running smack dab into ugly

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I stole that title from the blog post I’m going to talk about. You know I like scrap quilts if you have read most of my blog posts here. There’s just something about the interplay of the colors and values, and I enjoy imagining where the fabrics came from. What is the story of the quilt? Even though I have made several, I’m not always happy with the colors in my own scrap quilts. I’m getting better, but I have a way to go yet. I’ve learned that smaller pieces are better. I like a quote I read at Bonnie Hunter’s blog (Bonnie will be our 2014 seminar national teacher) “If it’s still ugly, you haven’t cut it small enough.” Truly random placement of the colors works better for me than attempting to have a plan. (Very hard to do for a retired math teacher!) Lots of textures-plaids, strips, polka dots, florals- also helps with the overall appeal. Kind of like making minestroneā€“just look in the frig and find more to add to the basic stock. The soup will be delicious…and your quilt with all of its colors and textures will be great.

This blog post about the author’s own scrap quilt rang a bell with me. I too have found that scrap quilts get better looking as you add more and more variety to the pieces. At the start they are just plain ugly. I’m going to guess that many quilters who have begun scrap quilts and quit after a few blocks or rows, just quit too soon. If there is the beginning of a scrap quilt in your UFO stash, how about dragging it out and continuing to add to it now and then this year? If you quit too soon, add more to it. If your pieces are too big, how about slashing it? Or something like the disappearing 9 patch technique? Maybe by the end of the year, when it is a true chronicle of your quilting projects, you’ll be happier with it. I also have found that when I’m all done with the binding, a good wash and dry in the dryer to give it that soft crumply “old quilt feel” does wonders for scrap quilts. Worse case? You’ve made a quilt for charity. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “running smack dab into ugly

  1. Patti MacKinnon

    I am making a pinwheel quilt with “other half house”parts of a hexagon, using Inklingo for the majority of it. Every pinwheel’s six other half house pieces are the same print, and every pinwheel will be unique in the top. I had one piece of butt ugly fabric that someone must have ditched on me that I used because of the fact that I could fussy cut the pieces to end up with six different pinwheels that dont even look related. It had jacobean style chickens on it, and I have pinwheels with only chicken feet, only chicken breastplates, only chicken heads, chicken wings, and, a couple of different flowers. I must say that cutting the pieces down as small as they were sure improved the looks of the fabric. I am still waiting to see who owns up to having blessed me with it.

    • Mary Ellen

      I’m not familiar with “other half house” terminology. Intriguing-can you enlighten me? I make many hexagonal pieces for projects, perhaps I can do something new with my leftovers.

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