Dateline: Flint, Michigan

"Too Ugly To Touch" Describes Winning Quilt

Tennessee Quilter Scores Big In Ugly Quilt Contest

People have survived viewing this quilt!!

 Ami Simms, creator of the "WORST Quilt In The World Contest©," awarded cash and prizes totaling $3,221.40 to Darlene Riel of Monterey, TN for her quilt entitled, "Winding Ways Got Lost."  Simms, head judge for the third year in a row said, "This thing is one of the ugliest quilts I've ever seen. It just makes you shudder."

Trying to describe the quilt she said, "The colors are awful, and the workmanship is atrocious. The batting is hanging out of one corner, along with part of a hand towel, and there are knee-hi's accidentally stitched into the border. It's lumpy and bumpy and it's so ugly you don't even want to touch it! And that's just the top. "

Simms said, "The back of the quilt is even worse. It's a hodgepodge of old T-shirts, chopped up undershorts and a half-slip!" She added, "There is not one single redeeming feature. It's a mess from start to finish. A real triumph."

Riel started the quilt as a serious effort years ago but set the six 'Winding Ways' blocks from the center of the quilt aside "because it was so ugly," she said. She saved them all these years in a cardboard box and pulled them out when Simms' contest for the world's worst quilt caught her eye.

Dusting off her discarded blocks she made a concerted effort to create the worst quilt she could. Riel said, "I had to rip out some places because it was too good. I tried to do everything exactly wrong."

Contestants from 32 states, Canada, and Australia, vied for $8,974.90 in prizes in this, the last annual competition to crown the Worst of Show and honor the world's worst quilts. Simms, the contest organizer said, "This is the last year. We've had fun, it drew attention to my book (How NOT To Make A Prize-Winning Quilt) but frankly, I'm worried about the health risks to the judges. Prolonged exposure to this many ugly quilts over time may have some detrimental effect. The judges are already slightly unstable (one of the criteria) and I'm afraid another year of this may push them right over the edge."

Judging ugly quilts is evidently hard work. Contestants submitted photographs of their most poorly made quilt. Simms said, "Many of the entrants are as bad with a camera as they are with a needle. Talk about eye strain..." Of the hundred or so entries 15 finalists were selected, one from each division and size category. They were required to send their quilts to Simms so that the judges could verify that the quilts in the pictures were really that bad in real life. And they were. "We really scraped the bottom of the barrel this year. It was a fine showing," said Simms.

Contestants earned points for bad design, awful color combinations, and sloppy workmanship. Said Simms, "We judged using the Three G System" if the quilt didn't make us Gasp, Gag or Guffaw it was out of the running."

Riel's quilt made the cut and was awarded Worst of Show. The remaining 14 quilts received Abominable Mention Awards worth about $275.

 Not surprisingly, the majority of those who entered the contest had no desire to win. They declined to have their quilts judged at all, but still wanted to be a part of the fun. They marked a space on the entry form indicating that their quilts were too good to win and were each sent a commemorative lapel pin which read, "THANK GOODNESS I DIDN'T WIN THE WORST QUILT IN THE WORLD CONTEST!"

Referring to the non-winners Simms said, "They shouldn't feel too smug. Even the winners get those pins." Still, the true identities of all contestants are known only to Simms and the other judges who are sworn to secrecy. Unless an entrant wants to cash in on their allocated 15 minutes of fame and gives the contest sponsors permission to release their names to the media for public humiliation, they are only referred to by a six-digit number they select, city and state. The winner is traditionally photographed with a paper sack over their head to further obscure her/his true identity.

In addition to the Worst of Show and the 14 Abominable Mentions, judges also selected 10 Special Recognition Award winners. Each award winner received prizes worth over $150. These unfortunates submitted quilts which, although not bad enough to win an entire category, nevertheless exhibited memorable shortcomings.

Included in this group was the winner of the "Deranged Patchwork Award," a Connecticut entrant who created a crazy-patch monstrosity with wild fabric, upholstery fringe, rubber stamped images, and soda can pull-tabs called "Sewing On The Lunatic Fringe." Judges presented the "Fur Ball Award" to a California quilter for a pathetic flannel quilt with a wool batting that started out 50" by 72". It shrunk to a puckered and furry 33" x 47" after the maker laundered it. "The batting in this quilt isn't just bearding," said Simms, "it's exploding!" A Michigan competitor was awarded the "Batt-Ugly Award" for her entry made with a variety of fillers, including dryer lint.

Other awards included the "Most Revolting Use of Recycled Materials Award" (made entirely out of old neckties), the "Good Dog Award" (the entrant's dog ate the quilt), and the "Meconium Stool Award." (Look it up.)

The contest was made possible by the following respectable and generous corporate sponsors who obviously appreciate a good joke when they see one:

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The 1996 Viewer's Choice Winner

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Previous Winners of the WORST Quilt In The World Contest


1996 Grand Prize Winner

1996 Abominable Mentions

1996 Special Recognition Awards


1995 Grand Prize Winner

1995 Abominable Mentions

1995 Special Recognition Awards

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