Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hexagon dysphoria

There is a fair amount of hexagon goodness being flashed about the interwebs at present.

You may have seen Christina's lovely grandmother's flower garden in progress, with its gorgeous subtle hues, or Jo's bright flowers which pop against their white background, or Katy's fabulous retro-looking version.

Now I'm hexing along too, but in a different way. I'm working on a 2" hexagon charm quilt, in which every hexagon is from a completely different fabric design. In doing so I've snipped a hexie from almost every fabric in my scrap bin and stash, and from some scraps others have given me.

And what a disparate bunch of fabrics they are! Some of them are fabulous, but alas, many scraps that I have in my possession (through thrifting, gifts or just plain bad purchasing choices) are butt-ugly, wouldn't-force-your-dog-to-wear-it kind of fabrics.

Then there's the weird combination of bright, modern prints and bland country hues that are making a horrible clash in my hexagon piles. The more hexies I make, the more nervous I get. Nervous about how this quilt is going to pan out. Nervous that all the scraps are actually going to look, well, DISGUSTING together. 

I've noticed over on the hexagon charm quilt piece-along Flickr group that many participants' scrap piles are really quite beautifully matched. They may all be different fabrics, but perhaps they are all of a similar vibe (or value, or tone, or whatever the actual quilting term is I'm probably supposed to be using). I guess this happens when you have a large stash, or a consistence sense of style, or patience for fabric-matching!

 I'm beginning to get cold feet, because I can't visualise this quilt at all. Part of my desire in this challenge was to work with the randomness of my scraps and somehow create a beautiful cohesion out of chaos. I didn't want to be prescriptive or selective about the fabrics I used. I didn't want to over-think it. I was hoping for the 'quirky but funky' kind of aesthetic. Instead, I think I'm producing something which will only ever turn up at a bad taste 80s party. 

I guess there is nothing for it but to press on, because I'm not going to know how it will look until I've basted all my hexagons and started piecing them together.

Now's your chance to make me feel better. Have you ever spent a lot of time making something really butt-ugly? Tell me, was it character-developing? Worth it for the learning curve? Or just a big, fat waste of creative energy?


  1. Of Course I have made something butt ugly but it's the process not the product sometimes... And I made everyone think it was pretty cool!! Oh but the Traffic Stopping Dress was a big BUTT UGLY result!! But I turned it positive too!! LOL...

    How many hexs are you making again? I have about 50 haha

    xo Steph

  2. I specialise in Butt-ugly...or so it seems sometimes...
    Can I send you some scraps to help???

  3. Hahaha. Oh yes. I have made many butt ugly things in the past. And probably will make some more in the future. And ofcourse I learned from it. I must have. Did I? Uh oh..

    Anyway, I am sure your quilt will turn out to be not ugly at all. And maybe there are still ways to make it less chaotic, by colour grouping for instance. I am positive that you'll be able to make it work.

    Have fun with it! ;-)

  4. I think it's going to be a masterpiece. Just trust and enjoy.

  5. I remember ages ago I saw the end of a quilting class where people had all used the ugliest fabrics in their stash. When you looked at some of the fabrics as individual pieces they really were more than butt-ugly; fabrics you couldn't even imagine someone designing, printing, buying, cutting, sewing. BUT - when they were all combined together they really took on a new and different life. And they looked really good.

    Two negatives make a positive. So how many positives could you make with your negatives hexs?!

    {Would you like me to send some fabric scraps - and what colour range would you like to see more of in your quilt?}

  6. Let me know if you want to look through my scraps!

  7. your comment quote is doing my head in, is it time I went to bed? I remember reading that if you put together stuff you love, then it will all work out and look great in the end. That probably doesn't help much, as you do not love your scraps that much...Maybe you should scrap your ugly scraps or do a butt ugly scrap give away?!?

  8. I think it's going to be one of those projects where the outcome can't be known until you have summoned together all the parts. Just like adding two negatives can only make ever make a positive, maybe adding together all those butt ugly scrap hexes can only ever make a fantabulous hexy quilt?
    I'm bringing along oodles of scraps for you to have a look at Thursday night - of course ranging from what I think is gorgeous through to what I think is butt ugly too ha ha!

  9. I made a quilt years ago that we call "ugly quilt;" it lives in the back seat of the car for those times when someone needs a little warmth on a long ride. Funny enough it is very beloved and very used, just what a quilt should be!

