Thanks, Julie! It was a lot of fun to make and will keep us warm on camping trips. I love the Gee's Bend quilts. Have a great weekend! Cheryl

  8. LOVE this fun memory quilt! I am sharing this with my daughter who has been thinking about quilting. Happy Camping, Kippi #kippiathome

    1. Thanks, KIppi! If your daughter needs help with it, she is welcome to email me at

  9. Love this colorful quilt, Cheryl! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

  10. Congrats! Your post is FEATURED at the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty 33 which starts at 9:00 PM CST tonight (Wednesday the 20th)!

    1. Hi Dee, Better late than never! I must have missed your comment. Thanks so much for featuring my quilt. It was a lot of fun to do and meeting, and learning from, the Gee's Bend Quilters was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thanks for hosting! Have a good weekend, Cheryl


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