I watched an old episode of The Quilt Show the other day, I’m not going to say which one, and a well known quilter (which I will call BNQ for Big Name Quilter) said (I paraphrase), “You don’t have to finish every project. And don’t give them to charity, they don’t want ugly quilts.”
WTF? I was shocked! Not give your “ugly” quilts to charity? How can she presume no one will want what you don’t want? Granted, there are some charities that are fussy about what they receive, but there are plenty of others who will gladly take your quilt no matter how ugly you think it is. After all, “ugly” is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve made plenty of quilts I thought were ugly, yet others who saw them thought they were lovely. Ms. BNQ made her comment while sitting in front of a prize-winning quilt she’d made (and I assume thought was lovely since she was proudly showing it off) that I thought was damned ugly. Ugly is a matter of opinion.
There are some quilts that you shouldn’t donate – such as, if they would be hazardous to children or will fall apart with the first washing. And not every quilt will suite every charity, because needs vary. Some groups collect quilts for cheering up young patients. They will prefer colorful quilts that are soft and cuddly (flannel backs are nice). Others collect quilts to distribute after disasters. They want anything that will keep people warm and stand up to hard use. Ugly is fine, as long as the quilt is warm and durable (they often prefer polyester battings for warmth). And some collect art quilts to auction off – sure, they don’t want ugly, but we’re back to who decides what is ugly?
If you have an ugly quilt, there is a charity somewhere that will take it. Or wait for the next disaster, they seem to happen every year or two, somewhere in the world. But ferchrissakes, don’t throw away anything that could keep someone warm. They will love it no matter what it looks like.
Now the other part, not finishing every project, I sort of agree with. You don’t have to finish the project you started. But that doesn’t means toss it if you can possibly make something else from it. If you didn’t ever put those swap blocks together because the size differs? Add a wide frame around them and trim to size, make it wonky if you like. Sew them together and add borders until you’ve got a bed-size quilt. That one fabric faded badly and you wonder if it will last? Cut up the rest and use it in a scrap quilt. Never quilted that top you made in a mystery quilt because you didn’t like the result? Someone else will love it.
Get it done, donate it, and you’re rid of it. Throwing it away wastes not only the earth’s resources (wait until I get ranting about what cotton farming does to our topsoil), but your time and effort. Maybe you learned something from the experience, that’s fine but it doesn’t mean it’s okay to toss it. Cut it up, sure. Learn to free-motion quilt on it, or give it to a new long-arm owner to practice on. But finish something and by all means, donate the result. Just pick the right charity.