I’ve heard the expression “uglier than a mud fence” often enough but I never thought I’d finish a quilt that fit that title. But here it is, The Ugly Quilt.
Two weeks ago, we taped a segment for Quilters Newsletter TV: the Quilters’ Community about my PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks). Watch for the segment to begin airing December 20. I showed this black-and-pink basket quilt as one of my PIGS and told Mary Kate the reason it was not completed was that I thought it was ugly. Here are a few of my reasons:
- The black fabric is not good fabric – it’s loosely woven and will probably wear out very quickly. This quilt is not one that can stand multiple washings.
- The pink fabric is the wrong shade of pink to coordinate with the flowers in the black fabric. I think it is way, way too bright but because it is polyester, I can’t hope for it to fade after several washings. It is going to stay that nasty bright pink forever.
- The whites are several different shades. It makes some of the blocks appear to be dirty. The back of the quilt is the bright pink polyester and it shows through in places.
Those are just the problems with the fabric.
Then there is the construction:
- The basket handles are not symmetrical.
- The setting triangles on the edge are not cut correctly so the entire edge of the quilt is bias. That in turn created a monster when the black border was added.
- The border is wavy and I can’t get it to lay smoothly for love nor money.
Now up until this point I take no credit – or blame. I inherited this unfinished quilt. The layers were pinned together but it was mostly unquilted.
So when I got a mid-arm quilting machine and needed to practice I got out the ugly quilt. And my quilting is pretty horrendous. It’s easy to tell it was my first attempt. In fact, the quilting is so bad that if it weren’t an ugly quilt, I’d tear it out and quilt it again. But it’s an ugly quilt so it got stuffed in the closet and there it stayed for years, literally.
Pretty much its only redeeming quality is that my mother-in-law started it and she was a lovely woman. It’s nice to think about her. But on the other hand, I don’t need a quilt to think about her and if I did, I have several other quilts that she started and I’ve finished that we really like. So why am I struggling with the ugly quilt?
When we were taping the PIGS episode, I told Mary Kate there were several projects that only needed an hour to be finished and the ugly quilt was one of them. And as a result of that comment, I determined I WOULD finish the ugly quilt.
I told my sister in an email last week, “I worked on the binding of Onie’s ugly pink-and-black basket quilt. It is such a mess. I’ll be really glad to get it done. Then as soon as I have it documented with photos showing that it is done, I’ll be donating it somewhere. It is too ugly to deserve a place in my house and I’d be ashamed to give it to anyone as a present. Ugh!”
To which she replied, “So, just cuz I’m curious. Why are you finishing Onie’s quilt if it’s so ugly? Why not just throw it away and spend your time making something pretty instead?”
I got to thinking about her comment. Why was I finishing the quilt? I brought it back to work to show the rest of the QN team to get their ideas. And I did get some great suggestions – Kath suggested cutting it up and putting it with other fabrics and blocks to tone it down. Susan suggested some fun applique to cover up and draw attention away from the ugliness. Then we started making jokes about what we could do with it. We came up with several good ideas: a tent for a granddaughter, a bed for the dog, cut it up for potholders, and so on. We had a good time laughing at the ugliness.
I took it back home with me Friday and washed it, hoping the colors would run and I’d have another excuse to ditch it. The colors didn’t run. Of course not.
Then I did what I should have done a long time ago. I asked my husband what he wanted me to do with it. He totally agrees the quilt is ugly. But he didn’t want me to give it away or to throw it away. He suggested a bed for our dog, Coco. She’s little and she is allowed on the furniture so I finished binding the quilt and we put it on the loveseat for a photo.
But it couldn’t even stay there. Too much of the ugliness was still showing. That pink just hits me in the face. Later in the evening, I folded it in sixths and put it in a small chair. It was just the right size to cover the cushion. I think the ugly quilt has found its place. And someplace along the line, its name became The Ugly Quilt.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you have an unfinished ugly quilt hiding out in your closet? I know I’m delighted that I can go home this evening and sew on something I like. The Ugly Quilt is done and I can move on.
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