Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not!

Please note: You’ll only get the full impact of this post if you read to the end. It’s worth it, I promise!

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I stumbled upon a great scrap quilt via Pinterest not long ago and got very excited about making one like it. It’s by Karen Griska of the popular Selvage Blog. Karen posts daily and is always succinct and interesting. It’s a great recipe.

atticstairs Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not!

Attic Stairs by Karen Griska of The Selvage Blog. Used with permission.

The colors in this scrap quilt grabbed my attention and would not let it go. I loved it. Without much planning, I decided to wing it. I started cutting 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles from just about everything in my scrap basket. After all, the caption on Pinterest claimed, “Attic Stairs is a no-thinking-required scrap-buster.” How hard could it be?

ugly1 Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not!

Very soon I had several hundred patches ready to go. I had at least six piles like this one. I was on a mission. I started sewing patches together—it’s easy sewing, just right for evenings after work when you’re a little tired. I sewed a few and pressed a few. Sew, press, repeat. I made a couple of rows of four little blocks and threw them on the design wall.

ugly2 Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not! Uh-oh. We’re aboard the ugly train. Should I try and get off now or hold fast for the next whistle stop? I decided to keep going. Sewed some more and pressed some more. And repeat.

 

ugly3 Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not!

Hmm. Still pretty ugly. So I try to analyze why my quilt looks awful and Karen’s model quilt looks fabulous. I can see ways in which the quilts are similar:

106256872428132119 bOq4YC7H c Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not! ugly3 Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not!

• Light, medium and dark values are present
• Plenty of black in the darks
• Plenty of pink, yellow and green
• A liberal sprinkling of polka dots

Maybe I just have too many lights. ?  Maybe the original quilt’s color scheme is more planned than it first appears. ?  I keep sewing, thinking this will probably turn into a donation quilt.

ugly4 Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not!

But then a funny thing happens. As I continue to add strips to the design wall, the piece starts to become less ugly. Then there’s a ray of hope—it might actually become attractive, or at least interesting.

ugly5 Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not!

I think back to some other scrappy quilts I have made and remember a lesson I learned:

The first few blocks of a scrap quilt always look terrible. You just have to keep going. The more variety you add, the more things will play together and the better it will get. Push yourself forward because odds are it will improve.

Now back to those patches! This is easy and attractive and I think I’ll make it a king!

il 570xN.305007496 Running Smack Dab into Ugly. Or Not!

Days later I realize that I once purchased Karen’s fabulous Stairstep Quilts pdf on etsy.com, where this quilt and several others are patterned. It turns out that Karen’s patches are smaller than mine, which may explain why hers works better! (If all else fails, use the pattern.) This gal is a river of ideas. Drink up, I tell you! You’ll love her stuff.

And remember, if it looks ugly at the start, just keep sewing!

About Diane Harris

I'm Interactive Editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I've been writing pattern instructions and product reviews, and doing a host of other tasks necessary to help produce a national pattern magazine. Now I work remotely from rural Nebraska to generate some of our online content. I manage the QM Scrap Squad, our blog tours and our Quilt-Alongs. I have one of the best jobs in the world.
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