Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Project Mayhem

Project Mayhem


GEE’S BEND, AL – (September 23, 2009) – Just in time for the holiday season Gee’s Bend and Baum Textiles/Windham Fabrics announce a partnership to present four quilt kits and 19 Gee’s Bend solids. The kits and solids will be shipping to quilt stores worldwide in November 2009. The quilt kits include instructions, fabric for the quilt tops and binding; batting, backing; thread, needles, and thimble are additional. The suggested retail price for the quilt kits is $60 to $70 and the suggested retail price for Gee’s Bend Solids is $9/yard. For a full list of colors, kits and retailers please visit or “It is our pleasure to encourage every quilter to be inspired by the vision and courage of these modern quilting pioneers, and create their own masterpiece,” states Windham Fabrics.

Based on designs by acclaimed Gee’s Bend Quilters, Mary Lee Bendolph, Mary L. Bennett, Qunnie Pettway and Rita Mae Pettway, Windham Fabrics encourages “every quilter to be inspired by the vision and courage of these modern quilting pioneers.” The four quilters will share a percentage of the royalties with The Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective and The Gee’s Bend Foundation.

According to Windham, “we have recreated the genius that this group of quilters in rural Alabama has made famous. Every bit of the distinctive style that has made these remarkable quilts come alive is now available in a kit from Windham Fabrics.”

The Strips and Strings quilt kit is based on Mary Lee Bendolph’s design of that name. The manufacturer’s style is # 30552 and the final quilt measures 75” x 50”. Mrs. Bendolph (b. 1935), the 7th of 17 children, descends from generations of accomplished quilt makers. She learned to quilt from her mother, Aolar Mosely and a network of aunts and female in-laws. She worked in the Alabama fields and attended school intermittently until she was 14, when she began her own family. Bendolph was one of many Gee’s Benders who accompanied Martin Luther King Jr. in his march at Camden, AL in 1965. Her quilt making style marries a flair for improvisation to traditional construction techniques that emphasize rectangles and squares. Her minimalist patches, small compositions of cloth, build to create intricate overall compositions that contain humorous touches and autobiographical references.

Housetop 4-Block Variation is 57” x 65” and styled after the work by the same name by Mary L. Bennett – manufacturers style # 30550. Mrs. Bennett (b. 1942), granddaughter of Delia Bennett (1892-1976) ancestor of many quilt makers in Gee’s Bend. Mary L. Bennett pieces primarily “Housetop” and “Bricklayer” compositions and imaginative variations on them. “I was born down here in Brown Quarters and got raised by my grandmother. I started out working in the fields for my uncle Stalling Bennett. I didn’t get no schooling – every now and then a day here and there. Didn’t nobody teach me to make quilts. I just learned it by myself, about 12 or 13. I was seeing my grandmamma piecing it up, and then I start. I just taken me some pieces and put it together, piece them up till they look like I want them to look. That’s all," states Mary L. Bennett.

Lazy Gal Variation, based on the design of the same name by Qunnie Pettway measures 52 “x 62” – manufacturers style # 30549. Mrs. Pettway (b. 1943) is the great-granddaughter of Dinah Miller who is said to have arrived in the United States aboard a slave ship from Africa -- the Clotilde that docked in Mobile Bay, Alabama prior to the Civil War. Qunnie learned to quilt House Tops under the tutelage of her mother, Candis Pettway. In 1960 after she married, she found her unique artistic voice and began making patterned quilts including Wedding Ring - which she learned from her sister - Chestnut Bud, Bear Paw and Crazy Z. Qunnie's daughter, Loretta P. Bennett is one of the youngest quilters actively creating extraordinary quilts today.

Housetop, measuring 52” x 64” is based on the same titled design by Rita Mae Pettway – manufacturers style # 30551. Mrs. Pettway (b. 1941) made her first quilt at the age of 14. She was raised by her grandmother, quiltmaker Annie E. Pettway, and still lives in the house that her grandfather built for the family in the 1940s. "Onliest thing we did after everything else was done, we sit by the fireplace in the wintertime and piece up quilts. Me and my grandmama Annie. She didn't have no pattern to go by; she just cut them by the way she know how to make them," says Rita Mae. Piecing quilts, according to Rita Mae, was done individually but quilting "we all did together." Rita Mae, along with her ancestors and her daughter, renowned quilter Louisiana Bendolph share a penchant for creating strip quilts in concentric squares resulting in Housetops or Hog Pens, each artist though has a unique style and variation on the theme.

About the Gee’s Bend Quilters

Gee’s Bend, a miniscule rural community, is nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times on the site of cotton plantations owned by Joseph Gee, the town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Modern Art. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through multiple generations to the present and in 2002, an exhibition of 70 quilt masterpieces from the Bend, organized by Tinwood Alliance of Atlanta, Georgia, premiered at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Since then, “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” exhibition has been presented at more than a dozen major museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Newsweek, NPR, CBS News Sunday Morning, House and Garden, and Oprah’s O Magazine are just a few of the hundreds of print and broadcast media organizations that have celebrated the quilts and history of this unique town. Art critics worldwide have compared the quilts to the works of important modern artists, such as Henri Matisse, and the New York Times called the quilts “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” For more information, visit

About the Manufacturer

A family run business since 1955, Baum Textile Mills, Inc. has produced the finest quality WinterFleece™, flannel and Flurr™ fabrics for the home sewing industry. In 1995, after recognizing a need for more quality quilting and crafting fabrics, Baum began to add beautiful cotton sheetings to its collections and saw the popularity of these lines grow rapidly. In response to this growing market, Baum decided to focus its efforts on the needs of the independent quilt shops and introduced a new division, Windham Fabrics. Working extensively with quilt historians, industry experts, an in-house design studio, and well-known designers from all around the world, Windham Fabrics has become a leader in the marketplace. Known for its authentic reproductions of antique fabrics, Windham also offers florals, textures, retro and many other fabric collections exclusively for quilt shops only.