It was so interesting for me to read about Loretta Pettway, (born 1942), her upbringing, creativity and story of her life. As i dissected her story, i dissected her work of art. She calls her quilt....Four-block strip quilt. Circa 1960. Cotton twill and synthetic material (men's clothing). 78" x 73".
In Loretta's words....
"I made all my quilts out of old shirts and dress tails and britches legs. I couldn't never get no good fabric to make quilts, so I had to get the best of the old clothes my peoples wore or old clothes I got from other peoples. I get the best of the shirt sleeves or whatever part of the pants wasn't wore out-like the back of the pants legs, 'cause the knees mostly be wore out. (We pick the cotton on our knees). Some people would give me old clothes, and some of them my kids couldn't wear, and I would tear them up and make quilts. I didn't think I was too good at cutting out. If I could have got with friends to get me on the right track, maybe. But I just didn't have friends, so I had to piece up things the way I could see to do. I ain't never made a real pattern. I just made what my grandmama had made back in those days - "Bricklayer, Housetop" and stuff.
God have brought me from a mighty long ways. I prayed to the Lord when I was growing up that it won't be this way always. I am looking for a brighter day, a better day. And I say, "Lord, let my last days be my best day," and he have fulfilled it. When I was married, I didn't have money. My husband would give me fifty cents. I get my own check now. My daughter had to show me what a twenty-dollar bill was when I was fifty years old.
I can remember working a whole day in the fields and getting twenty cents. I used to work all day and when night come I was sick all night. I couldn't sleep and didn't have no appetite to eat, but I can thanks the Lord now and say that he has reached way down and picked me up, made my life better. I have food, money, a roof over my head, my health and strength. If I leave today, he have fulfilled the dreams that I ask him for down through the years. And my last days will be my best days.
This excerpt if from the book titled, "The Quilts of Gee's Bend", Tonwood Books, Atlanta.
A touching story for me to read for so many reasons. A woman making something beautiful, a treasure, out of so little. A woman with faith, dreams and hope. I don't think I will ever be as strong as Loretta Pettway.