  10. So much excellent advice has come before me!
    Go ahead and make all your hexies. They'll look amazing together.
    If there are a couple of fabrics you really can't stand ... just leave them out. They'll annoy you in the quilt later on.
    But don't worry about different values and tones of the fabrics. They'll come together amazingly.
    That's what patchwork is all about.
    For inspiration ... check out this beauty:
    Have fun.
    Andi :-)

  11. There is such a fabulous mix of colours & designs I think you will be pleasantly suprised.

    I've made plenty items which I would consider butt ugly but others have loved them - it comes down maybe to personal taste.

  12. I'm with Andi, and let's be honest she knows what she is talking about... I am worried that is there is a fabric you really don't like it will annoy you if its on the quilt, I am dying to see it! Good on you- its going ot be fab!

  13. Oh no keep going - the scrappy quilts always seem to look so much better - more homley and loved...

    It is SO much easier to critique our own work than others....

    KEEP going!

  14. There's something endearing about an ugly quilt, especially when each piece holds a memory of the fabric (or the friend) it came from. Our ugly quilt is the most coveted in the house...I still haven't put the binding on it, but it's the one my kids run for when they're sad or not feeling well, or if they just need an extra layer to snuggle up with on the couch. Embrace the hideousness! :)

  15. I keeping with the other commenters - keep going, I'm sure it will be gorgeous in the end!!! I do always wonder about truly random things - I have in the back of my mind to make a truly random scrap quilt but like you wondered how it will actually turn out! Last year I wanted to use up all my ends of yarn and so decided to crochet a blanket. There was no rhyme or reason just treble stitch in rows, changing yarn when it run out, or when I thought there was too much. When I had done enough rows to actually look at it I HATED it!!!! I thought I would just put it in a bag and forget about it. Then the weather turned cold and I realised that it was going to have a place in our house. I finished all my yarns and then scoured the op shops for other people's ends of yarn!!! It now sits very proudly on Maia's bed and she loves it and I LOVE it!!! Keep going and I can't wait to see it come together. xxx Do you want any scraps sent your way? x

  16. im sure it will look great once its all pieced together. keep going, im excited to see whta it looks like

  17. i think using ALL different fabrics will look awesome, and will give some otherwise useless fabric a life-purpose! i don't like quilts that have just a couple of different fabrics and some lame pattern. i reckon yours is gonna rock!

  18. Butt ugly, my butt! Keep going Mrs. The charm is going to be that everything is so disparate that there is an overall disparate tone (if that makes any sense?). I have ultimate faith. For both of us, in case you need to borrow some?

  19. I like your chaos theory Gina so keep on working on it! It will be lovely I'm sure. I have made many ugly things and they have their very unique charme!

  20. Hey you :)
    You could always overdye the finished quilt, or alternate with a solid colour (white?) hex so it has something consistent through it. Or section similar coloured fabrics like a colour wheel type thingy...lots of older quilts has an incredible mish mash of fabrics and look wonderful (I think!)

    Hope you're well!


  21. I agree! Keep going! I bet it will turn out more wonderful than you could have imagined. If not you could always put is aside for a birthday present or something.

    My birthday is in November.

    Just so you know.


  22. hmmm... I think the scrappier your hexies are the better. I wouldn't use something that I truly hated, but fabrics that you are "ho hum" about are fine I think!

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  24. Keep working on it... perhaps the end result will be a quilt that you sometimes like and sometimes don't. It might all be finished and you could very well hate it... but then over time it might be one of those things that you just learn to love. That becomes a part of you while you weren't even noticing.
    Or... maybe you'll always dislike it but your sons will adore it as each piece of material reminds them of you in some small way.
    Who knows? You'll have to finish to find out.

  25. A wise person once said, "if it looks ugly, you haven't cut it small enough."

    I have been thinking about your hexies as I drag mine out and start working on them again: I keep wondering what I will ever use my quilt for. Weirdly enough, I think it'll end up being mostly for guest beds and display rather than the rough and tumble of everyday bedding, and it's taken me time to reconcile myself with that.

    This is where the importance of your 'butt-ugly quandary' comes in. Because really, it's not about the end product.

    It's about years of squirreling away bits and pieces of my favourite prints from other projects; of asking nicely if I can have something from someone else's stash; of hoping the sewing store will cut me a 10cm length; of spending a half hour absorbed in one beloved print, choosing a solid colour that 'brings it out', stitching it in with its fellows. It's all about loving the process more than the end result.

    So yes, let's have coffee and talk about hexagons, you know where to find me when you have a moment to yourself again!


“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
~Albert Einstein