My Ugly Quilts

We have two quilts that I patch up in the summer so that they can be used and abused all through the winter. It's really a survival technique. I realized this year that the personality of the quilts has been changing with time, and stains. I want to start documenting these quilts as they accumulate patches.

There are a multitude of reasons why I have to keep patching these quilts. The first is that I was very poor so I didn't have money for fabric. I bought whatever was at the thrift store or was given to me. I didn't know anything about fabrics really except that there is a difference between woven and knit and that I needed to use woven. And so I learned that there are just some fabrics that aren't cut out for quilting and lots of wear and tear.

The other thing I had going against me is that I tied both of these quilts because I didn't want to hand quilt them. These are also quilts that I throw in the washer and drier. So the ties broke down over time and the fabric shifted a lot leading to popped seams. They were also not tied close enough together. I also didn't know the wonders of a rotary cutter and cutting on grain. Needless to say I've learned a lot since making them.

Ugly Quilt #1 is my first quilt. I used handkerchiefs, upholstry samples, my old jeans, unfinished quilt blocks from yard sales, anything that I could get a hold of. Inspired by Tracy Emin, I thought, "I'm broke. I need a blanket. I might as well make something cool looking."

 Ugly Side

Ugly Side

I have to share this story because Barb is my guardian angel. I worked with her at a family owned department store. I told her that I wanted to make a quilt but that I didn't own a machine so that I was just gonna hand piece it. She let me borrow a book on crazy quilting and then one day she showed up with a brand new Brother machine in a box. Said that she had bought it for quilting while they toured the country in their camper. She let me use it until the season started. I gave her my info but I never got hers. Soon after my car died so I had to quit because the weather was too bad to walk so far.  I kept all the parts of that machine together, taking really good care of it, saving the plastic bags, expecting her to contact me and ask for the machine back. She never did.

To this day I don't know if she gave that machine to me or I stole it. I made four quilts on it, at least a dozen sculptures,  and both of my roommates made quilts on it. I had that machine for over five years. If you are out there Barb. Thank you! You have no idea what that machine has meant to me.

So back to Ugly Quilt #1. I didn't know how to sew a binding. They looked complicated and I didn't have an actual person to show me. I did what I knew I could do. I sewed it right sides together and flipped the whole thing inside out and then did a blanket stitch across one end. I didn't think my sewing machine could make it through all those layers. I used a blanket stitch out of embroidery floss to finish it. Not the best idea.

This year the seam finally busted so bad that I pulled it apart. Turns out that I had made the ugly side too long and had folded a good deal of fabric inside. I pulled it out flipped it over the edge and used a straight stitch to sew the whole thing closed. Not the neatest looking thing but it's triage. You can barely see it on the edge of the quilt look for yellow fabric.

 Pretty Side

Pretty Side

This is what my husband calls "the pornographic man fabric" that my mom sent me. I've started stitching jokes into this quilt. If you can see, every time I have to patch this quilt I am sewing the patch on and quilting right through the quilt at the same time. I've got more popped seams on the other quilt so it's more apparent on the back. This will help with the integrity of the quilt with out me having to sit down for ages and quilt the whole thing by hand. You ask "Why don't you just machine quilt it". The problem with that is that it has shifted all over the place, there's all kinds of warping and bunching that machine quilting it would just be a nightmare. Or not work.

Ugly Quilt #2

 Pretty Side

Pretty Side

This one is prettier over all. I learned a bit so I didn't use anything but 100% cotton that felt about quilting cotton weight. Still didn't learn enough to bind it so I did that bean bag flipping nonsense. Never said I was brilliant. I tried to stick to a brown toned color palette and actually used my mother's rotary cutter to make the blocks. Everything is so much squarer. I also tied it. The ties broke and things shifted and I had a lot of popped seams that I've had to patch this year. Again I was quilting the patches all the way through the quilt.

The funniest thing I discovered that I fixed this year. One of the scraps I chose was 100% wool and so it shrank in the wash and puckered everything together. I wish I had gotten a picture of that. Don't ever do it! 

I'm a bit of a freak about making a pretty front and back. The problem is that it make quilting difficult. Now that I have so many quilted patches the back is starting to look a little cut up. The back of this quilt was actually the side I liked the best. The top is a little too busy for me.

 Owl side

Owl side

At least I can put them away till next year.