19 July 2010

It seems I am not alone...

It seems I am not alone in disliking the name "scrappy" for quilts with mixed prints/designers/etc. "Scrappy" should be reserved for quilts that actually use scraps (left-overs) and further, I think, a quilt doesn't really look scrappy unless the scraps are pulled somewhat indiscriminately, so that hue, value, and scale receive little-to-no consideration.

I like the term "stash quilt."  I also sympathize with the desire to just call it a quilt. But, I like being able to quickly communicate how the fabric was selected and there are at least three ways I see this happen:  (1) make your own mix  (2) use scraps from other projects (3) mostly use prints from a single line.

Someone asked why I need a name for this at all, and the answer is simple: I name everything. I find names really useful.  They are shorthand, they are maps, and they are how I make my living.  I know it is exhausting sometimes for other people.  My older brother has expressed a strong preference for talking to me on the phone when I'm tired and/or sick because I'm "less exact and less exacting."  Ha!

Also, a few of you mentioned that you also hate the term "wonky'---ME TOO.  But, I already have a much better term that I use.  Want to know what it is?  Come to my lecture on August 15.  : )

A few other things worth mentioning:
A lot of good recommendations came in for children's books with quilts in them.  I put them all together over here:
Kids' books with quilts

I've had an Amazon Associate's account for a while now, but this weekend I put together a store and organized it.  You may find it useful because I did comment on all of the items in the store and you can see a list of my favorite quilt books and craft books.

Rossie's Amazon Associate's Store

I get a small kickback if things are purchased from Amazon following my links, but feel free to just copy down the titles and borrow stuff from the library (that's what I would do!)  Of course, if you do follow the links and buy stuff, rest assured that any money sent my way will be spent on quilty goodness.

I've just signed up for lessons on a Gammill Long Arm.  Can't wait!  It looks like a lot of fun.

Images used in this post are from a quilt I made last year as part of the first Old Red Barn Co. Quilt Along.  It's a rail fence pattern, I altered Dana's pattern to include an odd number of strips in each block and to include the random teal squares.


  1. When I began to quilt, one of the first books I acquired was Roberta Horton's book, Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do. Even though I didn't yet have any scraps or much of a stash, I aspired to make "scrappy" quilts and her book really analyzed what makes those quilts so charming. I agree that they are very distinctive from quilts that might be made from stash in a more coordinated way ... but I disagree with you that no attention is paid to value–while that may sometimes be true, it's not always true and not a criteria, in my mind, for a scrap quilt.

  2. What I meant and tried to say is that there is (a) being scrappy in the sense of being made from scraps and (b) looking scrappy, which I think only happens when consideration of hue, value, and scale are mostly set aside.

  3. Oh I so don't live near you but am so curious about your term you use rather than "wonky." I too am not a big fan of it, but it's become what's used and understood, so I use it constantly.

    And agreed about the whole scrappy thing. I pull from a long collected stash to make my quilts, not my scraps.

  4. Anxiously awaiting for a better word than "wonky."

    Off the topic: I have become obsessed with getting a blurred background in my photos and apparently even though I have a really good camera (Canon G9--camera store told me it was a quirk in their G series of cameras), it doesn't like to do blurred backgrounds. In fact, it avoids it, unless you can kind of trick it. Anyway...what kind of camera do you have?

  5. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like the word "wonky"! Hope you'll share your preferred description with those of us too far away to attend your class.

  6. I LOVE that little quilt! It is beautiful!

  7. Your post made me smile because I find myself thinking about the wording, as well. I've been making baby quilts for some of the new mothers at work, and it bothers me when they refer to them as "blankets." Has that ever happened to you? I'm probably being silly, but my mom and I have had a good laugh over it.

  8. I'm signed up for that lecture and can hardly wait! Looking forward to your better-than-wonky term. This is a sweet little quilt and I am intriqued by your use of the blue tape to create your quilting lines....I have used it many times but it looks like you used random small pieces to quilt around. Clever!

  9. I remember the first time someone said, "oh! so it's a scrappy quilt" about a piece that for which I had labored over the selection of fabrics. It nearly broke my heart, especially as she was someone who had helped me learn about quilting. I think of "scrappy" as an unhelpful term in describing a quilt that you've worked hard on. And I agree that surely there is no need for a descriptive word for a quilt. It's a quilt. Look for yourself and like it or not.
    Keep up the good work...

  10. Yeah, you're going to have to reveal the better-than-wonky word for those of us way too far away to attend the lecture! (I'd be there if I could, believe me.)

