Have you heard of the Gees Bend quilts and their quilt makers? Many of the leaders in the Modern Quilt movement, have considered their quilts a significant influence on their work.
Did you know that you can create a Gees Bend-like quilt using Electric Quilt? Check out the video tutorial on a Gees Bend Postage Stamp Quilt. And then be amazed by the latest designs from those in the Tech Know Quilters EQ8 Membership Studio.
Gees Bend Background
“The women of Gee’s Bend—a small, remote, black community in Alabama—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 seven hundred or so inhabitants of this small, rural community are mostly descendants of slaves, and for generations they worked the fields belonging to the local Pettway plantation. Quilt makers there have produced countless patchwork masterpieces beginning as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, 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 African American art.
Gee’s Bend quilts carry forward an old and 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 elsewhere have works been found by three and sometimes four generations of women in the same family, or works that bear witness to visual conversations among community quilting groups and lineages. Gee’s Bend’s art also stands out for its flair—quilts composed boldly and improvisationally, in geometries that transform recycled work clothes and dresses, feed sacks, and fabric remnants.”
Gees Bend Postage Stamp Quilt Tutorial
In 2006, the United States Postal Service issued Quilts of Gee's Bend commemorative stamps, which featured ten designs chosen by USPS art director Derry Noyes. These same designs would be featured in the Gee's Bend Quilt Mural Trail, which was created in 2007.
I selected one of the designs to draft using Electric Quilt 8. The biggest challenge is the different sized patches in these quilts -- including those for the border. As a result I decided to draft the entire quilt as a single block.
I did the coloring of the block in the quilt worktable as it allowed me to place a copy of the picture right next to the quilt. The quilt appeared to be pieced with solids, so I chose to work with colors rather than fabrics for the quilt. Although I could have drawn curved lines, I decided to stick with straight lines when drafting.
When I went to color the block, I did find a couple of errors in my original drafting. The video also includes the process of fixing those errors.
Check out the final quilt along with my inspirational photo.
Tech Know Quilter's Gees Bend-like Quilts
In the Modern Quilt class, Tech Know Quilter members were challenged to create their own quilt in the spirit of Gees Bend using Electric Quilt. This was a chance for them to think outside the box along with stretch their own EQ drawing skills.
I did a blog post in 2018 where I shared a number of their quilts. But as users have continued to take the class, I thought I would share some of their newer designs with you. I think after looking at the quilts you will agree that they did an amazing job.
And can you believe they did this without a formal "how to" video.
Learn more about Tech Know Quilters and sign up for the wait list to join this amazing group of designers and quilters.
Electric Quilt Expert and Educator and Pattern Designer.