How Not To Like Your Own Patchwork Quilts

Worse Quilts Than Yours? You Betcha!

Whenever you make a quilt that you are not happy with, stop and think about:Book Ami Simms

  • whether your expectations are too high
  • whether it looks good when it’s where it lives
  • whether others think it’s great

Sometimes we need to be kind to ourselves

As you make more and more quilts, your skill will improve and you will become less critical of yourself.

Today you are as good as you are now. Tomorrow you will improve, but you will still only be as good as you are that day. Look back at some of your earlier samples, or quilts, and then see the latest quilt as better than you first thought.

Hexagons Flutter By pic

Hexagons Flutter By

I have a box in my studio labelled ‘Experiments’. In it lie some really hideous attempts at patchwork blocks or techniques.

I also have some early quilts like this one, which have been admired much by others, but that I know inside myself are not too well done.

How Not To Be Critical Of Your Quilts

Ami and her dog

Ami Simms writes quilting books and I have a couple.

When she wrote “How Not To Make A Prize-Winning Quilt” it was the best fun ever to read. Born out of that, The Worst Quilt In The World Contest ran for a few years and was responsible for uplifting some quilt makers who didn’t make the winners’ circle because there were worse quilts than theirs.

Some Of The Chapter Titles:

  • Don’t Worry, It’ll Quilt Out
  • If Nothing Falls Off You’re Doing OK
  • If It Doesn’t Fit, Pull On It Or Cut It Off
  • When Bad Binding Happens To Good People
  • People With Big Chests Shouldn’t Quilt In Small Cars
  • If You Want Warmth, Buy An Electric Blanket

Soon after the book was released, Ami began to lecture about ‘bad, worse and worst’ quilts

I tell ALL in my tongue-in-cheek guide to quilting disaster. You won’t feel intimidated by “perfect” quilts any more — not after you see how I started out. I confess to having made every mistake you can think of and then some, proving there’s hope for everyone. This book is anti-intimidation for quilters, guaranteed to lift your spirits. If you loved the lecture, you’ll love the book! (48 pages/plenty of disgusting photos, some in color, (c)1994)
— Ami Simms

Some of the quilts from the contest

CREDITS: Quilt entries and the descriptions are from Ami’s website: Worst Quilt In The World Contest™  and remain the property of Ami Simms.

My favourites from the entries shown on the website are below:

Mariner's Compass in 3D!

Mariner's Compass Quilt - Front View - Pretty But...

Front view compass quilt

Mariner's Compass Quilt - Fantastic 3D Effect - Side view

Side view compass quilt

Judge Had Same Sheet Set As Backing

My First Attempt

Entrant #944-543 from Vancouver, WA chose rayon challis rather than cotton for her quilt, titled “My First Attempt.” This necessitated going over every single seam (from the top, with a machined satin stitch) after the quilt was finished as the seams frayed and began to pull apart. A contributing factor MAY have been the old mattress pad she used for batting.

One judge particularly enjoyed the bed sheet #944-543 used for backing as the judge had the same sheet set. This led to a discussion of what the entrant and her spouse were now sleeping on what with the mattress pad AND top sheet missing.

Judges Were Truly Impressed

Judges were truly impressed by this Thanksgiving opus gone awry. The Sedalia, MO entrant gained It's Already A Turkey...points when judges noted that the entire quilt was stuffed with used bread wrappers. The innovative batting choice was complimented by chunks of novelty turkey fabric slapped to the front of the quilt and affixed with horrid machine stitches. Said one judge, “Not only is it ugly to look at, it feels bad when you touch it too. We are always looking for multi-sensory expression. Too bad she didn’t think of putting a fart machine inside.”

It Smelled Sheepish

A Trip Around The Sheep Pen

This maker of this quilt tries to explain:

“I used batting that my sister had made from her own sheep’s wool. I washed it because it smelled “sheepish.” It was medim suze when I made it and small after I washed it! Talk about bearding! I have no idea how all that batting got from the inside to the outside. (This is NOT a biscuit quilt, by the way!)”

If only sheep’s wool was made out of polyester this would never have become such a problem.


Paint Or Magic Marker!

Unfortunate Star

Entrant #628-968 confessed that this quilt took 12 years to make, causing the judges wonder why, in heaven’s name, she ever finished it. But, lucky for us she did.
Not only is the piecing rather startling, but she ran out of muslin along the way too. But it was the use of the selvage edges IN the patchwork that really impressed the judges, making them wonder what is holding the quilt top all together.
If the selvage edges are not immediately apparent to the viewer, this is because the maker camouflaged them (and some of the surrounding fabric) with what could only be paint or magic marker!  
Bravo! Well done!

How Not To Take This Too Seriously

Your quilts are nowhere near as unfortunate as these, I’m sure. But I’m equally sure that after the twenty years since the contest was held, that the makers of the worst quilts now make much better ones.

Be kind to yourself and remember that you are not trying to make The Best Quilt In The World!

The last word is from Ami:

The moral? Everybody who quilts is a winner!

Hope you had fun!

See you next time
Jan T


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