The beautiful improvised quilts of Susanna Allen Hunter

Don’t be fooled – while these quilts could be mistaken for modern abstract quilts, they were in fact made by the wife of an Alabama sharecropper, Susana Allen Hunter, between the period of 1930 and 1970. Susana’s quilts were made using an improvisational style that was popular among the poorer, more isolated pockets of the rural South of America – you may have seen similar quilts produced by the women of Gees Bend. Although all the women making these quilts were restricted by a lack of resources, they made good use of what they did have – such as old clothing, sacks and fabric scraps.

Susanna in 1960


The quilts weren’t for show – they were to be put to good use – and yet Susanna’s quilts were always strikingly playful and interestingly composed. Her quilts are testament to her keen eye for design and innate artistic sensibility – what was once produced by her out of necessity and practicality is now admired by others as the work of a truly gifted artist.



Have you ever sat down to start a quilt and found the whole design process – from what design you will make to your fabric choices – overwhelming? One thing that we can learn from Susanna is to not take things to seriously -trust your instincts – sometimes you just have to start a quilt and see where it takes you. Embrace your ability to work freely and loosely.

These quilts wouldn’t have the same charm if they were perfect grids, with all the seams dead straight. Things don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. We’re not saying you should be slap-dashing all your quilts together, but you need to know when to ease up on yourself. Maybe have a glass of wine – please stop at a bottle though! 😉





Is there any thing that you like – or dislike – about these quilts? We would love to hear from you.

All Images from this post from pinterest