The tradition of the patchwork quilt was born of scarcity and resourcefulness, arising in times and places where the shortages of cloth called for the inventive salvaging of fabric scraps and remnants. In Gee's Bend, this recycling practice became the founding ethos for generations of quiltmakers who have transformed otherwise useless material into marvels of textile art. Until the middle of the twentieth century, the majority of quilts from the area were made from worn-out work clothes, a palette of old shirts, overalls, aprons and dress bottoms whose stains, tears, and faded denim patches provide a tangible record of lives marked by seasons of hard labor in the fields of the rural South.


  • Title: "Housetop" work-clothes quilt
  • Creator: Rita Mae Pettway
  • Creator Lifespan: b. 1941
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Female
  • Creator Birth Place: Gee's Bend, Alabama
  • Date Created: 2005
  • Location Created: Gee's Bend, Alabama
  • Physical Dimensions: 84 x 70 in. (213.4 x 177.8 cm)
  • Subject Keywords: Gee's Bend, Alabama, Work-clothes quilt, Black art, African American art
  • Type: Quilt
  • Rights: © Rita Mae Pettway / Photo: Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio
  • External Link: https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/artist/rita-mae-pettway
  • Medium: Denim and cotton

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