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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Quilting Bee Hard

[This title was won the coveted award for World's Worst Quilting-Related Title. Thank you!]

Natalie Solent points us to a contest to find the World's Worst Quilt.

Frankly, some of these people are just showing off. This quilt, for example, won a consolation prize on some sort of technicality, although it looks perfectly fine to me. It's as if she's saying, "Look! This is my worst quilt! Ain't it beautiful?"

And, frankly, the Grand Prize Winner is less than impressively awful. After all, she did piece together all those little pinwheels, even if she didn't actually quilt them into the quilt.

Somewhere I have a quilt my mother made that could beat of those -- and many others -- hands-down. She made it, naturally, out of material left over from clothes, and thus it had an electic assortment of fabrics (no fake fur, though -- now that's impressive): there was some yellow satin, and red rayon(?) and some ugly dark purple felt-y stuff, and I think some dark purple rayon. The pieces are enormous and randomly-shaped, and machine-stitched together with more than one color of thread, using a weird stitch that looks like a fish's skeleton. I think the backing was originally a sheet -- striped mostly with different pinks, but also with blue and green and purple. She said the large random pieces were supposed to be reminiscent of stained glass.

And appliqu├ęd on the top is a brown corduroy basket of blue flowers. On top of "stained glass"? Mom only knows. I'd post a picture, but it's packed away somewhere.

It is, in short, one ugly-ass quilt.

But it's heavy and soooo waaaarm! When I lived in Sydney I had no central heat -- Sydney is surprisingly cold in the winter, without central heat -- and I was very glad of that quilt.

And that's the primary point of a quilt, to put on your bed and keep you warm. The secondary point is thrift -- to find a use for leftover scraps of fabric. Because paw cain't hitch up the team and drive the five miles into town to buy that fancy dollar-a-bolt stuff every year missy! Beauty is a tertiary function of the quilt, and one that can be dispensed with if necessary. I don't understand people who make quilts out of new fabric and then hang 'em on the wall. On the wall!

Which I believe my stepmother does. So maybe I better shut up about that.

When I was little my sister and I used to sit in bed with my stepdad's mother and she'd tell us where all the little squares of fabric came from: "This was a dress of Aunt Susan's -- she wore that the day she started school. And that was a shirt of your dad's; he tore it up climbing a tree, and I was so mad, because you know, we didn't have much money then. And this was from one of Grandpa's coats..." We loved that, loved to think of Dad and our aunt and uncles as little kids like us, long ago in the misty past.

Grandma eventually made me a quilt of my own, a pretty one in shades of light blue. Mom also made me a "proper" quilt (though maybe not up to those (sniff) quilters' standards), in purples. The backing is a piece of red-violet fabric with a "peasant" print (popular then, 25 or 30 years ago). I think it's pretty. It contains, among other things, bits of my sister's fuzzy housecoat.

But at least there are no breadwrappers (note, in the close-up, how the quilter has quilted a turkey-shaped line around each of the turkeys in this turkey). No stuffed blue jean butts, either. (Though I admit that was the sort of thing that went into your more "arty" quilts, back in the day.) Surely either of those is actually the World's Worst Quilt.