SEPTEMBER 15-18, 2022

At the Searsport Shores Ocean Campground.

Gee's Bend: Do It Your Way!

The quilters of Gee's Bend return to Searsport.
Join acclaimed Gee’s Bend quilters Miss Stella Mae and Miss China Pettway to design and piece an original, free-form quilt.

This will be the third time we’ve welcomed Miss Stella Mae and Miss China Pettway to Searsport Shores and if past visits are anything to go by, it will be an extraordinary event. Given how tightly woven together sewing and music traditions have always been, we decided it would make perfect sense to time this year’s workshop to coincide with our annual Strung Together Music Campout. So whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced quilter, we invite you to immerse yourself in a unique, quilting retreat with an open invitation to join in song, story, and music-making.

Gees Bend Class Picture

Learn the UNIQUE quilting style of the Deep South

This will be a free-flowing, unstructured workshop, with an emphasis on inspiration, individual creativity, and being part of a community. There will be no formal teaching and instead of focusing on one or two specific designs  - such as Housetop or Bricklayer - everyone will be encouraged to work independently on their own individual project. You will get plenty of one-on-one instructional time with Miss China Pettway and Miss Stella Mae who will guide you at your own pace and skill level. By sharing their workspace you will also learn by observing firsthand the techniques that they prefer. And one of the pleasures of working in a group is, of course, sharing your ideas and struggles with passionate fellow quilters! It's most likely you will want to use a sewing machine but if you prefer to hand piece and hand quilt, our beautiful oceanfront campground will enable you to sit at the beach or in the garden while you stitch. You can reasonably anticipate completing some quilt squares or a quilt top, and you may even find you have time to begin quilting.

General Weekend Schedule

Registration...just the bare details

  • Three days of instructor-led, immersive learning limited to a group of 18 per class:  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
  • Welcome celebration on Thursday Bonus start on Thursday afternoon if you can make it.
  • Farm-to-table meals on Friday and Saturday
  • Breakfast and a light brunch on Sunday with a curated shopping experience
  • Special activities with a spotlight on Botanical Printing on both paper and vintage fabrics (bring your own well, washed natural fiber fabrics)
  • Live musical performance

The cost for each workshop is US$980.00 per person.

The Gee's Bend story

The abstract, almost improvisational quilt designs of Gee’s Bend originated in the isolated, rural communities of 19th century Boykin, Alabama, and represent a stunning development in quilt design. Enslaved women pieced together scraps of fabric and worn clothing out of necessity rather than the desire to make art,  but their designs - like jazz riffs and gospel tunes - drew on a rich cultural heritage that introduced something completely new to existing forms of expression. The unique patterns and piecing style were passed down over generations and in 1966, during the Civil Rights movement, the Freedom Quilting Bee was set up as a means for African American women from Gee’s Bend and nearby Rohoboth to gain economic independence. The collective began selling the quilts throughout the US, and these local designs finally gained the recognition and acclaim they enjoy today. This enterprise is still thriving and Miss Stella Mae and Miss China Pettway will be bringing pieces of their work and the work of others from the collective that is available for sale (payments go directly to them).

Come ready to learn, celebrate, and create! September 15-18, 2022.

What to bring?

Sewing machine, basic sewing supplies, fabric for the project you will work on, and if you'd like, fabric to donate to the “Share Table”. We will have multiple ironing stations located around the room for everyone to use. You will want to bring extension cords, surge protectors, a favorite chair if you have one you're partial to, quilts and projects for show and tell, books for Misses Stella Mae and China to sign. 

Background Information: