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The Attraction of Obnoxious Fabric

The Attraction of Obnoxious Fabric

By Joy Lamphere, guest author

While happily browsing the shelves of the quilt shop, petting all the lovely fabrics, have you ever encountered a fabric that made you wonder what the designer was thinking? In your stash do you have a fabric that refuses to play nice with the other fabrics and settle down in a quilt? Has the rest of your stash moved on while that one cut just sits and festers? You may have encountered an Obnoxious Fabric.

I will admit that these fabrics can be addictive. First they sneak up on you when you aren’t sure that you are prepared. Then you start to giggle as the fabric is just SO out-there that you can’t help but see the humor in it. You follow the giggle up with wanting to share the fabric, the laughter, with another quilter and soon the fabrics are irresistible and you start to hunt them down.

I have hosted Obnoxious Fabric Swaps over the last few of years and am amazed at the range of fabrics that people find obnoxious. Many of these fabrics are novelty fabrics where the novelty has worn off. Others are definitely old maids that were destined to sit for a long time on the shelf, until someone decided to share them in a swap. And then there are the fabrics that would be fabulous if the designer would have chosen a more flattering color scheme for the poor yardage.quiltcentric_obnoxious_quilt_example

The discussions on the internet quilting forum are hilarious as we remember some of the most memorable. “Remember the Puffer Fish?” “How about the almost obscene Chinese Frog print?” “Those Mosaic People were one of the oddest quilting cottons I’ve ever seen!”

BUT!?! you ask, what do people actually DO with these fabrics? I know that you can share them, but who wants to just store more obnoxious fabrics? Won’t they multiply in my stash?

Yes, due to the fact that they are addictive, they do multiply. As a quilter, I just find that gives me more for quilts! I have even made a few quilts using the obnoxious fabrics that I have collected. The key is to cut them into smaller pieces. In fact, Bonnie Hunter (quilter/writer/blogger/teacher) has said, “If the fabric is still ugly, it isn’t cut small enough.”

Since many of the fabrics are novelty fabrics, they make great children’s quilts. Because there can be a wide range of fabrics you can make I-Spy quilts very easily. When your obnoxious fabric stash is large enough, you can even start to color-coordinate the quilts and use them for charity quilts. When I find holiday prints I use them to make small holiday projects such as mug rugs or even a gift bag for another gift.

The possibilities are endless when using these obnoxious fabrics; you are only limited by your imagination!


Joy Lamphere is a published quilt pattern designer and the hostess of Obnoxious Fabric Swaps on the Quilting Forum.

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