Catherine Somerville
Britchy Quilt
Aliceville, Alabama

International Quilt Museum

Robert and Helen Cargo Collection, 2000.004.0116

Rural women in various geographic enclaves have made quilts out of worn work trousers. In the Deep South, where Catherine Somerville lived, they called them “britchy” quilts. In the twenty-first century, these improvisational quilts have gained fame and recognition as hallmarks of African American quiltmaking, although women of all races made similarly bold scrap quilts with recycled clothing. According to the census, in 1940, Somerville (1910-1991), a Black woman, lived with her mother Henretti in a rural, unincorporated crossroads called Spring Hill, outside of Pickinsville, Alabama, and was listed as a farm laborer.