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Stories from Our Community

Luke holds his hand made quilt
Luke holds his hand made quilt

Who, What, Why: Luke Godsey’s Appalachian quilt

The quilt, which goes on view April 12, is part of a new art series at the Penn Women’s Center.


It was in high school that Luke Godsey first learned how to quilt. “I actually was taught by my dad’s girlfriend,” Godsey says. “She had all this scrap fabric and was like, ‘Hey, do you want to learn how to quilt?’” Originally from Somerset, Kentucky, where quilting still has a robust—albeit aging—culture, Godsey worked on community quilting projects with friends or at church.

“There was a really nice process, because we would just sit and talk and quilt,” Godsey says. “It’s fun and it’s a really good emotional release; it can get your frustration out in a healthy way. When I was frustrated about school, I could sew and get mad at the sewing machine instead of bottling it up.”


Godsey still has that first quilt and uses it at Penn. Now a second-year student studying linguistics, Godsey continues to quilt. 

Godsey’s latest project is a quilt commissioned by the Penn Women’s Center where Godsey also works. Godsey sewed 5-by-5-inch square scraps of fabric pieced together in blocks. The multicolored quilt is made of 20 blocks with each block containing five squares of one pattern and four squares of another.

That’s just the quilt top, notes Godsey. Underneath is a soft in-between layer, called batting. Godsey is using fusible batting, which is ironed into the top and the backing. Then, Godsey sews it all together, using a technique called “stitch in the ditch.”

“You sew vertically into every line and then you sew horizontally into every line, so it makes a grid on the back,” Godsey says. “That’s called ‘stitch in the ditch’ because it’s supposed to be hard to see the top stitch, because it’s in the crease of the other ones.”

The quilt is part of a new art series at Penn Women’s Center and will be unveiled at the Center on Friday, April 12 with a reception and artist’s conversation from 4 to 6 p.m.


This work is Godsey’s first commission. “I’ve always been wanting to do a quilt for the center, just to make it feel like more like a home,” Godsey says.

“It also truly is a connection to back home, because by car, I’m about 12 hours away,” Godsey says. “When I came to Philly, I felt like I lost community,” Godsey says. “I was looking for a place to build community and learn about other people.”

Appalachia has his own unique culture, Godsey says, very different from that of Penn and Philadelphia. Godsey is also one of the few students from Kentucky on campus. “It’s that immediate isolation from home,” Godsey says. “The process of making this quilt has been really cathartic, to work through finding my identity—and also to hold on to my identity in a new place.”