Ugly-pretty: A term I learn while watching Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model TV show where the contestants dress, design make-up and pose in unique settings to make themselves look fascinating and ugly.
Last fall Joanne Sauder visits the Born Again Quilts studio with an estate sale quilt top find in hand. She relates how a fellow member of the Grabill Community Quilters (GCQ) exclaimed, “That’s ugly!” when the group got its first look at it. From that point on it was known as “Project Ugly”. Undeterred, Joanne is determined to find the right fabric for backing and binding so she can hand quilt it over the winter.
Looking at the various shirting fabrics and other fabric clues, I conclude the top is from the late 1800s-early 1900s time period. Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns references it as “A Plain Block-Ladies Home Journal 1896”. Right on the money! Joanne had no idea it was that old and in great condition. We lay the top on the wood floor and start looking at different fabrics to see what might bring out the best “Ugly”. Ugly was created with a lot of white fabric that dulls its appearance. After auditioning several fabrics the best choice becomes clear: a floral fabric with a black background. The fabric’s flowers are thistle-like in a shade of blue that matches well with Ugly’s few prints. It’s brown circles compliment the one brown square in the quilt.
So two weeks ago it is appropriate that Joanne brings “Ugly” back for the customers at the Shabby-to-Chic quilt sale and me to see. What a transformation! Not a beautiful quilt, but an “ugly pretty” one. The addition of the border to frame it makes a difference. Joanne is to be commended for taking the time and effort to “go it alone” to find its inner beauty. The GCQ will take “Ugly-pretty” to the Michiana Quilt Auction in Goshen this September where last year’s quilt fetched $1400 to support the Mennonite worldwide relief projects. No one in the group thinks U-p will do as well, all they can hope for is that it catches the eye of someone who will cherish it. Whatever the amount it brings, it all goes to help others in need, the heart of the group’s mission.
Joanne is a charter member of the GCQ that formed over six years ago. It didn’t take long before the group experiences growing pains when their meeting space becomes inadequate to accommodate large quilt projects. Their plight comes to the attention of the Grabill Town Council who allows them to use a vacant building at no charge with the stipulation that all of their projects would go to relief causes or families in need. The new building allows three quilt projects to be in their frames simultaneously with no need to move or take them down until completion: a major time-saver.
The GCQ is a very casual group with no officers-just Leader Patsy Miller who takes charge of planning, purchasing and label making. Anyone is welcome to stop by any Monday evening from 6-9 p.m. to watch quilters from 18-93 busily tie, long stitch and fine quilt. They would be happy to give you a lesson and put you to work too! The building is located at the corner of First and West streets adjacent to the Olde Church Museum in downtown Grabill.
Lois Eubank is the owner of Born Again Quilts studio located at 4005 South Wayne Ave. Check out the website at www.bornagainquilts.com.