Ugly — yes I said ugly!

Those of you who find it so offensive must be much better quilters than I am to have never made or called a quilt ugly.

Of course, I realized there would be those people out there who would find offense where none was intended so no I’m not surprised at some of the feedback but it’s nice that most of my readers felt able to agree or disagree with my opinion without being offended or offensive.

After all, I never suggested that people shouldn’t make the quilts if they like them.

So let me share with you a couple of my ugly quilts. This first one made early in my quilting career. It’s actually titled The Ugly Quilt in my book! Seriously, the title is even typed.

Funny but it was won in a raffle by an elderly relative who hung it up in her room at the assisted living facility. Her family even had her portrait taken with it as a backdrop when she turned 90. Did I think it was ugly? Yes! Did I call it ugly? Yes! Did they think it was special? Yes!

And as far as string quilts go — I can’t tell you how many people tell me they think they are ugly — it doesn’t offend me because I like them anyway. Here’s a photo of the one I made for our bed — Keith doesn’t care for it and my sister flat out told me it was ugly but I love it so that’s what counts!

So go make the quilts you want to make but admit it, we’ve all made ugly quilts!

28 thoughts on “Ugly — yes I said ugly!

  1. Pat C in Washington

    The first quilt I ever made, in 1971, is machine-pieced squares of cotton, terry cloth, polyester, twill, wool challis and I don’t know what all. The backing is fire engine red twill, left over from when my mom made sleeping bags for us 4 kids. The “batting” was a mattress pad and some raggedy towels. It is hideous on a grand scale and is kept up at the family beach cabin. It’s the one quilt that is OK for the kids to take out to the beach and lay it on the sand without the aunties yelling at them.

  2. debrak

    Grandma always said that there is a lid out there for every pot, no matter how dented. Perhaps there is a quilt out here for every bed no matter how ugly 😉

    I too am glad the conversation stayed polite and fun. Life’s to short to get disturbed over what is pretty and what isn’t, at least in the quilting world.

  3. Brenda in Namibia

    Just as scrap quilts need the “ugly” pieces to make the pretty ones shine more brightly so in the quilt world, the “ugly” quilts make us appreciate the downright gorgeous ones just that bit more. But they all keep us warm just the same :0

  4. Peggy

    I have a few uglies to my credit. I also make hand woven baskets. I had someone tell me “you can’t make an ugly basket”. I beg to differ, and said “Oh yes you can”! Same goes for any thing you do. Do all your meals turn out to perfection? Thanks for the topic, now we’ve all had our say. Love your site.

  5. Tina

    I made a scrap quilt using a bit of almost everything in my stash. I named it “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” because that is what it contained. We’re not afraid to call certain older fabrics ugly. Hoo boy, but don’t dare call any modern fabric ugly! I agree with you about the jelly roll race. I like the concept of them and thought it would be fun to make one, but then I saw some. It looks like a waste of a good jelly roll to me. There are other speedy patterns that are more effective.

  6. Linda in TX

    Love your posts Mary. And not only have I made more than one ugly quilt, I’m sure I’ll make more. Never on purpose – they just seem to evolve out of a really good idea (my ugliest was called “Christmas Vomit” and a friend took it and just loves it). Yes – I think the jelly roll races are ugly so I’m not making one. But as you said, somebody somewhere will like them.

  7. Patty

    People just need to be much less sensitive! My aunt used to call some quilts Fugly! you and can guess what the f stands for can’t you? yes, there are some ugly quilts out there and I have even made one or two. :^)

  8. Connie

    I have a few uglies but I don’t mind….heck I even keep making a few. I just finished pinning a jelly roll race quilt (that I pieced last fall) and it is ugly but will be a great serviceable quilt. Have fun!

  9. Deb Levy

    Taste is as varied as individuals are, one person’e trash is another’s treasure. Same with quilts or any form of art, what appeals to one may not to the next person.

    Personally, I think it’s wonderful we all don’t think alike…the world would be awfully boring if we did, or if we all made the same type of quilt…that variety is what makes it all wonderful.

    I have made my share of ugly quilts, and I’m sure I’ll make more before I leave this world. But I learn something from each one.

    And yes, I still think that string quilt on your bed is ugly 🙂

  10. Marilyn

    I love both of the quilts in the pictures. But I have made one ugly quilt because the fabrics were from the 80’s mauve/blue country looking, just not my style, but someone out there without anything was happy to have a warm quilt to wrap up in when it was finished.

  11. Kathy

    One of my quilt bees has done a couple of Ugly Challenges, which were a lot of fun. Oddly enough, although we used some hideously ugly fabrics, the quilts turned out great! One of my favorite quilts is one I made using a huge collection of Uglies from an Ugly Lovers swap with an internet quilting group. It’s definitely not a quilt I think of as pretty, but it certainly has one of the best histories!

    Nothing ugly about the quilt on your bed. It’s a happy quilt!

  12. Margie

    I have made lots of ugly quilts. When I give quilts to my family they are designated as “picnic” or “I’ll haunt you forever if you let the dog sleep on this.” There are lots of quilts I would never consider making. Not because I think they are ugly but they just don’t please me. I thought blended quilts were a huge waste of time and fabric. Sometimes I would like to give all my stash away and start over with fresh new stuff. That’s not going to happen and I like scrappy quilts.

