Mary Ann Pettyway’s Tiny Quilt Square

Mary Ann Pettway's tiny quilt square
Mary Ann Pettway’s tiny quilt square it’s 3 1/2″ x 4 “

Last night as Mary Ann was giving me a  quilting lesson something kinda magical happened.  As I was tossing aside the tiny scraps that I cut off the edges of my strips of fabric, Mary Ann was putting them  in a pile.  I was done for the night, admiring my square when Mary Ann sat down at the sewing machine in her kitchen and sewed together a half inch piece of black fabric to a half inch piece of blue fabric (the two squares in the bottom left corner).

Not only would I have thrown those scraps of fabric in the garbage without a second thought, but I never would have considered sewing them together.  Then she searched for a piece of drapery fabric just the right size to go across the top of the blue and black piece.

There was no stopping her after that.  One piece led to another and eventually she found some small scarps of her signature red to add to it all.  One of them was so small it ended up being the smallest triangle I’ve ever seen. (It’s at the top of the piece just left of center).

“Oh Wow”, we kept saying as she sewed two more tiny  scraps of fabric together, “Wow,Wow, this is gorgeous”.  “Patience” she repeated “patience”.  At one point Mary Ann started to quietly sing to herself.  It was a creative frenzy.  Mary Ann got an 8×10 frame she had hanging around and put the piece in it to see how it would look.  I thought it was perfect, but she knew there was more to do.  She added on and added on until it was done.  Then she found just the right white fabric to frame it.

We were in awe looking at it.  Mary Ann had never made anything so small.    Like a tiny shiny gem, it shouted to be looked at.  It was huge.

By 11pm we were both exhausted.   Both of us had made something completely new.  Mary Ann taught me a new way to make a quilt and my scraps inspired her to create  something new. We encouraged each other, the creativity flowing between us, around us right there at her kitchen table.

Mary Ann is keeping this first tiny quilt square for herself, but it she makes another  before I leave Gee’s Bend tomorrow I’m going to scoop it up.  Maybe she’ll be inspired to work again this evening, I sure hope so.

The back of Mary Ann's tiny quilt square. A neat back, is the sign of a professional.
The back of Mary Ann’s tiny quilt square. A neat back,the sign of a professional.

6 thoughts on “Mary Ann Pettyway’s Tiny Quilt Square

  1. Oh Maria,
    This is very, very cool. As someone who does a lot of tiny paintings, I am completely smitten. Would love to see a whole series. That little triangle of red makes it! Fabulous. Know you are having a blast and I am so happy for you.
    XOX Carol

  2. Oh what a masterpiece from your scraps…..that is how the idea behind the Quilters of Gee’s Bend originated…from scraps. As is not to waste, as in to utilize…. Look at that creation!!!!!!….. How amazingly transformed were scraps! What a lesson. Thank you for sharing your incredible journey into an indelible part of our history and heritage. A master no less is Miss Pettaway, and to have experienced this person, is to be a part of this living history. So beautiful, Maria!

  3. I read this shortly before I went to bed, and then I had a dream about being at Gee’s Bend. I was there and MaryAnn was quilting, and my dream was full of scraps and vivid colors. It seemed very real, and when I woke up, I felt like I had been there.
    Looking forward to meeting you and Jon next week. I’ll email you a few days before coming.

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