A “Housetop” quilt is a quilt built around a plain square in the middle or a scrap of other patchwork surrounded by strips forming lots of frames. There are many variations of a Housetop quilt, but this is the basic idea. The design leaves a lot of room for improvisational shapes, colors and fabrics.
Housetop designs were uncommon outside the Gee’s Bend community. They may have been originally inspired by central medallion quilts of the early nineteenth century.
Conceived broadly, the "Housetop" is an attitude, an approach toward form and construction. It begins with a medallion of solid cloth, or one of an endless number of pieced motifs, to anchor the quilt. After that, "Housetops" share the technique of joining rectangular strips of cloth so that the end of a strip's long side connects to one short side of a neighboring strip, eventually forming a kind of frame surrounding the central patch; increasingly larger frames or borders are added until a block is declared complete.