Friday, March 1, 2013

March Ugly Fabric Challenge

March is always a blah month for me. Here in Illinois the days are often gray this time of year. Can't really enjoy winter. We've had enough already. Spring has not yet arrived and it could be some time before it does. Sometimes we get a little snow but then it warms up just enough to make yucky slush and then the snow turns gray too. Too early to garden or shake off the winter clothes. I usually get a cold in March and want to spend more time reading on the couch. Mostly, I think of March as a "holding" month. The month just before spring explodes.

Gray days. A lot of waiting around, looking out the window, waiting for something to happen.
It's a very good time to make a quilt, however. And for the small quilt challenge this month I'd like to suggest something different - something that may perk you up a bit. I am suggesting that you make a quilt using some of those UGLY fabrics you have lying around, ones you thought you'd never use. Maybe you inherited them and can't bear to throw away fabric, even if you don't really like it. Perhaps they came as a surprise in a bundle or tucked in the middle of a scrap package. Maybe you bought them and then when you got home said "Why in the world did I buy this?? Did I forget to take off my sunglasses in the store?"

Don't yell at me -  you may love these prints but I do not and I don't know what to do with them.
I hardly ever buy fabrics I don't love. It's difficult for me to put ugly fabrics into a quilt I'm making - or even just fabrics that aren't necessarily ugly, just ones I don't especially like. If I don't like them then every time I look at the quilt my eye goes directly to those prints and reminds me that I should have used something different, something more pleasing. I can't help it.
Last year around this time I blogged about making a couple of quilts for one of our small quilt challenges using some "ugly" prints I picked up in a package at a quilt show. (Pretty ones were on top, ugly ones tucked underneath. Surprise!) I felt like grabbing my scissors and cutting them up into miniscule pieces and destroyng them right then and there. What quilt could I possibly ever make with some of these?? I don't care for green, brown and yellow.


These are a little more interesting but I would never buy them. Wait, I did . . . .
Here's what I wrote then and it still stands: "Please don't e-mail me to tell me that these are not ugly prints. You have your ugly prints and I am entitled to mine : ) They are "ugly" to me and I would not have bought any of them alone. They came in a packet of pre-cut squares with a lot of really pretty squares and I am trying to make the best of them, LOL. Perhaps an Ugly Quilt challenge someday?" 
Ladies, that day is here.
Last year I paired my ugly prints with some pretty ones. Not too bad.
After I mixed those prints with some pretty ones, and worked those pieces into the quilts, I was very pleased with the way they turned out. I think some of you can really have fun with this the way I did. I will say it again, lest I offend anyone  - okay, not all of the prints are necessarily "ugly," they just do not appeal to me in the same way other prints do. Yet I found that when I mixed these ugly prints with  my "lovely" prints the result was great. You see this in antique quilts all the time and I have to get used to doing this more, learning to like my quilts made with prints that don't appeal to me at first. I will never LOVE some of these prints, but I think I can do them justice by using them in a quilt that I will actually come to like.

This was a lot of fun and forced me to go "outside my box" a bit. Now it's your turn.

I added tan setting squares to separate the busy blocks and this is what it all turned into - a not-so-ugly quilt! That post mentioned above from last year also had some advice on how to choose borders for your quilts.

So, this is the challenge for March -  make a small quilt using half-square triangles and some of your ugly fabric. Those in my Yahoo group will be making either the Scrappy Triangles Quilt from the free pattern on my website or the Strippy Triangles quilt in my book American Doll Quilts. (The pattern for this quilt is also in the new Martingale & Co. book  101 Fabulous Small Quilts.) Or you can make it look like the quilt above, with Broken Dishes blocks.

(From American Doll Quilts. Photo by Brent Kane. Doll designed by Gail Wilson)

You may also like this little quilt I saw on eBay . I thought it was very similar to that  free pattern on my website. It also has some ugly prints but the whole effect is very cute I think. Make your quilt with or without the borders. Mix it up with pretty fabric if you're like me and just cannot do it solely with prints you don't like. Use as many ugly prints as you are comfortable with. Make it larger and turn it into a table runner if you like.  Add some applique or strips between the rows. Be creative. And remember, you're doing a good thing by rescuing those ugly fabrics from certain destruction. I carry my scissors with me when I visit guilds and would be happy to help you decide. If you really really don't like how it turns out when you're finished, you can always give it away to that person who complains that you NEVER make her anything . . . .
Cute or Ugly?
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Little Sweethearts runner kit update: The fabric I ordered for the kits is still not here due to some weather difficulties and problems with UPS deliveries. So I have not been able to start putting together the kits yet. I know you're anxious to receive them. I appreciate all of your orders and will work hard to get them out to you soon. Again, thanks for your patience.  