  11. Thanks for this discussion about terms! You're not the only one who cares about classification. I think about it all the time while I'm picking fabrics, making up designs, and stitching now. Is there going to be audio online of your talk? What if we just said that the fabric was "mixed" if it comes from different lines - not very exact, but perhaps it's a start.

    My problem with the term wonky is that it sounds like a mistake, or like my patchwork is wrong or immature. I'm doing that very intentionally, although I don't need to be taught how to stitch "off square" like in a lot of tutorials & books I've read. I think it's interesting that there are art quilters (Nancy Crow, Gwen Marston) who started out precise with points matching, and had to evolve into a more freeform style with practice. It comes naturally to me, and I don't feel beholden to the precision of 'traditional' (ack) quilting techniques.

  12. scrappy... i think it's a good idea and somehow scrappy quilts turn out just as beautiful. all our blankets at home are made out of scrappy fabric! :D


  13. I'm pretty exacting too! I have been mulling your earlier post for days, and I think there are two separate ideas being put together here: The source of the fabric and the mix of fabrics.

    The first is easy to define: That quilt was made with fabrics from a kit, my stash (scraps are part of my stash) or fabric bought specifically to make that quilt. And, sometimes I mix stash fabric and fabric bought specifically for a quilt.

    The second is harder to classify or at least to put names to the classifications. You have to start by listing the possible mixes and then naming them:

    1. Quilts made from a line of "designer" fabric. (Isn't all fabric designed?) Is there a subcategory here for a line of fabric mixed with one or more other fabrics? How about a specific subcategory for when the fabric line is mixed with a solid (probably white or gray, most likely Kona)?

    2. Quilts made with a one-color to one-fabric ratio. Example: All the reds are the same fabric.

    3. Quilts made with multiple fabrics. I see subcategories here too:
    a) multiple fabrics of the same color, such as 10 red fabrics used in the red position in the quilt block
    b) multiple fabrics of the same value, such as 10 different fabrics in a mix of colors for the darks in the quilt
    c) multiple fabrics with no set position (red, dark, etc.) in the block or quilt (charm quilts included here)

    I can make a quilt of sawtooth stars from fabrics in my stash (source) that uses multiple fabrics (mix), OR I can go out and buy 40 fat quarters from multiple lines and three quilt shops (heaven!) just for this quilt and use the light ones for the background and the dark ones for the stars, OR I can go buy a kit where all the fabrics are from a single line or designer.

    As for the wonky/improv/no-template-and-no-ruler blocks, that gets into yet another category. Call it style? Wonky vs. precision. Or maybe construction and include applique vs. piecing, hand vs. machine?

    And one more thing before I wind up this very long comment: To me, scrap quilts are made with scraps. Scrappy quilts are like scrap quilts because they use a large number of fabrics some of which might be scraps, but aren't necessarily. Some scrap quilt (and scrappy quilt) makers place their fabrics in value positions (light, medium, dark) and use colors in specific ways and others don't. Check out http://annchampion.com/ to see a variety of vintage quilts where hue, value and scale were important to their makers and other times not.

  14. apparently you aren't alone. I was reading this article (http://www.realwomenquilt.com/archives/KarenGriskaFeaturedQuilter.php) and stumbled onto this " The term “scrap quilt” should be updated to “multi-fabric quilt,” because new fabrics purchased for making quilts aren’t really scraps. At least not until a fabric is going into it’s fifth quilt!"

  15. Your posts are always a good read. Keeps me thinking. For all of us that can't come to the talk in August you have to share your term for wonky - whacky, dippy, plonky?? I think I need to go to bed!

  16. Yup - hate that Wonky word too. I began calling my process as "free piecing" a couple of years ago when folks asked how I did that!

  17. I actually like "wonky," but I agree about scrappy when it's meant to describe a faux scrap quilt.

  18. Ah, I feel a sense of vindication - I don't like the word wonky either!! And if I used the term scrappy to describe my quilts that didn't all come from the same line of fabrics then all of mine would be scrappy!!!

  19. I really like the term stash quilt. I think people have started using the term "scrappy quilt" because so many quilters are only using one line of fabric for their quilts.

    Your rail quilt is beautiful! That darker fabric with the silverware is really cute mixed in with the yellows.

  20. Hi there, thanks for the list of books, you can find The Patchwork Cat with an image here:
    Love your not scrappy quilt!!

  21. Whoops, I mis typed. I meant to say "free form piecing" when referring to my blocks of not scrappy, not wonky.


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