Gee’s Bend Quilters Coming to Vancouver

Annie Mae Young Gee's Bend Quilt

This quilt is from “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” exhibit.  The quilter was Annie Mae Young.  It is titled, “Work-clothes quilt with center medallion of strips”.  The quilt was made in 1976 from denim, corduroy, and synthetic blends and measures 76.5″ x 108″.


Some members of the Gee’s Bend Quilters will be coming to Vancouver this fall.  As part of the Maiwa Textile Symposium that runs from September to November, the Gee’s Bend Quilters will be presenting a lecture and two workshops.

Monday, October 19, 2015, 7:45 pm:  Lecture at Netloft, Granville Island, $15

Monday, October 19 and Tuesday, October 20, 2015, 10 am to 4 pm: Workshop, at Maiwa Loft, Granville Island, $295 (includes lab fee of $25)

Wednesday, October 21 and Thursday, October 22, 2015, 10 am to 4 pm:  Workshop at Maiwa Loft, Granville Island, $295 (includes lab fee of $25)

Registration for these classes opens June 22, 2015 at 10 am.  This link will take you to the full calendar including the class descriptions and registration form: 

Gee’s Bend is an African American majority community that has remained very isolated due in part to its geography as it is surrounded on three sides by the Alabama River.

Quilting in Gee’s Bend dates back to the 19th Century.  It is speculated that the patterns of the Western and Central Aftrican textiles had a significant influence on the distinctive improvisational and simplistic geometric signature style of the quilts produced by the Gee’s Bend Quilters.  Many modern quilters credit the Gee’s Bend quilts as significantly influencing the development of the Modern Quilt Movement.

The following links provide further information on the Quilters of Gee’s Bend.

1.  The Gee’s Bend quilters were in Vancouver for the 2005, 2011, and 2013 Maiwa Textile Symposium.  This is a blog post written by Krista Hennebery who attended one of the 2011 workshops.

2.  Video titled, “the Quilts of Gee’s Bend” by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

3.  Why Quilts Matter – Sisters in Cloth:  The Modern Quilters and the Quilters of Gee’s Bend

4.  Blog posts from Kristin Shields about the Quilters of Gee’s Bend.

5.  Blog post from Michelle Bilyeu about the Quilters of Gee’s Bend.

6.  Deep South Magazine article – The Future of Gee’s Bend.

7.  Article by Richard Kalina – Gee’s Bend Modern.

8.  Blog post from I’m Feelin’ Crafty regarding the Quilters of Gee’s Bend.


Improv Under the Influence Workshop With Krista Hennebury

2015_April 19_Improv Under the Influence_Krista Hennebury_Workshop-Optimized

This is the quilt that I started yesterday in our guild sponsored workshop titled, “Improv Under the Influence” with Krista Hennebury.  We were to bring 12 – 5″ x 5″ charm squares from each of 5 fat quarters of warm related, solid colours and the same number and size of squares from each of 5 fat quarters of related, cool solid colours.  I picked purples with my daughter in mind as purple is her favorite colour and greens because green is my favorite colour.  My design wall is still occupied with my Strip Stacks queen size quilt so I taped these pieces to my cupboard door to take the picture.  The bottom purple strip still needs to be trimmed and sewn to the rest of the piece.

Krista's Sample Quilt for Improv Under the Influence Quilt Workshop

This vibrant pink and green quilt is Krista’s quilt and one of the sample quilts that she brought along to the workshop.  Krista’s describes her technique as building improv strip units that can be used in many different projects including wall hangings, place mats, table runners, pillow covers, and quilts.  This technique would be suited to making improvisational piano key borders that could be added to any modern quilt.

Krista told us that her quilt was inspired by an unnamed antique quilt that she saw on display in Bellingham, WA during a 2012 show titled, American Quilts:  The Democratic Art.  Krista described that quilt as one large Courthouse Steps block using scraps of various cotton and polyester prints that appeared to come from women’s clothing and scraps of wool that appeared to come from men’s suits.  It was this contrast between the men’s and women’s clothing that led Krista to think about the contrast that results between cool and warm colours.

Krista's Inspiration QuiltAlthough Krista did not have a photo of the quilt that inspired her, I was able to find a picture on the internet of what I believe was that very quilt.  This picture was found on a blog called, Nifty Quilts.  Through some other searching, I believe I have located pictures of the other quilts that were part of that exhibit of quilts that was shown at the Whatcom Museum from August 4 to October 28, 2012.   The description of this quilt is, “African-American Log Cabin Variation, c 1950-75 from the collection of Roderick Kiracofe.”

