One of the most active and influential quiltmakers in Gee's Bend was Arie Pettway, who recalls here her experiences during her early years.
Nobody taught me. Me and a first cousin and my sister, we just used to get together and whatever rags us found, we stuck 'em together. And you know how we got the pretty patterns? My daddy would work across the river in the white folks' yards, and he'd always bring newspaper home to paper the house for Christmas, and us see them different puzzles and things in the newspapers. Us would set down and cut up some cloth, make something like that puzzle in the newspaper and name it whatever us wanted to name it. . . .
We weren't sellin' none. Just makin' 'em for fun. Learn how to do somethin'. See, we didn't know how to do anything but roam the woods and hunt blackberries and other things, and tote wood, wash, iron, somethin' I hate, and work in the fields. That was all we knew. . . .
One thing I'll tell you. I have went out there on people's woodpile where I see they had a good-lookin' piece, picked it up and washed it and put it in a quilt. . . .
I got a pair of overalls hanging on the wire right now. My husband's overalls. I'm goin' take 'em and wash 'em, and rip 'em up and make me a "Lazy Gal" quilt. That's another name of quilt, "Lazy Gal" . . . Got two tore straight strips, just like that bench straight yonder, and sew 'em together. But every strip different.