30 years ago, Georgia Bonesteel and Mary Ellen Hopkins were arguably the talk of the quilt town. They were the go-to experts. Many quilters still have their books to this day, treasured above all others.
Mary Ellen Hopkins was the quilter who said there was no such thing as an ugly fabric. She said that using ugly fabrics in a quilt top helped show off the beautiful fabrics better. Many quilters took those words to heart and still live by those words. Many quilt groups and guilds have paid homage to Mary Ellen’s insight throughout time, creating challenges for their members or small groups to take an ugly piece of fabric and use it in a quilt top so as to show that it isn’t ugly anymore. The sum of all of the pieces…or piecers.
Except, there are ugly quilts. Ask anyone who’s made one! What it the world do you do with an ugly quilt?
This question was posed on a popular social media site and the responses were not as varied as you might expect. In fact, a number of quilters had the same answers. Here are a few responses to what a quilter does with an ugly quilt that they made:
1) Donate it.
2) End up liking it.
3) Kept it as a camping quilt.
4) Send it with a soldier when he serving overseas.
5) Put it in a dog’s bed.
6) Picnic rugs/blankets.
7) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so gift it, the recipient may love it.
8) Cut them up and re-purpose them for dog beds for the local animal shelter.
9) Cut them up and make quilted messenger bags out of them.
There are a number of websites devoted to using ugly quilts. The most notable is The Sleeping Bag Project (http://www.uglyquilts.org) which has instructions for turning an ugly quilt into a sleeping bag for the homeless. Many non-profit organizations, quilt guilds and individuals take something they feel is ugly and turn it into a much loved cover for a homeless person.
With so many beautiful fabrics on the market today, is hard to believe that someone would make an ugly quilt. Except they do. One instance could be where the chosen fabrics for a quilt look great in the quilt shop but do not play well together in a quilt top. Another could be that the quilter is unhappy with the way the quilt blocks were placed in the quilt.
For whatever reason, quilts can appear ugly to the person who made them. But there are wonderful ways to make use of an ugly quilt where others will find beauty and warmth regardless of a quilter’s opinion of their creation. Take a few minutes to research where you could donate ugly quilts in your neighborhood, community, city and beyond. Everyone deserves to have a quilted hug!