Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gee's Bend inspiration

if you've read anything about american quilting and it's recent history, especially the modern quilting movement, you've probably come across the term "gee's bend quilt." i enjoy reading about quilting history almost as much as i enjoy actually making my own quilts, so after coming across the term a few times, i looked into it. i found not only a book for myself, gee's bend: the architecture of the quilt, but a children's picture book, stitchin' and pullin': a gee's bend quilt by patricia mckissack, which follows along as a young "bender" girl describes her journey from baby playing under the quilt frame to making her first quilt. there's quite a bit of african-american history woven into the story. best of all, the young narrator describes how she makes fabric selections for her quilt from scrap clothing and fabrics; every piece has a meaning.

yesterday, the two littlest school girls and i enjoyed exploring the picture book and then looking at photos of some of the real quilts from my grown-up book. today we took that one step further when i had the girls pull scraps for their own mini quilts, built around a theme. getting them to stick to a theme and not just pull fabrics they liked took gentle reminding, but they managed pretty well. they also have a few other themes in mind to explore in the future.

 d4 picked "camping with dad" for her theme. she snuck a lot of "wildflower" prints in, but kept pretty close as i reminded what she was doing. her bits represent:
  • the paisley - lots of flowers
  • the brown spot - a hole i found that one time, probably a snake hole
  • pink oval elements - keeping dad's rules, because this one is in order like all his rules
  • burnt orange scroll - dad
  • purple flowers - flowers i find and trees; i find lots of flowers
  • blue - Jesus because i think of him sometimes when i'm lying in the tent or feel him when we are at the campfire
  • brown ditsy floral - dirt
  • navy blue solid - the river
  • green flannel - grass because it's green and fuzzy
  • white spots - marshmallows
  • orange - camp fire
  • green with circles - trees
she also picked some for pinecones, the tent, hot cocoa, and then started getting one for each person that goes camping with her.

 that prompted her to dig deep in the scraps saying, "where am i in this basket?! i need one for me."

 d3 settled on finding scraps to represent people in her life. if she tries to pick one for each and every relative, it's going to be quite a quilt since her extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins is near 100 people. then again, she's enamored of very tiny pieces, so we'll see.

 as they worked on their gee's bend memory quilts, i worked on my memory book - project life. i'm so far behind! probably even farther behind than i am on quilting. there are just never enough hours in a day or lifetime to do all the things i'd like to.


  1. What a sweet activity to do with your girls! I love that you recorded what each of the fabrics represented. Adorable fun :)

  2. How fun! I know exactly what you mean about not having enough time for all that you want to do. I feel the same way.

  3. How delightful that you let the girls play in your fabric! I did that when mine were little and it has paid off -- both now get out their needles for those special gifts!!

  4. I just did something similar with my youngest - he was choosing fabrics that represented each of his class mates (getting started on a teachers present). I loved seeing how he expressed what each of the fabric meant :-)

  5. What an amazing process and learning experience! A treasured memory:) Thanks for letting us take a peek.


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