  13. Cyndi Holguin

    I have made some UGLY quilts that others said were Beautiful. I often wonder if they were pulling my leg and were just saying that to please me. Hmmm I thought they were ugly. But like they say ” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” 😀 Happy quilting everyone.

  14. Joanne

    LOL — nothing like starting a controversy! You go girl! Seriously, my house is on the market and I find myself decorating it to sell, not how I really want to decorate it. I had someone say they thought the living room was too dark, so I moved the lamp I love to the basement and put one in its spot that gives off more light. I can’t wait to sell so I can have the things I love where I want them. I don’t care if people think my stuff is ugly!

  15. selina

    The ugliest quilt i ever attemped on purpose turned out to be lovely. It was a request of a relative to make her a yellow and orange quilt. My brain said no matter what I did it would be ugly. Not exactly colors I would choose for a quilt on there own. It was my first attempt at a sting quilt and when it was done it was like haveing a sunny day inside. She lvoed it and I actually liked it a lot. Then there was the scrap quilt I made that I knew would be terrific and it looked like the end of a bad storm. No one could have told me that a quilt with lots of red and black could look bad but this one had nightmare qualities. You just never know.

    On the other hand I love your bed quilt it is bright and cheery. you just know you had to have gooten up on the right side of the bed and your day should be terrific.

  16. Elaine Adair

    Nope – I never made an ugly quilt – ALL of mine I think were nice, pretty, gorgeous. One was a “Pig” quilt that was close to the edge, but the recipient asked for “Pigs” so that’s what she got. I think having then DONE made them much more than “ugly”. Not everyone would agree, but I love them all. I names one of mine “the homely quilt” and I’ve had more positive comments on it than any of my others so … ya jes never know!

    BTW, I LOVE that last string quilt!!! I’ll bet it’s all crinkly and cozy and snuggly. and THAT’s what makes them lovable. 😎

  17. Cindy in NC

    Like you, Mary, I don’t like JRR quilts, but I never understood why. After all, they resemble string quilts which I love. They are also simple, and at this point in my quilting journey that’s all I can handle. Your post made me think, and I realized I don’t like these quilts because I don’t like stripes. I don’t own a single piece of striped clothing or fabric. I’ve never used painter’s tape to create stripes on a wall. I don’t want q quilt that looks striped.

    I was sorry to read another blogger’s post taking offense with your opinion. I was afraid another “Dumbing Down of Quilting” blog war would start. The blogger who started that mess was, in my opinion, cranky and mean-spirited. You were clear that you were simply stating an opinion and asking what others thought — not demanding that they follow your lead. I know that when I dislike something that everyone else seems to love I wonder why. I’m still trying to figure out if I was the only person in America back in the 80’s who didn’t care for “The Cosby Show.”

    Please keep on sharing your opinions in your wonderful non-judgmental way. Doing so helps us understand ourselves.

  18. Pam in KC

    “ugly” is definitely in the eye of the viewer. I’ve made a couple of “ugly in my mind” quilts and have had other people drool over them.

  19. Melanie

    Go Mary! I have seen ugly quilts and I have made ugly quilts. I think it is simply one of the results we get from being creative – not every idea turns out like we expect. I made quilts for a couple of my son’s best friends for their high school graduation, made the mistake of asking what their favorite colours were. One wanted an orange and green quilt (feel free to gasp in horror) I used batiks in those colours, a pattern that created a 3D kind of effect and everything turned out perfectly. Perfectly ugly! Should have thrown in some red and called it an abstract interpretation of a deer hunt! That sucker was queen sized too.
    I would never tell a quilter that the specific quilt they made is ugly, that would feel mean to me, but I certainly don’t see the problem with calling an idea or fad ugly. I also wish that people would realize that just because someone expresses an opinion that differs from theirs does not mean they’ve been personally attacked.

  20. Mary Jo

    My grandmother always said that beauty was in the eye of the beholder. Thank heavens that we don’t all have the same taste! How boring our world would be if everything was beautiful and perfect.
    Enjoy your opinion no matter what others think!

  21. Anne Simonot

    “Christmas Vomit” just made me giggle. I’m still giggling – and I agree, for the price of a jelly roll, it seems like a bit of a waste not to make something a little more thought out, planned, or just plain “nicer” with it? I haven’t purchased a jelly roll yet, but when I do, it’s going to go into something special!

  22. Tracy

    yes, I have made ugly quilts. I kept the two I made that were less than ideal. If it weren’t for the less than ideal ones I would own any. I tend to give the nicer ones away.

  23. Jean

    Well I don’t care what anyone says, I LIKE the string quilts..and yes I’ve made the U*** quilt

  24. Barbara B

    Back in 2002, I called some quilts ugly on a popular quilting message board. It got me kicked off the message board and banned from the yearly retreat. I now keep my opinions to myself (well, most of the time)

  25. Julia

    Yes, I have made ugly quilts! And yes, I have seen some very ugly quilts that I didn’t make! But, different ideas and opinions is what makes us all unique. What a boring world it would be if we each had the same opinion. Thanks for your honesty, that is one of the reasons I love your blog!

  26. Linda P in IL

    What a fun way to wake up a hot summer night!
    My ugly quilt was a kit from a retreat..I had my choice of blue or black…I chose black… was black, peachy and beige…blaaa
    It was a great pattern and fun to make, it was the first full size quilt I had made..but the colors, oh my…I called it the “Chicken Liver Quilt” and donated it to a fundraising auction..hey loved it. go figure.

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