Lynda (Granny K) said...

This is uncanny! Only last night I turned 2 of those 5" squares into HSTs with the intention of starting a broken dishes quilt. Most of the fabrics I like very much but some of them 'got put to one side'! I can see i'm going to have fun!

Heartsdesire said...

It really is amazing how the ugly prints, when paired with pretty prints, look great in the quilt. I have a number of ugly prints that I've put away in a box, but I think it's time to haul them out and make something. This is going to be fun. And your quilt looks lovely.

Betty Lou said...

Looking forward to this project; maybe it will prove the point that there are no ugly quilts.

Susannah said...

May have to try this, Kathy. I have some "uglies" that need to be used! BTW, I absolutely love your blog.


Jans said...

I love the ugly fabric quilt.
Time to look for my ugly fabrics.
I think everyone will have a little bit of those fabrics.
Thank you for the inspiration.
Greetings from Janny S.

Anonymous said...

I vote "CUTE"
Julia D

Anonymous said...

This is a great challenge! I shall dive into my uglies this afternoon. Your broken dishes quilt is definitely CUTE!

Saskia Smit said...

So the challenge is ugly. I think I can handle that. time to dive...

Mimi said...

Cute! I really like it a lot.

Petal49 said...

Not sure if I have any 'uglies', maybe 'semi-ugly'! The challenge is one I accept.

The Mayo Family said...

Oh how funny...I am not the only one that sees March as a time of getting to the next point! :)
You know this March finds me awaiting my hubby to heal from surgery, we are at 2 weeks so I had a big dream that soon he will be better and we can sew, go to fabric stores ha...oh I mean spend time on getting him out! Smile...
gotta do what you must to help in the recovery process!
I am not sure I will have too much time yet but start looking for some uglies!
I love your blog & your mini's used to make many then spent lots of only Mothering years now they are old enough to sew with me..........Yea! We love to sew!
Lori from Wisconsin

Anonymous said...

I vote for cute....but I have some of the "ugly" fabrics in my own stash and they are some of my favorite fabrics. The back ground fabric is the key however...a great neutral. This is an interesting challenge and a good one for me since I do have some really ugly fabrics in my book.

Purl Buttons said...

I love most of my fabric yet some was SO ugly it would have qualified but the prints were HUGE. I had to go out to buy fabric because one of my guilds is doing a crayola challenge. The crayon I drew turned out to be my least favorite color so I got to go shopping! I had none in my stash. Too bad. I think your little challenge will make my new ugly fabric cute.

Pam in IL said...

Yep, you pretty much describe March in Illinois the same way I do, lol.

I have my ugly fabrics hidden in a box pushed all the way to the back of the storage closet in my sewing room. I just might to dig that box out :-)

Anonymous said...

I was inspired by many scrap quilts on blogs in recent months, made from 2 and a half inch squares from ugly fabrics from stash. With names like Draino Quilt and Scrap Vomit Quilt and Scrappy Tripalong, the descriptions often talked about using up your ugly fabrics. But I noticed that the pictured quilts were often nicely coordinated, and some quilters used brand new designer fat quarter bundles, not stash.

I decided to go all out with ugly to see what happened. I pulled 48 ugly fabrics from my stash bins of fat quarters. They were absolutely the ugliest random fabrics individually, and they certainly didn't go together. A metallic light blue, a neon solid orange, a weird floral from the 1980s, etc. Yuck.

I cut each into 48 squares and sewed them into a zig zag pattern, using 6 squares of the same fabric for each zig (up) or zag (down). It took me 2 months to piece, and it looked ugly the entire time. Until the whole quilt top was pieced, an enormous 96 inches square, and I spread it out on the living room floor.

I was SO surprised. It looks fabulous and I can't wait to baste and quilt it!

Give your ugly fabrics a chance!

-Ann in CA

Carin said...

I think its very cute with the "ugly" fabrics :-)

Karen said...

This is perfect timing. Like a PP, I'm also doing that scrappy trip along quilt using my ugly old fabrics. I have lots of old fabrics pulled out now so I can just continue to use them up. It's amazing how when you cut up big bold prints into small pieces, they look fine in a quilt! And I think your wee quilt is very cute; not ugly at all!

Ingrid said...

I vote cute! You have a way with combining fabric and designs, that can make even less desirable fabric look appealing. And I love the scrappy triangle quilt from American Doll Quilts, featured in this post, that you gave me for my 60th birthday!

Bertie said...

It' wonderful that even "ugly" fabrics make a wonderful quilt! Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder;)