Daughter-in-law of quiltmaker Pearlie Pettway, Lorraine Pettway is one of the few women who still perform quilting-the sewing together of the top, the stuffing, and the back—a skill she has provided to other quiltmakers in Gee's Bend.
I was born down here in the Bend; lived right over there down the road from where Bettie Bendolph Seltzer live now, right next door to where Candis [Pettway] was. My mother is Jeanette Mosely. My grandmother was Virginia Mosely.
When I was a little girl, we played a lot, stuff like baseball and hide-and-go-seek. Had to make the cows and pigs and goats move out of the way to play baseball. When the sun got too hot, we come under the shade tree and played hopscotch and jacks.
My husband is Bobby Pettway. We been married about twenty-nine years and we have five children. I been knowing Bobby all my life. I used to always be glad to see Bobby Pettway coming. Used to come every evening and sit and talk till sundown, then he go on home. We went together at least five years before we got married. I used to sit with Bobby's mama, Pearlie Pettway. She was glad me and Bobby got together. She the one learnt me how to make biscuits. She said, "Come sit down right by this window. I want to show you how to make biscuits, 'cause my son love biscuits." Pearlie made a lot of quilts for her children. She was a good mother to them and a good mother-in-law to me.
I learnt how to quilt from my grandmother Virginia. She quilted on the machine a lot, and I had to hold the quilt while she was sewing it. I was on one end and she was on the other end. I liked to be with her.
I learnt how to piece quilts all on my own. It come to me, just putting stuff together. And everybody started liking what I done and asking me how I could do that. I get old clothes and tear them up and make blocks and make pretty quilts. Quilting it is the easiest part. Making it is the hard part. Nothing to quilting it.
How I start to make a quilt, all I do is start sewing, and it just come to me. My daughter ask me the other day what I was making, and I said, "I don't know yet; I'm just sewing pieces together," and the quilt looked pretty good. No pattern. I usually don't use a pattern, only my mind.