Students make Ugly Quilts 12.10.08

Written by David Green.


Carol Van Havel is a quilter who has a lot of leftover pieces from her projects.

Thinking there must be something good to do with the extras, she headed for the internet to search for patterns to use leftovers.

The Ugly Quilt was the perfect solution.ugly_quilt.jpg

The Ugly Quilt is actually a light-weight sleeping bag made from scraps and old clothing, and given to homeless people for warmth.

Last year, Carol sent her cloth pieces to Detroit for an Ugly Quilt project for the Cass Community. This year, she wanted to make her own bags, so she contacted the Morenci Area High School Volunteer Club for assistance.

As of last Friday, students had created three bags, with seven more to go. The 10 Ugly Quilts will be given to the Salvation Army for homeless people in Adrian.

The idea, Carol explained, is to create the bags completely from items around the house.

“That’s the challenge,” she said, “not to buy anything.”

Curtains, skirts and leftover cloth from quilting projects are sewn together to form two seven-foot by seven-foot outer shells. The two pieces are joined on one side, spread open and half of the cloth is given a fill layer. The fill could contain old clothing, blankets, fiberfill, etc.

The two halves are then folded over and tied off with crochet cotton every 10 inches to hold the fill in place. That process is similar to making a comforter, Carol said.

Finally, the seven by seven piece is folded over and knotted along the open side and bottom to form a bag.

Carol adds a stocking cap and a pair of mittens before rolling up the bag and securing it with a pair of old neckties. There’s also a pocket-sized copy of the New Testament inside the bag.

Pennsylvania resident Flo Wheatley made the first Ugly Quilt after an encounter with a homeless person in New York City. She formed My Brothers’ Keeper Quilt Group in the 1980s and since then dozens of similar groups have started up.

• Anyone with fabric, batting, ties and yarn, or anyone interested in working on Ugly Quilts should contact Carol Van Havel by calling 458-2304.

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