Creative Stitches Show – March 27 and 28, 2015

The Modern Quilt Guild that I belong to was thrilled to have space to exhibit our quilts in this year’s Creative Stitches Show on March 27 and 28, 2015. IMG_1982 This is me beside my quilt entry–Tumbling Gum Drops. IMG_1978 This is my good friend PJ standing next to her table runner. IMG_1985 PJ’s daughter is also a guild member.  This is CH next to one of her entries. IMG_1976 This is CH next to her large quilt entry.  CH is very talented–she made that great red dress as well! IMG_1989 This is the mother and daughter team posing in front of the guild quilt. IMG_1974 Our Guild’s banner. IMG_1973 Our Guild’s booth.IMG_1977 Our guild members’ quilts were featured just inside the entrance to the show. IMG_1979 Robert Kaufman Mini Challenge quilts.IMG_1980 More challenge quilts.IMG_1984…and more… IMG_1986…and more… IMG_1987 …and the last of the mini challenge quilts.IMG_1990There was an opportunity to also include some other modern quilts if members wished to have their quilts displayed. IMG_1991 IMG_1992 IMG_1995 IMG_1996 IMG_1999We may not have had that many quilts displayed, but what was displayed was a great example of the variety of quilts that can fit inside the Modern Quilt category.


Tumbling Gum Drops

Tumbling Gum Drops - 36" square

Tumbling Gum Drops – 36″ square

I just finished sewing the last stitches in the binding of this small wall quilt.

This quilt measures 36″ square and is my entry into my Modern Quilt Guild’s Robert Kaufman Modern It Up Challenge.  See my previous post here for the rules.

Part of the challenge was to take a traditional block and make it modern.  The traditional block that inspired my quilt was the Tumbler block.  In a traditional quilt, the Tumbler quilt blocks are arranged side by side, neatly in rows with no space or sashing between the blocks.  To make the Tumbler quilt block modern, I used the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s Tipsy Tumbler quilt pattern to add negative space between the blocks and arrange them in a random way across the quilt.

My tumblers remind me of a package of gum drops that has been opened and tipped to gain access to the contents so I have called my quilt, Tumbling Gum Drops.

My quilt is now officially entered into the Challenge.  Keep your fingers crossed that my quilt will be successfully juried into the Creative Stitches Show at the end of March where our Modern Guild will have an information booth.  If chosen by the Jury, my quilt will also be part of an exhibit of modern quilts that will be displayed in a quilt show to be held in Penticton from May 8 – 9.

FVMQG Robert Kaufman Modern It Up Challenge



Today it started to snow.  This is the first snowfall that we have seen here this winter.  We have been under an extreme weather warning since last night.

Winter Storm, Gorgon formed over the Northwest Sunday, and in a mere 48 hours it is expected to bring a swath of snow more than 2,000 miles long from the Cascades and Northern Rockies across the Midwest and into the Northeast through Tuesday. (from The Weather Channel)

So while the snowflakes fell outside, I was inside sewing.  Today was a perfect day to work on my FVMQG Robert Kaufman Modern It Up Challenge.  Our finished quilts will be part of an exhibit that our guild has planned for the Creative Stitches Show in March 2015. The theme of our challenge was to take a traditional block / quilt design of our choice and make it modern.

We were given a package of fabrics to work with that included Kona solids in Pewter, Limelight, Pool, Watermelon, Cerise, Goldfish, and three prints from Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures line.  We were permitted to add fabrics to this selection as long as they were from the Kona solids collection or the Architextures line.  I ended up adding four additional Kona solids to the mix in Snow, Crocus, Flame, and a yellow that I don’t remember the name of.

I deliberated for weeks on what I was going to do.  I have changed my mind several times.  I started out thinking I would do a modern Log Cabin and then switched to a Dresden Plate after seeing some inspirational photos on the Internet. I then switched to the idea of a Rail Fence after I picked up the latest issue of American Patchwork and Quilting and was inspired by an article by Jean Wells.  I dropped the idea of the Log Cabin as I thought for sure someone else would do that one as wonky log cabins are very popular in the Modern Quilt World right now.  I abandoned dresden plate after hearing several guild members talking aobut making that design.  I thought I might have too many fabrics to work into a successful Rail Fence and so I also abandoned that idea.  Last night I settled on the Tumbler quilt idea.  A Tumbler quilt has been on my bucket list to make for a while now.  I found several photos of modern versions of Tumbler quilts on the Internet and this morning I worked my way through several versions making test blocks with fabrics I already had in my stash. Those versions just weren’t working for me and I was about to abandon the idea altogether when my friend, Linda J sent me a link to a video on the Internet from the Missouri Star Quilt Company for the Tipsy Tumbler Quilt.  Now this quilt was definitely speaking to me!  I started working on the blocks right away and by evening, I had all my blocks made and arranged on my design wall.



These are my Tipsy Tumbler quilt blocks.  This quilt should finish around 36″ square which will put it at the maximum challenge quilt size of 144″ in perimeter.  The contrast is very low for the Architexture print that looks like ledger paper.  If I was making this quilt for me and not for the challenge, I would have left that print out of the mix.  However, one of the rules of the challenge was that you had to use at least one piece of each of the fabrics we were given so I had to use it somewhere in the quilt.  Some of the other quilters in the Guild were using that fabric as one of their backgrounds.  However, it doesn’t work as a background in my quilt as I would loose the effect of floating the tumblers across the quilt top if I used it as background in some of my blocks.  So I will have to come up with something to help make those blocks stand out when it comes time to quilt this top.  I guess using the more difficult fabrics from the bundle is part of what makes this a challenge.