“UGLY FABRIC” (what should I do with it?)

“UGLY FABRIC” (what should I do with it?)

Most of us quilters have come up against the problem of “ugly fabric” (what should I do with it?) After all, it followed me home.

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.

clip art - quilt block

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.

What to do with ugly fabric:

  1. Over-dye it which for me 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.
  2. Mix it with a lot of other scraps in a quilt and it won’t stand out.
  3. Donate it (Goodwill, art class at the school, 4-H, or the animal shelter for bedding, etc.).
  4. Trade it because someone else will probably love it and he/she has a chunk of fabric you just love.
  5. Sell it because you can use that money to buy a piece of fabric you like.
  6. 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.

clip art - bolts of fabric and scissors

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 it was my honest opinion.

Ugly fabric is useable:

The point is not that the fabric 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.

Pioneer woman sitting on porch with quilt top

Some ideas for ugly fabric:



10 thoughts on ““UGLY FABRIC” (what should I do with it?)

  1. I love your attitude about ugly fabric. We quilters sure do end up with some of it in our stash. Thanks for the great ideas of what to do with it.

    1. Aw yes, that ugly fabric sure can end up in our stash. It is such a good thing we all have different ideas of what “ugly” is. Happy quilting.

  2. Greetings from Ohio! I decided to browse your site on my during lunch break.

    I love this blog. So many great ideas, tips, and designs. There is just so much here. I am not really a beginning quilter, but I don’t consider myself an expert either – somewhere in between. I have done several applique wall hangings this year so far, and now want to do some fast and easy pieced quilts.

    And then I saw this post about ugly fabrics – boy do I have some. I inherited a lot of fabric from an elderly relative and some of it is just yuck 🙁 So I am going to try a couple of the things you talk about on this post to help get rid of this stuff.

    1. Sometimes I wonder what possesses fabric designers to design some of the hideous fabrics that are out there. Then I have to stop and tell myself that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and move on. Hopefully you will be able to use some of the ideas here to get rid of what you consider “ugly”.

      Thanks for reading this quilting blog. Happy quilting.

  3. I recently cleaned out and reorganized my fabric stash.

    Ish….the ugly fabrics are really ugly. Of course, I checked your quilt blog to see what ideas you had. I decided to donate it to the local animal shelter for bedding – I can’t in good conscience try to give this to someone who might feel it necessary to use it.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    1. Thank you for being one of my faithful blog readers.

      Sometimes ugly fabric is…well really ugly. How did it even get in the front door is a question I have asked myself several times?? So glad you have found another use for it. Donating fabric to places that can use it is always a good thing.

      Happy quilting.

  4. What a fun post. I have cleaned out the fabric closet and was wondering what to do with some of the ugly fabric there. Great suggestions.

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