Most quilters (including me) have come up against the “ugly fabric” problem and now what should I do with it? After all, it followed me home.
First, it is just fine to describe a fabric as “ugly” – we are talking about an object. All of us have a different opinion of what we think of as beautiful vs. ugly fabric and there is no reason not to be honest. After all, if everyone liked the same colors and designs there would not be the selection of cloth that we currently have.
The fabric looked great at the store, or quilt show… but now that it is home, I wonder what possessed me to pay good money for that. And why did I think five yards would be enough? Am I losing my mind?
I have tried several ways of handling the “ugly fabric” issue in my own quilting world. So far, the two most used answers are cutting it up as small as possible or using it as the backing of a quilt (especially if I can donate it or give it away).
When I would complain to my grandmother about ugly fabric, she would smile big and tell me that I had “not cut it small enough”. Good point, and it generally does work.
However, there are a few other things I have also tried:
- Over-dye it which for me this is a hit and miss method. I have come out with a truly beautiful “new” fabric, and I have come out with something far worse than what I started with.
- Mix it with a lot of other scraps in a quilt and it won’t stand out.
- Donate it (Goodwill, art class at the school, 4-H, or the animal shelter for bedding, etc).
- Trade it because someone else will probably love it and he/she has a chunk of fabric you just love.
- Sell it because you can use that money to buy a piece of fabric you like.
- Make a simple pet bed for the local animal shelter. This is basically a pillow case that I keep on the cutting table and stuff with left over snippets of batting and fabric. When 2/3 full, I sew the open side shut and off to the shelter it goes. The shelter here cannot get enough of them.
No doubt other quilters have their own solutions to this dilemma, and I wish you would share them with the rest of us.
I remember years ago using a specific line of fabric to make a quilt. One of the fabrics was just too hideous (in my opinion) and when I brought the finished quilt back to the shop to show the ladies there, I said something about putting the ugliest fabric on the back. The owner was totally offended and made sure I knew it. My comment was thoughtless, but I am not going to lie.
Just remember my fellow quilters that the point is not that it is ugly, but that we find a way to use it. In the world of recycle, reuse, and re-purpose, fabric should be used. It has not been many years ago that nothing was thrown away because the item was too expensive or too hard to get to waste. We have so many choices today in the fabric world that we forget how hard it was for our predecessors to get nice fabric. So, let’s find a use for it, if only in honor of the quilters who came before us.
Some ideas for ugly fabric: