Loretta Pettway is the descendent of slaves who worked a plantation in Gee’s Bend, a fifteen-mile stretch of land nestled in a hairpin turn of the Alabama River. Economic need and geographic isolation contributed to the survival of a strong tradition of quilt making among the women of Gee’s Bend, ranging from the 19th century to the present day. Pettway pieced her first quilt together when she was eleven years old, and she was chiefly active as a quilter between the late 1950s and the 1970s. Her quilts are distinguished by her preference for bold, simple geometries of the Bricklayer pattern. Like generations of Gee’s bend quilters, she worked whatever fabrics came to hand. “I made all my quilts out of old shirts and dress tails and britches legs,” Pettway recalled. “I would tear them up and make quilts. . . . I just made what my grandmamma had made back in those days.”

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Loretta Pettway, American, born 1942
Log Cabin (Courthouse Steps)
Bricklayer (local name)
c. 1970
Cotton denim
Overall: 84 × 66in. (213.4 × 167.6cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Research ongoing